When it comes to home improvement in the U.S., customers tend to choose one of the warehouse big name stores: the market leader Home Depot, or the competitor, Lowe’s.
On the surface, you might think there isn’t much difference – one home improvement store is the same as any other, right?
So you might be surprised at how different the two really are. Let’s examine how the two giants on the home improvement scene compare.
Here is everything you need to know about Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: prices, products, services, customer service, stores, return policies, and so much more.
Home Depot Vs. Lowe’s
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Market Share
As I mentioned, Home Depot has the larger market share in the home improvement sector, and you might be surprised at how much that is.
In fact, Home Depot’s share is only 17 percent, which is still greater than Lowe’s’ 12 percent. MarketWatch calls home improvement “a relatively fragmented industry.”
Still, what the two might lack in market share, they more than makeup for in brand recognition and recall.
In [currentyea], Home Depot saw sales totaling upwards of $130 billion; Lowe’s saw nearly $90 billion.
This was enough to place them both on the list of the top 10 retailers – in general, not just in home improvement – in the United States!
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Stores
The fairly close market share percentages are mirrored in the fairly close number of stores each retailer maintains domestically and internationally.
Home Depot currently has 2,312 locations operating in three countries (U.S., Canada, and Mexico), while Lowes maintains 2,202 in the U.S. and Canada.
(Lowe’s did operate in Mexico but shut down that branch in 2019.)
Both retailers operate stores in every state in the U.S., and Home Depot also has a presence in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam.
The state with the most Home Depot stores is California; Texas has the most Lowe’s stores.
Physically, Home Depot and Lowe’s stores are fairly similar. Lowe’s stores are slightly larger, averaging 112,000 square feet, while Home Depot clocks in at 105,000 square feet.
The layouts obviously differ, but the two appear similar in terms of outward appearances: long rows of tall shelves and the garden center commonly off to the left of the entrance.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Prices
One of the great things about Home Depot and Lowe’s competing with each other is that the shopper wins regarding prices.
In general, if you see a lower price, it will likely be at Home Depot, but prices on each side stay close to one another.
Further, the writer at twincivet.com notes that both stores offer price matching.
So if you find a match for an item cheaper at one or the other store, you can ask the sales associate to sell to you for the lower price and they’ll do it.
Let’s compare a few popular items.
At Home Depot, 2x6x8 ft. #2 lumber costs $7.57 per board; at Lowe’s, it’s the same price.
A 1.5 cu. ft. bag of garden soil at Home Depot costs $7.97; however, at Lowe’s, that same bag costs $8.98. But remember, Lowe’s will price match.
If you’re shopping for a 5 cu. ft. Frigidaire chest freezer, you’ll pay $249 at Home Depot; Lowe’s prices it at $10 more.
To use the old saying, it’s a horse a piece when it comes to prices between Lowe’s and Home Depot, as the two are fiercely competitive.
Ultimately, shoppers who do their research before setting out to either store will score the best prices.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Products
From our research, Lowe’s is it when it comes to a better selection of appliances and being more selective about what brands they carry.
But for a better general selection of home improvement items (and more flooring options), Home Depot is where it’s at.
Both retailers have thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of home improvement items in stock every day, though.
Departments concerning interior needs include Appliances, electrical, paint, bath, flooring, kitchen, lighting, tools, storage and organization, home décor, and window treatments.
Outdoor and building departments include: Outdoors and gardening, doors and windows, hardware, building materials and lumber.
They’re similar and similarly stocked in both stores.
However, both Home Depot and Lowe’s carry store-exclusive brands.
Home Depots include Ryobi tools, Behr paints, Homelite tools, Martha Stewart Living goods, Ridgid tools and American Woodwork, and Thomasville Furniture Industries cabinetry.
Home Depot also has seven house brands: Husky tools, Workforce, HDX, Hampton Bay, Glacier Bay, Commercial Electric, and Home Decorators Collection.
Lowe’s store exclusives and house brands are Kobalt, Project Source, Valspar, Allen + Roth, Hitachi, ReliaBilt, and Top Choice Lumber.
Recently, Lowe’s also acquired the Stainmaster carpets company, after carrying their products exclusively for years.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Services
Sometimes we have to know what we don’t know.
Home Depot and Lowe’s offer a considerable list of in-home services if that includes a deft hand with home improvement projects.
