Comparing Lowe’s and Home Depot

August 1, 2011 | by Ethan (email) |

It’s a little embarrassing, but I attempted an impromptu poll from my new Google+ account. It completely flopped, and I had no responses. I think it’s something to do with the fact that I’ve only got about 40 people in my circles. That’s OK because I’ll try again in today’s post, and it’s a good opportunity for you to earn some project points!

When I take a hard look at Lowe’s and Home Depot, they have a lot in common. So what makes you pick one over the other? Did you have a bad experience, or is it something more mundane? I’d love to learn which you prefer, Lowe’s or Home Depot, and why? Remember, this is a family show so keep it clean.

home depot store front

They Have a Lot in Common

If you examine their return policies, both allot 90 days, and you can return items purchased online. Both allow customers to purchase online and pickup in store even though this is a recent development for Home Depot (May 2011). The price match guarantee is almost identical. Basically, if you can provide a competitor’s current ad, they’ll beat the price by 10%. Of course restrictions apply to things like labor & installation, clearance items and more.

Each retailer provides similar online promotions, and we keep a couple pages with all the current promotions for Lowe’s and Home Depot. If you plan on making an online purchase, check out these pages. Even if you don’t, give em a +1 to help us out.

Where Do I shop?

In my own experience, I usually shop at HD because its closer by about a half mile, plus I know some of the employees. For instance, Lawrence is a master plumber who has never steered me wrong, and Greg is the store manager. I do shop at Lowe’s occasionally, and it’s usually because they seem to have a better selection for things like vanities, sinks and light fixtures.

Images courtesy of jimg944, Drew Bloomfield SMJJP

29 Responses
  1. Big green (Menards) actually. I know they don’t cover the whole country but I choose them over the others mostly because of location and price. I’m usually going there for building supplies and they generally carry similar product. The only issue is that I sometimes have to search through a whole stack of lumber to find just a few choice boards. Worth the savings? Probably not.

  2. Patrick says:

    I pick home depot because i am a sucker for brand loyalty. I have some really good memories of going to the first Home Depot in Atlanta when I was a kid. The smell of fresh cut lumber reminds me of those memories…

  3. tom says:


    Compared with the Lowe’s near us, our THD has far superior customer service. I’ve found both have similar selections so the distinguishing characteristic comes down to customer service. THD seems to employ a more knowledgeable and helpful staff.

    I now take my 10% off Lowe’s coupons to THD.

  4. Eek565 says:

    We shop at both. HD is closer for quck things. Lowes seems to have a better selection. For customer service and plants we always go to ACE. They have a great seleciton of seedlings still. It’s not too late to plant!

  5. Joe says:

    I go to both, usually because some brands/items are exclusive to each chain so I go to where the things I need are.
    Given that the same item is at both stores, and at a very similar price, they’re both about the same distance from my house, then I prefer Lowes. It’s a bit closer to me and their credit card gives a 5% discount. Also, the store is brand new, or was soon after I moved into town, so its still pretty shiny inside.

    • Fred says:

      Does Lowe’s credit card gives a 5% discount on every purchase or just the first? Can you couple that discount with the 10% off coupons that come in the mail?

      • Joe says:

        Every single purchase, and I have not gotten one of those 10% coupons since I got the card, but I think it will work. Its 5% off the total of the order, and it comes when you swipe the card, I got it last week on a heavily discounted rug.

        Its the same at Target as well (but my wife got that card, not me) they take 5% off when you swipe their card.

  6. MissFixIt says:

    We just got Lowes In Canada in the past couple of years. I’m team Blue mainly because they carry stock that home depot does not and they seem to keep the place cleaner. Granted its not as busy so this is why but that helps me because I hate crowds and finding things out of stock.

    • Fred says:

      True around here too … Lowe’s has a more “homey” clean feel, while Depot seems more like a warehouse. I don’t mind the warehouse feel, but I think it makes it seem a little less polished.

  7. Fred says:

    Home Depot gets about 80% of our business. It just happens to be about a mile closer and the Lowe’s has an awkward parking situation. Unless there’s something we know we need at Lowe’s, they seem to carry most of the same stuff at the same price. If Lowe’s really does offer 5% back on all purchases with their credit card, that would persuade me to sign up with Lowe’s and shop there much more often.

  8. Gene says:

    Home Depot over Lowe’s, but that’s because it’s 12 miles closer. But I’ll shop at a local lumber store, plumbing supply, etc. if I can over HD.

  9. paintergal says:

    I’m with Jeff: Menards. We don’t have HD or Lowes within normal driving distance (1 1/2 hr away) but Menards is only a 20 minute drive.
    Although, if I have to choose between the two, I would pick Lowes. The store is an easy drive off the main road when we do go to that town an hour and a half away. The HD store is off the beaten track.

  10. Menards! All the way. The exact same thing costs significantly less than HD every single time. Period. Rustoleum floor epoxy, 4″ recessed lights, plywood, exterior trim, hard 6″ round ductwork, decking screws, safety glasses, fence hinges & hardware are all things we’ve found to cost much less at Menards even from the same brand. They also have better sales, better service, and an in store kiosk to find your receipt in case you ever needed to return something. There are lots of HD employees wandering around but they are never around when you need them and their desks are very understaffed. The large Menard’s store has half as many employees but better service. Go figure.

