So, your plan is to start outfitting your garage with tools. Whether you are looking for hand tools, power tools, or outdoor equipment, you definitely want the best products – and part of that is choosing the right brand for you.
While there are many tool brands out there, today we want to focus on comparing two very popular ones – Kobalt and Black & Decker.
So, which of these two brands is better for you, if either?
A Brief History of Kobalt and Black & Decker
Starting with Kobalt, this is actually the house brand of the Lowe’s Home Improvement chain. These products can be found all throughout North America and can be found in Lowe’s retail centers, as well as online. When it comes to North America, remember that Lowe’s is one of the largest home improvement chains by far.
Kobalt was first started in 1998 by Lowe’s and J.H Williams, Lowe’s manufacturing partner at the time. The intention of the Kobalt brand was to be the house brand of tools for Lowe’s and more specifically, to directly compete with the house brands of Sears and The Home Depot, Craftsman and Husky, respectively.
In terms of size, although Kobalt is well-known in North America, it’s really not a very large company, at least not when compared to some of the other really big players in the tool business. Estimates say that Kobalt pulls in between $490 and $600 million dollars annually, which is not bad, but still nowhere close to some of the bigger competitors.
One of those competitors is Black & Decker, which yes, is much larger than Kobalt. Black & Decker, at this time, has an estimated 30,000 employees worldwide, with estimated annual revenues totalling as high as $12 billion dollars.
Indeed, Black & Decker is one of the most well-known, popular, and trusted brands. This brand is known for making and selling a variety of power tools, accessories, hardware, home improvement products, and fastening systems, with the products being found in many countries around the world.
The founders of this brand were Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker, hence the name of the company, and it first got its start as the “Black & Decker Manufacturing Company” “At this time, Black and Decker is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker which is headquartered just north of Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Kobalt vs. Black & Decker: Which Offers Better Quality?
In terms of tool quality, starting with Kobalt, this brand is seen as producing average and slightly above average tools. This fits in with their pricing scale, as most of the products are very reasonably priced. In general, you can expect middle of the line quality from this brand, compared with reasonable costs.
What most people say about Kobalt tools is that they are generally very versatile and work well for various applications, that they function quite well, that they are comfortable, and user-friendly too. So, all in all, they aren’t bad tools.
However, what does need to be said is that although Kobalt tools are good enough for basic use, they usually are not seen as being good enough for professional, daily, and heavy-duty use. Kobalt products just aren’t made with the best materials or manufacturing processes, and this can adversely affect product quality and longevity. In other words, Kobalt tools work really well, as long as they work.
All of that said, Kobalt’s hand tools and mechanic’s tools are seen as being their star products, the best of the bunch, so to speak, which is likely due to the fact that there are no moving components which can break. Due to the limited longevity of Kobalt tools, they are marketed towards DIYers, for home repairs, and for basic use, but you won’t often find large construction companies using these tools.
On the other hand, we have Black & Decker, which as far as most people are concerned, produce some pretty good tools, far above average for the most part. Most people would agree that Black and Decker tool quality is at least slightly better than that of Kobalt, although Black & Decker tools do still have some issues when it comes to heavy-duty jobs.
What needs to be said is that Black & Decker tools are made in China, at least most of them are, but as far as Chinese-made tools are concerned, this brand is regarded as being one of the better ones. Although these tools are also marketed towards homeowners and DIYers, you are more likely to find Black & Decker tools than Kobalt tools on a jobsite.
In all likelihood, in terms of quality, Black & Decker is the better bet.
Which Offers a Better Warranty?
Kobalt is very diverse in terms of the warranties it offers, and it really depends on the specific products. Some of the warranties you can expect to get with Kobalt include satisfaction guarantees, three-year limited guarantees, five-year limited guarantees, and some tools come with lifetime hassle-free guarantees.
Finding exact warranty information for Black and Decker is not easy, but from what we have gathered, this brand offers a limited lifetime warranty on the majority of hand tools, and many of its power tools are covered by a two-year limited warranty.
When it comes down to it, Kobalt does seem to have the better warranties.
Kobalt vs. Black & Decker: Which Has a Better Product Portfolio?
There is simply no doubting the fact that Black & Decker has a much bigger product portfolio. The brand itself is many times the size of Kobalt, and the product selection is as well. Not only does Black & Decker have more product categories, but also more selection of products within specific categories. Besides a few small exceptions, this applies across the board.
Which Brand Offers a Better Selection of Hedge Trimmers, Lawn Mowers, and Other Outdoor Equipment?
Surprisingly, one of the product categories where Kobalt has more choice than Black & Decker is outdoor equipment.
For instance, Kobalt has nearly twice as many cordless lawnmowers available for purchase as Black & Decker has. This is also the case for leaf blowers and other outdoor power equipment.
Which of the Two Brands Should You Choose?
When it comes down to it, if you want high-quality tools and a massive selection, then Black and Decker is the way to go, especially if the tools may be used for semi-professional purposes. However, if you are looking for decent and affordable tools, particularly a large selection of outdoor power equipment, then Kobalt is probably the better bet.