Beaver Builder Theme Review: Who Should Use It, and Why

beaver builder theme review

In this article, I review the Beaver Builder Theme, the official “framework theme” by the developers of the Beaver Builder page builder plugin.

We’ll start with the quick stuff: the overall verdict, and a review table breaking down how the Beaver Builder Theme stacks up.

Beaver Builder Theme: The Verdict

A Beautifully Built WordPress Starter Theme

Beaver Builder Theme

“What if the Beaver Builder guys built a theme?” The answer is Beaver Builder Theme: a theme that’s as cleanly, thoughtfully, and reliably built as any we’ve seen in WordPress.

Unlike many commercial themes, Beaver Builder Theme doesn’t try to have “an option for everything,” and its options may even be too sparse in places. This may sometimes frustrate less technical users, but the focus and simplicity makes Beaver Builder Theme straightforward, sturdy, and a great choice for advanced users and developers.

Beaver Builder Theme Review Table

Below is a detailed breakout of the Beaver Builder Theme’s strengths and weaknesses:

Beaver Builder Theme (bundles with Beaver Builder Pro)
beaver builder pro | wordpress starter theme
User-Friendly?4.2-As clean and approachable as WordPress themes get.
-Fully Customizer-based options interface.
-Doesn't have a "knob for everything," which may challenge less technical users.
Feature-Rich?4.0-Does a good job of covering most needs that most users should have.
-Less technical users may feel stuck when options they expect are missing.
-Minor options are sometimes present in one place and missing in others.
Well-Built?4.9-A model of clean, thoughtful, trustworthy architecture, from design choices to template files to user interfaces.
-A rock-solid choice to build any WordPress site around.
Reliable?4.9-High-quality construction means it works exactly as advertised.
Overall4.5-The opposite of the average "badly built, option-stuffed" premium theme, Beaver Themer is a beautifully solid starter theme that is especially well-suited for experienced assemblers and developers.

About the Reviewer

Hi! I’m Fred Meyer. I’ve been writing about WordPress nearly every week for more than five years here on WPShout. I’m also co-founder of boutique web agency Press Up, where my day job is making WordPress websites for people, especially small businesses.

I fell in love with the Beaver Builder plugin in 2017, for reasons I detail in our review of Beaver Builder. The short version is that I found Beaver Builder to be the first WordPress page builder that’s actually good enough to use on client projects. I’ve written a lengthy review on why I consider it hands-down the best WordPress page builder on the market, both then and now.

However, I’ve been hesitant to upgrade to Beaver Builder Pro, which you have to do to get the Beaver Builder Theme. I tend to shy away from WordPress frameworks, including theme frameworks, because I don’t like being locked in to one organization’s way of doing things. I finally bit the bullet and upgraded, so this is my first time trying the Beaver Builder Theme, and seeing if it’s worth overcoming my natural suspicion of all-in-one theme-plus-plugin solutions.

This article uses affiliate links when talking about Beaver Builder, because we like, use, have built numerous personal and client sites with (as well as installing it after-the-fact to modify existing sites), and happily recommend its product. This post was not commissioned or altered by Beaver Builder or any other third party. It is an honest, unbiased review of the Beaver Builder Pro tier, and specifically the Beaver Builder Theme, based on my personal experience testing the theme.

What Beaver Builder Theme Is

Beaver Builder Theme is an official “framework theme” by the developers of the Beaver Builder plugin.

Beaver Builder Theme is the official Beaver Builder theme, built by the same team who built the Beaver Builder plugin. That team wants you to use the two tools together as a combined approach to WordPress website creation.

It’s possible to get confused about how Beaver Builder’s various offerings fit together, so keep the following in mind:

  • You don’t have to use the Beaver Builder theme in order to use the Beaver Builder plugin: Beaver Builder will work on any WordPress site.
  • Conversely, you can use the Beaver Builder theme without the Beaver Builder plugin. I can’t think why you’d want to, but the point is that they’re entirely separate pieces of software that you can use separately.
  • To get the Beaver Builder Theme, you have to upgrade from “Beaver Builder Standard” to “Beaver Builder Pro,” which is an extra $100—followed by an extra $60 per year if you want continuous updates and support.
  • The Beaver Builder Theme is not the same as Beaver Themer, which is a plugin that is an extension for the Beaver Builder plugin. Buying Beaver Builder Pro does not get you access to Beaver Themer, either—you have to purchase it separately. This confused me greatly: I thought “Beaver Themer” was the theme right up until shortly before publishing this article, which is why you’ll see accidental references to “Beaver Themer” in some of the screenshots below.

How I Tested the Beaver Builder Theme

I set myself a goal: duplicate the key design elements of a Squarespace site I built in 2017.

When I first used Squarespace, it was a revelation: this is what using a drag-and-drop layout builder should be like. Later, Beaver Builder mostly caught up, and so I rarely see good reason to use the much more limited Squarespace platform.

However, what remains mind-blowingly good to me about Squarespace is the design, so I wanted to test my ability to duplicate a Squarespace site design in WordPress using Beaver Builder and the Beaver Builder Theme. I also thought I’d make the site with my wife in mind, in case she ever does start a nonprofit consulting business, so I changed the topic of the site from my own topic to that.

Here’s the result: wpshout.com/beaver-themer-test-site. I added a couple extra pages to test them (the “Template Test” and “Products” pages), but really my goal was to duplicate the key elements of the Squarespace site, and particularly its homepage.

Testing the Beaver Builder Theme: Overall Results

As you can see, my overall experience duplicating my Squarespace site using Beaver Builder Pro—theme and plugin together—was very much “mission accomplished.” Here are the Squarespace site and the Beaver Builder Theme demo site side-by-side:

Beaver Themer Squarespace comparison

Click to enlarge, or visit Squarespace site

The Squarespace homepage is longer; I easily could’ve duplicated every element on the Beaver Builder Theme demo homepage, but once I’d done anything that posed a challenge—hero image, navigation, layouts, typography—I didn’t feel the need to bother repeating that to fill in the rest.

The total build took me about four hours, without reading the Beaver Builder Theme’s documentation (which I still haven’t). It’s mobile-responsive, reliable and non-buggy, loads quickly, and is in every way a great replacement for the Squarespace site—and, relative to a Squarespace site, having an equally beautifully designed WordPress site is so much better because of WordPress’s vastly more powerful and flexible architecture.

Now: How much of this good result was the Beaver Builder plugin, and how much was the Beaver Builder Theme? And what was the theme like to work with in general? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros: Where the Beaver Builder Theme Excels

These were positives in my experience on upgrading to Beaver Builder Pro and working with the Beaver Builder Theme.

An Actually Good WordPress Starter Theme

The main point I want to make about the Beaver Builder Theme is not related to how it integrates with the Beaver Builder plugin, because with a couple of small exceptions, the Beaver Builder Theme and Beaver Builder function fully separately. This is mostly how a theme and a plugin should be—a fundamental principle of WordPress is that you should be able to turn one off and keep the other—but for people who are expecting a magical, everything-talks-to-everything ultra-framework, I discuss how the Beaver Builder plugin and theme might disappoint that expectation in “Cons.”

So the biggest strength of the Beaver Builder Theme is not: “How the Beaver Builder Theme integrates with Beaver Builder to make everything magically simple.” Rather, it’s: “How the Beaver Builder Theme makes a great, rock-solid choice of WordPress starter theme,” whatever you’re able to do—or not—with Beaver Builder from there.

The moment I activated the theme, I felt happy, because I saw this:

beaver builder theme demo
It’s so simple and uncluttered. And that tells me that the Beaver Builder team, as usual, have their heads on straight: they’re trying to deliver something clean and customizable—a sane place to start—not an overstuffed “Your dream WordPRess in just 2 (two) clicks!!!” monstrosity.

The responsible decisions continue with entirely Customizer-based theme options:

beaver builder theme review customizer options

I loved not only the ease and intuitiveness of the interface choice, but also the theme options themselves, which covered most (but not all, see Cons below) of what I wanted without being overstuffed.

I needed to dip into PHP one time—to create a white logo on the homepage and a blue logo everywhere else—and I was very pleased to learn that the theme uses hooks the proper and normal way. That made coding in it very easy:

beaver builder theme review code demo

If you want to program in the Beaver Builder Theme, it’ll really help you to know object-oriented PHP, but there’s no “everything’s a proprietary theme function” foolishness, no Genesis-style event-driven abstraction, or anything else that would keep you from working with it like you would in any solidly built WordPress theme.

The Beaver Builder Theme is a good theme choice in general, however much you use the Beaver Builder plugin.

