The Bootstrap framework is quite popular with web designers. It provides everything you need to get a design project off to a running start. Plus, it’s been created with mobile devices in mind.

On the downside, it seems like many sites using Bootstrap tend to have a similar look and layout. But that is more of a product of taking design shortcuts rather than an indictment on the framework itself. Going beyond the default styles is quite possible and much easier than you may think.

With that in mind, we went on a search for free Bootstrap templates that lean toward the barebones end of the spectrum. They offer a virtual clean slate and give you the power to customize both the look and layout as much as you’d like. So, instead of ripping apart an existing design, you can get straight to making your own mark.

You might also like these Free Bootstrap Dashboard Admin Templates.

Bare

Bare is designed to help you get started without any fuss. There are no fancy styles applied and it comes with predefined paths. The template works with Bootstrap 4 and sports a fixed top navigation.

Bare bootstrap template

Simplex

Touted as both “Mini and Minimalist”, Simplex contains some basic styles that will provide you with a great starting point. You’ll find minimal navigation, buttons, typography, forms, containers and more goodies within this lightweight package.

Simplex bootstrap template

Understrap

Understrap is a clever mix of Automattic’s Underscores barebones WordPress theme and Bootstrap. Thus, your next WordPress project can utilize Bootstrap without the excess bloat of a prebuilt theme. Understrap features Bootstrap 4, is compatible with the WordPress Customizer and supports WooCommerce.

Understrap bootstrap template

Initializr

Initializr will generate a simple HTML template based on your requirements. Bootstrap 3.3.1 can be bundled right in with your template.

Initializr bootstrap template

Bootply

Use Bootply to build your own custom Boostrap starter template. Using their online builder, you can make things as simple (or complex) as you’d like. There are options for different layouts, various sidebars (including off-canvas) and more.

Bootply bootstrap template

WP Bootstrap Starter

WP Bootstrap Starter is aimed at developers who want to build upon basic features to make their own custom theme. Like Understrap above, it’s based on Underscores. That means it’s lightweight and ready for full-on customization.

WP Bootstrap Starter bootstrap template

LayoutIt!

LayoutIt! is a tool featuring a drag-and-drop interface for quickly building Bootstrap-based templates. There are three base templates to choose from (Starter, Basic Marketing Site and Article). Once you’ve selected a template, you’ll be able to add elements such as grids, components and even JavaScript. You can have a basic, yet functional template set up within minutes.

LayoutIt! bootstrap template

Sage

A competitor to Undesrcores, Sage is a WordPress starter theme that comes with Bootstrap baked right in. The theme features task automation via gulp, and the ability to easily add front-end packages via Bower. Template markup is based on HTML5 Boilerplate.

Sage bootstrap template

Bootstrap 4 Starter Template

If you’re looking for dead simple way to start off a new site, WebNots has put together their own Bootstrap 4 Starter Template. Not only can you grab a copy of their template, there is also a handy guide for building your own.

Bootstrap 4 Starter Template bootstrap template

BS Starter

BS Starter provides the basics you’ll need to get up and running with your design project. The template features a full-width slider and is minimally styled. It gives you just enough to help you create your own look and layout.

BS Starter bootstrap template

Give Complex Templates the Boot

When embarking on a new project, you’re better off using a starter template that lets you make all of the important design decisions. That’s where these minimal and barebones options really shine. Instead of having a Bootstrap-based theme that simply looks like everyone else, you’ll have the flexibility to use the framework to create something unique.

Written by Eric Karkovack

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. He also has an opinion on just about every subject. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.