Best Hardware Store

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When pricing a deck project Lowe's won by $34.24 -- 2% less than Home Depot. In our shopping cart test Lowe's eked out a win, with the total ($1,924.08) coming in a mere $1.27 less than at Home Depot ($1,925.35).


More choices when it comes to electric ranges, single-hung windows, towel bars, and more

More options in categories including glass backsplash tile, toilets, and ceramic floor tiles


In 5 of the 8 categories we chose, Lowe's featured more overall SKUs than Home Depot, securing it a small advantage.


Lowe's felt more comfortable for an average DIYer.

Home Depot wasn't as welcoming to the average buyer but had no-nonsense appeal for the pro and expert.


Statistical information and user reviews back up our impression that Lowe's is more approachable for the everyday buyer.

Store Organization

Aisles seemed wider, displays cleaner, and price tags more consistent and easier to read.

Some aisles seemed crowded due to displays, and pricing wasn't as clearly marked.


Though we give the win to Lowe's, organization likely varies store by store.

Customer Service

Six associates approached us a total of 10 times to ask if we needed help.

Four employees offered assistance, and another two helped us when we asked.


Lowe's associates were more proactive about offering help and followed up more frequently.

Catering to Pros

Lowe's appears geared more toward the average homeowner than the pro.

Home Depot traditionally offers pros more perks.

Home Depot

Lowe's is narrowing the gap, but in this area, Home Depot still holds the advantage.

Project Support

Project support specialists were more seasoned and knowledgeable overall.

Project support associates appeared less organized; one employee we dealt with was inexperienced.


Lowe's offered more experienced advisers and slicker computer programs, such as a deck design tool.


None are offered, though associates will demo techniques upon request.

Holds a consistent program of DIY classes each weekend

Home Depot

Home Depot wins, hands down, for well-planned and useful workshops.

Return Policy

90 days for new and unused merchandise, 90 days for damaged or defective items. Lowe's can process returns without a receipt using a credit card or phone number.

90 days for new and unused items, 30 days for damaged or defective merchandise; receipt required.


Home Depot may allow employees to use their discretion on returns, but the official policy is stricter than at Lowe's.

Tool Rental

Lowe's doesn't rent tools, with the exception of carpet cleaners.

Home Depot rents a wide variety of large power tools, though availability varies by location.

Home Depot

While our local Home Depot doesn't have tool rental, most locations do, giving shoppers a nice alternative to purchasing power tools.

Credit Cards

Issued by GE Capital Retail Bank

Issued by Citibank


Both stores have a variety of credit cards and project loans available, each with its own distinct advantages. It would be hard to choose one set of offerings over the other.