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Home Depot quality?

jackwater's picture

I've heard from a couple of my friends that Home Depot's tool are made specifically for Home Depot and that the name brand tools are not of the same quality. Is there any truth to this, or is this just urban myth?


Some tools are only sold at (post #196311, reply #1 of 24)

Some tools are only sold at Home Depot.  Such as Husky.  The rest I believe is probably urban myth, as long as a name brand tool is sold with the same part number elsewhere, it's identical to what is sold at other stores.

I did buy a stainless steel Swanson combination square from McMaster Carr at work and that one is made in USA, whereas the same looking one at Lowes was made in China.  I saw the same square at Menards and it was USA, so I bought that one for home, and just to help encourage Menards to keep selling that one. I'm not sure if they have the same part numbers, so I could be contradicting myself..

Many tool brands make (post #196311, reply #2 of 24)

Many tool brands make different levels of quality.  (Also true of other types of merchandise, from bathroom faucets to bike parts.)  In fact, often they will give each retailer its own model number for a given item (even when the item is indeed identical), so that it's impossible to compare by model numbers.

So you can't really tell, other to look at a tool (or faucet or bike part) and ask "Is this the level of quality I'm looking for?"

(The one thing that most semi-reputable manufacturers won't do is put the exact same model number (no suffixes, etc) on two different quality items.)

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Yes, they do cut deals but (post #196311, reply #3 of 24)

Yes, they do cut deals but I've NEVER heard of the manufacturers making lesser qulaity products for one retailer. They got too much to lose. If they did, they'd sell under a different brand name.


Here's what I understand ...


Home Depot cuts exclusive deals with manufacturers. For example, HD has an exclusive with Makita - as far as big box stores are concerned, only HD is allowed to sell Makita power tools. Read as Lowes can't sell them. I'm not sure if your local Ace Hardware can sell them still. That's why you can't get Makita tools at Lowes anymore and if you can, it's old stock. That's why a few years ago, Lowes had some awesome deals on Makita.


RIDGID power tools (manfactured by Techtronic - AKA Ryobi) also has the same deal as well as Milwaukee (Techtronic), and Husky (power tools are made by Techtronic and some other tools with the Husky name). (AEG is now a owned and made by Techtronic, btw)


Black and Decker (also: DeWalt , Porter Cable,Stanley,Delta,and some others that I can't remember now) doesn't have any exclusive deal with anyone from what I can tell - they're soooo HUGE, I don't see anyone pushing them around.


One day I was at the HD and someone came in with a Lowes flyer and asked the floor guy to match the price with the 10% less of the difference of a DeWalt drill - If I remember correctly. The floor guy said "no" because it was a different drill. The customer looked perplexed. He said it's the exact same drill with the exact same accesories - case. The HD guy said, "See. The Lowes drill is DW123K whereas our drill is DW123KA" and told the guy "Sorry". (Model numbers were made up but that's pretty much what happened - the model numbers were slightly different)




A few years ago, Lowes had a sale on DeWalt 12v 3/8 NiCd drills. One was $99 and the other model was $129. Again, the models numbers differed by one letter. Looking on the back of the yellow box, the product decription was identical. I got a floor guy and asked him what the difference was. He didn't know.


When I got home, I looked up the model numbers. The $99 drill did not exist on DeWalt's website while the other one did.
 Maybe it was a drill that DeWalt was discontinuing - I don't know.


I haven't seen anything like the model number issue in a few years so maybe it was just when DeWalt was revamping their line.


So yes, there are differences between reailers but I haven't seen any evidence that certain retailers carry lesser quality tools of the same brand name. Meaning, a DeWalt drill at Lowes or ACE is the same quality as HD. And if I ever find out that they're not, I'll be the frist to scream.

Start screaming now! (post #196311, reply #4 of 24)

Look inside thiose tools from the big boxes and see plastic bushings or inferior triggers. Notice the shorter cheaper cords. See that the batteries in the kits for cordless are of a lower amp/hr rating.


Note that Milwaukee  tools might be made in USA, Germany, or China or mexico. Guess which ones you get at the bog boxes.


I cam buy Makita all over the place. No way does the big box have any exclusive on them.


Same deal with plumbing parts. Order a fixture from Graingers and see the brass parts inside, but from the big box see the plastic....same part number sans a one digit or one letter change in part/model number



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

I don't know about the tools (post #196311, reply #5 of 24)

but I have first hand knowledge of the difference in "the same" pluming fixture sold at a box store vs a quality distributor. We took a name brand faucet from our shelves and bout one "just like it" at a local large retail outlet, filled them both with resin so all the pieces wouldnt fall out and ran each through a bandsaw to show customers the difference.

The results - box store had a lot of plastic, vs distributor version very little. Some may believe that to be an urban legend, but its real.

I haven't seen that kind of a (post #196311, reply #6 of 24)

I haven't seen that kind of a dramatic display with the resin, but I know from my plumber that he often cannot get parts for HD fixtures that are "just like" what he sells, but he can sometimes use the better parts in the cheaper fixture. 'course, time that repair is done, it would be cheaper sometimes just to replace the whole fixture. Same deal with electrical. The body of a lot of lamps and fixtures for lights is a lighter gauge metal and has a thinner brass plating. The disbelievers can take along their calipers and prove it to themselves



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

The part/model number has to be different (post #196311, reply #16 of 24)

While I fully agree you can find nearly identical drill combo kits etc the part/model number HAS to be different, even if its just one digit or letter.

Imagine the manufacturer trying to keep track of different tools or faucets with the same numbers? They'd have to write "this ones for HD" on the pallet with keel !


Yeah, there has to be a "-A" (post #196311, reply #17 of 24)

Yeah, there has to be a "-A" suffix or some such.  And certainly the UPC codes would be different.  But mfgrs will definitely try to obfuscate the difference.

(But I see that Piffin said the numbers would be different in some obscure way.)

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

well... (post #196311, reply #14 of 24)

"I've NEVER heard of the manufacturers making lesser qulaity products for one retailer"


You haven't been around long have you?

Your example of the Dewalt nmbers are an axample of exactly that. Odds are that if you teear those tools down you will find cheaper parts like plastic bushings instead of metal, etc. May guys have done that and reported it.

Same with plumbing parts like faucets. Find the identicl at a plumber's supply with brass and bronze while the HD model has plastic.



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

I like Home Depot. (post #196311, reply #7 of 24)

Sometimes people just complain about HomeDepot quality out of principle. They might be against the box stores' business ethics or they are just mad because their favorite mom and pop lumber yard, hardware store, or P&E supply store got pushed out of business when a box moved in next door. But, I've had pretty good luck with HomeDepot items. 

I bought a GlacierBay lavatory faucet there many years ago with never a problem and have since purchased a Pegasus lav faucet, Delta tub/shower faucets, and Delta kitchen faucet. Again, not a single problem.

My dad "upgraded" his kitchen sink faucet with a Delta from the plumber's supply store (more expensive than the same at HD) and it started leaking in less than a year. He also purchased a lav faucet from the PS and it also leaks. Also a toilet he got from the same store has issues. Dad's all about "support the local guys and little guys" but then he doesn't do remodeling for a living like me. Any time I've ever gone to the PS I get the same answer "don't have it but we can order it" to which I say, "no thanks, I can order it too - probably for less - and have it shipped right to my doorstep".

As far as tools, I have also had good luck at HD; although I pick and choose my way around their selection and only buy tools that I trust. While I have just about any tool a remodeler would need (and much more), I don't own ANY DeWalt, Ryobi, Black & Decker, or Skil tools. While EVERY purchase one makes is a gamble, I find that staying away from those brands lowers my chances of getting a lemon. As far as tool internals as Piffin said - I don't think the use of plastics and bad switches is limited to the box stores. I can go into any pro tool store and find junk; and most tool manufacturers make at least one or two tools that are proven to be junk.

It's sorta like cars: you can compare qualities of a Cadillac to a Pontiac even though they are both owned by GM. For that matter you can compare a Chevy to a Toyota to a Mercedes to even a Ferrari. No matter which is considered better quality, they've all made something that could be considered "sub par" the odds of getting the lemon is just less with some brands.

I also hear a lot about HD having poor lumber quality. While I have purchased some ratty lumber from HD and more times than I would care to admit  spent way too much time sifting through their racks trying to find something straight - I have had even worse luck with lumber at the local [since 1902] lumber yard. While the lumber may be from different mills, it was all genetically engineered in the same laboratories (probably Monsanto), cut at the same age, sawn the same way, dried to the same spec, etc. The difference is that HD's lumber is kept dry indoors and the 'ol yard's lumber is kept outside in a half lean-to (probably built in 1902).

So, while there may be some truth to some products being made just for sale at HD, I don't believe that it can be said across the board that they are ALL of lesser quality than similar items found elsewhere. What Home Depot's tools do lack is VARIETY, the box stores usually only carry a few brands and there, just one or two each of the basics for each brand. Search online or go to a specialty tool store and see that brands like Makita do indeed make more than just one model circular saw or drill. Also note that there are a lot more brands out there than what the boxes offer. Still waiting for the day when HD or Lowes will start selling Festool, or more likely Fein and Metabo. 

