Foundation vs Materialize

When it comes to developing responsive and modern websites, CSS frameworks are invaluable tools that help streamline the design process, ensure consistency, and save time. Among the numerous options available today, Foundation and Materialize stand out as two popular choices. Each has its own strengths, philosophies, and communities. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the specifics of both Foundation and Materialize, comparing them across various dimensions to help you decide which one best suits your project needs.

Introduction to Foundation

Foundation is an advanced, enterprise-grade frontend framework designed by ZURB, an American web design company. It’s known for being a professional choice for designers and developers who aim to create responsive and accessible websites efficiently.

Key Features of Foundation:

  • Responsive Design: Foundation uses a mobile-first approach with a flexible grid system that adapts your website layout to different screen sizes.
  • Customization: It comes with a Sass-based framework that allows for extensive customization using variables, mixins, and functions.
  • Accessibility: Foundation places a strong emphasis on building websites that are accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.
  • Advanced Components: It includes a wide range of UI components like off-canvas menus, orbit sliders, and more.
  • Email Framework: Foundation also offers a separate framework specifically for emails, which helps in creating responsive email templates.

Popular Add-ons for Foundation:

  • Motion UI: A Sass library for creating custom CSS transitions and animations.
  • Foundation Building Blocks: A set of pre-made components that can be combined and customized to build web pages quickly.

Introduction to Materialize

Materialize is a responsive front-end framework based on Material Design, Google’s design language. It aims to provide a more unified and consistent user experience across platforms and devices by utilizing tactile surfaces, bold graphic design, and meaningful motion.

Key Features of Materialize:

  • Material Design: Materialize is heavily inspired by Google’s Material Design principles, which gives it a modern and sleek look.
  • Ease of Use: It offers a range of pre-designed components that are easy to use and customize, making it beginner-friendly.
  • Responsive Grid: Materialize includes a 12-column grid system that adapts to screen sizes and orientations for flexible layouts.
  • JavaScript Components: It comes with jQuery-based JavaScript components for additional interactivity, like modals, dropdowns, and tabs.
  • Sass Support: Materialize supports Sass, allowing for customization and theming with variables and mixins.

Popular Add-ons for Materialize:

  • Materialize-stepper: A plugin to create a step-by-step wizard.
  • Materialize-tags: A jQuery plugin to create tag input fields with Materialize styling.

Foundation Code Sample

To give you a sense of how Foundation works, here’s a simple example of a responsive navigation bar using Foundation’s top-bar component:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html class="no-js" lang="en">
  <meta charset="utf-8" />
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
  <title>Responsive Navigation with Foundation</title>
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="">
  <script src=""></script>

<div class="top-bar">
  <div class="top-bar-left">
    <ul class="dropdown menu" data-dropdown-menu>
      <li class="menu-text">Site Title</li>
      <li><a href="#">One</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Two</a></li>
      <li><a href="#">Three</a></li>
  <div class="top-bar-right">
    <ul class="menu">
      <li><input type="search" placeholder="Search"></li>
      <li><button type="button" class="button">Search</button></li>



This code sample demonstrates how to create a navigation bar that’s responsive and includes a dropdown menu, search input, and button. The Foundation framework’s CSS and JavaScript handle most of the styling and functionality, ensuring a professional look and feel with minimal effort.

Materialize Code Sample

Below is an example of how to create a card layout with Materialize, showcasing the framework’s Material Design influence:

<!DOCTYPE html>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>Material Design Cards with Materialize</title>
  <link href="" rel="stylesheet">
  <link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href=""  media="screen,projection"/>
  <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

<div class="container">
  <div class="row">
    <div class="col s12 m6">
      <div class="card">
        <div class="card-image">
          <img src="image.jpg">
          <span class="card-title">Card Title</span>
        <div class="card-content">
          <p>I am a very simple card. I am good at containing small bits of information.</p>
        <div class="card-action">
          <a href="#">This is a link</a>


This example illustrates a simple card component that includes an image, title, content, and action link. Materialize’s classes and components make it easy to implement Material Design elements into your web pages without extensive customization.

In the next section, we will continue to explore more detailed comparisons between Foundation and Materialize, including their grid systems, browser support, performance, and community backing. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at how these frameworks can be utilized to their fullest potential.

Grid System Comparison

Both Foundation and Materialize offer responsive grid systems, but they have different approaches and features that might influence your choice depending on the project requirements.

Foundation’s XY Grid

Foundation’s XY Grid is a highly flexible grid system that allows for both horizontal and vertical alignment of elements, which is a relatively unique feature among CSS frameworks.

<div class="grid-x grid-margin-x">
  <div class="cell small-6 medium-4 large-2">Cell 1</div>
  <div class="cell small-6 medium-4 large-2">Cell 2</div>
  <!-- ... -->

The grid-x class defines a horizontal grid, and grid-margin-x adds horizontal spacing between cells. The cell class specifies a grid cell, and size classes (small-6, medium-4, large-2) define the cell’s width for different screen sizes.

Materialize’s 12-Column Grid

Materialize uses a standard 12-column grid similar to other CSS frameworks, which is straightforward and easy to understand, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

<div class="row">
  <div class="col s12 m6 l4">Column 1</div>
  <div class="col s12 m6 l4">Column 2</div>
  <!-- ... -->

In the example, row creates a horizontal block to contain columns, and col defines a column. The size classes (s12, m6, l4) control the column width across different device sizes.

Browser Support

When deciding between Foundation and Materialize, it’s essential to consider browser support, especially if you’re targeting a specific audience that may use older browsers.

  • Foundation is known for its wide browser support, including Internet Explorer 9 and up, though some advanced features may require polyfills for full functionality.
  • Materialize also supports all modern browsers but does not support Internet Explorer versions older than IE11.


Performance can be a deciding factor, especially for projects where speed and efficiency are paramount.

  • Foundation can be more lightweight if you utilize its custom download feature, which allows you to download only the components you need.
  • Materialize might be slightly heavier due to its dependency on jQuery, although it’s not a significant difference for most projects.

Community and Support

The community and support surrounding a framework can be crucial for long-term maintenance and troubleshooting.

  • Foundation boasts a large community with professional backing from ZURB. It has a dedicated forum, and active contributors on GitHub, and you can also find third-party tutorials and resources.
  • Materialize has a smaller but active community. While it might not have the same level of professional support as Foundation, it still has a good presence on platforms like GitHub and Stack Overflow.


Both Foundation and Materialize are powerful CSS frameworks that can help you build beautiful, responsive websites. The choice between them often comes down to personal preference and project requirements.

  • Choose Foundation if you need a highly customizable, professional-grade framework with a focus on accessibility and advanced features.
  • Opt for Materialize if you prefer a framework that adheres to Material Design principles and offers ease of use with ready-to-go components.

Regardless of your choice, both frameworks offer robust documentation and community support to help you along the way. Remember to consider factors like grid systems, browser support, performance, and community when making your decision.

Before you start your next project, explore the documentation and try out some code samples to get a feel for what each framework has to offer:

By thoroughly understanding the capabilities and differences between Foundation and Materialize, you’ll be well-equipped to select the right tool for your web development endeavors.

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