Skip to main content

SASS Responsive Grid

Separation of Concerns, cleaner HTML, semantic and smaller CSS.

I wrote a SASS mixin to generate custom grid CSS. The benefit are:

  • Clean HTML: Doesn't require classes on columns. Less markup than bootstrap.
  • Semantic CSS: You use your own class names
  • Separation of Concerns: Presentation info is where it should be, inside the CSS
  • Pay to play: Less CSS than bootstrap
  • Percentage based gutters: Ok, not exactly a benefit, but it was the only way I could get it work - I'll chalk it up as a feature :)

First, define your grids using the SASS mixin. You specify the selector (class or ID) and the column definitions for different breakpoints (xxs, xs, xm, md, lg)

  @include grids((
    ('.responsive-four-col-grid', (md:(3, 3, 3, 3), sm:(6, 6, 6, 6))),
    ('.responsive-nested-grid', (md:(4, 4, 4))),
    ('.two-col-grid', (sm:(6, 6))),

Then simply use your grids in your HTML:

<div class="responsive-four-col-grid">
  <div>Col One</div>
  <div>Col Two</div>
  <div>Col Three</div>
  <div>Col Four</div>

Here's the SASS mixin:

@mixin grids($grids) {
  // SETUP
  $total-columns: 12;
  $breakpoints: (xxs:320px, xs:480px, sm:768px, md:992px, lg:1200px);
  $gutter: 1%;
  // Width of one column
  $unit-width: (100% - $gutter * 2 * ($total-columns - 1)) / $total-columns;
  @each $sel, $sizes in $grids
    // Clear fix
    #{$sel}:after { display: table; content: " "; clear:both; }
    @each $breakpoint, $width in $breakpoints
      $cols: map-get($sizes, $breakpoint);
      @if $cols != null
        @media only screen and (min-width: $width) 
          $current-left: 0;
          @for $i from 1 through length($cols) {
            $col: nth($cols, $i);

            $property: null; $value: null; $margin-left: null; $margin-right: null;
            // If the next column pushes over the boundy then reset flush to the left
            @if $current-left + $col > $total-columns {
              $current-left: 0;
            @if $current-left % $total-columns == 0 { $margin-left: 0px; } @else { $margin-left: $gutter;  }
            $current-left: $current-left + $col;
            @if $current-left % $total-columns == 0 { $margin-right: 0px; } @else { $margin-right: $gutter; }
            // If the row is full then get ready for the next row
            @if $current-left == $total-columns {
              $current-left: 0;
            // Sum the unit widths plus the width of the gutters
            $width: ($unit-width * $col) + (($col - 1) * ($gutter * 2));
            #{$sel} > *:nth-child(#{$i}) { width:$width; margin-right:$margin-right; margin-left:$margin-left; float:left; }

Latest code is on GitHub.

Hello, my name's Lee and I work as a full-stack web developer specialising in Microsoft ASP.NET technologies. I love using Umbraco and also MANAGED, my own interal CMS.

Contact me at

All skills


Get in touch to talk about your project or just ask me a question.

Skype: lee_gunn