Lowe’s vs. Home Depot: Where Should You Shop?

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Deciding between shopping at Lowe's and Home Depot? We broke down the benefits of shopping at each to help you choose between the two wisely.

Choosing between Lowe’s and The Home Depot can be daunting, since the differences between the two mega-retailers can be difficult to discern. Both offer an exceptional variety of home improvement products and are constantly competing with each other over pricing and perks.

What’s the Difference Between Lowe’s and The Home Depot?

Both Lowe’s and The Home Depot offer a wide selection of everything one might need to improve, beautify or fix up their home. But each retailer features nuances only they can claim.

Only Lowe’s carries in-house brands like Stainmaster carpet, allen + roth home décor and Project Source kitchen cabinets. The Home Depot, on the other hand, is known for its proprietary brands, including Behr Paint, ChemDry carpet stain removers and Ryobi tools.

Both retailers provide skilled tradespeople and staff experts to guide customers needing extra help and information. Your store preferences may come down to the store atmosphere and the brands you like most.

Lowe’s

With roughly 2,200 stores across North America, it’s hard to find a city or large town without this iconic big box store. If you’re shopping in-store at Lowe’s, you’ll find a well-lit warehouse atmosphere that offers everything you need and little of what you don’t. Shopping at Lowe’s is never about the frills; it’s about utility, access to products at appealing prices and customer service.

The selection of hand tools at Lowe’s is also impressive. The retailer offers particularly detailed and high-end products other stores don’t stock as readily. Customers at Lowe’s and The Home Depot report knowledgeable and friendly staff members, with The Home Depot edging Lowe’s ratings in this department. More on that later.

Lowe’s return policy also something keeps customers coming back. “Most new, unused merchandise can be refunded or exchanged with proof of purchase within 90 days of the original purchase date,” according to the company’s web site.

There are few exceptions to this rule. In some instances members of Lowe’s Business Advantage and Business Rewards programs may have 365 days to make returns. Some commercial purchases also fall into this category. It’s something Lowe’s in-store shopping pros rave about, making it easier for contractors and tradespeople to work more efficiently and with less stress.

Our Favorite Lowe’s Products:

The Home Depot

Shopping at The Home Depot is similar to Lowe’s, though reviewers and shoppers report The Home Depot employees seem to be slightly more attentive to customer needs and requests.

There’s a good reason, too. The Home Depot employees participate in a Direct Stock Purchase and shareholder system that makes every employee an equity holder in the company. While we can’t say for sure how much that helps, we’re betting it plays an important role.

The store itself is a no-frills, warehouse-like shopping experience similar to Lowe’s. Expect tall ceilings, high shelves and dozens of departments for everything from plumbing equipment to cabinetry. The best time to shop at The Home Depot is mid-afternoon when the store isn’t quite as busy.

The Home Depot has 2,300 locations across North America, slightly more than Lowe’s, making accessing in-store purchases and pickups more convenient for shoppers in certain locales.

Like Lowe’s, The Home Depot offers a 90-day return policy. “Simply take your purchase back to any Home Depot and get your money back instantly or exchange for something else,” according to the company web site. “Be sure to bring a copy of your receipt or shipping confirmation email, credit card you used for the item and valid I.D.”

One of The Home Depot’s little-known policies is that it will sometimes negotiate on opened items and clearance section products. It’s a great opportunity to buy the best of The Home Depot’s spring products a few months later at unheard-of prices.

Our Favorite Home Depot Products:

Black Friday 2021: Lowe’s vs. The Home Depot’s Sales

Both stores do their best to reel customers in with enticing deals and irresistible doorbuster offerings for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Typically we see Lowe’s and The Home Depot offer discounts on major appliances and free upgrades like delivery and removal of old appliances. You can also expect major pushes on seasonal offerings like electrical gear for outdoor holiday lighting displays and Christmas trees.

Even before Black Friday, you can find early deals on DeWalt tools, Samsung refrigerators, and Google Nest smart home devices at The Home Depot for Black Friday. And Lowe’s is offering a special Cyber Deals section, with new deals being dropped daily. Be sure and bookmark the page to stay updated on each day’s product selections.

Customers may not realize the Lowe’s Last Chance Deals and Home Depot Savings Center sections are also brimming with rock-bottom pricing on items from previous seasons. These products may be offered at up to 70 percent off retail pricing.

The Bottom Line

You can’t lose by shopping at either store, because both offer an exceptional range of home improvement items at low prices.

Choosing the right one for you comes down to your preferred brand range. Behr paints and Anderson Windows are only available at The Home Depot, while Lowe’s is the exclusive retailer of popular competitors like Pella Windows.

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Bryce Gruber
As Home Editor, Bryce Gruber covers gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at The Family Handyman. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.