We compared Walmart to home-improvement giants Lowe's and Home Depot and found one huge advantage to shopping at Walmart

Katie Canales/Business InsiderWhen you just need some basic tools and supplies to keep around the house, Walmart can be a great way to go.
  • Home Depot and Lowe’s are two of the besthome-improvement stores in the US in terms of customer satisfaction, offering professionals and non-professionals alike all they need to complete the DIY project of their dreams.
  • The two are often compared to see which is the better go-to home-improvement retailer. Business Insider wrote in a 2018 review that Home Depot had much more to offer than Lowe’s, and it was more popular among millennials who named it their home-improvement store of choice, according to a Bank of America survey.
  • But while Walmart is in no way as specialised in home improvement as Lowe’s or Home Depot, we wondered which retailer was the best option for the everyday shopper in search of some essential home-improvement items.
  • We visited all three stores to see what each offers overall in home improvement and to see how easy it was to locate three standard items: a hammer, a tape measure, and a box of nails.
  • Home Depot stuck out for its wide selection in various departments, Lowe’s for its overall displays and branding, and Walmart for being the perfect place for the average shopper.
  • While Home Depot and Lowe’s certainly have more to offer and seemed designed for professional builders and do-it-yourselfers tackling bigger projects, you can fill all your basic home improvement needs at Walmart for a fraction of the price and time.
  • Here’s how the three stores compare.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.


Our first stop was a Lowe’s store in San Francisco, California. This is one of the company’s 2,200 or more locations in North America, according to Lowe’s website.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Lowe’s


Upon walking in, we saw trash bins and brooms, just to name a couple of the mounds of different products lining the shelves and aisles.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

But first things first! Where could we find a hammer?

Katie Canales/Business Insider

A “Tool World” banner seemed like a good place to start.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

We saw some power drills upon entering “Tool World.”

Katie Canales/Business Insider

But after that, the hammers were easy to find. Lowe’s had a wide selection of them, which was a little overwhelming to us home-improvement novices.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There were multiple brands, and prices were varied, too. Some were priced under $US10, while others were closer to $US30.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

We asked a sales associate what the best option would be.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

She told us that if we were looking for a basic hammer just to keep around the house, a $US5.98 fibreglass-handle option (pictured on the left) was the way to go.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Shelling out $US6 for the tool seemed to be a good deal. Plus, it didn’t take long at all to locate the hammers.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAbove: Not a basic fibreglass option.

And it wasn’t difficult to find the tape measures, either — they were right across the aisle from the hammers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The selection of tape measures was equally as overwhelming as the hammer section.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was an eight-foot measure on a keychain for $US3.98 …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and some 12-foot and 16-foot measures for $US4.98 and $US5.98, respectively …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… but we looked for a 25-foot measure, since that’s usually a safe bet for most users. This Craftsman one below was priced at $US19.98.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider and How Stuff Works


Another 25-foot non-stainless measure by Kobalt cost $US12.98, so there was a bit of a range in pricing.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Finally, we perused the store for the nails, which were a couple of aisles over from “Tool World.”

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The first thing we noticed, though, was a bunch of intimidating drawers that we thought would have nails in them, but they turned out to be nuts, washers, and screws.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

But nearby was a more digestible section that included a box of wire nails for $US1.38.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was a $US4.48 assortment of box nails, which are similar to your average common nail, that would seem like a good purchase.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Britannica


After about five minutes in the store, we’d found all three items.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And finding everything was a breeze, which made entering a specialty home-improvement store less of a headache.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

It was also reassuring to know that if we had come into the store with a list of items needed to complete a do-it-yourself project, there would have been plenty of help at our disposal.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There were signs posted around the store for customers with questions. One even advertised an app that you could download to help you find a product you’re looking for.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Others promoted meet-and-greets that could help further educate customers. And throughout our visit, at least three sales associates passed us and asked if we needed help finding something.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Another user-friendly aspect we appreciated were these handy visual explainers above product sections, like a bathroom drain graphic showing what a P Trap was.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

If the need arose for a replacement of that specific toilet part, navigating the selection would be less daunting with easy-to-read visuals displayed above it.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And for customers looking to create their own gallery wall in their home, for instance, there was a designated section for hanging frames instead of shoppers having to independently hunt down each thing.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The paint section was equally convenient.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Colour swaths and curated schemes would simplify taking on a paint job.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There were, however, also aisles lined with bare materials that seemed clearly more designed for a more advanced do-it-yourself project. One had boards of wood in varying lengths and widths.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Across the store were other categories of products, like appliances …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and ceiling fans and light fixtures, with some priced in the $US50 range and others above $US200.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The pricing labels throughout the store were neat and modern, which made them easy to read, …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and walking around, Lowe’s felt light and airy, making for an overall welcoming feel.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Stepping into Home Depot, the store felt a little grittier, with no-nonsense orange detailing.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The store we visited is one of the company’s 2,284 North American locations. The aroma of wood was overpowering before we even walked past the entrance doors, and there was sawdust sprinkled across the floor in certain areas.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Home Depot


With its high ceilings, the warehouse-like Home Depot gave off an industrial feel to seemingly draw in more professional home improvers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

