5 Truths I Learned From The Home Depot

Love this post? Share it! :)

You know what I wish the Home Depot would offer?



Just throwing it out there. Hopefully the PR folks would get a hold of this post and be inspired by this genius idea.

Imagine being a newbie DIYer and they offered “The Home Depot Demystified” tours where everything you need to know about shopping there, along with DIY tips and tricks, would be served up with a 30-minute tour, followed by Happy Hour.

(Okay, no alcohol. Maybe donuts. Yeah….donuts. And coffee).

Because there’s a learning curve to shopping these home improvement stores, don’t you think??

Although I’m not a DIY newbie anymore, I remember those moments of walking in scratching my head, especially when I needed to buy wood, molding, and trim.

So I thought I would share with you a few of those “AHA” moments for those of you that didn’t know these things about shopping home improvement stores, in general.

5 Truths I Learned From The Home Depot

5 Truths I Learned From The Home Depot - Thrift Diving Blog

Truth #1: We Can STOP Guessing Which Nuts and Bolts to Buy!

Have you ever needed just ooooonnneee more nut or bolt because you lost one?

It’s happened to me too many times to count! I’ve aimlessly wandered the Screws and Bolts aisle, trying to figure out what size matches, while I had no idea this little thread checker was hanging right on the wall!

You probably walked by it as many times as I have!


5 Things I Wish Home Depot Had Told Me - ThriftDiving.com


All you do is bring your nut or bolt from home and check to see which one it threads into properly.

Once you get a match, then you know what size nut or bolt to buy!

No more running back to the store because you bought the wrong size, or wasting money buying 2-3 packs “just in case” one size doesn’t fit!


5 Things I Wish Home Depot Had Told Me - Thrift Diving


I found that Amazon sells nut and bolt checkers and thread checkers, so if you own a workshop, getting something like this to hang on your wall would save a lot of hassle in selecting the right size screws and bolts!

Thread checker for garage workshop

Nut and bolt checker - Amazon


Truth #2: Wood Isn’t Reeeeeally 4 Inches Wide….

There’s that moment that every DIYer learns the truth:

That a 1″ x 4″ board is not reeeeeally 1 inch thick and 4 inches wide.

Oh no, my friend.

It’s actually only 0.75″ thick and 3.5″ wide!





I did a little Googling for the reason, and found that they list the nominal size, but after the wood gets surfaced and planed to smooth it out, they end up with the following dimensions (aka: the real sizes of wood).

Yep, go on and PIN this chart now, folks. You’ll need it for future reference! I guarantee it.

This chart will tell you the real true size of lumber - Thrift Diving

Sooo…..why does size of wood matter, again….?

Oh, trust me–ahem–it matters to know this!

Especially if you ever have wanted to build something where you’ll need to buy wood and it needs to be a certain dimension.

You may be thinking that 4-inch width is perfect!

……until you get it home and realize it’s really only 3.5″ wide!

Makes a big difference in building and DIY!

My Little Screw Up

Here’s what happened when I realized my own mistake about wood sizing.

Remember when I took my kids’ bookcase that I had found on the side the road and made built-in storage on top of the bookcase?


How to Hack a Bookcase to add Built-in Storage on Top - Thrift Diving5090



Well, it turned out super cute.

But I had planned to buy a 1″ x 12″ board, thinking that the 12-inch width would peeeeerfectly fit the 12-inch width on top, right?


I ended up with a piece of wood too short because the 12-inch wide wood was really 11.25″ wide (or maybe it was 11.5″–I can’t remember exactly).

I ended up having to make some adjustments (which worked out better in the end), but still… The frustration of not knowing about wood sizing was quite the learning experience!

Now that you know this, you’ll be all the wiser when headed to the Home Depot!


Truth #3: Dude, Building Furniture Is Expensive!!

I don’t care what anyone tells you–building furniture is not the cheapest route!

The truth is that building furniture is expensive.




Now….when you compare it to buying something brand new from the store–yes, it’s cheaper.

