Homeowner Help: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

I don’t think I’ve spent as much time visiting hardware stores as I have in the last eight months. Our local hardware store is an Ace, which we use for small parts and screws. It’s a bit pricier than the big box stores, but it’s also only a half mile from our house. We also do some garden shopping at OSH. However, our main hardware stores are Home Depot and Lowe’s. The nearest Home Depot is five miles away and the nearest Lowe’s is ten miles away. We’ve found that both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Home Depot vs. Lowe’s Prices
It really depends on what you’re looking for. Some items are cheaper at Lowe’s, others are cheaper at Home Depot. Overall, I’d say that Home Depot is probably cheaper for most of the items we’ve purchased, but not so much cheaper that we’d automatically choose one store over the other.

Customer Service Comparison
Lowe’s customer service is light years ahead of Home Depot’s. While I can sometimes find good help at Home Depot, often I find myself wandering to even find someone who can help. Our local Home Depots seem to have a lot of clueless teens working there. For example, when we moved into our house, neither of our fireplaces had screens. It was August, but we thought we might be able to find something. The kid at Home Depot said, and I’m not making this up, “What’s a fireplace screen?”

When I shop at Lowe’s, there are always knowledgeable people on hand to help me find what I need. If the person I ask doesn’t know the answer, he’ll find someone who does. (Yes, it’s always a man. I’ve never seen a woman anywhere except the register.)

Selection Comparison
In general, Home Depot has more products, but Lowe’s sometimes has a better selection in specific categories. I prefer Lowe’s garden and lighting departments, but Home Depot’s tool and lumber sections are better. Doors and windows are about the same, but Home Depot has more appliances.

Lowe’s seems better organized. It’s much easier to find items and prices for them. I usually end up wandering around for a while in Home Depot until I find what I need.

Home Depot Coupons vs. Lowe’s Coupons
This isn’t even a contest. Lowe’s wins. When we moved into our house, our real estate agent signed us up for Lowe’s mailing list. In addition to a 20% coupon that was good for three months, we received numerous “project” coupons, usually for 10-20% off. I signed up for the Home Depot coupon new homeowner 20% coupon, which was only good for about two weeks after I received. The store still accepted it, but it was a bit more of a hassle. I signed up for additional newsletters to get more coupons, but they tend to be discounts on particular products I don’t need.

I found the paint color options at Lowe’s to be much better than Home Depot’s. Home Depot’s colors always seem just a little bit off, and they don’t have a wide selection. Lowe’s has several paint collections and I found several great colors there. They also have small sample pints that are very cheap. I didn’t end up actually buying my paint from Lowe’s, but I had two of their colors paint-matched at our local Benjamin Moore store so I could use Aura paint. Lowe’s green paint colors were the best I found anywhere.

Overall, Lowe’s is better for the new homeowners and small-time DIYers. If you need home décor hardware, Lowe’s is a good choice. If you know exactly what you need or have a big project, opt for Home Depot.

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