7 Services You Can Get for Free at Home Improvement Stores

Self-service is everywhere you look: online, at gas stations and big-box stores, and now at many grocery stores with self-checkout lanes.

You’ll find self-checkout lanes at the biggest home improvement store chains, too. But hardware stores big and small are an exception in that you also will still find various personal services there.

Following are examples of several services that are free at hardware stores. The services offered by one store can differ from those offered at the next, though — even within the same chain. So, call or check a store’s website to learn what’s offered locally.

Materials estimating

Lowe’s and Home Depot offer online calculators to help you determine the amount of materials you’ll need to buy for an array of projects. Examples include:

  • Flooring
  • Insulation
  • Grass seed
  • Mulch
  • Paint
  • Wallpaper

At smaller hardware stores, you may be able to bring in your project’s written dimensions and ask a staff member to help with planning and estimating materials.

Cut materials to spec

If you don’t have a saw, you can do many DIY tasks and projects by purchasing your materials at a hardware store that cuts things like wood to the lengths you need.

Many hardware stores will cut wood you’ve purchased. Lowe’s also cuts mini blinds, rope and chain to needed sizes. Some Ace Hardware stores cut glass and acrylic sheets.

Both Lowe’s and Ace stores will cut pipe as well as thread it.

DIY ideas, advice and instructions

Home improvement store chains may have whole libraries of instructions and advice on their websites.

Lowe’s website rivals Martha Stewart’s site for the variety of available project instructions — from barn-style doors to raised garden beds. Other Lowe’s freebies include a virtual deck designer.

Home Depot’s website also has a “DIY Projects and Ideas” section and even DIY digital workshops — videos and step-by-step instructions that walk you through basics ranging from how to use a power drill to how to fix a leaky faucet. The Home Depot Blog also offers tips and inspiration.

Or, if you’re stuck on a project, try just phoning a local hardware store to ask whether you can come in and discuss the problem with a staff member with experience.

Classes

Hardware stores often try to boost sales by offering instruction in using their products.

For example, Home Depot offers Do-It-Yourself workshops as well as Do-It-Herself workshops that cater to women, and kids workshops for future DIYers.

Paint matching

Hardware stores that sell paint typically will find or create a paint to match any color you like. Lowe’s says it can do this “in a matter of seconds.”

Home Depot even has a special free app called Project Color — available for Android and Apple devices — that includes a paint matching feature. The chain explains:

“We know inspiration can be found anywhere, so we built a paint match feature that allows you to snap a picture of any item — a painted wall, the sky or your couch — and we’ll find a paint color that matches closest.”

Some Ace Hardware stores also offer computerized paint-color matching. And as part of its Extra Mile Promise, the chain boasts that you can get everything you need for a paint job in trip to the store — or else Ace will deliver what you need to you for free.

Ace’s website also has a free tool called The Paint Studio that allows you to upload a photo of your home and see how a particular color would look on your walls.

Recycling

Home Depot and Lowe’s both have partnered with Call2Recycle for years to offer in-store collection of rechargeable batteries for recycling. Lowe’s says it has recycled nearly 6 million pounds of rechargeable batteries since 2004.

Some hardware stores may also collect compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) for recycling.

Key cutting

Need a copy of a key? A hardware store in your area might offer the service for free with the purchase of a key blank.

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