The bottom line is that the Beaver Builder Theme is a good theme to build anything from, however much you do or don’t use the Beaver Builder plugin. I’ve always used Understrap and other free options as starter themes, but those options always have a way of making things complicated that should be simple. They assume you’re a new-toys, gulpfile.js kind of developer, which I’m not. Beaver Builder strikes a perfect balance: great for power users, for hardcore developers, and for everyone in between. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to spend $100 on a WordPress starter theme, but now that I’ve got it, it’s my starter theme of choice.

Theme Options that Make Life Easy

In my experience, every one of the Beaver Builder Theme’s features belongs there, and they all make life easier. A great example is the auto-integration of Google Fonts into the theme, which means one less plugin I need to install. In fact, the header and body font choices in general were a lovely balance of “everything I needed, nothing I didn’t”:

Similarly, I appreciated being able to simply style the site’s nav menu across a few good options, to set theme colors, default button styles, and so on.

I especially loved the “Layout” panel, which lets you set a main content width, control responsive breakpoints, and more:

beaver builder pro review beaver builder theme review layout options

These are awesome things to be able to control yourself: the sorts of underlying choices that a theme should let you control, rather than only superficial elements around color and font.

Pros: Summing Up

The full story is that the Beaver Builder Theme is a very strong WordPress starter theme, full stop. That has very little to do with the Beaver Builder page builder plugin: the theme is an entirely separate piece of software that only interacts lightly with the plugin. It just happens to be “how the Beaver Builder guys would build a theme,” and brings that same thoughtful, clean, reliable mentality. It’s simply a starter theme that’s a breath of fresh air—not much more or less.

Cons: Where the Beaver Builder Theme Falls Short

Here’s where the Beaver Builder Theme leaves pieces to be desired.

Don’t Expect Lots of Tight, Magical Integrations with the Beaver Builder Plugin

the Beaver Builder Theme does a really cool thing where a page’s content area automatically fills out to full-width if you’re using Beaver Builder on that page:

But if you’re not using Beaver Builder on the page, its content area is automatically boxed:

For the most part, Beaver Builder and the Beaver Builder Theme function as entirely separate pieces of software.

This is an example of a cool, seamless integration between Beaver Builder and the Beaver Builder Theme. It’s also pretty much the example I noticed: in every other regard I was aware of, they functioned as entirely separate pieces of software.

Beaver Builder Pro’s promotional language (as you’d expect) doesn’t make this completely clear: for example, its page on the theme highlights all the Beaver Builder templates you get access to. But these are features of the plugin, not the theme. I tested these Beaver Builder templates on other themes, and they indeed work just as well on any theme with full-width content areas.

Is this loose coupling of functionality really a “Con”? In some sense, not really: your WordPress theme should be independent of your page builder plugin. However, for people who are hoping for some kind of zoomy experience that’s as seamless and integrated as the two wings of a bird, Beaver-Builder-plus-Beaver-Builder-Theme is definitely not that.

Beyond that, the Beaver Builder Theme seemed to have a few areas where I actually expected it to integrate with Beaver Builder, and it didn’t. One example is the color palettes: all the theme’s Customizer-based styles don’t actually load over your Beaver Builder color presets, meaning that you have to look back and forth to line up your theme’s colors with the colors you use in the plugin. The plugin also doesn’t pick up on the theme’s responsive breakpoints, so it’s possible to have them obeying two sets of breakpoints unless you manually change both sets of settings, which seems odd.

Some Missing Options

I was able to easily get the Beaver Builder Theme to do everything I wanted, but: I know CSS.

I was able to easily get the Beaver Builder Theme to do everything I wanted, but with one caveat: I know CSS. My experience with Beaver Builder’s theme was seamless, but it would have been less so if I didn’t have that piece of technical background.

The main reason I needed to use CSS was because some theme options that would have been useful weren’t present:

  • Getting to set default bottom margins for h1 elements.
  • Getting to set default margins for p elements.
  • Getting to control the letter-spacing property of the nav menu items.
  • Getting to control the spacing of featured images on the blog page.

Below you can see the CSS I coded for each of those needs.

beaver builder theme custom css

The absence of some of these options is puzzling. For example, the theme’s font controls for header elements (h1s and so on), and for main body text, allow you to set the letter-spacing property. So it’s odd that they would leave letter-spacing off the font controls for the nav menu. They did the same with the default button styling, which also has no padding options—definitely not a mistake that the Beaver Builder plugin would (or does) make.

