CSS grid layout models, when to flex and when to use grid.

CSS grid layout models, when to flex and when to use grid.

How can understanding Flexbox and CSS Grid improve your web design?

These two powerful CSS layout models offer different approaches to creating responsive layouts. This article examines whether Flexbox can be used exclusively for two-dimensional layouts and compares it to CSS Grid, providing a comprehensive guide to help you make informed decisions in your web design projects.

Here’s a comparison between using Flexbox (flex), using no layout model, and using the CSS Grid layout model:

Flexbox (flex)


  1. Alignment and Distribution:

    • Easily align and distribute space among items within a container, even when their size is unknown or dynamic.

    • Vertically and horizontally center elements with ease.

  2. Responsive Design:

    • Flex items can grow or shrink to fill available space, making it easier to create responsive layouts.

    • Flexible dimensions and spacing adapt to different screen sizes.

  3. Direction Control:

    • Change the direction of elements (row or column) with a single property (flex-direction).

    • Supports both horizontal and vertical layouts seamlessly.

  4. Order Management:

    • Change the visual order of elements without altering the HTML structure (order property).
  5. Spacing and Wrapping:

    • Control spacing between items (justify-content, align-items, gap).

    • Handle wrapping of items within a container (flex-wrap).

Example Usage:

cssCopy code.container {
  display: flex;
  justify-content: center;
  align-items: center;
  flex-wrap: wrap;

.item {
  flex: 1;
  min-width: 200px;

Using No Layout Model


  1. Manual Management:

    • Requires manual calculation and setting of dimensions, margins, and padding to achieve the desired layout.

    • Difficult to manage and maintain, especially for complex or responsive layouts.

  2. Lack of Flexibility:

    • Hard to create flexible and adaptive layouts that work well across different screen sizes and orientations.

    • Requires media queries and additional CSS to handle different layouts.

Example Without Flexbox:

cssCopy code.container {
  /* No display property to control layout */

.item {
  width: 30%;
  margin: 10px;
  /* Manual spacing and sizing */

Flexbox (flex) vs. Grid


  • One-Dimensional Layout: Flexbox is designed for one-dimensional layouts (either row or column).

  • Alignment: Excellent for aligning items within a single row or column.

  • Simpler Use Cases: Best suited for simpler layouts like navigation bars, horizontal or vertical centering, and small-scale components.

CSS Grid:

  • Two-Dimensional Layout: CSS Grid is designed for two-dimensional layouts (both rows and columns).

  • Complex Layouts: Ideal for creating complex, grid-based layouts with precise control over rows and columns.

  • Grid Areas: Allows defining grid areas and positioning elements within those areas, offering greater control over the overall layout.

Example Usage of CSS Grid:

cssCopy code.container {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(3, 1fr);
  grid-gap: 10px;

.item {
  /* Grid properties to span multiple columns/rows if needed */
  grid-column: span 2;

When to Use Which:

  • Use Flexbox: When you need a simple, one-dimensional layout or need to align and distribute space among items within a container. Examples include navigation bars, centering elements, and simple responsive design.

  • Use CSS Grid: When you need a more complex, two-dimensional layout. Examples include overall page layouts, complex grids, and applications where you need precise control over both rows and columns.

In summary, Flexbox (flex) is powerful for many layout tasks, especially when dealing with one-dimensional layouts and responsive design. For more complex, two-dimensional layouts, CSS Grid provides additional capabilities and flexibility.