After reviewing power tools and hand tools for over a decade, we are often asked the question Lowes vs Home Depot. In order to decide whether Lowes or Home Depot is the better store, we need to know a lot. Looking at these two home improvement warehouses, I don't think you really can pick a loser. However, after polling the office as well as several of our professional reviewers, we definitely value one over the other – just for a variety of different reasons. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments section below.
The Company History of Lowes and The Home Depot
Lowe's North Wilkesboro Hardware Store was founded in 1921 by LS Lowe in North Carolina. In addition to hardware and building supplies, Lowes Grocery also sells sewing accessories, dry goods, horse tack, produce, and even groceries. It wasn't until 1946, six years after Jim Lowe (LS Lowe's son) took over the hardware store, that Lowe's began to really focus on home improvement products.
Three years later, in 1949, Lowe's opened a second location in Sparta, North Carolina. In 1952, co-owner Carl Buchan took over as sole owner, but the stores kept their names.
The company went public in 1961, but did not list on the New York Stock Exchange until 1979. By 1964, the company was serving 1 million customers. By 1982, sales had reached $1 billion and profits were $25 million. Soon after, Fortune magazine named Lowe's one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For in America."
In 2002, Lowe's entered the Fortune 100 with $22 billion in sales, and opened stores in Canada and India in 2007 and 2015, respectively. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Lowe's, and they had $96.3 billion in sales that year.
Home Depot Company History
Interestingly, Home Depot (yes, the company name actually has "The" in front of it) got started much later than Lowe's — about 57 years later, in fact. It all started in 1978 when Handy Dan Home Improvement Centers fired both Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank. Two months later, they launched Home Depot Inc. A year later, they have opened two stores, both in Atlanta, Georgia. By the end of the year, they added a third store and hired 200 employees.
Home Depot went public on Nasdaq in 1981 and expanded into Florida. It wasn't until around 1986 that they began to focus on the professional world. Three years later, they opened their 100th store. It is located in Monrovia, California.
Around that time, they eclipsed every other home improvement retailer and became the largest retailer in the United States. The company expanded into Mexico with the acquisition of Total Home. By 2005, Home Depot opened its 2,000th store — this time celebrating the occasion in Riverdale, Georgia.
In 2017, Home Depot surpassed $100 billion in sales and expanded its commitment to veterans' causes to $500 million. By the end of 2021, the company had more than $151 billion in revenue and donated more than $1 billion in Success Share to various programs.
Lowes and Home Depot Company Size
When you compare Lowe's to Home Depot's store size and workforce size, you'll find some surprising things. First, Home Depot has 2,006 stores in the United States. It also has 182 in Canada and 129 in Mexico (2,317 in total). THD employs approximately 490,000 people across its network.
Lowe's has about 1,737 stores in the U.S. and about 450 in Canada (about 2,187 in total — it closed its Mexico store in the late 2010s). Together they employ approximately 300,000 people.
|Lowe's||274,000 (91.3%)||26,000 (8.7%)||– –|
|The Home Depot||437,000 (89.2%)||34,100 (7%)||18,000 (3.7%)|
|Lowe's||1,737 (79.4%)||450 (20.6%)||– –|
|The Home Depot||2,006 (86.6%)||182 (7.8%)||129 (5.6%)|
The average enclosed space at a Home Depot store is approximately 104,000 square feet, with an outdoor garden area of approximately 24,000 square feet.
The average Lowe's is approximately 112,000 square feet, plus another 32,000 square feet of outdoor garden center space.
If we do the math, Home Depot has about 241 million square feet of indoor retail space and 55.6 million square feet of outdoor garden space. Lowe's Watches occupies approximately 245 million square feet of indoor space and approximately 70 million square feet of outdoor garden center space.
Most retail space: Lowe's (international), The Home Depot (US) – both by a narrow margin
Most associations: Home Depot
Lowe's vs Home Depot Customer Service
Home Depot's slogan is "How Doers Get More Done." Lowe's philosophy is "Do the right thing with less. Start with Lowe's." As such, both stores focus on repair and maintenance, as well as professionals and power users looking to build or renovate their homes. As a result, both Home Depot and Lowe's stores stock a wide range of lumber, roofing, siding and trim, and appliances where customers can load value pallets of the material.
Want help and advice on your plumbing project? You might get lucky and get a Home Depot employee who has worked in the industry. However, you could also just find someone without a ton of hands-on experience who can only point you in the right direction.
However, I personally find that Home Depot employs more knowledgeable staff in plumbing and electrical than Lowe's. This is helpful if you want to get your hands on a project and need a nudge in the right direction. Of course, that doesn't mean your area might not have the opposite effect—after all, people are unique across the country.
In absolute terms, The Home Depot has more employees per square foot — and that's important when you need help. Of course I walked up and down the aisles of both stores and found no one nearby who could answer my questions.
Best Customer Service: The Home Depot (based on number of employees)
Another big difference between Home Depot and Lowes is the brand of power tools they carry in their stores. This can lead to serious bias if you're running on a specific manufacturer or brand. If you're anything like me, you love keeping an eye out for tool deals and sales. See which manufacturers are sold by various home improvement chain stores in physical stores (simplified list of power tools and outdoor products brands):
Lowes Tool Brands and Manufacturers
- Self Strength+
- elastic tool
- john deere
- Kobalt Tools
- Metabolic HPT
- sun belt
home depot tool brand
- cub cadet
- john deere
- klein tools
- milwaukee tools
- Rich Power Tools
- two backup
- troy bilt
However, we feel compelled to mention that Lowe's and Home Depot both offer free "ship to store" options. This greatly increases the number of manufacturers and the products you can buy from each manufacturer. However, you can't deny the convenience of walking into a store when you need something — and if the actual store doesn't have a tool for sale, you're less likely to walk out with it. When comparing Lowes vs. Home Depot, professionals and homeowners alike tend to stick with the brands they already love and use.
When we compared Lowe's and Home Depot, we noticed that DeWalt showed up in both, but adding TTI brands like Milwaukee, Ridgid Power Tools, and Ryobi immediately gave THD a head start on the most popular tools. Add in Makita, Cub Cadet, and Toro, and you start to see Depot gaining a decisive lead.
On Lowe's end, their tactical placement of the Metabo HPT has given them an edge in the air nailer category, and the FLEX 24V tool has certainly made waves in the industry – especially with their Founders Lifetime Warranty. When it comes to outdoor power equipment, EGO itself is a great reason to shop at Lowe's. They consistently feature in our best lawn mowers and best cordless leaf blowers review articles and roundups.
Most Popular Brand: Home Depot
Timber and Building Materials
If you want or need lumber or building materials, Lowe's has really caught up to The Home Depot in many ways. Both Home Depot and Lowe's are determined to go after professional tradesmen and local builders and remodelers looking to hit the stores for much-needed supplies. The two stores are even more competitive in lumber, siding and roofing materials. Presumably, they leverage supplier and volume discounts to achieve this.
Recently, we've also seen a turnaround at Lowe's, who are doing a better job of stocking — despite global supply issues. It's not uncommon to walk into a Lowe's store and see piles of building materials and piles of lumber ready to buy.
So at the moment we are debating who can provide better building materials. Home Depot remains the go-to for professionals who need a job done on the fly, and Ace Hardware remains a great place to pick up small pieces needed for landscaping, painting a room, plumbing or electrical repairs.
Construction Supplies and Materials: TIED
Summarizing the Lowes vs. Home Depot debate
As we always say – we love competition. In the Lowes vs. Home Depot debate, which store is better depends on many factors. We happen to have two stores nearby, so being able to get to either one quickly allows us to take advantage of each retailer's strengths.
If you love checking out the latest tool deals, then you'll probably love a store featuring your favorite brands. Beyond that, see which stores in your area have the most helpful (and knowledgeable) staff — they can really help the next time you're tackling a DIY project.