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post #1 of 38 Old 09-27-2015, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Lowe's or Home Depot?

I can't believe this thread doesn't already exist . I've finally purchased my home and plan to start a thread in the near future. But before that I'd like inputs from previous theater builders -- Lowe's or Home Depot? I've got one of each and they both take about 15-20 minutes to drive to, generally speaking is there one that is better than the others? The only going-in advantage is Home Depot is right next to Sam's Club (sorry, Costco is 40 minutes away!)

My criteria are:
Available supply
Cost
Benefits of frequent buyer or credit card

In addition to the normal materials one needs to build the theater, I only have a so-so set of tools. I've got a nice cordless drill set, a pretty good selection of hand tools, and a good enough table saw and that's about it. I could do one massive buy at the beginning if it would qualify me for a larger discount but would prefer to keep my purchases in smaller chunks and buy things as I need them. I believe Home Depot offers a 10% military discount (which I would qualify for), not sure about Lowe's.
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post #2 of 38 Old 09-27-2015, 10:23 AM
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depends, each has strengths and I can't imagine just being limited to one. I tend to have better luck with Lowes larger dimensional lumber. 2x8,10 12 etc. Home Depot often has some better 3/4 plywood. Traveling the country I've also learned it is regionally specific as the vendors they use tends to vary by region. If it makes any difference Home Depot started in Atlanta and the stores there seem to be well stocked.

When It comes to drywall and steel furring/studs I go to regional building supply houses, they tend to understand the concept of inside delivery and carrying the drywall to the point of use not just the garage better than HD/Lowes.

If you have a Builders Supply in your immediate area I sourced MDF planking and molding there at better prices than HD/Lowes. I used the one in Auburn.
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post #3 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 06:58 AM
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I agree. I use Lowes most often only because it is closest. Menards for lumber more often as they just have a lot more of it and their prices are usually cheaper. Home depot as a back up only because of its location. If you have a Menards, they run a lot more sales than Lowes or Home Depot. I've never understood why those two don't get into the store wide discounts more often. I would probably shop there even more.

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post #4 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:06 AM
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One thing I like about Home Depot is that their website lists the exact aisle and shelf items are on for a given store. So if you're looking for some obscure outlet cover or fitting you can do your homework before heading to there and cut down on wandering around.

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post #5 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitro28 View Post
I agree. I use Lowes most often only because it is closest. Menards for lumber more often as they just have a lot more of it and their prices are usually cheaper. Home depot as a back up only because of its location. If you have a Menards, they run a lot more sales than Lowes or Home Depot. I've never understood why those two don't get into the store wide discounts more often. I would probably shop there even more.
Lowes for me primarily. I have a CC account there and get a 5% discount.

Another important non-HT related thing about Lowes is that you will never find a better price for appliances. Shop elsewhere, get prices and then make Lowes your last stop.

I still shop at Home Depot from time to time.

And I work walking distance from Menards... Not much there to make me a regular.

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post #6 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:08 AM
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For me, it's a crapshoot. At least in MY location, they both have absolutely terrible lumber. I usually have to spend forever in each place to pick through everything to find pieces that aren't absurdly bowed. Oh, they may LOOK straight on the pallet, but pull each piece off and you'll see them spring right out of shape. In my experience (and again where I'm at), I'm usually better off going to proper lumber yards for that stuff, but then stocking's an issue as building is booming and they're all too often out of stock of what I need. As for fishing/electrical supplies, Lowes and Home Depot are both terrible IME, although I've had better luck finding tone generators and such at Home Depot. Lowes has had a better selection of cable management stuff, and drilling and fishing tools, though, although all bottom of the barrel stuff compared to online offerings or your local professional building supply outlet. Prices can be more/less expensive for most things at either store. I've seen no set rule. Lowes has a decent deal with 5% off everything with store card, but maybe you'd be better off with military discount as you said.

Hopefully you're in a major metro area unlike me, and can really shop around and compare stores. Chances are, you'll be hitting up both frequently. Shop online too. LOTS of specialized tools that HD/Lowes simply don't carry.
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post #7 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:16 AM
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There are pros/cons to each. One will have something the other doesn't so they are both good to have, but there is one significant difference.

I find many of the same products that each store has it costs about 30% more in Lowes.
Not everything is 30% more but many items are. Pay close attention to prices when you go shopping in each and you will start to see the pattern.
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post #8 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydrazine View Post
There are pros/cons to each. One will have something the other doesn't so they are both good to have, but there is one significant difference.

I find many of the same products that each store has it costs about 30% more in Lowes.
Not everything is 30% more but many items are. Pay close attention to prices when you go shopping in each and you will start to see the pattern.
That CAN be true, but with some notable exceptions, namely appliances. I always shop both places, and Lowes always ends up being significantly cheaper IME for that. They also seem to have cheaper flooring. Big ticket plumbing stuff (toilets, bathtubs, trim) seems to be a wash...no pun intended. Hehe.

Then again, where I'm at, they are across the street from each other and try to be HIGHLY competitive against each other.
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post #9 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:50 AM
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Since I don't have a Home Depot nearby it's Lowes for the random item I need. For bulk supply I typically get quotes from Carter Lumber, Pro Build or 84 Lumber.
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post #10 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 09:00 AM
 
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IME i feel HD is geared towards contractors...where Lowes is DIY

but either way I did 99% of all my shopping at HD for my HT..

but wouldn't limit it to solely HD
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post #11 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 09:44 AM
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I don't have a problem with Lowes, but I would drive by 2 Home Depots on the way. And probably another one closer, in another direction.
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post #12 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 10:22 AM
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For me, it comes down to having a choice is a good thing. For commodity items that are likely to be in stock, I generally go to the one that is closest. If I am concerned about price or availability I will do a web search. Sometimes the prices between stores are identical. At other times there is a significant difference. Some items are stocked at both stores, others tend to better represented at one store or the other.


Sometimes smaller local stores often carry things that the big box stores don't, particularly "oddball" things that are difficult to be found. I find that Ace and True Value tend to have a better selection of nuts, bolts and fasteners.


I get drywall, Green Glue, acoustic calk, channel, etc. at a local drywall supplier.


Don't be afraid to watch Craigslist for items that you need. I got lucky and picked up a stack of 48 sheets of 23/32" tongue & groove drywall that had minor damage to some of the tongues and groves, saving me almost $400.


If you have a Habitat for Humanity store or similar that carries surplus and reclaimed building materials, you can sometimes find good deals.
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post #13 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
depends, each has strengths and I can't imagine just being limited to one. I tend to have better luck with Lowes larger dimensional lumber. 2x8,10 12 etc. Home Depot often has some better 3/4 plywood. Traveling the country I've also learned it is regionally specific as the vendors they use tends to vary by region. If it makes any difference Home Depot started in Atlanta and the stores there seem to be well stocked.

When It comes to drywall and steel furring/studs I go to regional building supply houses, they tend to understand the concept of inside delivery and carrying the drywall to the point of use not just the garage better than HD/Lowes.

If you have a Builders Supply in your immediate area I sourced MDF planking and molding there at better prices than HD/Lowes. I used the one in Auburn.
I bought a good amount of trim, molding, baseboard and crown from the builder first source here in Auburn over the past 2 weeks and the prices for the exact same trim was about 60% less than HD and Lowes. I loves Home Depot and shop their for all tools and misc items but they can't touch the prices of lumber vs the local builders supply store.
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post #14 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auburnu008 View Post
I bought a good amount of trim, molding, baseboard and crown from the builder first source here in Auburn over the past 2 weeks and the prices for the exact same trim was about 60% less than HD and Lowes. I loves Home Depot and shop their for all tools and misc items but they can't touch the prices of lumber vs the local builders supply store.
I'm only a couple hours down the road from you, just drove through Auburn a couple days ago and I just started working with Jeff. He said you built a really nice theater, congrats on that.

I have now visited both stores and each is probably the nicest example of the respective store I've ever been in. Lowes has 10% mil discount on everything, HD is 5% on everything except lumber. I already did a small basement shelving project and unfortunately that was my explore HD day -- cost me about $30 in lost savings assuming they have similar prices . Next time I'll know.
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I think it depends on the locations to be honest with you. Lowes used to be better in Sacramento, but here in New Mexico Home Depot is more likely to be in stock. Neither have customer service.

With that said, I go to both on a regular basis. Price shop between the 2 because some times an identical item is not identically priced.
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post #16 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:04 PM
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Lowes for me primarily. I have a CC account there and get a 5% discount.
Trick that not everyone knows... If you have a Home Depot card, after they ring you up at Home Depot, show them the card before you swipe it and ask them for the "Lowes match". They will knock 5% off of your total.
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post #17 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by msdunkel View Post
I'm only a couple hours down the road from you, just drove through Auburn a couple days ago and I just started working with Jeff. He said you built a really nice theater, congrats on that.

I have now visited both stores and each is probably the nicest example of the respective store I've ever been in. Lowes has 10% mil discount on everything, HD is 5% on everything except lumber. I already did a small basement shelving project and unfortunately that was my explore HD day -- cost me about $30 in lost savings assuming they have similar prices . Next time I'll know.
Cool, where are you located? Where is the build thread? I have been in a lot of HD's and mine (luckily a few minutes away) is the best one I have been in. I don't know if it is the store manager or what but the employee's are always everywhere and willing to help.
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post #18 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 07:29 PM
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Trick that not everyone knows... If you have a Home Depot card, after they ring you up at Home Depot, show them the card before you swipe it and ask them for the "Lowes match". They will knock 5% off of your total.
having been in the lumber business for more years than i wanted to trust the independent. you'll get better lumber and better service.
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post #19 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 08:26 PM
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having been in the lumber business for more years than i wanted to trust the independent. you'll get better lumber and better service.
I won't argue with that. I wasn't advocating Home Depot for lumber... just noting that you can get the same 5% off deal at HD that Lowes offers... you just have to ask for it.
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post #20 of 38 Old 09-28-2015, 09:24 PM
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For the record if there is a badly warped piece of wood that has been picked over and placed back on the top of the stack, I'm the guy who throws it on the floor and leaves it, if everyone would do this they would stop trying to sell us that *****.
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post #21 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 06:14 AM
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For the record if there is a badly warped piece of wood that has been picked over and placed back on the top of the stack, I'm the guy who throws it on the floor and leaves it, if everyone would do this they would stop trying to sell us that *****.
The only problem is that if I did that every time I needed a piece of wood, then more than half the pallet would end up on the floor. But then again, I guess that'd help out our cause. Their lumber is usually so bad. According to a contractor I spoke to about that very thing recently, he told me that Lowes/HD essentially get the lumber producer's "B-Stock" quality stuff. It's basically the stuff that the pro lumber yards would likely reject. I don't know how true that is, but it does make sense.
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Yes commercial lumber yards tend to have better quality but it takes a leap of faith to pay first then wait for them to bring it to your truck. You can reject any pieces that are bad but you need to judge them fast.

It is an even bigger leap to have lumber delivered sight unseen. But that is how the majority of "real" contractors operate.
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post #23 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 07:15 AM
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Lowe's vs Home Depot? There is no one set answer.

I went through the same decision process earlier this year and ended up using both. I looking around, I have found that - in general - Lowe's tends to have higher quality lumber than HD. This is not only true in the two areas I shop, but matches comments online from people in other areas. To know for sure the quality in your area, it should be easy enough to visit both stores.

That said, lumber quality is not that great is either store. You can spend a while looking for straight framing lumber. For a large project it isn't feasible to cherry pick - the selection is usually that bad. Overall it is "workable" if you account for a little extra waste. If there is a lumberyard nearby, it may be worth taking a look. Talk to the folks there and see what they can do on price. Often, they will _try_ to compete with the big box stores. Sometimes, they can match or beat HD/Lowes on a larger order.

Price comparisons are easy. Both Lowe's and HD allow you to choose your store and shop online. You can even build an online shopping list/order for pick up in-store. View the items and see the pricing. Depending on the items and quantity, the price difference can be substantial. Most stores, the manager also has some discretion on pricing. On a large order, you can sometimes negotiate.