I think some people would still complain.


I went to HD to get a part I (post #196311, reply #8 of 24)

I went to HD to get a part I needed to replace on a tub drain.  They only had a chrome "wall tube" that was made in China by "American Brass".  The label indicated that it was "Budget Gauge".  I doubt that the plumbing store stocks budget grade pipes, but at any rate, Lowes had a plastic pipe that worked.  It seemed thin too, but at least it won't likely corrode through.  I really get peeved at the big boxes, but they are just too handy to stay away from.

Not that I am in love with HD (post #196311, reply #9 of 24)

Not that I am in love with HD or a fan of poor quality items but sometimes "Budget Gauge" items work just as well as high quality items. 

NOT ALWAYS....don't get me wrong!

But I could think of many situations where "Budget Grade American Brass" would could be substituted for Grohe, Rohl, Schon, or other high end plumbing.


There is a difference between (post #196311, reply #15 of 24)

There is a difference between budget gauge and budget grade.

Gauge refers to thickness of metal while grade refers to quality



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

Home Depot Quality (post #196311, reply #10 of 24)

In Canada, we have found that there is a quality difference in some cases. For example, look at the warranty. My brother chose a Vermont Castings BBQ and it was cheaper at Home Depot. He looked it over carefully and could not see a difference until he looked closely at the burner. It was a cheaper one. And the warranty was less than other retailers as well.

We have seen this with tools too. Different skew built just for Home Depot. We rarely buy stuff there.


I bought cast iron Weber (post #196311, reply #11 of 24)

I bought cast iron Weber grates at HD to replace the grates on my Sears Weber made Skyline grill.  The Sears grates were porcelainized steel that rusted out.  But, I still feel guilty buying them at HD, because that was one of the few repair parts they carry.  It's just that HD is very close to home, and handy.  A place farther away carries all the Weber parts, and also refills your own propane tanks for a lot less than the exchange price at HD, and the money goes to our local economy instead of a conglomerate.  But they close early, can't compete on price all the time, and are out of the way for me

In short, I'm also part of the problem with big box stores taking over local businesses.

I feel dirty...

Big box stores do sell inferior products! (post #196311, reply #12 of 24)

I have been buying Milaukee power tools from Home depot for years and always thought I was getting the best that was available ,but today I happened to be in Grainger and I looked at the milaukee 18 volt hammer drill they had on display. First I noticed it was about $100 more than home depots, but when I picked it up....I was shocked! The grainger version was much more industrial , and it had the word "magnum" on them too. Not sure where else these magnum version drills are carried?, but they seem worth the extra $$

Anybody can buy where they want to........... (post #196311, reply #13 of 24)

but as a recent poster here found, only a handfull of good quality tool supplies exist in the world and I happen to be located 4 miles from one.  Fella had a Makita mitrebox, couldn't find brushes-at blowes, or online or..................

all said discontinued, not available.


I gave him the phone number of my 40 yr tool supplier here in little Maumee, Oh.

He took the chance, called and the brushes were in stock here at Electric Tool.  Sure, he heard about measuring the brushes and grinding them to fit and all that, but the simple answer to his problem came from a GOOD tool man. 

So yes, there is better equipment and if you deal with the right supplier you can be as lucky as I-never been lost w/o a tool I've brought in for service-if they can't fix it on the spot-they force me to take something they have that will fill the bill till I get my saw, drill motor, sawzall, flooring nailer,  etc, back.  

Find that at home depot.

A savings now might not be so good later if you have to scramble and buy new when something craps out.


But that's just my thinking.  There's always Harbor Freight where you can go buy another one when that one gives out.  Course looks a little goofy to leave the job when a pc. of [JOBSITE WORD] tool breaks.

over and over.

Quality isn't cheap.  Pc of mind sure is worth something.  Downtime never made anyone money.


I still have my Magnum Screw Shooter from '76.  Used alot for many yrs, still goes strong hanging board. 

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Are tools or product identical? (post #196311, reply #18 of 24)

Tools and other stuff such as electronics vary in quality and price between ALL retailers, brick/mortar or online.

Started with electronics back in the '90's. Same product, different model....albeit difference in a decal or knob color. Each retailer is then protected against comparison shopping or price matching. Tools from HDepot or otherwise. Same thing with food in grocery stores. The advent of a digital factory makes this all possible. The bean counter at a keyboard determines the quality of a product you buy. Another caveat...same product quality on two same with a slightly different knob shape. Same product is $59.95 and the other is $89.95. The labels and finish on the more expensive item appears to be of higher quality but is in fact the same guts. Same with food. Walmart namebrand anything vs. other retailers. Again the beancounter at the keyboard entry is determining quality. Retailers retain margins and stay in business because they are able to manipulate quality, quantity, value and country of origin at the stroke of a key. Welcome to the digital age if retail. One recourse is to purchase used stuff if made before the '90's. If you can find it. You see, second hand stores (Goodwill) and trade-in programs are designed to remove good value used product from the secondary markets forcing you to buy the new crap. Theres more...a whole lot more perhaps in another comment.

Shop With The Pros (post #196311, reply #19 of 24)

The easiest thing to do is to imitate the pros - use what they use, shop where they shop. Let me give an example ...

When I was still in the process of moving, I needed a propane torch. Now, if you go to a box store, you will see an amazing assortment of torches- so many it's hard to guess which you need. Nor does the product literature make it clear what are the differences between the models. Instead, I went to a plumbing house. They had ONE torch- and it used MAPP gas. Sure, the price almost scared me- but that torch did everything I desired. Striker? Built in. Work upside-down? No problem. Heat things fast and even? You bet.

Oddly enough, a comparable model cost quite a bit more at the box store.

My second example came from tool shopping with my brother. As he retired from the military, he wanted a set of tools. So, we went shopping- at every box store, hardware store, and homeowner place you can imagine. I was amazed to see just how few of my trade tools were available in these places - mine had been acquired over time, mostly from 'pro' shops and supply houses. Sure, the box stores had tools that would work, and were of good quality - but they often lacked little detals that made them even better for my use.

I never worry about where a tool originates, or what happens in the factory. Instead, I rely upon the "market" to sift through things for me. The local supply house simply can't afford to sell junk. Sure, the brands might be unfamiliar to you, but no matter.

So .... what is a 'pro  shop?" Well, the easy way to identify one is to look at their 'open' hours. If they're strictly M-F, 7AM-4PM, then their business is serving pros only.

Those places don't like DIY (post #196311, reply #20 of 24)

Those places don't like DIY types at all.  That's why they are open regular work hours only.  And most give the pro's a "discount" and charge list price to DIY people.  And that's why there are fewer of them every year.  There would be no "box" stores if the "trade" stores would compromise a bit.  I never was treated bad at one, and I have been treated badly at the box stores, but they are convenient, since I work 8 to 5 M-F.

Just like the "trade" automotive parts stores, same lousy hours, same high prices to the average DIY guy.  About all of them are gone now around here, but back in the 60's to 70's they were a big business with little competition.  Now there are only a few left, the DIY market took their business elsewhere.  Just remember the "help" at those DIY places know even less than the customers.  Don't ever take their advice on anything.

DIYers Are A Nuissance (post #196311, reply #22 of 24)

I get the same feeling.  They make a DIYer feel like a nuissance.  Each time a pro walks in the DIYer goes to the back of the line.  I understand it....just a fact of business business is the store's bread and butter and time is $ to a pro. But, some of the counter folks could be a little more courteous. I'm sure they get a lot of what they consider 'stupid' DIY questions.

Sorry to hear that (post #196311, reply #23 of 24)

Yes, many have 'account only' policies. Only once, with Grainger, was that ever a real problem.

(Well, there was a second occasion, but that's a funny story, for another time).

Yes, I have been in the parts house when some "non pro" was cluttering things up, not knowing what he wanted or how to do it.  And, yes, ONCE I had a clerk just assume I had no business buying what I was looking for. Life isn't perfect, and we all have bad days.

Generally, though, I have had superb service, even when I "cross over" into another trade. I make no bones about it at the counter- I'm there, spending money for ME. I don't try to pose as a pro. The clerk will often correct my choices (after asking a question or two) and make sure I get whatever else I need to have. Delivery? Not a problem at all- and almost always free.

The main advantage is that they sell stuff that the box stores simply don't have. For example, I discovered Greenlee's "High speed cutters" at one. Now a bit easier to find, these 'rotary broaches' make ordinary hole saws feel ashamed, when it comes to cutting metal.

In my trade (electrical), I like my linemans' pliers to have a fish-tape puller on them, and my diagonal cutters to be slightly bent. Good luck finding either of those at a box store. At the parts house? They're the most popular ones sold.

Now thats an oxymoron. (post #196311, reply #21 of 24)

Home depot and quality in the same sentence? 

There is a pro shop here (post #196311, reply #24 of 24)

There is a pro shop here that's always treated me well, the handful of times I've been in there.  Bought a couple of power tools there. 

I suspect that many pro shops have little patience for the clueless DIYers they often encounter.  The boxes, OTOH, suck up to clueless folks.

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville