Nick Carr on December 9, 2015 0 Comments Wood flooring adds singular elegance to any home. Those lush warm colors not only bring the natural beauty of the outside world right in your home, but they also add value to it. You want to maintain and preserve them as long as you possibly can. This takes a little added maintenance and care. One part of the care many people may not consider is the type of vacuum cleaner they are using on their hardwood flooring. There are many types of vacuum cleaners, and each will clean your floors slightly different. When it comes to wood floors, some vacuums are better than others. The Problem With Most Standard Vacuums It is easy to get sucked into the idea that a vacuum is a vacuum. That they are all operate in the same manner. This is especially true if you already own a vacuum and you find yourself moving into a house with wood flooring. It’s a vacuum right? It cleans. It sucks up dirt and debris. Many people may not even consider the differences between how their device cleans a carpeted floor versus a bare floor. This can be an even a larger issue when the vacuum cleaner being used isn’t of the highest quality. Whether it’s an old device or just an unreliable brand, if you don’t have a good vacuum cleaner, you will have a hard time giving the floors a deep clean. New vacuums have some features that will allow a person to go from carpeted areas to wood floor areas with only a few quick adjustments, but if the vacuum doesn’t have these features it’s possible that your device can damage your wood floor. Why You Shouldn’t Use A Cheap Vacuum On Wood Floors Besides the fact that they don’t clean as well, there are a few reasons why standard vacuums — especially cheaper models — are not the best option for wood floors. Let’s look at these below: Plastic Wheels: It’s not uncommon for vacuum cleaners to have plastic wheels. Such wheels have the potential to scratch your floor as you pull or push the machine along. There is also a greater possibility of a small rock or other hard debris being trapped in front of or behind the wheel. When this happens the wheel may start dragging instead of turning, possibly dragging the piece of detritus along with it and intensifying the damage to your floors. Revolving Brush: Any machine designed for carpets has a revolving brush which is designed to extricate dirt, dust, and hair from between the carpet fibers. These brushes are made quite stiff and can scratch the burnished surface of a wood floor. Also, these brushes have a tendency to scatter more dirt then they gather when used on a bare surface. So, take a look at the vacuum cleaner you own or are thinking of buying, and see if it has either of these two features. They work great on carpeting, but you should be weary of them if you have wood floors. Do You Need A Different Vacuum? Before we go further, the first thing for you to consider is whether it’s necessary to buy a new vacuum cleaner. Perhaps you just bought a new one, but didn’t consider the wood flooring you’d be cleaning. Or maybe you just installed wood floors, and you’re not sure if your old vacuum cleaner is still the best fit for you. Before you go buy another one, there’s a few things to consider and it all comes down to the features on the device. Can You Turn Off the Revolving Brush? It probably has a revolving brush, but if you are able to turn off the brush it will not scatter debris or scratch the floor as much. Can You Adjust the Height? Almost all vacuum cleaners are made with a height adjustment. This allows you to change the distance between the vacuum head and surface depending on whether it’s a bare surface, low carpet, or carpet with a higher, thicker pile. Use this feature. Many people forget to make any sort of adjustment as they go from carpet to bare floor. The closer you get the head to a bare surface the better it will clean. Please Note: only do this if you can turn the brush off. The closer the head is to the floor the stiffer bristles are and the longer they are in contact. If you can’t turn off the brush you are better off looking for a new vacuum or small wood-floor-safe vacuum, then trying to make this feature work. Can You Replace the Plastic Wheels? The plastic wheels are harder to fix. If you have a canister vacuum this isn’t as much of a problem because the vacuum does not get moved as much as it would if it was an upright. It may be possible to find rubber wheels that will fit your vacuum and if you can that’s fantastic! If you can’t and you have an upright, go to your extension hose and be extra careful when on wood flooring. Move the vacuum slowly and smoothly with no sudden jerky or quick motions. Ensure the wheels are not trapped by larger debris. Features of Vacuums for Hardwood Floors Ok, you’ve decided to get a new vacuum. Maybe your old one just won’t cut it or it just so happens you need a new one anyway; whatever the case, there are a few features you should be aware of when buying a vacuum cleaner for your hardwood floors. Many of the things you would look for in a new wood floor vacuum I’ve touched on already, but I’ll touch on them again along with some other considerations. The Cleaning Head Click Here to View All Upright Vacuum Cleaners First and foremost, if a vacuum cleaner has a revolving brush, which the vast majority of them do have, make sure this feature can be turned off. If this featured cannot be turned off, then it may not be the best vacuum for wood floors. If it’s possible to get your hands on the unit before buying, inspect