Prices - Menards vs Lowes vs Home Depot

28 Replies

I'm a fan of Menards.  They always seem to have super good deals when things go on sale.   I haven't shopped HD or Lowes too much.

Since I'm a veteran I get a 10% discount at HD.  Then I've been buying a few HD gift cards for 20% off.  Combining the gift cards adn the 10% I'm still thinking even with the discounts - Menards lowest price will probably be lower.

Someone told me if I buy at Menards on Sunday - they have last weeks and this weeks promotion running so you can double dip?

Which do you feel has the best prices?  Or ideas to reduce project costs?

I'm not doing much volume so contractor desks and bulk discounts don't help much.

Home Depot usually, that is where most of our contractors purchase. 

HD does price match to other stores, so I try to buy as much as possible from HD. I buy volume, so I get volume discounts.

With the 20% off gift cards and 10% veterans discount, I would be surprised if Menards is still cheaper. If it is, you can ask HD to do a price match and then use your gift cards.

@Kirk R. Any investor can set up a "commercial account" w lowes that entitles them to a discount Also discount arrangements are available from many suppliers via your local REIA.

@Kirk R.  You forgot to add the last part to your question.

Your Q:  "Which do you feel has the best prices?"

 Finished Q: "Which do you feel has the best, for what I am currently buying?"

You see, it all depends on what you are buying at the time you are buying it. This is where the REI earns their profits...managing (time, people), and MONEY.

Also, price vs. quality vs. selection vs. service vs. time.  We don't have Menard's stores in our area, but I've been to them when visiting the midwest. Nice stores. With HD and Lowe's I notice some minor differences in the quality and variety of inventory that will lead me to shop at HD for some things and Lowe's for other things. As @Joe Villeneuve  points out, it is a point in time decision for what you are currently buying. I will sometimes go to a higher priced neighborhood hardware store for some things because of the service I receive and how fast I can get in and out!

I think it depends on what you are buying and when you are buying it.  Menard's has some good sales and rebates on items that you don't see as much of at HD or Lowe's (drywall is on sale right now at Menard's).  But do you need it when it is on sale?  Can you wait until the sale to buy it?  

There is also a different product mix at each of the stores.  Menard's just came to our area and I am super excited about their 3 bulb dome lights.  The older homes I invest in have larger rooms with tall ceilings.  2 bulb lights leave the rooms dim and dingy looking.  The only 3 bulb lights I could find at HD or Lowe's were 'designer' styles starting at $50 each.  Menard's has basic 3 bulb dome lights 2 for $25.  That solved a big problem for me and saved me money.  It seems to me that Menard's has a larger selection of the lower priced items than the other two.

I don't like the electrical section at Menard's at all.  It's overwhelming and I can't seem to find things as easily as I can at HD or Lowe's so I won't waste my time in that section.  But their plumbing section is easier to navigate and has 2 packs of pex parts comparable to what HD and Lowe's charge for 1 packs.  HD has the best electrical panel to meet my needs as I upgrade all of my properties.  HD also has better light switch and outlet covers.  I like Lowe's over HD for non-basic lighting selection.  Lowe's also has better lumber than HD.  I've heard good things about Menard's lumber but haven't purchased any from there yet.

Half of my properties are closer to Lowe's than HD with the other half closer to HD than Lowe's so that determines where I go most of the time.  Menard's is building a new store that I pass on my way to work so I will stop at any of the three depending on when and where I need something.  Although I have noticed that some of the newer stores (Lowe's and Menard's in my area) are located in TIF areas and charge an extra 1%-2% sales tax to finance the TIF.  If it's something that I need right away, it's not worth saving 1%-2% to spend the time to go to a different store.  If it's a big order, I keep in mind the extra tax when comparing prices or will purchase at a different Lowe's or Menard's that doesn't have a TIF tax.

I get the 10% as well.  Distance and time matters to me.  If the property I'm working on is closer to HD or Lowes then that's where I'll go.  Now, if it's lumber or other materials HD doesn't disocunt or its over the $50 max HD discount for military then I go to Lowes. 

I like getting smoke detectors at HD because they have 2-packs whereas Menards doesn't have them.  I also go to HD for toilets. But pretty much everything else I get at Menards.

No Lowes..... ever.

I go to whoever is closer, has the products I need and does the 10% military discount. 

@Bryan N.   said $50 military you meant $500?  10% off $5,000

Anyways went shopped at HD today with 20% GC and 10% military definitely HD.  I just shopped paint and a few other things fairly quickly.  Seemed about same price at both Menards and HD.  Does HD have sales on Paint/lumber etc. like Menards does?

I worked at Menards for almost 3 years, and miss the store every time I shop at depot or lowes. Menards is very reasonably priced, especially on Menards brand goods - master force, tool shop (gross), mastercraft, crest line, etc. The trick for double dipping sales is to pay attention to the 11% sale, especially if you're shopping for kitchens and windows. Regularly Jeldwen and Schrock overlap the 11% rebate sale by one day. I saved a guy a bundle once because he got the volume price on windows, backed with the 11% rebate and came out something like 27% ahead.

@Kirk R.  

In my area Home Depot limits the maximum military discount to $50.  So, if I'm going to spend more then $500 I'll got Lowes along with the other examples above.  

@Bryan N.  that stinks. not sure what mine does. will have to find out.   would have stunk trying tp buy bunch of stuff.   will they let u break into 10 $500 purchase? 

@Kirk R.  

You probably can, but if I know I'm spending that much (or non discounted items) then I just go to Lowes to avoid the hassle.  

Obviously it varies from store to store and region to region... but for us the difference is in the sales reps.

We do A LOT of business at Menards.  After working with them for as long as we have, their service is superior in every way.   Being able to phone ahead for orders saves a lot of time and money...  Some things are cheaper at HD, but all in all the Menards 11% store-wide rebates and 2% year-end-rebate (in addition to our corporate 2% visa card rewards) takes the cake... not to mention getting last sale price on big orders and the random mail-in rebates come automatically attached to our receipts.  

Both HD and Menards are competitive price/rebate wise... but we have yet to find a HD who will send an outside salesmen with an immediate material run for us.

@Mitch Coluzzi  how do you do the 2% + 2%? just register mc rewards card as  contractor card?  

I found that HD and Lowes, in my area, are grossly over priced on trim, casing, shingles, doors, and windows. Their lumber prices are competitive though. I buy from other local suppliers. The same for their plumbing fixtures. HD and Lowes are inferior quality to my local plumbing supply houses and very similar prices. I still buy quite a bit of other stuff from HD and Lowes, like tile and some flooring, misc hardware, etc. Plus my other local supplier deliver for free.

@Kirk R.  if you a contractor, you can register the contractor 2% year end rebate against any credit card on file.  You can also do it with cash purchases by adding $1 of any transaction to your Menards card [it has been awhile since a cash transaction but assuming that still works]...

The other 2% is from my corporate visa card.

how do you all get the gift cards for 20% off?

Disclaimers: I am new to this.  Most of my store trips to date have been for small quantity stuff, not for re-doing an entire house.  I am not affiliated with any companies mentioned.

In Kansas City, HD and Lowe's are the big players.  HD was here first, and Lowe's showed up soon after.  There is a Menards in St. Joseph but that's 55 miles away; I think there is a much closer one in the works, but it's not here yet.

I've shopped at Menards in Iowa a couple of times, but not enough to reach a general conclusion.  Their selection *looks* more extensive than HD or Lowe's, but I also think some of that is down to how Menards builds their in-store displays and shelves.

Usually I find HD has better prices on the same material.  I also find that sometimes HD has the more well-known/older brands, while Lowe's has the "me too" brand of a particular product.

I think HD is better for "stuff you can't see" - lumber, screws, nails, rough plumbing, rough electrical, and so on.  Lowe's is sometimes better at "stuff you can see" - light fixtures, faucets, flooring, curtain rods, and so on.  Lowe's has more choices, especially at the higher end, and more up-to-date styles.

Sometimes HD's lower prices work against them - if they are sold out, I can go to Lowe's and find the item on the shelf, for those times when having it today is worth a 5%-10% price premium.

Around here, HD also has tool rental (in some stores), and truck rental.  Lowe's only has truck rental.  If it's a job that needs a rental tool, it's easier to get the tool and all the other pieces at HD.

I don't usually shop at hardware stores like Ace or True Value, except for certain things.  The hardware stores are a lot better if you just need a few of some goofy fastener; they have more selection and will sell you 1 at a time.  They are also a little better for when you want to buy just the guts of something like a faucet and rebuild it, rather than swapping the whole thing.  Related to that, the repair parts that HD and Lowe's do stock tend to be only for relatively "recent" stuff, like what has been common for the last 10 or 20 years... if you have a 50 or 80 year old house, you're more likely to find parts that fit at Ace or True Value, compared to HD or Lowe's.

Some of the hardware stores make it a point to hire retired or part-time tradespeople, which can be handy if you need some advice to go with the goods.  I haven't seen this as much at HD or Lowe's, but sometimes it happens.

Every once in a great while I buy something at Wal-Mart.  Their selection is not extensive, but they are open 24 hours a day, and the hardware aisle (in a Supercenter) has a lot of stuff that might need to be fixed right now - sink drain traps, toilet parts, switches, outlets, cover plates, door locks, etc.  The prices are at least close to HD, but if I'm buying it at Wal-Mart, I am probably not worried so much about the price.

"how do you all get the gift cards for 20% off".

Places like and sell Lowes and Home Depot gift cards (amongst others).  Never got one for 20% off; 10% is about the best I've found but I'll couple these with 10 percent off coupons from Lowes (Home Depot will also honor these).  I'm not military.

I wish we have a Menards where I live.


I live in KC and have done several rehab projects on the rentals I bought fixing them up.  I don't think there is a golden rule on how to get discounts at these big box stores other than to have a big purchase and to go to the contractors desk and ask for a discount.  Home Depot's rule is that when the order exceeds $2,500, they will submit it to their bidding engine to get you a discount.  The discount varies based on the items you are purchasing.  I know Lowes does something similar, but not sure what their thresholds are.

Hope this helps!

I have never found a HD gift card for 20% off the best I have found is 9%. 

I am a die hard Lowes Fan. I used to go to HD a lot in Oklahoma. Then I got orders to Maryland and I have yet to find a HD that doesn't try to get out of honoring the military discount so I stuck to Lowes since they have never given me a problem. I also like their Lowes card which keeps track of all transactions. Makes it easy come tax season. 

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