Why Buy a Hardwood Floor Vacuum?
The top performers in our review are the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away, the Gold Award winner; the BISSELL Hard Floor Expert Deluxe, the Silver Award winner; and the BISSELL BOLT XRT PET 2-in-1, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with details on how we arrived at our ranking of 9 products.
Hardwood floors are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also increase the property value of your home. While they add beauty to the room they are in, hardwood floors are difficult to clean without damaging the surface. In order to clean a wooden floor without damaging it, you need a hard floor vacuum specifically designed to clean wooden floors.
Hardwood floor vacuums have the same design and power as a standard vacuum, but they weigh significantly less, and you can adjust the features to make them safe to use on wooden floors. The best vacuums for hardwood floors have suction control settings that you can adjust for the surface you are cleaning. They also have either an automatic or a manual height adjuster, so you can change it to the most effective height for cleaning your hardwood.
The ability to turn off the brush roll on your vacuum is the most important feature when working with wood. Unless the bristles are made of fine material, they will scratch your hardwood as you roll your vacuum across it. Likewise, you will want rubber wheels so they don’t scratch the wood while you vacuum.
Dyson makes several vacuums with features designed specifically for hardwood floors. With cyclonic technology, the vacuums safely remove dirt and particles from your hardwood without scraping the surfaces. However, we did not include any Dyson models on our lineup because Dyson's prices exceed the other vacuums' prices substantially.
In order to provide the fairest comparison of products, we evaluated vacuums, whether they were stick, canister or upright, that are designed to clean hardwood floors and range in price from $50 to $250.
Several other review lineups detail other types of vacuums and even more brands if you need more features than a hardwood floor vacuum has to offer. We have comparison lineups for standard upright vacuums, robot vacuums, stick vacuums (electric brooms) and shop vacuums.
Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaners: How We Tested, What We Found
The amount of dirt the vacuum picks up, as well as the noise level, serve as two key attributes of hardwood floor vacuums. Manufacturers promote the effectiveness of products, but exclude specifications based on collection levels and noise. We carried out our own tests to assess the effectiveness and quietness of each hardwood floor vacuum.
In order to test how well the vacuums lift particles off a bare floor, we scattered a fixed amount of sawdust and evaluated how much of the distributed dust was lifted and how many passes it took to do so. For the most part, the vacuums lifted 90 to 100 percent of the sawdust off the floor, with the exception of the lower-ranked models that struggled to pick up everything. Regardless of how much dust was lifted off the floor, the best vacuums required minimal passes over the sawdust to pick it all up. These figures helped us determine which vacuums had the best suction power and most effective cleaning performance.
While the amount of dirt the vacuum picks up is important, the noise level also figures in as a determining factor. For each vacuum, we recorded the noise level directly above the motor. There were minimal differences between the vacuums. Cordless models produced the least amount of noise.
When possible, Top Ten Reviews evaluates all products and services in hands-on testing. We try to simulate the experiences of a typical consumer. We either purchased or received the vacuums on loan for testing purposes. The companies had no input over our testing methodology. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.
What Else is Important in Selecting a Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaner?
While the vacuum’s effectiveness should serve as a leading consideration when purchasing a hardwood floor vacuum cleaner, other features and capabilities should factor into your choice. Here are a few key questions you should ask when considering what features you need:
Brush Roll Shutoff: Will You Be Using the Vacuum on Multiple Floor Types?
With hardwood floor vacuums, you have to be aware of what type of material the brush roll is made of. If the bristles are soft, the brush roll is safe for hardwood, and you can use your vacuum with peace of mind. However, vacuums that work on carpets in addition to hardwood require a stiff brush roll in order to work effectively on carpeted areas. In those cases, the vacuum requires a brush roll shutoff that lifts the brush off the ground and turns it off while you vacuum bare floors. In some models, the vacuum does not have a brush roll at all and relies solely on the suction. Each of these types of vacuums will effectively and safely clean your hardwood floors.
Premium Features: Do You Want a Corded or Battery-Operated Vacuum?
Like standard vacuums, you can purchase hardwood floor vacuums that rely on either electric or battery power. For small cleanups or little rooms, a battery-operated vacuum effectively picks up the floor without the hassle of a cord. These vacuums have the same amount of power and suction as corded models, but weigh less and are easy to maneuver. However, the average life of a hardwood floor vacuum battery is only 15-20 minutes, and it usually takes between three and six hours to recharge it. These types of models also tend to limit how many attachments you can use with the vacuum.
With corded models, you do not have to worry about recharging your battery. You can vacuum multiple levels and entire homes; however, the length of the cord limits you to vacuuming one room at a time and then plugging it in again. Corded hardwood floor vacuums also come with a hose and cleaning tools to help you reach difficult areas like corners and edges.
Our comparison chart details other important features to look for with hardwood floor vacuums. Whether the vacuum uses batteries or electricity, you will want a high number of volts or amps. Most vacuum motors range from seven to twelve amps on the corded models, providing a sufficient amount of power and suction to clean your floors. You also should consider the size of both the cleaning path and the dirt collector. Large cleaning paths reduce how many times you have to pass over the carpet. A high-capacity dirt container, whether it is a bag or cup, allows you to finish your vacuuming session before emptying the dirt out.
We also detail the differences in warranty and support for each product. While most offer standard customer service, companies differ in the warranties on their models. Models with at least a two-year warranty indicate quality.
Hardwood Floor Vacuum Cleaners: Our Verdict and Recommendations
In order to clean your hardwood safely and effectively, a hardwood floor vacuum cleaner is essential. Hardwood vacuums give you more cleaning power than a broom. With various attachments and tools, you can vacuum hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, they are gentle enough that they will not harm your floors as you clean them, whether that includes turning off the brush roll or using soft bristles. To learn more how to clean your hardwood floors, read our articles on hardwood floor vacuums.