Best Vacuum for Different Surface Types

Different surface types require special attention when cleaning. Simply, a vacuum used to clean a home with wall-to-wall carpeting will not necessarily be the best option for a home with hard wood floors.  And if you're going to take the trouble of vacuuming, you might as well take a few minutes to see if your vacuum is even effective for your needs.

There are two major considerations when choosing the best vacuum for a specific surface type:

  1. Surface type
  2. Vacuum type

Surface types

There are several different surface types you may have to take into account before purchasing your next vacuum, or determining if the one you have is right for you.  While some homes/residences may have more than one floor type, the standard for floors include:

  • Wall-to-Wall Carpet
  • Hard and Hardwood Floors
  • Combinations Floors
  • Stairs
  • Upholstery
  • Commercial Areas

Vacuum types

Picking the right type of vacuum can be a very daunting task for any new vacuum owner. There are so many different styles to choose from, and all the options so seemingly overwhelming. But there is a science to the different design.

Upright Vacuums - Upright vacuums are fairly common and are great for cleaning large surfaces.  The way upright vacuums works is by having a pump mounted above the suction intake, along with a waist-high mounted bag on the handle.  They use mechanical beats and rotating brushes to evenly distribute picked-up dust and debris.  All upright vacuums have either a single or dual motor.  These dust-control vacuums are ideal for carpeted airs that need to be cleaned quickly.  If you plan on using this type of vacuum in a commercial area or in areas where you expect frequent traffic, then opt for a dual motor rather than a single one. 

Canister Vacuums - These vacuums are ideal for hard-to-reach spots such as underneath furniture and on stairways.  They are also far more preferred if your needs include vacuuming multiple floor surfaces such as hardwood floors to tile to carpet.  Canister vacuums also offer greater maneuverability than upright vacuums; it's much easier to get around furniture legs and tight spaces with these vac systems.  Another great thing about canister vacuums is the ease with which they can clean upholstery. 

Central Vacuums - With a central power unit set in a remote area (such as garage or utility room), central systems work by having inlet valves in several areas. These central unit vacuums create more suction than other vacuums. 

Bagless Vacuums - Like their name suggests, bagless vacuums don't require a disposable bag.  Many vacuum-owners love the fact they don't have to worry about additional vaucuum bags.  No longer needing a bag to vacuum has made this type of vacuum very popular.

HEPA Vacuums - HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter) vacuums can trap 99.97% of fine dust particles.  These vacuums are ideal for people suffering from allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. 

Wet/Dry Vacuums - Especially designed to clean up liquid spills or wet/dry soilage.  Some wet/dry vacuums are able to reverse airflow through an attached exhaust port - this is ideal for blowing dust in a specific direction or clearing a clogged hose.  The unique thing about these types of vacuums is that they can come as either uprights or canisters.

Stick Vacuums - Lightweight and easy to maneuver, stick vacuums are ideal for everyday light vacuuming and hardwood floors. These vacuums are on the lower end of the price scale but still come with the same attachments as many upright vacuums.

Steam Cleaners - While most people wouldn't consider the steam cleaners a vacuum, the fact is these vacuums come in a number of sizes and are ideal for cleaning fabrics and upholstery.


Note that vacuum types are also organized by what they're meant to be picking up, and not just what they will used on.  For example, you may us an upright vacuum on a hardwood surface, but are you picking up pet hair or is your focus on picking up dust?  These are consideration you have to make when you look into the model/make of your vacuum - a decision made much easier once you at least are more informed on what general type of vacuum you might need.

Also keep in mind that some of these features may be paired up.  For example, you can get a bagless upright or a canister vacuum with HEPA.  Definitely knowing what your options are before you make a choice will go a long way to making sure you're getting exactly what you need.

See More Vacuum Tips

Safe, Secure Shopping

Vacuum Home is rated as a trusted store from the following online authority sites: