Strategy We shopped at Home Depot and Lowe's to see which store was better — and the winner was clear for one key reason (HD, LOW)

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Home Depot and Lowe's offer very similar home-improvement products and services, but one has a much more extensive selection.

We visited the Home Depot store in New York City's Flatiron District and compared it to a nearby Lowe's. play

We visited the Home Depot store in New York City's Flatiron District and compared it to a nearby Lowe's.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)
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  • Home Depot and Lowe's, two top home-improvement stores in the US, offer similar product workshops and installation services.
  • Though the stores sell most of the same products, Home Depot's setup appears to be geared more toward professionals — like contractors and interior designers — than Lowe's.
  • We visited both stores and found that Home Depot had more to offer than Lowe's.

Home Depot and Lowe's have for decades been two top home-improvement stores in the US.

They stock all things home improvement, including kitchen and bath fixtures, lighting, paint, gardening supplies, and tools. Both stores offer same-day delivery, installation services, do-it-yourself workshops, and store credit cards. They even have similar return policies and will accept most things with or without a receipt for cash or store credit.

Lowe's has been in business about 30 years longer than Home Depot. Home Depot has 2,284 stores in North America, while Lowe's has about 2,370.

Lowe's stores also typically have a few more square feet of space than Home Depot stores. But when Business Insider visited New York outposts of both stores, we found that the Home Depot was significantly larger than the Lowe's — by an entire floor.

The target market is a notable difference between the two stores. Home Depot tends to appeal more to professionals — like contractors, interior designers, and plumbers — while Lowe's welcomes a more do-it-yourself crowd.

When visiting the stores, we noticed that Home Depot felt like a massive warehouse, whereas Lowe's was more like a traditional retailer, with floor displays and bright, clear labels.

Here are some of the biggest differences we spotted at a Home Depot and a Lowe's in New York City.

My first stop was a Home Depot store in the Flatiron District.

My first stop was a Home Depot store in the Flatiron District. play

My first stop was a Home Depot store in the Flatiron District.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The store felt like a warehouse, with high ceilings, industrial lighting, and a lot of open space. On the left were small household items like dish soap and cleaning supplies. To the right was the start of the flooring department.

The store felt like a warehouse, with high ceilings, industrial lighting, and a lot of open space. On the left were small household items like dish soap and cleaning supplies. To the right was the start of the flooring department. play

The store felt like a warehouse, with high ceilings, industrial lighting, and a lot of open space. On the left were small household items like dish soap and cleaning supplies. To the right was the start of the flooring department.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Home Depot's selection was astounding. It had all types of flooring in a huge variety of styles and patterns, and there were a few employees in each department to help.

Home Depot's selection was astounding. It had all types of flooring in a huge variety of styles and patterns, and there were a few employees in each department to help. play

Home Depot's selection was astounding. It had all types of flooring in a huge variety of styles and patterns, and there were a few employees in each department to help.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The main floor had seemingly endless aisles of appliances and fixtures ...

The main floor had seemingly endless aisles of appliances and fixtures ... play

The main floor had seemingly endless aisles of appliances and fixtures ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... lighting displays ...

... lighting displays ... play

... lighting displays ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and even a small clearance section.

... and even a small clearance section. play

... and even a small clearance section.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The second floor had model kitchens and bathrooms.

The second floor had model kitchens and bathrooms. play

The second floor had model kitchens and bathrooms.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There were also consultation centers on this floor for customers to get assistance in designing their homes.

There were also consultation centers on this floor for customers to get assistance in designing their homes. play

There were also consultation centers on this floor for customers to get assistance in designing their homes.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The basement level of the store had a gardening department, which sells plants, seeds, flowers, tools, soil, and fertilizer.

The basement level of the store had a gardening department, which sells plants, seeds, flowers, tools, soil, and fertilizer. play

The basement level of the store had a gardening department, which sells plants, seeds, flowers, tools, soil, and fertilizer.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The level also had a continuation of the cleaning-supply aisle on the main floor ...

The level also had a continuation of the cleaning-supply aisle on the main floor ... play

The level also had a continuation of the cleaning-supply aisle on the main floor ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... craft supplies ...

... craft supplies ... play

... craft supplies ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and tons of paint and paint chips.

... and tons of paint and paint chips. play

... and tons of paint and paint chips.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Many things in the store were not labeled. There was a directory, and plenty of experts were around to help, but the store was clearly aimed more at home-improvement industry professionals. If you don't know the exact nail or bolt you're looking for, it could be challenging to find it on your own.

Many things in the store were not labeled. There was a directory, and plenty of experts were around to help, but the store was clearly aimed more at home-improvement industry professionals. If you don't know the exact nail or bolt you're looking for, it could be challenging to find it on your own. play

Many things in the store were not labeled. There was a directory, and plenty of experts were around to help, but the store was clearly aimed more at home-improvement industry professionals. If you don't know the exact nail or bolt you're looking for, it could be challenging to find it on your own.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


That said, there were plenty of services for non-professionals, such as workshops where customers can learn how to do things like stain a patio.

That said, there were plenty of services for non-professionals, such as workshops where customers can learn how to do things like stain a patio. play

That said, there were plenty of services for non-professionals, such as workshops where customers can learn how to do things like stain a patio.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There were price-check scanners available throughout the store. For most items, Home Depot's and Lowe's prices were comparable.

There were price-check scanners available throughout the store. For most items, Home Depot's and Lowe's prices were comparable. play

There were price-check scanners available throughout the store. For most items, Home Depot's and Lowe's prices were comparable.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There were also signs detailing the special financing plans for shoppers using a store credit card.

There were also signs detailing the special financing plans for shoppers using a store credit card. play

There were also signs detailing the special financing plans for shoppers using a store credit card.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Home Depot has a price-match initiative. Signs around the store explained that if shoppers find a product for less elsewhere, Home Depot will beat that price by 10%.

Home Depot has a price-match initiative. Signs around the store explained that if shoppers find a product for less elsewhere, Home Depot will beat that price by 10%. play

Home Depot has a price-match initiative. Signs around the store explained that if shoppers find a product for less elsewhere, Home Depot will beat that price by 10%.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


This store offers same-day delivery anywhere in Manhattan, starting at $21. Other Home Depot locations also do this, with prices varying based on the order size.

This store offers same-day delivery anywhere in Manhattan, starting at $21. Other Home Depot locations also do this, with prices varying based on the order size. play

This store offers same-day delivery anywhere in Manhattan, starting at $21. Other Home Depot locations also do this, with prices varying based on the order size.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The customer-service area was near the checkout and self-checkout aisles, which seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Home Depot's return policy is generous, allowing a full refund for most items if you bring the receipt and store credit if you don't. Home Depot also offers online returns and in-store pickup for online orders.

The customer-service area was near the checkout and self-checkout aisles, which seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Home Depot's return policy is generous, allowing a full refund for most items if you bring the receipt and store credit if you don't. Home Depot also offers online returns and in-store pickup for online orders. play

The customer-service area was near the checkout and self-checkout aisles, which seemed to be moving pretty quickly. Home Depot's return policy is generous, allowing a full refund for most items if you bring the receipt and store credit if you don't. Home Depot also offers online returns and in-store pickup for online orders.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The store felt geared toward professionals, but it seemed to have everything you would need for a home-improvement project, and all the employees were extremely helpful. Design consultations, price matching, and a lenient return policy add to the appeal.

play

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Next, I went to Lowe's, just around the corner from Home Depot.

Next, I went to Lowe's, just around the corner from Home Depot. play

Next, I went to Lowe's, just around the corner from Home Depot.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


The garden department was the first thing I saw, and it was significantly smaller than the one at Home Depot.

The garden department was the first thing I saw, and it was significantly smaller than the one at Home Depot. play

The garden department was the first thing I saw, and it was significantly smaller than the one at Home Depot.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Something I noticed immediately was that Lowe's seemed geared more toward people who aren't necessarily professionals. There was much more assistance for DIY projects, and everything was very clearly labeled.

Something I noticed immediately was that Lowe's seemed geared more toward people who aren't necessarily professionals. There was much more assistance for DIY projects, and everything was very clearly labeled. play

Something I noticed immediately was that Lowe's seemed geared more toward people who aren't necessarily professionals. There was much more assistance for DIY projects, and everything was very clearly labeled.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


In general, however, the store was underwhelming compared with Home Depot.

In general, however, the store was underwhelming compared with Home Depot. play

In general, however, the store was underwhelming compared with Home Depot.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


There seemed to be less of everything at Lowe's, in every department, from lighting ...

There seemed to be less of everything at Lowe's, in every department, from lighting ... play

There seemed to be less of everything at Lowe's, in every department, from lighting ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... to tools ...

... to tools ... play

... to tools ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... to paint.

... to paint. play

... to paint.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


On the second level, there were model kitchens and bathrooms ...

On the second level, there were model kitchens and bathrooms ... play

On the second level, there were model kitchens and bathrooms ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... lighting fixtures ...

... lighting fixtures ... play

... lighting fixtures ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and flooring. The store felt less industrial than Home Depot, and its products were certainly labeled better.

... and flooring. The store felt less industrial than Home Depot, and its products were certainly labeled better. play

... and flooring. The store felt less industrial than Home Depot, and its products were certainly labeled better.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Like at Home Depot, there was a design-consultation center.

Like at Home Depot, there was a design-consultation center. play

Like at Home Depot, there was a design-consultation center.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Lowe's also had a store-card financing plan similar to Home Depot's ...

Lowe's also had a store-card financing plan similar to Home Depot's ... play

Lowe's also had a store-card financing plan similar to Home Depot's ...

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


... and it matched the same-day-delivery price. The two stores' return policies were the same, and Lowe's also offered a 10% price-match guarantee.

... and it matched the same-day-delivery price. The two stores' return policies were the same, and Lowe's also offered a 10% price-match guarantee. play

... and it matched the same-day-delivery price. The two stores' return policies were the same, and Lowe's also offered a 10% price-match guarantee.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)


Lowe's also offers workshops and in-store pickup for online orders. Though many of the benefits at the two stores were the same — like same-day delivery and special financing offers — Home Depot had a much better selection of products.

Lowe's also offers workshops and in-store pickup for online orders. Though many of the benefits at the two stores were the same — like same-day delivery and special financing offers — Home Depot had a much better selection of products. play

Lowe's also offers workshops and in-store pickup for online orders. Though many of the benefits at the two stores were the same — like same-day delivery and special financing offers — Home Depot had a much better selection of products.

(Business Insider/Jessica Tyler)