Why Home Depot is not your best choice for quality products

Home Builder with Safe and Sound Electric LLC E1-125403

Home Depot offers cheap prices and convenient hours.  Sometimes you have to finish a project and need a can of paint at 5 PM on a Sunday.  In that situation you have no choice but to head to Home Depot.  The problem I have with Home Depot is that the quality is not the same as products from other stores.

Some vendors whose products are carried by Home Depot have told me that the store does not like raising its prices.  So, a company initially offers a quality product and gives the store a huge discount because of the large sales volume.  Over time, the manufacturing costs of a product might go up.  Since the store does not like raising its prices, the manufacturer is forced to absorb those additional costs.  After a while, they can no longer continue absorbing those prices and has no choice but to lower the quality of the product offered.  For example, they might start shortening their guarantee period, and eventually they have to make an inferior product to keep costs down.

Home Depot products might look identical to products sold in other stores.  Most of the time it is impossible to tell.  Sometimes their lumber is undersized by a small fraction of an inch. This was clear to me when my father ran out of lumber on a project and ran to Home Depot for some boards.  Once he cut the new boards his measurements were off because of the undersized lumber.

A contractor friend of mine bought a ladder from Home Depot.  It looked exactly like the same model he had bought from a hardware store.  However, the quality was not nearly the same.  The rivets started to fail after just a few months of usage, while his other ladders lasted for years.

Saving money is very important for everyone. That is why we often price shop for goods and services.  However, price is only one element in the equation.  Value is much better measurement because it compares the price to the quality. If you buy a good quality product it will last for years and the cost per year is very little. If you buy a poor quality product, the price might be lower but product might need to be replaced soon, so it ends up costing you more than the good quality product.

I have yet to be dissatisfied with buying the best quality product I can afford.  This is true of everything, from electrical materials, vehicles, services and tools.  However, there have been many times where I bought a cheaper quality product and ended up frustrated.  Home Depot prices may be lower, but the quality is not the same.

Comments (20)

Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Oh I so agree w/ this John and the sad thing is that most people don't realize the difference until later.

In my experience, the plywood is always thinner - often 1/8" so the nails don't have proper grip and it doesn't align w/ what's already in the house.  Many of the tiles are thinner (both ceramic and vinyl. the marble is horrendous...looks good on top, but if you look underneath, you see it's all full of epoxy which means it will probably crack in 1-2 yrs.  Homeowners don't know to look out for this.

Excellent post.

Dec 17, 2014 08:31 PM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

The same thing could be true of many retailers. Just like real estate, buyer beware. However, Home Depot does a lot of good. I was at a groundbreaking ceremony for a disabled Marine where a Home Depot rep was present, and Home Depot donated around $100,000.00 for building materials to be used in construction of a smart home for the disabled Marine. They do this all over the country for organizations like Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers foundation, Gary Sinise Foundation, etc.

Dec 17, 2014 08:37 PM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Happily Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Good morning John Anello, Stamford Area Electrician  I found your post from Debbie Gartner 's reblog.... most people don't understand that the savings initially will cost them double later.... maybe more than double... another MISSED FEATURE BY ACTIVE RAIN!!!

Dec 17, 2014 08:39 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

We have to do a lot more picking through wood to find quality pieces at HD than at some other similar stores. I definitely agree that quality is often missing in their products.

Dec 17, 2014 08:47 PM
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

In my past life, I was the VP-Merchandising (ie-product boss) for a company that did business with a range of companies - from Home Depot and Lowes, to Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.

We were spec-driven, and strove to delivery value at each and every price point.

Value is the right consumer approach - but its hard for non-experts to discern small quality differences.

Dec 17, 2014 08:57 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning John. I agree with you on Home Depot and your point generally. Buy the best you can.

Dec 17, 2014 09:02 PM
Raymond E. Camp
Ontario, NY

Good morning John,

Great point on quality of products sold; but it is not just Home Depot!

I have found the local hardware, haberdashery and bakeries to have longer lasting products and if you compare the longevity of the product to price it is generally cheaper.

Make yourself a great day.

Dec 17, 2014 09:52 PM
Rob D. Shepherd
RETIRED - Florence, OR

I agrre. I don't use their stuff on my home. It seems to work great for my rentals and fences.

Dec 17, 2014 10:16 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

John, other than convenience you're going to get what you pay for every time. I won't say every product they sell is sub-standard although they do ride the cusp on many items. Here via Debbie Gartner.

Dec 17, 2014 10:45 PM
Women of Westchester Working Together
Women of Westchester Working Together - West Harrison, NY
Women helping Women get ahead

Super post, John.  I am surprised this isn't featured yet.  Hopefully, it will be.  - Debbie

Dec 18, 2014 06:31 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

John it's like that with any big bx store, regardless of product. The quest to make a profit with volume means a sacrifice for quality, but when it's all done, it is always Buyer beware

Dec 18, 2014 07:02 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

John - you are right about this.  I have heard the same things from plumbers and contractors.  It looks the same but it's not.

Dec 18, 2014 08:33 PM
Handy Mann

The dimensions were different on the lumber because the wood was drier than the wood your father had been using previously. Home Depot isn't ripping you off by shaving 1/16th of an inch of wood off each plank, that's not going to help them in the least. Nor is the ladder company using one batch of "good" rivets in non-HD ladders and another batch of "bad" rivets in the ladders they ship to Home Depot. The price of the rivets is trivial, and how are they going to keep the "good" batches separate from the "bad" when they're all marked the same? Paranoid BS like you're spouting is the problem.

Nov 16, 2015 07:50 PM

Well maybe on some items, but in comparison, Lowes is the bling store, if you want shiny chrome faucets the selection seems unlimited, but the materials to do the job are limited. at Home Depot, the bling is limited but the tools and material needed to do the job are available. To many times i waste an hour at lower and have to go to HomeDepot to get what i need. Sure wish they had built the Home Depot closer to home than Lowes. And frequently Lowes is out of stock, wall sockets out of stock, Really?? They are supposed to be a home supply store.

Nov 16, 2015 10:45 PM

Several points from a line manager in a sawmill/lumber-finishing operation who is also a home-improvement contractor:

1) Lumber varies in size, naturally -- especially PINE lumber. Even kiln-dried pine shrinks and expands due to changes in atmospheric humidity. The same goes for OSB and plywood, to a less noticeable degree.

2) Lumber specifications call for a certain grade of board, with the grade defined and enforced by national production associations. There are many grades, with the differences between them often relatively minute -- and for the most part, dependent on the (human) grader's perception. There are several grades known by laymen as "finish" or "stain" grades, and many more that would fall into the "paint," "stud," or "utility" categories. Different strokes -- and different price points -- for different folks (and sellers).

3) In affluent times and locales, customers tend to purchase higher-end products, and the opposite in austere times like those in which our economy has been mired since the 2008 crash. Home Depot, which targets blue-collar do-it-yourselfers, appears to carry a down-grade line of lumber ... and "Class II" (225-lb capacity) ladders instead of "Class I" (300-lb) -- because that's what they can meet customers' pricepoints with. Don't you think that if people were demanding a higher grade of lumber from management -- and were willing to pay the price -- that management would find a way to deliver the higher-end stuff?

4) And here's one you don't hear often: Much of the lumber -- particularly plywood -- and other building supplies that you purchase ANYWHERE now is made overseas in metric-system economies like China, India, Brazil and Mexico. The 23/32-inch plywood that you purchase at Lowe's or HD (or your local hardware store) is not "shaved down" to gyp you; it's that thickness because it's imported, and to make it "American-sized" would add cost and raise your prices.

Nov 17, 2015 02:09 AM
Proud Texan

John, If you haven't talked to the store manager about your concerns to allow him to respond and satisfy your needs, that's not responsible communication. There are always 2 sides to a story. I believe your observations are biased negatively....I suspect you have a beef with HD over something else you are not sharing.

Nov 17, 2015 02:13 AM

Proud Texan, none of what I wrote was untrue, and I'm actually a happy Home Depot pro customer, although I agree with earlier posts that said some of their product lines are more spartan than those offered by others, but then so is Wal-mart lower-scale than Macy's -- and I shop almost every week at Wal-mart because their line of goods meets my needs and my budget.

I routinely shop HD first, then go to Lowe's or Menards or another vendor if Big Orange Box doesn't have what meets my project needs.

The four statements I made are objective and true. Before you see some mysterious "beef" in my comments, please furnish substantive statements that show where I erred. Otherwise, I might conclude that you work for Home Depot and consider any implied critique offensive.

Nov 17, 2015 02:56 AM

Home Depot is my favourite home improvement store in the world. Home Depot is far better than the lowes home store. Recently I won the $5000 gift card on home depot store for free. I participated in the home depot survey on this website https://www.homedepotcomsurveys.com/ and I won $5000 gift card for free. Thanks a lot to the management of home depot store and Never compare any home improvement store with the home depot store.

Sep 04, 2019 08:34 AM

I purchased several recent items from Home Depot that wee an epic fail- and I’m fairly certain I’ll have no recourse given the current situation. The stuff Home Depot is selling now has gone right in the garbage. We tried to attach budget mini blinds to warehouse space and they only came with wall mounts ( we have drop ceilings) didn’t hold with duct tape. Storage bins I bought were delivered to me with cracks and missing lids. I have another order to pick up that I’m dreading. I used to like Home Depot. And this is not pandemic related

May 16, 2020 08:55 PM
Thomas Holst

I’ve had nothing but grief from Home Depot’s cheap Chinese plumbing hardware. They don’t fit right and eventually fail and require replacement. I bought a couple “stainless steel” kitchen sink drains that turned out to be only partially stainless. Other parts were cheap pot metal which corroded and broke after a year - unacceptable for a kitchen sink.

May 20, 2020 05:53 PM