Top 4 Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors and Area Rugs (With Pictures)

Bissell canister vacuum

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The best vacuums for hardwood floors and area rugs are powerful enough to clean deep into rug fibers yet gentle enough to avoid scratching the wood.

Hardwoods not only add beauty, charm, and warmth to a home, they can also increase the value. According to Realtor.com, the average ROI of installing hardwoods is 70-80% and, on average, they add 2.5% to the sale price. 

In order to take proper care of hardwoods, you need to invest in a versatile vacuum that is powerful enough to clean deep into the fibers of area rugs yet gentle enough to avoid scratching and damaging hardwood floors.

If you have area rugs scattered atop beautiful hardwood floors and are looking for a new vacuum to keep both spotless, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I provide in-depth reviews of the top 4 vacuums for hardwood floors and area rugs.

You’ll learn the pros and cons and find out exactly why each of these vacuums they made the list.

You’ll also learn which characteristics are most important to consider when buying a multi-surface vacuum.

Let’s jump right into it! Select a link to go straight to a section.

Top 4 Best Vacuums for Hardwood Floors and Area Rugs: 30-Second Summary

Canister vacuums are the ideal type of vacuum for hardwood floors and area rugs because they are powerful, versatile, and come with attachments specific for each surface. Most canister vacuums also have adjustable power settings designed to make transitioning from wood floor to area rug seamless.

There are dozens of options to choose from at a wide range of prices. After testing over a dozen vacuums and spending over 16 hours researching, our top four vacuums for hardwood floors and area rugs are the following (links to Amazon):

  • Bissell Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum (view on Amazon)
    • Pros: Lightweight, easy to maneuver, the dirt tank is easy to empty, and affordable.
    • Cons: Small dirt tank and lack of suction power.
    • Jump to full detailed review.
  • Bissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic Bagless Canister Vacuum (view on Amazon)
    • Pros: Powerful suction (9.2 amps), large dirt tank, versatile.
    • Cons: Brush head clogs easily from pet hair, difficult to maneuver (issue with wheels).
    • Jump to full detailed review.
  • Kenmore 400 Series Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner (view on Amazon)
    • Pros: 2-motor system, large attachment for rugs, HEPA filter.
    • Cons: Very heavy (22.6 pounds), difficult to maneuver, suction power.
    • Jump to full detailed review.
  • Dyson Ball Multi Floor Canister Vacuum (view on Amazon)
    • Pros: J.D. Power award for best canister vacuum (2015 and 2017), easy to maneuver, very powerful, HEPA filter, easy-release dirt tank, smooth transition from hardwood to area rugs.
    • Cons: Suction power can be too strong, expensive.
    • Jump to full detailed review.

Value Pick: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Deluxe Canister Vacuum

Bissell canister vacuum

After hours and hours of researching and educating myself on the vacuum market, I decided to purchase the Bissell Hard Floor Expert Canister Vacuum. I’ve been using it for over a year and it has proven itself to be a reliable and versatile vacuum.

The Pros of the Bissell Expert Deluxe

The features I like the most about this vacuum are:

  • It is small, lightweight (9.1 pounds) and easy to maneuver.
  • It comes with several attachments making it simple to go from cleaning hardwood floors to area rugs to dusting hard to reach surfaces. The hardwood floor brush comes with soft bristles so you don’t have to worry about damaging your floors. The attachment for area rugs has 2 different height setting so you can adjust according to your rugs.
  • The power is also adjustable to suit every job and can turn up to 7 amps which is plenty for most household jobs.

Bissell vacuum power settings

  • Dust and debris are stored in a compartment in the canister (dirt tank) that is simple to empty. You don’t need to worry about periodically changing bags.

Bissell vacuum dirt tank

  • The power cord automatically retracts making life easy when it comes time to store the vacuum.
  • It comes with a limited one year warranty so you are covered if there is a malfunction not caused by misuse. View the warranty here.
  • Lastly, this vacuum is very affordable compared to other options on the market. See current pricing on Amazon here.
The Cons: Small dirt tank, suction power

The dirt tank is relatively small so you have to empty it fairly often (for me that means once a month).

About 6 months after we bought it, we vacuumed something that got stuck in the filtration area and caused our vacuum to stop working. This was extremely frustrating because we were getting the house ready for a family party and didn’t have a backup vacuum. We ended up having to send it back but luckily the malfunction was covered under the one year warranty. For those wondering, we ended up borrowing a neighbors vacuum, crisis averted.

I have not experienced this yet but the other main complaint that I’ve seen in my research was around the suction power. People complain that after a few months it loses suction and doesn’t have enough power, particularly for rugs. I haven’t experienced that but like I mentioned, If something like that happens within the first year, you are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Usually, you can fix it yourself by opening up the canister and making sure nothing is blocking the air passage.

More Power, Higher Price: Bissell Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic Bagless Canister Vacuum

If you have the budget to invest a little more, a great option is another one from Bissell called the Hard Floor Expert Multi-Cyclonic Canister Vacuum.

This vacuum is very similar to the Expert Deluxe that I own. The main differences are it has slightly more power at 9.2 amps compared to 7, an 18-foot power cord and a larger dirt tank. It has the same attachments and versatility as the Expert Deluxe.

These extra features will cost you a bit more. See current pricing on Amazon here.

The main complaints are around lack of suction power and debris and hair causing the brush head to clog. Others complain that the wheels don’t turn smoothly making it hard to navigate a room. I always want to surface the downsides for your consideration but, keep in mind, the vast majority of owners have a very positive experience.

Pricey, But Great Performance: Kenmore 400 Series Bagged Canister Vacuum Cleaner

If you are willing to spend even more, the Kenmore 400 Series Bagged Canister Vacuum is another reliable option.

 This vacuum comes with a 2-motor system which ensures that you never will lose suction power. It works very well on both hardwoods and area rugs. Compared to the two Bissell vacuums, Kenmore has a much larger attachment for rugs making it more effective at cleaning those surfaces.

It also comes with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that is supposed to be the best type of filter for removing allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander etc.

The biggest complaint is that it is heavy (22.6 pounds), clunky and not easy to move around. Some also complain that the filter gets clogged and loses suction over time. This seems to be a common complaint with all vacuums so take it with a grain of salt. If used and cleaned properly, the chances that this happens are slim.

This Kenmore 400 Series vacuum comes with high-end features at a moderately high price (you could certainly spend even more). If you have large carpeted areas in your house in addition to wood floors, this vacuum might be worth the splurge. You can see the current pricing on Amazon here.

Best You Can Buy: Dyson Ball Multi Floor Canister Vacuum

If you are not concerned with price, the best vacuum you can buy for hardwoods and area rugs is the Dyson Ball Multi Floor Canister Vacuum. Don’t just take my word for it, J.D. Power gave it the highest numerical rating among canister vacuums in their 2015 and 2017 Vacuum Satisfaction Studies.

Dyson big ball multi floor canister vacuum
Dyson Big Ball Multi-Floor Canister Vacuum

This vacuum is designed to work on all surfaces featuring stiff nylon bristles that are incredibly effective at digging deep into rug fibers and removing dirt. It also has soft carbon fiber filaments designed specifically to remove dust from hardwoods.

Dyson Ball Multi Floor Vacuum head

As its name suggests, this vacuum is built with Dyson’s patented Ball™ technology which makes it extremely easy to maneuver; you never have to worry about the canister dragging and damaging the floor when you make sharp movements. The canister has large wheels on each side that make it easy to twist, turn, and spin without flipping over.

It also comes with a trigger in the handle that you can pull to easily change the power and speed of the bristles when transitioning from hardwood to rug.

Dyson Ball Multi Floor Vacuum trigger handle

Similar to the Kenmore 400 series, the Dyson Ball Multi Floor comes with HEPA filtration, is Certified asthma & allergy friendly, and has a .53 gallon dirt tank that releases with the touch of a button for simple and easy cleanup.

The most common complaint about this vacuum is that the suction power is too strong. Complaining that a vacuum’s suction power is too strong sounds ridiculous, however, the context around these complaints is that the intense suction power makes it difficult to maneuver on thicker rugs.

The superior performance of the Dyson Ball Multi Floor Canister Vacuum warrants a premium price. It depends where you buy it, but it is usually priced between $200 and $300. Considering the beauty and value of pristine floors, this vacuum is well worth the investment. You can check the latest pricing and read more reviews on Amazon.

What To Consider Before Buying a Vacuum for your Hardwood Floors and Area rugs

There are a handful of basic features to consider when buying a vacuum, especially if you plan to use it on both hardwoods and area rugs. The main things to consider are versatility, attachments, power, vacuum type, and price.

Versatility: Delicate On floors, Strong Enough for Area Rugs Too

If you have hardwood floors with area rugs throughout your home, the first thing to make sure is that the vacuum you buy is versatile enough for both surfaces.

When it comes to vacuuming you typically have two goals:

  1. Thoroughly clean the floors and area rugs
  2. Don’t scratch or damage the floors

To accomplish goal #1 you need to make sure you have enough suction power for both floors and rugs. In general, hard floors don’t require much suction to collect dust and debris. Rugs and carpets require more suction power because dust and debris get embedded deep into the threads and needs a greater force to clean.

