A lattice Boltzmann (LB) model is proposed for simulating fluid flow in porous media by allowing the aggregates of finer-scale pores and solids to be treated as ‘equivalent media’. This model employs a partially bouncing-back scheme to mimic the resistance of each aggregate, represented as a gray node in the model, to the fluid flow. Like several other lattice Boltzmann models that take the same approach, which are collectively referred to as gray lattice Boltzmann (GLB) models in this paper, it introduces an extra model parameter, ns, which represents a volume fraction of fluid particles to be bounced back by the solid phase rather than the volume fraction of the solid phase at each gray node. The proposed model is shown to conserve the mass even for heterogeneous media, while this model and that model of Walsh et al. (2009) , referred to the WBS model thereafter, are shown analytically to recover Darcy–Brinkman’s equations for homogenous and isotropic porous media where the effective viscosity and the permeability are related to ns and the relaxation parameter of LB model. The key differences between these two models along with others are analyzed while their implications are highlighted. An attempt is made to rectify the misconception about the model parameter ns being the volume fraction of the solid phase. Both models are then numerically verified against the analytical solutions for a set of homogenous porous models and compared each other for another two sets of heterogeneous porous models of practical importance. It is shown that the proposed model allows true no-slip boundary conditions to be incorporated with a significant effect on reducing errors that would otherwise heavily skew flow fields near solid walls. The proposed model is shown to be numerically more stable than the WBS model at solid walls and interfaces between two porous media. The causes to the instability in the latter case are examined. The link between these two GLB models and a generalized Navier–Stokes model  for heterogeneous but isotropic porous media are explored qualitatively. A procedure for estimating model parameter ns is proposed.