I had fully intended on sharing a great before and after with y’all today, but sometimes life happens. It looks like I’ve got a case of the sickies to start off the week. So I’ll
It's inevitable: For homeowners, all paths eventually lead to Home Depot or Lowe's—and for good reason.These big-box hardware stores are the place where a dizzying array of faucets, crown moldings, ceiling fans, toilet seats, paint colors, and other supplies abound to inspire DIYers to dabble in a little (or a whole lot of) home improvement. Especially when you see it's so much cheaper to make these upgrades on your own!
But beware: Not everything in these vaunted aisles should end up in your home. The harsh reality is that some of the items are rip-offs when compared with the prices you'll pay elsewhere. Others may be questionable in terms of quality or the selection at hand. Want to know about the must-avoid items at Home Depot, Lowe's, and other big-box hardware stores? Just check out our handy anti-shopping list.
It's tempting to just grab the batteries hanging out near the checkout when you spot them, but stop! Don't succumb to the pricey convenience.
"The best place to buy batteries is at a warehouse store like Costco, which offers the best bang for your buck," says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "Otherwise, Walmart or Target is your next best option in a pinch."
According to a recent price check, Lowe's sells Duracell AA batteries for 60 cents each, while the cost is 40 cents each at Costco (in a jumbo pack, of course). That's a big difference when you consider how many batteries you'll go through in a lifetime. Or even a month or two.
When in doubt, be sure to comparison shop rather than blindly throwing everything in your cart. Woroch suggests using the ShopSavvy app to scan bar codes and get instant in-store price comparisons.
Skip the cleaning aisle at the hardware store, and you'll save a bundle.
"You'll pay 5% to 10% more for name-brand cleaning products at a big-box hardware store," says Woroch. "Walmart and Target offer better deals on the same brands, plus even cheaper generic alternatives. You can even find no-name cleaning brands at the dollar store for rock-bottom prices."
For example, a 32-oz bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles recently cost $3.08 at Lowe's and $3.69 at Home Depot—but only $2.84 at Target and Walmart.
For basics such as cleaning supplies, it also makes sense to stock up when you see a great price so you're not tempted to pay more for convenience because you've run out.
While Home Depot and Lowe's may excel at home improvement, their home decor items could really stand for some improvement—in quality, selection, and price. Take curtains, for instance: At Ikea, curtains are priced as low as $10–$25 a pair, while Lowe's charges $36 a panel for a very similar style. Meanwhile, a framed Melissa Van Hise "Sassy Cat" print sells for $98 at Home Depot and only $84 at Walmart.
All in all, anything with aesthetic wiggle room—like rugs, curtains, prints, and frames—can be found for less at stores such as Ikea, Walmart, Kmart, and HomeGoods, and odds are you'll find more (and more appealing) options, too.
Lastly, if you don't mind not seeing items in person before buying, the internet is your friend for home decor deals. The same Safavieh gray shag area rug is priced at $110 at Lowe's, but is available at Overstock for $81.
It takes a little DIY ingenuity, but if you're willing to put in the effort, you can definitely beat big-box store prices on gorgeous new countertops.
Woroch explains: "I got a better deal on new granite countertops by picking out a slab from a wholesale slab yard. I found a fabricator to cut the piece to the exact measurements and install it directly. By cutting out the middleman—Home Depot or Lowe's—I cut out another party who had to get paid and got a much better price. Plus, I negotiated a better deal by offering cash!"
Of course, you run the risk of bad service—Home Depot and Lowe's are national companies that will protect you if things go sour—but you can take precautions by making sure your contractors are licensed and highly recommended by others, online and otherwise.
At this point, warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam's Club have cornered the market on small appliances. This is particularly true around the holidays, when “warehouse clubs typically stock more small appliances and prices are extremely competitive,” says Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini.
A couple of recent examples: A Danby 0.7 cubic-foot stainless-steel microwave was $50 at Costco, but $61 at Home Depot. A KitchenAid 9-cup food processor runs $180 at Lowe's but only $144 on Amazon.
So what should you buy at Home Depot or Lowe's?
Lowe's and Home Depot are the places to buy paint, power tools, and big appliances. In fact, these stores specialize in selling refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, and dishwashers at unbeatable prices, especially when you factor in their delivery, installation, and haul-away services.
If it's possible to wait for one of their annual sales (Memorial Day, Labor Day, Black Friday, and July 4 are common appliance sale times), you can save even more. Both Lowe's and Home Depot will knock up to 20% off the price of top-of-the-line appliances during sales.
Furthermore, shopping with a store-branded credit card will save you 5% at Lowe's. When you're spending $1,500 on a refrigerator, that's a savings of $75.