When you are looking for a vacuum for both surfaces, make sure it has multiple power settings and brush attachments design specifically for each surface. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a vacuum that either does not have enough power for a rug or isn’t delicate enough for floors.

Attachments: Greater Versatility and Control

Nowadays vacuums come with all sorts of attachments. The most common attachments for multi-purpose vacuums are unique brush heads for hardwood floors, area rugs, and tools for dusting and getting into small areas like stairs or corners.

Bissell vacuum attachments

If you are looking to buy a single vacuum to use for both wood floors and area rugs, the most important attachments are brush heads for each surface. For wood floors, you’ll need a flat brush head with soft bristles to simply suck up dust or a specialized head that has a soft spinning wheel with special floor bristles.

Vacuum heads designed for rugs typically allow you to adjust for the different levels of thickness. They also use what is called a beater brush which is a bar with thick bristles that spin on within the head and digs deep into the rug. Floor attachments can have beater brushes too but the ones that do come with much softer bristles. Lastly, they typically have larger wheels that make it easy to maneuver on surfaces with more friction.

Head attachment for hardwoods

Bissell vacuum head attachment for hardwoods

 

Head attachment for area rugs

Bissell vacuum head attachment for area rugs

 

Power: Hardwood Floors Require Less Suction Power Than Area Rugs

When it comes to the suction power of vacuums, there are several different measures to look at including Watts, Amps, and Voltage. Most manufacturers will only give you one of these so it’s not easy to compare apples to apples. This article from BestVacuums.com gives a great overview of what each of these measures means, the caveats, and how to translate them into suction power.

The main point to remember is that it is important to have adjustable suction power settings. Certain thick rugs will require significantly more power than other rugs that are flatter. Hardwood floors typically don’t require as much power as area rugs. In fact, if your vacuum suction is too strong, you run the risk of damaging your floors. Area rugs sometimes rely on the strong vortex of a beater brush to scoop dirt out of the rug and into the vessel.  Again, when you are looking for a vacuum for both, make sure you are able to adjust the power for each surface.

Vacuum Type: Canister Vacuums are Ideal for Multi-Surface Cleaning

The most common household vacuums are upright, stick and canister.

  • Upright vacuums are best for carpeted areas and typically have aggressive beater brushes and powerful engines that can dig into carpets for a deep clean. Some have adjustable heights to quickly adapt to different surfaces but typically they are designed for rugs first.
  • Stick vacuums are best for quick cleanups in small areas like bathrooms and kitchens. They are significantly less powerful than upright vacuums but are easy to maneuver and are typically very lightweight.
  • Canister vacuums the most versatile type of vacuum and, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others, the best option for both hardwood floors and rugs. Like the name states, they are made up of a canister that sits on the floor and houses the motor and the bag or compartment that collects the debris.

Connected to the canister are the suction hose, wand (the pole that connects the hose to the head) and the head. Canister vacuums usually come with attachments for both floors and carpets and also allow you to detach the hose from the wand and vacuum hard to reach places like window stills and bookshelves.

Bissell vacuum labeled

Compared to upright vacuums, Canisters are usually more gentle on hardwoods and are less likely to kick up dust because they have attachments specifically for hardwood floors that don’t have the aggressive beater brushes.

I recently published an in-depth comparison of canister versus upright vacuums that covers the pros and cons of each. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re not sure which type of vacuum is right for you.

Price: Vacuum Prices Range Significantly

You can spend as much or as little as you want on a vacuum. The biggest factors impacting the price are the brand, features (ex. certified filtration systems), motor power (high-power motors warrant higher prices), and durability (vacuums made with high-quality materials built to last will cost more). Companies like Dyson and Bissell spend millions of dollars each year on research and development to continuously improve their products and meet the high demands of today’s consumer. As vacuums become more advanced, the R and D costs to develop them are passed along to consumers.

Unlike many commoditized household products, the prices of vacuums vary drastically based on brand, vacuum type, and features. To give you an idea, you could buy the least expensive stick vacuum for around $70 or the most expensive robot vacuum for $500.

The biggest factor impacting price is the type of vacuum. Stick vacuums tend to be the cheapest, followed by upright vacuums, then canister vacuums, then the most expensive are robot vacuums.

Fortunately, Amazon and other retailers like Target have all type of vacuums so you can easily compare prices with the click of a link (check prices on Amazon for stick vacuums, upright vacuums, canister vacuums, robot vacuums).

Thank You for Reading Our Review of Hardwood Floor and Area Rug Vacuums!

We hope this article gave you the information you needed to make the best decision for your cleaning needs.

Have you had a different experience with Bissell and/or Kenmore vacuums? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are there any other vacuum brands that you think are better? Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly, we would love to hear your feedback.

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