But when you compare it to going to a thrift store and buying a solid wood, high-quality piece of furniture and refinishing it (see my thrift store furniture makeovers), it’s waaaaaayyy more expensive building from scratch!

Most of my furniture pieces I buy from the thrift store cost an average of $20.

But furniture like this bench with storage that I built for my family room, I think it cost about $70 – $80 to make, if not more.



How to Build a Bench With Storage - Thrift Diving9339


The sheet of oak plywood was $50 alone (!!!).

Plus, when you’re making furniture (or even crafts), you have to buy things like iron-on wood veneer edging to finish off the raw edges of the wood. That’s about $10 average.

And don’t forget feet or legs, or any other accessories. Those are not cheap.

You’re looking at over $100 just to make a custom bench or other piece of furniture!

For that price, I can buy probably 3 good pieces of furniture from the thrift store.


Build a bench cost


Of course, it depends on how fancy you want to get, but generally, building furniture will be more costly than refinishing thrifted furniture!

Doesn’t mean I won’t build more furniture in the future, because I love the creative aspect of building furniture from scatch!

But just like sewing your own clothes (and you know how expensive fabric can be!)–you build furniture because you love it, not because it saves tons of money, right?

It’s good to know this going into it, though.


Truth #4: It’s OKAY to Take Back Stuff for Store Credit!

No, I’m not talking about returning stuff that’s opened and you’ve already used (that would be lame).

I’m talking about the extra pack of rollers you bought that you didn’t use 6 months ago when you painted your kitchen…

…or the two cans of spray paint for a project you never got around to starting.

I bet if you look, you probably have a pile of stuff you bought that you never used from the Home Depot.

Gather it all up and take it back.

They’ve got an awesome return policy. If you used a credit or bank card, they can look up your purchase to make returns easy without a receipt.

If you paid cash and don’t have a receipt, they’ll give you store credit.

And you’d be surprised what I found in my house: a whole bag of stuff I hadn’t used! (That sheet of metal was $20 alone!!).


Some things I returned to the store


When I took everything back, you can see here that I got over $170 refunded!


Total refund for unused items


And because of that refund, I was able to afford the crown molding I needed for my cozy family room makeover!

How sweet is that?!

I don’t know if other home improvement stores have that kind of easy return policy, but I love how easy it is to return stuff here!

So don’t be afraid to take things back and buy the stuff you need now!


Bought my crown molding



Truth #5: Even a Newbie Can Find Molding and Trim!

My eyes used to glaze over any time I got anywhere near the lumber department!

I was so confused about choosing molding and trim. I just had no idea!

As many times as I had walked through the Home Depot, I hadn’t noticed this handy dandy little molding display in the lumber section.

Have you ever noticed it?

People that know what they’re doing probably don’t even notice it. They just come and get what they need, and roll out.

But especially for newbies without much experience in picking molding and trim, it would be so confusing trying to figure out what to buy and where to even find it!


Molding display at Home Depot


I was surprised to see that not only were the moldings and trims grouped by CEILING….and DOOR & WINDOW….. (so you buy the right type) but they had the little stickers to tell you which wood bin to find it, and had a little cross-cut of the decorative shape!


Choosing molding at Home Depot - ThriftDiving


Yep….right where they said it would be– BIN B9!


Easily find the molding you want at Home Depot with bins - ThriftDiving.com


Those labels really made it easy to find the right product.

And not only that, but they even tell you on the label: Use 6D Finish Nail x 2″ (inches)

That’s actually huge to know, especially if you’re a newbie and have never put up trim or molding before.

Takes the guessing game out of DIY!

This Isn’t a Sponsored Post

And I can’t help but point out that this isn’t a sponsored post. I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile because I was finding out these little tidbits of information during my many trips to buy wood and supplies, and I often thought, “Hmmm….I wonder if my readers know this??”

Once I learn it, I must share it!

Hopefully, we’ll be that much wiser next time we’re on the hunt for supplies.

And you never know…maybe one day the Home Depot will offer “Get-to-Know-Your-Store” tours.

