Guide To Finding the Best Vacuum For Hardwood Floors – Updated September 2016

Finding any major appliance for your home can be tricky but looking for the best vacuum for hardwood floors tends to be a draining process for many. Today there are too many different models of vacuums to choose from and the choices might leave you feeling more confused than before you started!

Here you’ll find all the information you need to help you clear up that confusion and get right to the heart of your search. This guide will educate you on what’s best for sucking up dirt from your hardwood floor and why certain features are crucial while others are unnecessary. You’ll learn about the different types of vacuums, facts to consider about your home, features that will help you in your cleaning and what, specifically, you should be looking for in your next device.

Take the time to look through each section thoroughly and refer back to this guide if you ever need to look for another vacuum cleaner for your home with wood floors!

What Type of Vacuum You Need for Hardwood Floors?

It’s easy to think that all vacuum cleaners are alike but there are many differences that make each model individual and useful in its own way. One vacuum may be designed for use on a thick carpet while another is meant for small messes on solid surfaces. Because of the variety on the market today, you should be paying attention to what type of vacuum cleaner you want to use for your own home.

There are a few main types of vacuums. Here are the important facts about each variety and how they relate to hardwood floors:

Upright Vacuum

Uprights are vacuums that can stand on their own when not being used. When you’re pushing around this type of machine, you’ll be pushing the full weight of the device around as it is built in one solid piece. These are usually tall and a bit heavier than the other types. Generally they have very powerful suction, a nose with attachments available, great filtration and other innovative features to make cleaning your house easier. If you have exclusively hardwood floors, there are few uprights that will do well for your needs. This is mainly due to the fact that they use beater brushes on the main vacuum head. These brushes can scratch wood floors. Using the hose attachment only and dragging around the large body is not a practical way to clean an entire home.

Canister Vacuum

Canister Vacuums have a sucking head which connects to the mobile engine and filter through a long hose. These types are made up of two pieces, the head and the body, making them much easier to move around the house. Weight is not a big deal with canisters, because the engine is low to the ground and can be pulled along behind you as you do your work. This is one of the best types of vacuums for a floor with hardwood as it is easy to take around with you and has strong enough suction power to clean very well. In addition, the head of a canister comes with interchangeable heads for a variety of purposes making it simple to avoid brushes that might harm the floors.

Stick Vacuum

Similar to an upright, a stick vacuum is essentially a very skinny upright without all the features and strong suction power. These can be corded electric or battery powered depending on the model. In general, there are no extra heads that can be swapped out on a stick vacuum and no hose for smaller or higher up places. If you have a more compact home, a lot of frequent small messes or if you want something lightweight to do simple cleaning with, a stick can be a good choice for you. However, they are not effective for any heavy duty clean-ups or for cleaning large homes.

Handheld Vacuum

These cleaners are small enough to be carried around with you anywhere in the house. Handhelds are almost exclusively battery powered, making them even more portable. Unfortunately, they don’t often have strong suction power and do not come with extra features like an extendable hose or separate attachments. They can be a great resource for cleaning long staircases and smaller messes as well as for spot cleaning and touch-ups but are largely impractical for whole-house cleaning. Handhelds work well on hardwood floors, as there is not as much need for high suction power.

What to Consider?

Have you decided what type of vacuum you think will be best for your home? Now it’s time to look at some of the particulars you might be interested in. Vacuums are made for almost every purpose you can imagine so look through these questions and see if there is anything that you might need that you didn’t think about before:

the best vacuum for hardwood fooors
  • What kind of wood is in your home?

    Your wood floors might be made of a softer, more delicate wood or a harder, coated wood. Whatever the case is you need to make sure your vacuum cleaner is accommodating to the needs of that floor. Specifically, if scratching is a big issue on your floor you need a vacuum with more padding and rubberized bottom areas. This will help to keep the plastic body from scratching your floors or causing any other sort of damage.

    Additionally, do your floors have deep grooves and lines in the wood? If this is the case, you might want to look for a model with higher suction power to make sure those grooves get properly cleaned out each time you run the device over them.

    • How many sparate floor are in your home?

    The amount of ground you have to cover with your vacuum as well as how many staircases you need to clean can really affect what features and characteristics you should be looking for. Those with a large 1-story home can get by with a model that is medium to heavy weight as it won’t have to be carried around. If there are stairs in the house, a lighter vacuum is a necessity to make traveling up and down the stairs easier.