I had a large lumber order. HD ended up having the lower price, along with some specific sizes I needed. I made a "shopping list" online with the full material list and went into the store. For whatever reason, the store did not carry some of the items listed online (for that store). The manager "upgraded" me on those items (i.e. they didn't carry 2x4x12s, so she gave me 2x4x16s at the listed 2x4x12 price). She also gave me some additional discounts due to order size. Can't hurt to ask.

HD and Lowe's seem to have fairly different selections on lumber. Some sizes/materials are available at one and not the other. Depends on what you need.

Tools... there can be a BIG difference between the two. You really need to shop both stores and pay attention to what is on sale. If not, you are throwing money away.

Recently, I needed to buy a new air compressor. HD was $50 more ($179 vs $129) for the same exact model. Lowe's was marked "regular price" and HD was marked "new lower price." On the other side, HD was having a sale on a Dewalt drill while Lowe's had the same one for $30-40 more.

On just those two items the difference is close to $100. It adds up quick.

"Big box" stores all depend on people being lazy. They lowball you on some items and bank on the fact that you are too lazy (or busy) to go to the other store. What you save on underpriced product "A" they make up when you buy overpriced product "B." The smart shopper may spend a little more travel time, but the savings can be substantial.
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post #24 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 07:17 AM
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It is an even bigger leap to have lumber delivered sight unseen. But that is how the majority of "real" contractors operate.
I bet! It is also probably why so many of the walls in my house are bowed so badly. Just did a major bathroom remodel and I had to straighten out every...single...stud, so I could lay out a proper tile surround and wainscoting. Absolutely maddening.
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I bet! It is also probably why so many of the walls in my house are bowed so badly. Just did a major bathroom remodel and I had to straighten out every...single...stud, so I could lay out a proper tile surround and wainscoting. Absolutely maddening.
Framers should be placing bad wood aside during the framing process. Most supply houses will then take back the bad stock.
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I bet! It is also probably why so many of the walls in my house are bowed so badly. Just did a major bathroom remodel and I had to straighten out every...single...stud, so I could lay out a proper tile surround and wainscoting. Absolutely maddening.
anytime you do a remodel use metal studs. second you have to understand that the lumber the big boxes get is basically not dried plumberroperly to begin with. they get it from the mill banded. once the bands are off the lumber goes to its natueal shape in the drying process. there are at least 4 different grades of lumber youcan figure which grade the big boxes get because of the price they want to pay
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post #27 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 11:22 AM
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Echo what most people say about it depending on your location plus what you need.

For me a lot of lumber decisions between the two comes down to if their wood cutting station works or not. They are always broken.
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post #28 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rviele View Post
anytime you do a remodel use metal studs. second you have to understand that the lumber the big boxes get is basically not dried plumberroperly to begin with. they get it from the mill banded. once the bands are off the lumber goes to its natueal shape in the drying process. there are at least 4 different grades of lumber youcan figure which grade the big boxes get because of the price they want to pay

I agree on the big box lumber problems.

In my recent project, I estimate there was about 10% of lumber that was really bad. The rest was all usable. This was a bulk order from HD where I didn't get to pick (I gave them a list and they put the order together for me). If I went with Lowe's, I could have got a better grade with less waste (but I have $$$ in HD gift cards). I didn't bother returning the bad lumber, as I wound uses for it (fireblocks and smaller pieces - even a warped 2x4x8 has a straight section that is usable).

Metal studs have their advantages and disadvantages.

Most contractors I know swear by metal studs. They can frame walls in much less time compared to wood. However, even they admit it is because the do it all the time. They have the proper tools and plenty of experience.

For the typical homeowner (inexperienced with metal studs they can be much more difficult to work with. They require different tools and techniques than wood studs. Wood is going to be better for most DIY instances.

Not arguing - just that my experience has led me to a different opinion on the topic.
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post #29 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 11:42 AM
 
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Also many people don't know this but if you have a military ID both Lowes and Home Depot will give you a 10% discount.
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post #30 of 38 Old 09-29-2015, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
When It comes to drywall and steel furring/studs I go to regional building supply houses, they tend to understand the concept of inside delivery and carrying the drywall to the point of use not just the garage better than HD/Lowes.
You can extend that idea to all trades. Electrical and plumbing supplies in quantity are often cheaper at a supply house than HD or Lowes.
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