What To Look for in a Vacuum For Hardwood Floors

Not all floors are the same, and neither are all vacuums. While it can be tempting to use the same vacuum on all your floors, regardless of whether they’re carpeted or not, don’t. Not unless you want to leave some nasty scuff marks on your beautifully polished hardwood floors in any case. As The Spruce rightly says, taken care of properly, hardwood flooring can last a lifetime. Taken care of badly, its luster will soon fade away to nothing. The problem is, hardwood flooring isn’t forgiving. Like, at all. A little bit of debris on a carpet is easily overlooked: a single pet hair on a hardwood floor will stick out a mile. And that’s to say nothing of crumbs, dust or anything else that winds up on your floor.

If you want to keep your hardwood floors looking immaculate, you’re going to have to vacuum. Frequently. But not with any old vacuum. Believe it or not, not all vacuums are capable of vacuuming all floors. Or rather they are, but what kind of mess they’ll leave in their wake might leave you wishing you’d used a broom instead. Use a vacuum designed for soft, cushy carpets on bare floorboards, and you’re liable to leave them scratched, scuffed and bruised… which, however, you look at it, isn’t a good look.

If you want to keep your floor clear of debris AND war wounds, you’re going to have to choose a vacuum that’s up to the challenge. Some people already have one, even if they don’t realize it. If you see a lever on the front of the brush head, pull it – that will effectively retract the beater brush (that thing with the stiff bristles that works its way into even the deepest pile carpet) and leave you with a head that will glide effortlessly over hard flooring. If you’ve got the brush but not the lever, it may be time to consider investing in a more suitable option.

When it comes to choosing a vacuum suitable for hard flooring, you’ll ideally want one that either omits the beater brush although, has a brush with super soft bristles that will effortlessly glide over the floor, or has a retractable option. Other things you might want to think about include:

What to Look for in a Vacuum for Hardwood Floors …

A Light, Compact Design

As Hunker recommends, the best type of vacuum cleaner for a hardwood floor will combine outstanding suction with the type of features that make cleaning a breeze for both you and your floors. Before investing in a new vacuum, consider the layout of your house, taking particular note of which areas have hardwood flooring (presuming you haven’t done away with carpets or other flooring options entirely). If the hardwood flooring runs to multiple floors, don’t opt for a vacuum that’s going to give you backache from lugging it up and down the stairs. A lightweight, compact model, or even a stick canister vacuum, are two of the easiest options to wield around.

A Robot Helper

If you’d rather stick red-hot needles in your eyes than spend half an hour vacuuming, it may be worth considering investing in an extra pair of helping hands. The technology in robot vacuum cleaners has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years – forget the old models that spent half an hour headbutting the wall, the new, all-singing, all-dancing 2020 versions have all kinds of sensors and gadgetry to keep them on the right path. Better yet, they were almost heaven-sent for hardwood floors, making light work of even the biggest room without you having to lift a finger. Just bear in mind that while they might be magic, they don’t do stairs. Yet.

A Good All-Rounder

While using a vacuum cleaner that isn’t specifically labeled as suitable for hardwood floors is a very bad idea, you don’t necessarily need to have multiple vacuum cleaners for every different floor type in the house. Many vacuums are ‘multipurpose’, and as suitable for low-pile carpet, drapes, and upholstery as they are for hardwood.

Cord-free

Granted, this doesn’t just apply to hardwood floors, but seeing as you’ll be investing in a new vacuum, why not go the extra mile and make it a cordless one? As anyone who’s ever wielded a vacuum cleaner knows, having to navigate the vacuum AND the cord around each and every piece of furniture is a pain, to say nothing of the nightmare of ripping the plug out of the socket every time you venture a little too far. A cordless vacuum cleaner offers an amazingly convenient alternative to traditional models, and are readily available in hardwood floor suitable options.

Rubber Wheels

As Home Flooring Pros notes, if you’re going to go to the trouble of investing in a brand new vacuum for your hardwood floors, go one better and get one with rubber wheels. These will glide over the floor far more gently than the hard-plastic wheels found on many models will and can reduce any chance pf the vacuum scratching the floor when it slides sideways. Under no circumstance go for a vacuum without wheels unless the bottom of the vacuum is well and truly padded. The consequences for your floor don’t bear contemplating.

And What to Avoid…

Beater Bars

If a vacuum comes with a beater bar (i.e. the rotating brush on the bottom) that can’t be retracted quickly and easily, don’t buy it. As well as leaving scratches and scrapes, the constant, high-speed rotation of the bar will quickly remove any luster your wooden flooring has, leaving a dull, ugly finish that’s unlikely to be what you dreamt of when you ripped up the carpets. Beater bars and hardwood flooring really don’t play nicely – unless you want the bar to give your nice floor a thorough beating, avoid.



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