And “Footer Settings” is, very strangely, missing any font size controls whatsoever—like every website will want to let its footer font be whatever the Beaver Builder team decided:

beaver builder theme footer settings

Similarly, in my little bit of playing with WooCommerce for the Beaver Builder theme, I noticed that the Shop page has only a four-column option—no way to control the number of columns themselves:

the Beaver Builder Theme woocommerce layout

This overall experience with the Beaver Builder Theme is exactly how the Beaver Builder plugin itself is: it’s immensely powerful, but you’ll enjoy it most if you have just a bit of technical knowledge (especially CSS) to cover for a missing switch or two. It can feel a bit too stripped-down: it’s some of the cleanest, sturdiest, most reliable software I’ve seen in WordPress, but sometimes it’s a little too clean, like those iPhones with no buttons or headphone ports. A slightly more abundant approach would be nice.

Cons: Summing Up

The Beaver Builder Theme will probably be most exciting to WordPress creators with a bit of technical knowledge.

The bottom line is that the Beaver Builder Theme, like Beaver Builder, will probably be maximally exciting to WordPress power users, implementers, and developers with just a bit of technical knowledge, and especially who are competent in CSS. Other people will probably love it too, but they may find themselves wishing there were options to get them the last mile on a few small things they want to do.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Buy Beaver Builder Pro

You should buy Beaver Builder Pro unless you already have a WordPress starter theme you love.

First off, everyone who builds WordPress websites should have access to Beaver Builder Standard ($99, with $99 yearly support-and-renewal updates). This is the package that gives you full access to the core Beaver Builder page builder plugin.

However, to get access to the Beaver Builder Theme, you need to upgrade to Beaver Builder Pro ($199, with $199 yearly support-and-renewal updates). Who should take the extra step, and who shouldn’t?

You Should Buy Beaver Builder Pro If…

  • You’re a WordPress power user, assembler, or developer, looking for a rock-solid choice in starter theme for one or many future web projects.
  • You’re considering going on ThemeForest and buying a $40-$70 commercial theme. Don’t! We promise this will result in a better-built website for you.
  • You’ve fallen in love with the Beaver Builder team’s approach to WordPress software development (us too), and you’ve found that other starter themes’ attempts to simplify things often end up making them more complicated (us too).
  • You want Beaver Builder for a WordPress Multisite. (That’s the other added feature in Pro, so the theme comes along free in that case.)

You Shouldn’t Buy Beaver Builder Pro If…

  • You just need to get a single, simple WordPress site up and are fine with a theme you already have. Skipping Beaver Builder Pro will save you $100 up-front and $60 a year from there.
  • You’re a full-fledged WordPress developer and you already have a WordPress starter theme you love, such as _s, Understrap, or many others.
  • You’re looking for a tightly integrated theme+plugin=everything experience.
  • Also don’t accidentally buy Beaver Builder Pro if you’re really trying to buy the Beaver Themer extension—they’re different things.

Beaver Builder Theme: A Dam Good WordPress Starter Theme

Summing up: the Beaver Builder Theme is not a must-have for you to do great work with the Beaver Builder page builder plugin.

However, it’s something even rarer: a rock-solid starter theme that keeps things actually simple for intermediate and advanced WordPress users, assemblers, and developers, rather than making them so-simple-they’re-actually-complicated-unless-you’re-a-hypernerd. If that sounds good to you, give Beaver Builder Pro a try.

A Beautifully Built WordPress Starter Theme

Beaver Builder Theme

“What if the Beaver Builder guys built a theme?” The answer is Beaver Builder Theme: a theme that’s as cleanly, thoughtfully, and reliably built as any we’ve seen in WordPress.

Unlike many commercial themes, Beaver Builder Theme doesn’t try to have “an option for everything,” and its options may even be too sparse in places. This may sometimes frustrate less technical users, but the focus and simplicity makes Beaver Builder Theme straightforward, sturdy, and a great choice for advanced users and developers.


2 Responses

Comments

  • To me, i will say that Gutenberg have matched up with these builder plugins. I don’t really like installing many plugins on my blog

  • Thanks for this Fred.

    I made the switch from Genesis to the Beaver Builder theme nearly 4 years ago and it suits me perfectly. It’s solid, simple and reliable. The value of it is probably lost on most.

    Beaver Themer is doing much of the work now for me, but I still would not be without it.

    I completely agree with your missing options. Also the more recent buttons options feels half done. The theory is you can globally match your theme buttons with what is in the page builder, but without the padding and icon options you really can’t . I really should have reported that as I suspect I am not the only not using it.

    I have the Beaver.Team’s Pro plugin that links the theme and page builder’s colour palette. They have a knack for coming up with things that probably should be in Beaver Builder and they often do later.

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