Both companies partner with independent installers/contractors and/or local businesses that have “signed up” to be part of the stores’ network.
Home Depot and Lowe’s both employ installers who are background checked and insured, and they each offer special financing to make big projects more affordable.
Below are the lists of services Home Depot and Lowe’s each offer customers.
- Kitchen remodel
- Window and doors
- Bathroom and plumbing
- Storage and organization
- Water heaters and treatment
- Fence installation
- Electrical and lighting
- Assembly services
- Independent living
- Appliance installation
- Carpentry and masonry
- Smart home installation
- Attic ladders
- Fence installation
- Garage doors
- Garbage disposals
- Lighting and ceiling fans
- Shower doors
- Sinks and faucets
- Smart home
- Water heaters and softeners
I think it’s interesting seeing how smart home installation has made a list! What could be next – perhaps small-to-mid-scale solar installation?
Home Depot Vs. Lowe’s: Customer Service
Perhaps one of the most vital facets of any company is how it handles customer service.
This ranges the gamut from customers calling in for help or trying to contact corporate to how employees interact on the sales floor.
Person-to-person interaction is a subjective and individual experience, but my personal experience has been positive at both stores.
Neither company outshines the other in employee customer service, so ultimately, the best way to judge for yourself is to try visiting both.
Of course, we savvy 21st century shoppers don’t do all of our browsing in-store.
We’re shopping online more and more, so how have Lowe’s and Home Depot adapted their sites to provide customer service on the Internet?
Well, both of their sites offer Live Chat functions; however, it appears only Lowe’s continues the Live Chat feature on their mobile app.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Return Policy
Something about walking into a big warehouse-type store makes you feel they probably accept just about any return you bring them.
From my research, I found that both Lowe’s and Home Depot have “pretty lenient” return policies, and the info on their websites bear this out.
For example, Lowe’s policy for returns with receipts spans 90 days after the initial purchase date, and items must be new and unopened.
Debit/credit card purchases may have the amount credited back to their card or receive cash; store credit/gift cards/refund cards receive store credit.
Home Depot is pretty much the same – 90 days to return, money back the same way you purchased.
In both cases, returns without a receipt may receive store credit. Both stores also allow returns to any location, not just the store where the purchase was made.
For a full list of return policies, find Home Depot’s and Lowe’s policies here.
I think it’s fair for each store to leave returns mainly to the judgment of their employees, particularly where items have been opened or used.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a point of contention for some shoppers; check out the angry Lowe’s customers here, one of whom stated, “I will never go to Lowe’s again.”
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Dog Policy
Home improvement stores get buzz for being dog-friendly, but it might surprise you that Home Depot doesn’t actually state it on their website.
Many Home Depots welcome well-behaved, leashed pups, but if you’ve never seen one in-store before, it’s best to reach out and ask first.
On the other hand, Lowe’s makes its dog-friendly status clear on its website for each individual store.
If your Lowe’s is dog-friendly, navigate to their website’s “Find a Store” feature, enter your location, choose the store you want to visit, and head to that page.
On the page, scroll down past the map to where it says “Store Features.” Mine reads Garden Center and Dog-Friendly.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Delivery Services
If you don’t have a truck and some firm friends, then store delivery is going to be your option when buying new appliances or other large objects.
Luckily, Home Depot and Lowe’s offer delivery services on these types of items; if you spend enough, it’s free.
At Home Depot, if you spend $396 dollars or more on an appliance, your standard delivery is free (any less, and it’s $59).
The delivery also includes a simple set-up, i.e., the delivery person connects everything that has to be connected and ensures that the item works.
Home Depot mentions that they will remove the old item, but only for a fee. Find out more about Home Depot’s delivery services here.
Lowe’s is quite similar, down to the amount you must spend to receive free delivery.
The Lowe’s website also mentions that the delivery person will move the old appliance to a new location within the residence.
However, Lowe’s does not mention anything about old appliance removal services.
They do provide professional installation (beyond the simple set-up and demonstration that the appliance works) for an additional fee.
Find out more about the Lowe’s delivery policy here.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Shopping Via Website And Mobile App
These days, online shopping is imperative for many families, a time-saver and sometimes a life-saver.
Home Depot and Lowe’s clearly recognize this, and both have functional websites and mobile apps to make the process easy.
I have used both; if I had to prefer one, it’s the Home Depot’s online shopping experience.