    The nearest Lowe’s is an hour and a half away but we’ve driven it multiple times to get products not available at either HD or Menards. Their online order and pick up works great.

  11. dadskills says:

    shop at both. I do find more helpful and knowledgable people at lowes.

  12. modernhousewife says:

    We go to both… I think HD tries to make their target audience more of the manly, do-it-yourselfer. I forget what brands it is or whatever, but my husband prefers some brand that they carry but lowes doesn’t. I think Loews does have more selection for girly things though. Side note that was incredibly funny to me. A co-worker who is incredibly closed-minded and inappropriate in the work place made the comment that HD “supports the homosexual agenda”. We laugh about that at our place all the time. If anything it probably makes me shop there more… 🙂

  13. markmarko50 says:

    Mainly Lowe’s for me, however my son lives 70 miles away and he travels 40 miles to go to his closest H.D. Both of us for the same reason…the service…in my hometown it’s Lowe’s, by his it’s Home Depot

  14. Andy says:

    I shop at both stores. I am in one or the other 3 – 4 times a week in my line of work. Other than the last 12 weeks of having a broken foot and no work at all.

    However, I prefer Lowes as they have a lot of little things that THD does not. They also offer better customer services as a whole. With a cleaner more homey feel.
    Have you ever waiting 2 hours at the special order desk for widows in THD? I have, and on more than once. Unless my customer wants something that only THD carries, I now recommend Lowes products and I have been very happy with the products and customer service.

    Finally, Lowes now offers 5% back on every purchase or their current special financing offer. You have to pick one or the other, you can not pick both. I believe you can still use coupons as well.

    I am currently considering getting a Lowes credit card just because of this offer since I shop there so often!

    Course in my area Lowes and Home Depot back up to each other, so driving to one or the other there is not real difference.

  15. Amateur DIYer says:

    Oh how I wish we had a Lowes by us. The closest is 1.5hr away. From what I understand they have much better prices and the few times I have to Lowes, they seem to have much more knowledgeable staff than HD – seems the many HD’s by us employ an army of teenagers who barely stock the shelves properly. We normally stick to our trusty local True Value.

    • Fred says:

      Hi Amateur DIYer! First time I’ve seen you on the site so I wanted to give you a welcome. True Value is definitely a decent solution if you have one nearby. I’ve been impressed with TV’s ability to compete with the big boys of home improvement.

  16. haus356 says:

    We shop at both. From the house, Lowe’s and HD are right across the street from each other but we usually end up at Lowe’s. From work the only option is HD. We’ve found the inventories very similar at both and usually shop around for larger purchases. I will say we prefer the wood at HD to that of Lowe’s or other regional hardware stores here.

    • Fred says:

      That’s pretty interesting, actually. What is the brand/difference of the wood?

      • haus356 says:

        I’m not sure about wood brand at each store, but just in my experience HD seemed to have straighter, truer boards with less imperfections than other local suppliers. YMMV.

  17. William says:

    I’m commenting on an older post, but I just found it.

    Anyways, I’m smack betwixt two Home Depots, and I have to pass a Lowe’s and an Ace Hardware to get to one of them. I use all four locations. I find that Ace is the only TRUE hardware chain left in the metro Atlanta area. Each one is a little different in what they carry. Some are smaller and stocked with only hardware store items, while some are larger and stock themselves more like a country hardware store (basically like a general store, with everything you could imagine). All of them have this in common, though: they stock rare and hard to find tools, hardware, and paint.

    Home Depot is MORE like the Walmart of home improvement, while Lowe’s feels more like Target. They both carry about the same stuff, but Home Depot, like Ace, stocks different items according to the demographic of the area. For instance, the Home Depot in Conyers, GA is closer to Atlanta and in a more suburban area than the Home Depot in Covington, GA. In Covington, closer to a more rural area, they stock items related to farm maintenance and larger DIY projects.

    I like the Husky brand at Home Depot better than Kobalt at Lowe’s. I don’t think it has anything to do with quality. They seem to have about the same quality tools, and similar offerings. Appearance-wise, I just prefer the look of Husky. They more closely resemble Crafstman and Snap-On tools, where Kobalt often adds rubber grips or “styling” to tools that don’t need it. Not everything needs a larger, rubbery grip.

    • Ethan says:

      Hey William,

      I agree with you about Ace. It always seems like they carry things I need that you can’t find at big box stores. Plus, you can tell they put a huge emphasis on treating their customers well. For instance, I went to return an item and realized it was after the return period. They still took it back.

      Thanks for your thoughts about HD vs. Lowes!

  18. William says:

    I like that the guys at Ace are usually older guys who have either held some sort of trade whereby they’ve gained the real-world experience to be able to help you, or they’ve just been around long enough to gain the knowledge that a man ought to have after 60 years of being a man. Knowledge that I, at 28, have not yet accrued. One of the Ace stores near me has tools that have been obsolete for 30 years. For instance, I once found a 14 foot wooden pole with an oddly curved, round shovel on the end. Started asking guys what it was, and the younger ones didn’t know, as it had been in the store longer than they had. One of the grey-haired fellows finally knew what it was. A spoon shovel. Used to be used to clean out the bottoms of post holes for large poles like power poles. They had all sorts of crazy hand tools like that.

Leave a Reply