how soft the bristles are. Some models have extremely stiff and dense bristles, which is precisely what you do not want for hardwood floors. The stiffer the bristles, the more likely your floors will get scratched. Other options you may want to consider: Some vacuums include a straight suction nozzle or bristles that can be retracted, allowing just the nozzle to touch the floor. Other vacuums have attachable microfiber pads and Shark vacuums sometimes use a combination microfiber pad/suction attachment called the Hard Floor Genie. These are good options and make the need of mopping almost obsolete. Many vacuums also come with an attachment called a parquet brush. This is a head with a very soft, almost felt-like brush, which goes a long way in protecting those beautiful hardwood floors. Size and Weight When cleaning wood floors the easier the vacuum is to move around and the lighter it is the less chance of any accidental damage to the floor. So, if you’re buying a new vacuum cleaner for your wood floors, try to get a unit that is lightweight and easy to move around. The Wheels Any vacuum that will be used extensively on hardwood floors should ideally have rubber wheels and, if it’s a canister vacuum cleaner, rubber bumpers. This will help prevent scratches, dents, and dings that may be otherwise caused by harder plastic wheels. While shopping for a hardwood vacuum cleaner, keep an eye out for these features. It may cost a little bit more, but it will go a long way in protecting the beauty of your wood floors. Suction Obviously, having a vacuum cleaner with strong suction is imperative. When it comes to carpet, the rotating bristles aid the suction at getting all the dirt and debris out of your carpets. Unfortunately, with hardwood floors you want to avoid rotating bristles. This is why it’s important to look for a device that has a powerful suction that’ll clean out the dirt and dust from the small crevices between boards, but can do so with little risk of damaging the floors. Styles & Types of Vacuum Cleaners Now that we’re well-versed in the features needed to keep our wood floors safe, let’s take a look at some different styles and types of vacuum cleaners that are available to you. The style of vacuum you chose is going to be dictated by both; how much of your house has wooden floors, and your own personal preferences. Some prefer the look and feel of traditional upright vacuum cleaners, while others may prefer stick or canister devices. The style you choose is completely up to you, but they all come with their own set of pros and cons. It is an upright and a good compromise if you have a house with both carpet and wood flooring, because it can clean both equally well. If you have only wood floors an upright might still work for you, but there is something to be said for moving a vacuum as little as possible on wood flooring, rubber wheels or not. This is where a canister vacuum can really come into its own because it is not continually moved across the surface of the floor. Instead, it is set down and the vacuum head is attached to a suction hose which allows you to clean, in some cases, as much as a 3 foot radius around the vacuum. Another great option for an all wood floor home is a robotic vacuum. These nerds of the vacuuming world are often exclusively made for bare floors and can be set on an automatic cleaning schedule so that you always come home to a clean house. Onboard sensors help them avoid going over stair edges or bumping into furniture and they many even have a UV light to wipe out bacteria and germs. If your house isn’t too large a nice lightweight stick vacuum is a good choice and many of these come with at least one of the cleaning head accessories I’ve listed. These can also easily pull double duty as a lighter more quickly accessed option when those inevitable accidents take place. Another great style if you have minimal hardwood flooring is a handheld vacuum. These are easy to use, convenient, and are great for quickly spot-cleaning smaller areas. Other options to consider include: Do you want a vacuum that collects debris and dust in a bag or one that uses a bagless canister? The bags may be better at keeping allergies at bay but the canisters are more environmentally friendly. The bag vs bagless debate is strong in the world of vacuum cleaners. Do you have allergies? If so, you may want to look at a vacuum that is designed specifically to help minimize your symptoms, such as one with good HEPA filtration. Do you want a cordless vacuum, one that runs on a rechargeable battery; or one you can plug in and not have to worry about charging? The cordless, again, are more sustainable, using less electricity, and they are extremely convenient. But power is often sacrificed for this convenience. On the other hand corded vacuums may not be as convenient but they will likely have more power. Your hardwood floors are an eye-catching piece of your home and a long term investment. With the right cleaning tools it is possible to keep your floors looking brand new far into the future. Vacuuming your floors are essential to keeping your home clean and free of dirt and grime. This vital appliance is a crucial addition to your cleaning arsenal, but only if you take the time to choose an appropriate one and learn how to use it properly. Remember, the biggest concern when cleaning hardwood floors is to avoid scuffing the finish, or worse, scratching or gouging the underlying wood. Love your floor and it will remain beautiful for the life of your house.