While the Lowe’s mobile shopping experience isn’t bad, it just didn’t feel as intuitive or as clear-cut as Home Depot’s.
I find Lowe’s app more aggravating to navigate at times (though their website is less so, when you have the functionality of a full keyboard and larger screen).
I recently had to stop mid-room painting and make a purchase for pick-up from the Home Depot. It was such an easy, fluid transaction.
Within a few hours, I had the needed items and was back painting the room.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Curbside Pick-Up
Adjacent to mobile shopping is the store pick-up experience, which I think is important.
And for this one area, Home Depot wins hands-down for their seamless curbside pick-up.
Their app has a “check-in” function so that when you arrive and park in the clearly marked space, you press the “check in” button, fill in the space number when prompted and wait.
I was surprised when using the Lowe’s curbside pick-up.
I arrived, parked in the designated area and then saw I had to actually call a unique number (listed a sign in front of the space) to let them know I had arrived.
It was a very small and minor inconvenience, but it made me appreciate Home Depot’s all the more.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Employees
It can be tough at these big chain stores to foster a friendly working environment, and there is generally a lot of employee turnover.
Added to that fact, any retail job that is customer-facing has its own set of challenges built-in.
So regarding employee treatment, both have their fair share of anecdotal terrible reviews floating around.
However, on Glassdoor.com, they both ranked surprisingly high for overall employee satisfaction – Lowe’s’ 3.4 stars come in just under Home Depot’s 3.8.
However, Home Depot did rank higher than Lowe’s in all nine categories. And Home Depot’s benefits package was singled out as a plus.
A writer at Workstream broke those down; hourly employees are entitled to dental, vision and life insurance, medical coverage and short-term disability.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Credit Card
Home Depot and Lowe’s have store credit cards to make larger, more expensive purchases affordable.
Many of the features are identical, like zero annual fees and special financing offers for purchases of $299 or more.
They differ on rewards, though. Home Depot’s card applies deals on a temporary, rotating basis, while Lowe’s offers 5 percent off applicable purchases regularly.
Home Depot’s APR is variable between 17.99 percent and 26.99 percent, while Lowe’s is only 26.99 percent variable.
Both cards also come with financing for large-scale projects, though Home Depot’s depend on special promotions timing.
Lowe’s offers a fixed interest rate on projects costing $2,000 and up.
Alexandria White at cnbc.com found that overall, the Lowe’s credit card is the better value, because of its everyday five percent discount on purchases.
However, she notes that the credit card’s discount cannot be combined with any other sales or promotions.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Customer Appeal
Marketing experts believe that Home Depot appeals more to men and to “professional tradespeople,” while Lowe’s has positioned itself as more women-friendly.
Interestingly, though, Lowe’s has gone after some of Home Depot’s target market, with their new video chat feature called “JobSight.”
This enables professional tradespeople to interact virtually with potential/current clients and discuss projects.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Tool Rental
Both of these retail giants offer tool rental for those larger projects (who owns a drum floor sander?).
Let’s look at renting that drum floor sander.
At Home Depot, the rates for where I live are $46 for four hours, $66 per day, $264 per week, and $792 for four weeks.
At Lowe’s, the same type of item costs $45 per four hours, $63 per 24 hours, $252 per week, and $630 per 28 days.
When you get to the four-week rate, Lowe’s is significantly cheaper.
Plus, in a major upvote for Lowe’s, you can schedule your rental online, whereas with Home Depot you must call the store to arrange it.
I have noticed that fewer Lowe’s stores than Home Depot stores appear to offer tool rental. So make sure you check for that first.
Home Depot Vs Lowe’s: Store Hours
When it comes to store hours, both retailers are pretty similar.
Home Depot and Lowe’s both open at 6 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
On Sundays, their store hours are 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Bear in mind, order and curbside pick-up hours might vary; at my Home Depot, for example, curbside pick-up is only available between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
If you’re unsure, it’s best to call and ask before leaving.
To learn more, you can see our other comparisons on Home Depot Vs Menards, Walmart Vs Target, and Walmart Vs Costco.
Regarding the customer experience, there is more that is similar about Home Depot and Lowe’s than is different.
Each store has its pluses and minuses, their pros and cons.
From their price matching, to mobile shopping and curbside pick-up, to tool rental programs, “best home improvement store” is a personal choice for each individual shopper.