We looked for the hammers immediately, which were easy to find. The size of the selection was comparable to the selection at Lowe’s, and the hammers were from different brands and in varying sizes and prices.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was also a useful graphic above the rows to help customers make their selection, like how to opt for a lighter hammer for general use or a hammer with a longer handle for framing things.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

We looked for a similar general-purpose fibreglass handle option and found one on the bottom shelf for $US6.97, which was a bit more expensive than the one at Lowe’s. There were also more inexpensive wooden ones.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

A few aisles over, we found tape measures by brands like DeWalt, Stanley, and the more affordable Anvil.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The Wire Cutter


There was a Stanley 25-foot measure for $US6.97, which seemed like one of the best deals in the section.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

On to search for nails! We found them a few aisles away with other accessories like nuts and bolts.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Nails were split up into different categories, like outdoor and general construction.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

We found boxes of roofing nails and nails built for patio work, to name a few examples …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and we looked for a versatile nail kit like the one we found at Lowe’s but didn’t find one. On Home Depot’s website, though, we found this $US3.98 98-piece assortment.

Home Depot

Source: Home Depot


I could have used Home Depot’s app to search for the item and figure out where to find it in the store. I also could have asked one of the sales associates I saw walking around — there was at least one in almost every aisle I ventured down.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

In fact, there were a number of elements in the store that seemed to meet the home-improvement beginner halfway.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was a colour-coded banner in the nail aisle describing which nail finish would best suit a customer’s needs.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And the paint department was also user-friendly.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There were helpful graphics explaining paint finishes and options …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and the colour swatches seemed endless.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And pricing labels stood out, with the store’s signature handwritten-style font.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Another service Home Depot offered to simplify matters was free carpet installation — there was a large banner promoting it at the store’s entrance. Lowe’s has a similar service.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Lowe’s


And we found tons of other product categories for the home remodeler in the store, like light fixtures …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and model kitchens.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The appliances section, filled with refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers, seemed endless and more vast than Lowe’s. They also seemed better grouped together than at Lowe’s.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Overall, we found most of our items within five minutes at Home Depot, the prices were low, and the overall selections across multiple departments were much more extensive than at Lowe’s.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

But how does Walmart, a store with much less of a focus on home improvement, measure up to Home Depot or Lowe’s in terms of finding basic items?

Katie Canales/Business InsiderThe Home Depot we visited was right next to a Walmart.

Upon walking into this Walmart, we saw a navigation banner directing customers to the left, toward the lawn and garden section, which we followed …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… before coming upon another one pointing to the home and paint and hardware sections …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and just like that, we were in the home section. Though Walmart isn’t a home improvement retailer like Home Depot or Lowe’s, we found it considerably easier to navigate to where we needed to go to find our basic items.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And we pinpointed the hammers in no time at all. However, if we’d had trouble finding them, tracking down a sales associate would have taken some time — it was a ghost town in that part of the store.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Though our choices were more limited, we found a Stanley fibreglass hammer for $US4.88, a price much lower than over at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

It was the same with the tape measures that were further down the aisle: there were fewer options, but that can be a good thing when you’re trying to make a decision.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

They had tape measures with smaller lengths, like a Komelon keychain 10-foot option for $US1.67.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There was a $US2.97 25-foot option by the Hyper Tough brand …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… and also a $US13.97 25-foot option by Komelon, so there was a price range even with the limited supply.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And finally, one aisle over, there were small boxes of different kinds of nails for under a dollar, which seemed like a great deal. It took perhaps one minute to locate all three items in Walmart.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The best part about Walmart was that because the home-improvement section was smaller, all the basics were so close to each other.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The hammers, the nails, and the tape measures were all either in the same aisle or just one aisle away from each other.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And other products were in close proximity to each other as well. There were toilet seats …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… within feet of rows of locks …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… which were a couple of aisles over from the storage containers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

And like at Home Depot and Lowe’s, Walmart’s shopping process was streamlined. For example, there was an area where customers could find everything needed to hang a frame.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

There were plenty of helpful samples and explainers in the paint department, just like at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Though the paint brands weren’t as popular as the ones at Lowe’s or Home Depot — Behr and Sherwin-Williams, just to name some that the latter two carry, are fairly recognisable household names …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Good Housekeeping


… they did carry Glidden, which has been found to be of similar quality as the bigger players like Behr. We saw Glidden advertised at Home Depot as well.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports


Aisles and departments were clearly marked, which made navigating through the aisles effortless.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

As far as offering customers both professional and non-professional a hefty supply of home-improvement products by trusted brands, Walmart has nothing on Home Depot or Lowe’s …

Katie Canales/Business Insider

… but for the average person who’s on the hunt for a hammer to keep around the house or apartment, and on a budget, too, Walmart brings a lot to the table.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

For sheer value and for its easy store navigation, Walmart wins.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Shopping at Walmart also gives you the added benefit of being able to cross other necessities off of your errand list at the same time. Need a hammer and a new set of pajamas? Walmart has you covered.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

You can’t always go to Walmart for all you need to build something from scratch, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered when you’re in the market for some staple items.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.