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 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.
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... Otherwise, Walmart or Target is your next best option in a pinch!
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. 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.
While Home Depot and Lowe's may excel at home improvement, their home decor items could really stand for some improvement. 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.
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.
You can get a better deal on new granite countertops by picking out a slab from a wholesale slab yard and have a fabricator cut the piece to the exact measurements and install it directly. By cutting out the middleman—Home Depot or Lowe's—you cut out another party who has to get paid and got a much better price. P
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.
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.