Lowe's rose to second place while Do it Best finished last in J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 U.S. Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study, the company announced today. Ace Hardware took the top spot for the fifth consecutive year, while The Home Depot ended up second to last.

More than 6,900 home improvement retailer customers who made purchases over the past 12 months were polled as part of the survey of several home improvement chains. They were rated on a 1,000-point scale based on five factors: staff and service, store facility, merchandise, price, and sales and promotions. The companies ranked had to receive a minimum of 250 evaluations and have stores in at least two states.

Ace finished first with 786 points, while Lowe's--which finished fourth last year--climbed to second place with 771. Following those two were Menards, 765 points; Sears, 749; True Value, 742; The Home Depot, 737; and Do it Best/Do it Centers, 708. Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best wasn't included in last year's poll.

Customers indicated that store facilities were the most important aspect of the shopping experience, especially when it comes to finding desired merchandise and getting around the stores, J.D. Power's announcement said. The survey also found that customers shop at him improvement retailers about two or three times per month.

"Shoppers, whether novices to home improvement or those who are more experienced, need not be intimidated by the store," said Christina Cooley, senior manager of the real estate and construction industries practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Retailers have invested in improving their layouts and signage to help guide customers to the products that they are looking for."

The evaluations were filled out online and only one evaluation was filled out per customer. According to Cooley, customers were asked what home improvement retailers they had shopped at over the past 12 months and then were asked which retailer shopped at the most, which was the company they filled our an evaluation for.

J.D. Power and Associates is a marketing information services company that provides forecasts, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and information.