The Best & Worst Store-Brand Deals At Lowe’s, Home Depot & Sears

Need to buy a snowblower, light bulbs, and some paint? You might figure, “Oh, I’ll just head to Home Depot (or Lowe’s, or Sears) and get it all done in the same trip.” But just because these stores all offer one-stop shopping for most home goods, price and quality of store-brand and private label products can vary greatly depending on the retailer.

The current issue of ShopSmart (our sensible-shopping Consumer Reports siblings) takes a detailed look at many of the best and worst deals on exclusive products sold at each of these huge retail chains.

LOWE’S

BEST
Valspar Signature paint:
At $34/gallon, this Lowe’s exclusive paint is rated highly by our colleagues at Consumer Reports, and is especially good for bathrooms as it stands up to scrubbing and is resistant to mildew. For an additional $10, ShopSmart points out that Valspar Reserve provides “top-notch coverage, so you’ll probably be able to get away with just one coat.”

Other good deals: Troy-Bilt generators and heavy-duty snow blowers.

WORST
Troy-Bilt Leaf Blowers:

While ShopSmart says that Troy-Bilt’s heavy-duty snow blowers are good deals, the same can’t be said of the private-label label leaf blowers made for Lowe’s. The story singles out the $85 Troy-Bilt TB125QS because it came in dead last out of 17 electric handheld blowers tested by CR, but notes that none of the six Troy-Bilt leaf blowers — both handheld and backpack styles — shined during testing.

Other bad deals: Troy-Bilt string trimmers

HOME DEPOT

BEST
EcoSmart Light Bulbs:

Both the EcoSmart 12-WATT (replacement for 60W bulbs) and 14-WATT (75W replacement) aced the CR lab tests “delivering bright, evenly diffused light.” And while they cost $20 and $35, respectively, they will last for years and use less electricity.

Other good deals: Toro snow blowers, Honda and Ego lawnmowers, Behr paints.

WORST
Glidden Interior Paint:

The Home Depot-exclusive Behr Premium Plus paint was labeled a good deal by ShopSmart, but the store’s less-expensive exclusive from Glidden isn’t worth the few bucks you’ll save per gallon, because it’s not
as stain-resistant and “tends to stay a bit tacky even after drying.”

Other bad deals: Home Legend flooring.

SEARS

BEST
Kenmore Washers & Dryers:

While sexier brands get all the press, Kenmore appliances have historically performed well in CR’s tests, and that holds true for the Kenmore Elite 41073 Washer, which “combines great washing
performance and efficiency,” and the Elite 61623 Dryer, which was lauded for its speeding drying times and quiet operation.

Other good deals: Kenmore Elite refrigerators and vacuums, Craftsman snow blowers.

WORST
Sears Interior Paints & Exterior Stains:

If you’re looking to spruce up your house inside and out, consider going elsewhere for paint and stain, says ShopSmart. The $31 Sears Easy Living Ultra Flat interior paint has a finish that “isn’t as smooth
as others,” while the Sears Weatherbeater Deck, Fence & Siding Solid stain ($32) doesn’t do as good a job of actually beating the weather as the competition.

Other bad deals: Craftsman cordless drills

“Private-label products at home centers may all look like a good deal, but not all of them are,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Like store-brand foods in the supermarket, some of them are cheap for a reason.”