    • Are there any carpet on your floors?

    If your home is exclusively hardwood then you can go with any type of vacuum that works well on hardwood floors regardless of its performance anywhere else. However, if you want to use your device on any sort of carpeting, even a large area rug, you should look for a model that can adapt to fit the needs of a hard surface as well as a carpet.

    There are many cases where you will need a one-size-fits-all device that works on both the hard surfaces of the house and the carpeted rooms.​ 

     These two choices will make your appliance compatible with your whole house.

    • Do you have pets?

    While pets are a great addition to your home, they can make a real mess on every surface in the house. Pet hair has a way of sticking to anything and everything and it might be hard to remove from some tucked away corners. Choosing a vacuum which was made to handle pet hair and to suck it up without issues might take a lot of time off your average cleaning session. Rather than going over the same spots a few times to make sure you got all the hair up, you will be able to do each section just once.

    As well as pet hair on the floor, many owners have to deal with pet hair on surfaces like the couch or the bed. Your vacuum can also help you deal with this hair if you choose the right one. Whichever type you get, make sure it has a hose that can accept attachments. Either purchase a separate pet hair attachment head for the best possible results or look for a small upholstery brush or beater brush to get the job done.

    • How much filtration power do you need?

    Every vacuum comes with at least 1 level of filtration, and some come with an additional small filtration layer. The first layer is in the form of the dust bag or dust collection cup. Dust bags come in different varieties and act as great filters that capture dust and seal it in for easy disposal. Dust collection cups are usually easy to empty straight into the trash and also simple to clean out. Dust collection cups are more economical and environmentally friendly as they do not require replacement unless they break. Dust bags usually have better dust retention rates and will not spill when being thrown out.

    The second layer of filtration is a smaller filter near the air exit point of the vacuum. This collects the tiny particles that might have made it through the dust bag or dust cup and keeps them from being thrown back out into the air in your home.

    If you suffer from any type of allergies, asthma, or other breathing conditions than you will probably want a vacuum cleaner with the best possible filtration system. Look for HEPA filters (not HEPA-type or HEPA-style but certified HEPA filters), closed dust bags rather than dust cups and a sealed body. All of these filtration measures will help to keep every particle of dust that you suck up from leaving the system.

    Better filtration systems come at a higher price and usually require a little more upkeep. If you don’t have any sensitivities to dust in the air such as the conditions listed above, you may not really need this type of system. HEPA filters are great for keeping the air quality clean, but they are also expensive to replace. There are HEPA-like or HEPA-type filters which do almost as well as the actual HEPA filters for a much lower price. The difference in air quality probably won’t be felt by most people, but those with a breathing-related condition will be able to live a better life in the cleaner air of an original HEPA filter + dust bag system.

    • What types of messes do you clean the most?

    Different models of vacuums are intended for different types of messes. Many are made for general cleaning while others are specifically intended for a certain type of cleaning. You can find vacuums which are made primarily for sucking up hair, while others are intended for dust and dirt. Others  work best for larger particles like food spills in the kitchen.

    Define the purpose of your vacuum cleaner and choose based on what you will be using it for. Handheld vacuums with dust collection cups work well for dry kitchen messes and touch-ups, while larger canisters with a variety of brush heads and suction attachments are perfect for cleaning every part of the house.

    • How much noise can you tolerate while cleaning?

    The simple truth is that cheaper vacuum cleaners will almost always be much louder. Those that are well designed to be sealed up and padded inside will block noise while those that are focused more on a low price point will not include noise-canceling features. Mothers with younger children, those who live in apartment buildings with a lot of other people or anyone who just doesn’t like noise should opt for a design that contains as much of the noise as possible.

    Another difference with noise... Many times you will find that up uprights are designed to be the quietest while canisters vacuums tend to be louder. The design of a canister can usually be made more silent as the engine body is separate and can be sealed off more than in an upright where everything is too close together. Smaller vacuums don’t produce as much noise as larger models, making sticks and handhelds a good choice for low volume needs.

    Best Features for Hardwood Vacuums

    What are the features that you should be looking for in your vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors? There are many sets of features offered by different companies most of which are not really essential to the function of the device itself. Try not to get distracted by all the bells and whistles that come on a certain model. Instead, pay attention to these key features:

    • Versatile Attachments

    Hardwood floors need a variety of attachments if you want to get the cleanest home possible. Arguably the most important element to consider is a large suction head without a spinning beater brush. Beater brushes can make terrible scratches on hardwood floors. Choose a vacuum that includes a large head either without a beater brush or with the option to turn the brush off.

    Look for a convenient set of attachments to help you clean all the edges and other spaces around your home as well. This includes a slim edging wand, one or two small and medium sized brush heads and a soft suction brush head for surfaces like window shades, drapes and mechanical devices.

    • Low-medium Suction Power

    Few hardwood floors will require a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power. In most cases the strongest suction is needed only for larger carpets and is completely unnecessary for hardwood floors. For this reason you can spend your money more wisely and get a high quality vacuum with a little less power. This choice will enable you to get a model that will last your for years while cleaning everything you need it to.

    If you have natural, untreated hardwood floors or floors with deep lines or grooves, it might be a good idea for you to look for stronger suction (although it’s not strictly necessary). It is possible that on these types of wood floors will collect dust and dirt further down from the surface that will need to be sucked up.

    • Padding

    The plastic body of a vacuum can do a lot of damage to your wood floors as it is dragged and pushed around the house. A lot of lower-end models or versions meant primarily for carpets will not have much rubberized or felt padding on them and will be chiefly made of hard plastic. It’s a better idea for you to get a device that’s been designed for hardwood floors. These will usually feature more rubberized or felt padding around the bottom and sides of the vacuum body.

    Wheels also need to be rubberized or feature some sort of padding as they will always be in contact with the floor. Be careful with upright vacuums for this very reason. Uprights are normally designed for carpets and they will have wheels made of hard plastic without any rubber or padding to protect your wood flooring. Canister vacuums usually feature larger wheels with some sort of rubber to help them roll around more easily and protect floors as these vacuums are generally the type that are chosen for cleaning hardwood floors.

    • Lightweight

    As we mentioned before, weight can become an issue if you are planning to clean your entire house with the same vacuum cleaner. Try to choose a more lightweight brand if possible to avoid causing damage from bumps, falls or normal dragging around. Heavier machines are more likely to show some wear and tear on your floors than lighter machines.

    • Long Extension Hoses

    No matter what type of vacuum you choose, you will have to make sure it can reach all areas of your floor and home without hurting your back so much. Choosing a short extension hose is a bad idea as you will have to do a lot more bending to reach certain parts of your home. This can be painful for your back and tiring for your arms.

    Long hoses relieve the stress you would otherwise be putting on your back and allow you to clean more efficiently for a longer period of time. If you have to reach anywhere up high or between cramped spaces, a long hose plus a extendable wand will be your best bet for accomplishing these tasks without causing yourself any pain.

    Where to Buy

    By now you probably have a good idea about what kind of vacuum cleaner you want to get for your home. The biggest question now is: where you should get it? You have two options, each with its own benefits:

    ​In Store

    Buying a vacuum from a store allows you to give it a mini test run before taking it home to use for yourself. You’ll be able to feel the weight for yourself and decide whether or not the device seems useful and well built. This is a great advantage but it might come at a cost as many stores will have higher prices than you can find online. 

    ​Online

    Shopping for a vacuum cleaner online is easy. All you need to do is look at a site such as Amazon.com and you will find almost every model and brand available for some of the best prices around. While you won’t be able to test them out and get a feel for how they are, you can always go to a store and see if you can check out the vacuum there before buying it online! 

    Now that you know what you’re looking for and where you should go to get it, it’s time for you to make your own decision on what you want to get based on your own home! Click on any product link below to see more details on Amazon.com

    **You'll see more detailed product reviews here, but you can also click the links below to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.com

    Top 5 Best Vacuums For Hardwood Floors Comparison Chart 2016

    ModelCorded or CordlessBag or BaglessWeight (empty)Beater BrushRating
    Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional Upright NV356E30 ft. cordBagless14 lbs.Yes; includes hard-floor attachment Editor's Choice
    Hoover Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner - BH50010CordlessBagless10 lbs.Yes, includes on/off switch#2
    Miele S2121 Olympus canister Vacuum CleanerApprox. 20 ft. cordUses bag; one provided with purchase13 lbs.Yes; switches modes with touch of a switch#3
    Hoover Floormate Spincrub With Bonus Hard Floor Wipes - FH 40010B27 ft. quick-release cordBagless4.2 lbs.no#4
    Bissell PowerEdge Pet Hard Floor Corded Vacuum - 81L2A20’ power cordBagless7.1 lbsno#5


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