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All Contents © 2020The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Bob Niedt, Online Editor
| March 28, 2017
Home Depot is probably the first retailer to come to mind when you’re thinking “ubiquitous big-box hardware store.” The rise of these orange-hued home-improvement centers was a revelation to those who grew up with small, neighborhood hardware stores in the 20th century and who became adult homeowners and DIYers in the 21st.
Imagine. Every tool under the sun, building materials, flooring, roofing, lighting, appliances, lawn and garden supplies—all in one cavernous warehouse. Amazing! Home Depot has been a boon to consumers but a bane to the mom-and-pop hardware stores of our youth, driving many out of business and leaving only Lowe’s Home Improvement as its head-to-head competitor.
What’s left to discover? Plenty. Here are 12 ways to get more value out of your next visit to Home Depot. Have a look:
Case in point: Recently, I was in the market for a few plants, some seed and mulch for the yard. Who knew I could land a 16-channel, Q-See 1080p 2TB video surveillance system to oversee my fine landscaping work, with eight bullet, two dome and two auto-focus cameras for only $700--a $500 discount from the full price? This happened to be the online deal of the day.
“These limited [daily] discounts are almost always the best individual deals that Home Depot offers,” says Brent Shelton of FatWallet.com, a deals website. “Shoppers will often get 50% off.”
Once you get to the store, check out the in-store overstock section, which can boast top-brand tools and more at discounts of up to 50%.
Says Benjamin Glaser of the deals website DealNews, “If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a coupon code that will stack on top of existing discounts.”
Hint: Lighting is a big selling area at Home Depot, so bounce over to that aisle. Promotions are often rampant.
“Home Depot will price-match any major competitor that has the same item in stock,” consumer-finance expert Andrea Woroch notes. “What’s more, as long as the lower price isn’t a special or sale, Home Depot will beat the competitor by an additional 10%. So it pays to shop with them when you find a better deal elsewhere.”
Just bring in the print ad or pull it up on your smartphone at the register. This may entail Home Depot customer service checking out the competing price. And note: Online purchases are not eligible for
Home Depot’s in-store low-price guarantee.
Before heading out to Home Depot to make your purchase, check the online rebate center to see if you can get an additional discount.
When I clicked on the rebate center, it was loaded with deals on home furnaces and Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostats.
Often, says Shelton of FatWallet, the rebate center features offers on remodeling and building materials, home appliances and Energy Star products.
“Some of the bigger rebates will get called out on the FatWallet Hot Deals forum, especially during seasonal sales, when Home Depot offers 30% to 40% off major appliance purchases,” says Shelton.
Handy Dans know a good deal on wood when they see one, especially for small projects.
Toward the back of the cavernous lumber section, Home Depot stores typically have a place for the castoffs: pieces of lumber custom-cut in-store from larger pieces that customers have bought.
You can often buy these castoffs for a song—up to 75% off full price, says Saeed Darabi of the money-saving website MoneyPantry. Check for cracks or warping, but you can often find a bargain.
“The good thing is that even the ‘bad’ pieces are usable because they are either not that crooked or cracked, or they are long and have a few feet of totally fine wood for smaller projects,” says Darabi, who salvaged enough good wood from one trip to the discount lumber section last year to build a flip-top tool stand.
As with Kohl’s, there are secrets in the price tags at Home Depot, too. It pays to know the code.
Any item with a price ending with .06 means it is on clearance, says Darabi of MoneyPantry. A price ending in .03 means that’s the lowest final price for that item. If it doesn’t sell within three weeks, it will be removed from the shelves.
Not every employee has the power to lower prices, but it’s worth a try. Consumer-finance expert Woroch said she scored an additional $50 off a washer and dryer that were already on sale at Home Depot. All she had to do was ask.
“The sales associates usually don’t have the power to give you a better deal, but if you ask to speak to a manager, he or she may be more willing to negotiate with you to seal the deal,” says Woroch. “Use tactics like reviewing [with the manager] recent sales that you missed or upcoming ones that you may qualify for.” Same with Lowe’s, by the way.
Home Depot stands by its prices – for two solid weeks. If you buy an item from Home Depot, especially something costly, and it goes on sale elsewhere, Home Depot will give you a price adjustment if the transaction is within 14 days of your purchase.
Twice a year, customers who have signed up for e-mail notifications or text alerts will get coupon offers good for $5 off store purchases of $50 or more, or for $10 off a $100 buy.
Join the Garden Club, opt in for text messages with exclusive deals, and just by signing up, you’ll score a $5 Home Depot voucher, plus exclusive coupon offers all year round.
Says Darabi, “What I really like about it is that you actually get worthwhile deals. In the past few years that I have been a Garden Club member, I have received dozens of exclusive coupons that saved me anywhere from 10% to 50% on many items. I have also gotten a few free plants and flowers.”
Just like the Island of Misfit Toys, Home Depot’s (and Lowe’s) paint department relegates mixing mishaps to an “oops” section. There, you’ll find paints that didn’t match expectations or were abandoned by customers who ordered but never picked them up.
So why would you want such rejected paint? Because you can get it for 25% to 75% off, says Darabi. The paints are perfectly fine.
It may not be exactly the color you want, but if it’s for, say, a spare bedroom, closets or other space that’s rarely used, the option just might work at a lower cost.
At every entrance to every Home Depot, there’s a chalkboard with a menu of upcoming workshop sessions in the store (and if you aren't old-school-chalkboard, find the workshops online). These 90-minute sessions provide how-to classes from remodeling pros on home repairs, installation, paint tips and more.
These can save you money or time by letting you know what to buy in advance and how to properly budget a home repair project. After all, it will be much more expensive to bring in a contractor after botching a home improvement project you informed your significant other you could do perfectly fine on your own. (Yes, I’m speaking from firsthand experience here.)
If you see something on Home Depot’s website, you can get it shipped to your neighborhood store at no cost to you. This includes finding something online when it’s out of stock in the store.
Also: “Home Depot sells some online exclusives, but you can dodge the shipping cost by selecting to have the items shipped to your local store for free pickup instead,” says Woroch.
From time to time, Home Depot will offer display tools, or ones that are slightly damaged, at discounted prices. Perhaps there is a scratch or a dent, or perhaps a tool is missing a minor assembly piece. You can save 50% or more compared with fresh-in-the-box prices, says Darabi.
“A few months ago, I picked up a DeWalt DWE7480 contractor’s saw that sells for $399 for around $195,” Darabi says. “The only thing wrong with it was that it was a display item, so it was missing the screws that hold the included wrenches.”