But I’m not holding my breath on the Happy Hour afterward….  😉


So have you learned some helpful DIY tips and tricks that you want to share when shopping for materials? Leave your comment below! Let’s chat about it!





Download the 5 freebies!

Thrift Diving inspires women to decorate, improve, and maintain their home themselves...using paint, power tools, and thrift stores! Use these 5 printables, checklists, and ebooks to get started!

Now go check your email for those freebies! Powered by ConvertKit

Love this post? Share it! :)

Similar Posts


  1. First off, I truly enjoy seeing your finished projects. It is always easy to tell when someone is patient and takes their time. Every one of your projects look clean and finished. These HD hacks are lifesavers considering how hard it is to track anyone down. Only thing I would suggest is ALWAYS GO TO A LUMBER YARD! You will be paying close to half of HD prices and the wood is much better quality. Usually, you can send in a PO for the lumber needed and they will get it for you. I’ve always had issues with warped wood from the Depot. Thank you for your article!

  2. So I’m not sure how old this post is but as a DIY’er I appreciate your tips! I worked for HD for just about 3 years and let me tell you as a department supervisor I learned SOOOO MUCH! Measure out all of the pieces of wood you need for a project and they will cut them for you for FREE! You can even order online call the store and tell them over the phone and by the time you get there its done and waiting for you to load up! HD is a customer 1st company for sure! Can’t find what you need ask! Someone will show you where it is in the store or find it online and order it for you! They have free classes almost every single Saturday and Sunday (find the schedule online for your store). Sometimes they have womens only clinics where you get to make things like a storage coffee table…..FOR FREE AND IT’S YOURS! I left HD because my work life balance SUCKED while I was there but I am thankful for all of the tips and tricks I learned!

    1. Hey, Samantha! Oh wow, I had no idea that you could call up and get your pieces cut for you and have them ready to be picked UP! That’s an awesome tip! I may have to go back and add that tip in, it’s so good. I spent so much time in HD, that it would be nice to have these things already picked out and ready for me.

      I knew about the classes, but I never get to go to them because I’ve got my kids during the weekend while hubby works. But you can best believe I’d be in the front, with a pencil and paper in hand, soaking in all the info.

      Thanks for that great info!!

        1. Oooh, I guess I didn’t think to ask that! Do they price-match Amazon, or would I want to stick with price-matching places like Lowes and Ace hardware?

  3. I have another important rule when buying trim from Home Depot. Measure all your trim pieces you need for floor, windows etc. in the separate lengths you need then add at least 3′ to each end then take list to Depot and buy all your pieces out of the cut your own sizes. Example if your window needs two pieces 24″ and two 36″ then with 3″ added for each end that would add another 24″ for miters on the corners. Most cut what you need trim pieces are 14′ or 16″ long so you cut one piece 12′ long. If your have a 1″ piece left over you can take it back for a refund. If you buy the remade lengths commonly 8″ long and have any left over, you cannot take it back. Hope this is clear enough for you.

  4. Linda Louise Weeks says:

    Hi, Serena; I love my visits to the Home Depot too, just for the education! Did you know that if you have a closet with bi-fold doors and they need a part to make them work, there is a whole section in the Home Depot with all the bi-fold door hardware you could need? I don’t need any right now, but was I impressed with that! The paint department is really handy too, they seem to really know their stuff! All the adhesives are there, as well as paints, and that is very convenient!
    I was fortunate enough that I am a member of their “Seeds” program, which allows me to choose from a long list of items for free, just for my unbiased review! Been over a year now, and my whole house is built from free Home Depot merch! woo – hoo!! ..and no, I don’t know how they chose me, but I’m quite happy about it!

    1. Hey, Linda! Just now seeing this comment–I must have missed it. Yeah, that program is pretty awesome! We talked about that via email. šŸ™‚ I didn’t know, however, that there is a whole section on bi-folding doors. There was one thing I needed that The Home Depot didn’t have and that was something related to the blinds that I had found at The ReStore and they didn’t have a part I needed. I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t have EVERYTHING. lol šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *