Lowes vs Home Depot [2021]: Which Retailer is Better?

Lowes vs Home Depot [2021]: Which Retailer is Better?

Asking whether you like Lowe’s or Home Depot better is like asking Puffs or Kleenex? Walmart or Target? Do you put the toilet paper roll on the holder with the tab facing up or down? Everyone has their preference, and to be honest, I’m pretty passionate about mine. So I set out to find out what other people thought.

After all, I am all about home improvement, and if one truly is better than the other, I want to know about it. Now, I won’t tell you which one I prefer until the end. In an effort to be unbiased, I went into this comparison with an open mind, so I hope you’ll do the same, even if you already made up your mind which one you like better.

I may not be able to change your mind, but I can present the facts and let you decide for yourself which store might work for you.

Main Differences Between Lowe’s vs Home Depot

The main differences between Lowe’s vs Home Depot are:

  • Lowe’s does not offer a rental service, whereas Home Depot does.
  • Lowe’s targets professionals in the industry, whereas Home Depot targets the everyday consumer or DIY hobbyist
  • Lowe’s offers a wider selection of appliances, whereas Home Depot offers a wider selection of flooring.
  • Lowe’s tends to be pickier about the items they carry and their prices are higher, whereas Home Depot carries a wider variety of general products
  • Lowe’s has a better social media presence, appealing to a younger generation, whereas Home Depot has a better mobile app, improving your shopping experience.

Lowe’s

Lowe’s

The first thing you may notice about Lowe’s is that they tend to give off a more professional vibe. They speak to their consumers as if they already know what they’re doing. They’ve been growing and adding stores since they opened in 1946 and currently have more than 2000 stores all over North America. They also partner with Woolworths Limited to set up a chain of stores in Australia.

Customer service: experience, friendliness, overall experience

Lowe’s has good customer service, but depending on the store, it could use improvement. They do get some bad reviews about rude or unhelpful staff, but for the most part, there are more good reviews than bad. Amid the good reviews, there will always be instances of a staff member not behaving in a professional manner.

While home improvement stores trying to staff their garden and lumber departments with seasoned professionals, I’ll say that, in my experience, Lowe’s doesn’t do as good of a job as Home Depot for a couple of reasons. You’ll find a veteran every now and then, but for the most part, Lowe’s will hire anyone and then educate them on the job. You won’t always find someone who knows the answer to your question.

They tend to assume that the people shopping in their stores know what they’re doing, rather than being willing to reach out and help someone who looks confused. If you are the type of person who doesn’t like asking for help, you’ll have to get over that shopping at Lowe’s. They won’t approach you as readily as someone at Home Depot will. You’ll have to let them know you need them.

Lowe’s also has a younger group of people working there. I’m not sure if it’s about appearing more modern or appealing to a younger generation, but compared to Home Depot, the staff is regularly significantly younger. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to less knowledgeable, it does make some shoppers nervous.

Customer base and target market

Lowe’s often markets to professionals or phrases their marketing in a way that makes the everyday consumer feel like a professional. What you may find interesting, is that more women choose Lowe’s over Home Depot.

Lowe’s arranges its displays with extra focus on making them decorative and eye-catching. This appeals more to the visual consumer, attracting more women into the store. They have continued to arrange displays in this way because it works for them.

Store brands and items in stock

Bosch vs Makita Power Tools

In terms of the number of appliances in stock at the store, I have to give the edge to Lowe’s. They have a wide variety of appliances, brands, and in-stock items. They have deals with a few more suppliers than does Home Depot, likely because they’ve been in business for 38 years longer.

They also advertise next-day delivery on most of the items you can purchase, and they deliver on that promise. See what I did there?

If you’re looking for a specific brand, Lowe’s carries a few exclusives. They have Kobalt branded tools, which is one of the most well-known and liked brands in the industry. They also carry Task Force, which is decent, and comes at a lower price.

Lowe’s also carries Pella new construction windows, which are highly-rated, but not quite as highly-rated as the Andersen that Home Depot carries. However, when it comes to paint, I’ll give it to Lowe’s that they contract with Sherwin-Williams, which really is the best paint in the business. You likely won’t find the service, expertise, or variety of products you’d find at a Sherwin-Williams store, but you can get them at Lowe’s if you need them.

You’ll likely find that Lowe’s employees will try to steer you to one of these specific brands, simply because the store wants to sell products for their partners. If you know what you want, don’t let them lead you astray.

Store atmosphere

This criterion is more subjective because it comes down to a personal preference. Do you like the way the store looks or not? Some people will like the bright Home Depot orange, while others gravitate toward the more professional Lowe’s blue.

However, your experience at a particular location, such at lighting, parking, stocked shelves, or cleanliness could have a lot to do with how you made your ultimate decision. Every store is going to have their off days. While Lowe’s is typically clean, it’s not laid out as well as Home Depot. There are some items that seem misplaced or not where you might think they would go, but that mostly goes for smaller items that can be difficult to find.

There are also areas of the store that may suffer from neglect, depending on staffing or availability of products, but the lumber department does tend to have some lower quality boards while the gardening department frequently suffers from product breakage.

Shutting down aisles

Every store has to shut down aisles periodically, whether it’s to restock shelves or clean up a spill. Lowe’s tries to prioritize shutting down aisles during slow shopping periods, but it’s not always possible.

However, there are many cases in which a partial aisle shutdown would have been more effective than a full-aisle shutdown. Lowe’s also prioritizes safety, so they frequently shut down the entire aisle, even if they’re only working on one end of it.

This precautionary measure may be viewed as inconvenient, or you could choose to see it as a protective procedure established for your benefit. In my opinion, they’re a bit overzealous and can sometimes be too cautious, to the point that it seems unnecessary.

Discounts, offers, and low prices

Lowe’s

If you have a Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card, you get a 5% discount on every purchase, no matter what. You may also qualify for 6 months same-as-cash on some purchases. Of course, just like any retailer, they’re constantly battling for the lowest, most competitive pricing, but in my experience, I’ve found almost everything I need at a lower price at Home Depot.

While popular items will have more competitive pricing, you’ll find a greater disparity between less popular items like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC supplies. Lowe’s tends to be slightly more expensive on these things.

Online shopping, in-store pickup, and delivery

Lowe’s focuses their online shopping experience on social media. Their goal is to engage Millennials and a younger generation of home improvement experts. They even have a Snapchat account that allows followers to watch DIY videos.

You can also shop using their website or their mobile app, but they have a supplemental app called Measured by Lowe’s, giving customers an opportunity to save the measurements they need for different projects, all in one place. Purchasing online or through the app makes items easy to pick up at your local store. However, just like with any in-store pickup service, you’ll have to wait until you get the notification that the item is ready.

Lowe’s will also deliver most items, which is nice when the item is heavy. Your local Lowe’s will deliver landscape rock, lumber, masonry, fence panels, and more. Delivery is prompt and professional. If you’re requesting delivery of smaller items like electrical parts, tools, fixtures, or blinds, these items are pulled from a distribution center and delivered via USPS, UPS, or FedEx.

Lowe’s offers free shipping if you spend more than $45.

Returns

When you walk into Lowe’s the return desk is the first thing you see. You may sometimes notice that it’s overflowing with products that need to be restocked. It depends on how well-staffed the desk is and how quickly they can get these products back out.

However, it’s a good sign that they’re pretty lenient when it comes to returning something that didn’t work for you. You’ll get cashback if you have the receipt, but if you don’t, they’ll still offer store credit. While they rarely deny a return, even for open or ripped packaging, it’s possible that if your purchase shows any damage, signs of heavy use, or is outside of the return period, they could turn you away.

Workshops for kids

Lowe’s has Build and Grow workshops twice every month for kids. They giveaway free items like goggles, aprons, and patches. And of course, the kids get to take home the project they completed.

Home Depot

Home Depot

Home Depot, on the other hand, tends to market to people doing DIY projects at home. That’s not to say those people couldn’t shop at Lowe’s instead, but the way Home Depot brands their marketing tends to make people feel a little bit more comfortable going there instead.

Their staff is slightly more helpful when it comes to the tough questions like which products you need or how you should complete a task.

They’ve carried this DIY concept since they opened in 1978, so they’re not as old as Lowe’s, but they also have a large number of stores in North America as well as some in China. Their slogan, “You can do it, we can help” has been around since the beginning.

They offer free workshops to the community and often, the subject of the workshop is valuable to home maintenance and improvement. They also offer building workshops for kids once a month.

Customer service: experience, friendliness, overall experience

Employees at Home Depot are abundant, and abundantly helpful. You won’t struggle as much to find someone who can help you, and often, they’ll approach you first, especially if you look confused, which is me a lot of the time.

Sure, you’ll encounter the people who seem disinterested in their jobs or act like they don’t want to talk to you, but for the most part, the staff at Home Depot is friendly and knowledgeable. They often go above and beyond to help you. Your DIY problem is there’s for the next 10-15 minutes or even an hour if you need it.

The employees you’ll see at Home Depot seem to take their jobs very seriously. They know a lot about the products in the store, they’ll help you figure out what your project needs, and they speak like they know what they’re doing. You’ll also find that there are more frequently seasoned professionals in each department, and even if you catch someone outside of their department, they’ll know enough to direct you where you need to be.

In keeping with mom and pop lumberyards and supply houses, Home Depot tends to hire people who already know their stuff, and staff turnover is relatively low. You may notice that the staff at Home Depot is a bit older than Lowe’s but these people have been in the business for a long time and love what they do.

Customer base and target market

Home Depot has more men shoppers, which is interesting to me, because they market to the DIYer, which I absolutely love. And I’m a woman. Let’s be honest, when you think of arts and crafts, you don’t think of a big, burly lumberjack.

However, Home Depot does offer a monthly DIY workshop just for women that covers more complex DIY projects, and this has worked in garnering more of the female population. The really spectacular thing about Home Depot is their focus on helping their customer do it themselves. They make you feel empowered to tackle the project with helpful advice from their experts in the store.

Store brands and items in stock

home depot

Home Depot doesn’t have quite the breadth of in-stock appliances as Lowe’s does, but what they do have will be delivered next day and they’ll even haul your old appliances away and dispose of them for you.

If you’re shopping for flooring, wall tiles, or toilets, Home Depot does have quite a bit more. They have a wider range of choices for you in these departments and they’re the best place to shop if you’re looking for flooring, tiles, or plumbing items.

Home Depot also has its fair share of exclusive brands. They sell Ryobi, Husky, and RIDGID tools, which are all pretty exceptional, and I would rank them in that order. They also carry Andersen windows, which are some of the best in the industry.

They fall short on paint, carrying Glidden and Behr, which just aren’t that good. However, they do carry a fair amount of painting supplies and they’ll steer you to specific brands, just like Lowe’s will.

Store atmosphere

Home Depot is better organized than Lowe’s. Everything is easy to find, and even if it’s not, the app will direct you to the right place. There are employees nearly everywhere to help, and products are rarely out of stock. The downside to Home Depot is that it doesn’t tend to be as well lit as Lowe’s which can make it look a bit dirtier, even though it isn’t.

Shutting down aisles

Home Depot makes it a point to restock shelves when they’re empty, which is why you’ll hardly ever find something missing. However, that means they have to shut down aisles more frequently than Lowe’s does.

They do a better job of shutting down partial aisles if at all possible, so these practices don’t interfere with your shopping experience, but of course, that’s always a possibility. They also still emphasize safety of both their employees and customers while doing so.

Read our guide on how to find some of the best Home Depot Alternatives.

Discounts, offers, and low prices

Home Depot doesn’t make many discounted offers, because it doesn’t need to. You’ll already find pretty competitive pricing on just about everything. Plus, on purchases of $299 or more, you can finance the purchase for 0% interest for 6 months.

Home Depot also advertises that if you find the same product at another store for cheaper, they’ll beat the price by 10%, but it’s not likely you’ll find a lot of those. Home Depot really strives for competitive pricing on everything in the store.

Online shopping, in-store pickup, and delivery

The Home Depot app is beyond useful, whether you’re using it to shop in the store or at home. It’s intuitive and improves your shopping experience. You can shop by room or department, but you can also search for exactly what you need and order it.

The additional benefit of the Home Depot app is that if you’re shopping at your local store, and you can’t find what you need, you can pull up the app and it will tell you exactly where to look. If you can’t find someone to help you, the app is always there.

There’s also an augmented reality feature, so you can see how items will fit in your home before you buy them. You can furnish your living room or paint the kitchen in the app before you ever head to the store.

Just like Lowe’s you can shop online and pick up at the local store, or have your items delivered. Heavy items will come straight from your local store while smaller items are sourced from the distribution center and sent via USPS, UPS, or FedEx.

Shipping is free for minimum purchases of $45 and same day service is available on appliances over $400.

Returns

Home Depot

Home Depot’s return practices are nearly identical to Lowe’s. You can return almost anything with or without a receipt, and still, get your money back or store credit. Even if the packaging is ripped or you’ve fallen outside of the return period, as long as the item is in good condition, they’ll take it back.

Their return counter tends to be much better staffed than Lowe’s, so you won’t have to wait in a long line or wait for long to return your item, and the desk isn’t cluttered with items, despite how lenient they are with allowing returns.

Workshops for kids

Home Depot has workshops once a month for kids. While this isn’t as frequent at Lowe’s, it involves the parents, and every child gets to go home with a mini Home Depot apron, identical to the ones worn by staff in the store.

Children will make things like birdhouses, memory boxes, ships, and other things that they can take home and display or play with.

Special services

Unlike Lowe’s, Home Depot offers a tool rental service, which is fantastic for those who anticipate only needing the tool for a single project. Many people aren’t avid DIYers, and they don’t want to buy a drill or an auger just to use it one time.

However, you can also rent larger items like wood chippers or pickup trucks. These services are really helpful for indoor and outdoor repair projects, when you wouldn’t otherwise have access to these items.

FAQ

When deciding to shop at Lowe’s or Home Depot, you may have several concerns. Here are some frequently asked questions to help settle the debate.

Question: Is Lowe’s or Home Depot better?

Answer: It really depends on what you’re looking for. Each store has its own set of specific brands, especially when it comes to tools, windows, and paint, so if you’re looking for something particular, you’ll have to go to the store that sells that brand.

If you’re shopping for appliances, Lowe’s has a bigger variety, but Home Depot offers better haul away service for your old appliances.

If you’re having lumber delivered, it’s one of the things that Lowe’s seems to offer at a lower price than Home Depot. Do some research before shopping at either to see which might be best for you.

Question: What is the difference between Home Depot and Lowe’s?

Answer: There are a lot of little differences between the two, from the brands they carry to the shopping experience.

• Home Depot, for instance, has a better mobile app, but Lowe’s does a better job of targeting the younger generation on their social media accounts.
• While Home Depot is laid out more efficiently and has more fully stocked shelves, Lowe’s has kids workshops twice every month instead of just once.
• Lowe’s has a larger selection of large appliances and Home Depot has a larger selection of flooring.

The differences are endless, so again, it just depends on why you’re choosing to shop there or what you’re looking for.

Question: Who is cheaper, Lowe’s or Home Depot?

Answer: Home Depot’s selection of almost everything they carry is more generic and covers a wide range of needs. This helps them keep prices low, because there’s a lot to choose from, offering competitive pricing, even within the store.

Lowe’s doesn’t carry as many generic options, and they tend to be more finicky about their selection, meaning you’ll pay more. However, both companies will price match each other, although Home Depot will frequently undercut Lowe’s, giving them the upper hand.

Question: Which company is bigger, Home Depot or Lowe’s?

Answer: Home Depot’s sales regularly exceed that of Lowe’s. Last year, Home Depot reported more than $100 billion in sales while Lowe’s didn’t even reach $90 billion. The sales at stores like this speak for themselves. It seems more people prefer shopping at Home Depot.

Which Should You Choose?

Not only does Home Depot win in yearly sales, but they have better ratings on sites like Yelp by more than half a star. However, it all comes down to your particular experience at a specific store.

Every chain is going to have a poor performing store, a disgruntled staff member here and there, or a bad day when it comes to stocking shelves. Overall, people tend to prefer Home Depot more, but you may live in an area where the Lowe’s store is simply better.

It also has a lot to do with how each individual store is managed. The general attitude of the associates will be greatly determined by the management of the store. Maybe you live a few miles closer to the Home Depot, but you choose to drive to Lowe’s because of their outstanding reviews.

It’s nearly impossible to tell you what you’re going to like better, regardless of what I think. However, I can tell you now that I went into my research liking Home Depot infinitely better than Lowe’s and my mind hasn’t changed.

I simply think their stores are easier to navigate, their associates are more knowledgeable and friendly, and their prices are lower. The only time I’ve had more success with Lowe’s over Home Depot was when I needed to order lumber to build a deck.

In that case, purchase and delivery was a lot cheaper than anywhere else, including all of the many competitors in the market.

However, there are so many factors that play into why you might like one store over the other, including brands, selection, mobile app, website, and so much more. You’ll have to decide for yourself where you are going to shop.

Leave a Reply