Upright vs Cylinder Vacuum

March 11, 2016

The question is will an upright vacuum cleaner or a cylinder vacuum cleaner be best for using on hardwood floors?Since the first patent on a portable electric vacuum cleaner in 1908 things have developed a bit.Unfortunately, they still have not developed to the stage where just one appliance will efficiently do everything you need it to do. In fact, vacuum cleaners have now been developed to do individual specific jobs very well. However, manufacturers still want to claim that nearly every model produced will do just about everything you need. In this article we will look at one of those specific needs and see how the different types of vacuum cleaners stack up to each other.

Upright vs Cylinder Vacuum
Upright vs Cylinder Vacuum

Usually the first thing to consider when choosing a vacuum cleaner is will it suck the dirt up? The biggest enemies of hardwood floors are sand, grit and dust which all grind the surface away. So in this instance the first question is “Does the cleaner have nice big soft rubber wheels that don’t help to grind the dirt into the floor?” That’s before we even get around to switching it on!

Many cleaners have hard plastic wheels and are quite heavy.Not good for use on polished wood floors.Of course if the floor area you are cleaning is quite small then there are some small cylinder vacuum cleaners that you can carry over your shoulder on a sling and never even come into contact with the floor at all.Now we get around to switching on the vacuum cleaners.First thing we notice is that despite the size of their motors, bigger does not always mean better suction.All cleaners are fitted with some form of filtration and sometimes the route of the airways combined with the strength of the filters negates the extra power of their motors.

The straighter the air pathway results in more suction usually being achieved. Usually this means cylinder models have better suction as their air path is straight through.Also, cylinder models do not have beaters to stir up the dirt and have to rely solely on their suction power to enable cleaning. Which means they have to have good suction to operate at all.Talking of air paths. There was one upright model tested that sucked up air from the floor then blew out the front of the cleaner.

Presumably this was so the operator didn’t get blasted by the exiting air. Probably ok for use on carpets where the dirt was sticking to the floor but on hardwood floors what happened was that it blew the dust, grit and animal hair out of the way and around the room rather than attract it under the cleaner to be sucked up.As it turned out this air turbulence was quite a problem for many upright cleaners on hardwood floors.As you may well know, all upright cleaners have a rotating sweeper bar to help lift the dirt etc. As this bar rotates at great speed it creates turbulence all around the suction intake area under the cleaner head. On carpets this is a good and helpful thing.

However, on hardwood, and all hard surfaced floors, the turbulence created often blew the dust and other objects away from the cleaner’s suction intake area. There was nothing to provide resistance on the slippery polished surfaces that could stop objects being blown away.The Beater Bar is a Biggie you need to Avoid!Above all other considerations is the beater bar on upright models of vacuum cleaner that is their biggest downfall when being used on hardwood floors. It is pretty obvious that one wrong twist or something lodged in that spinning beater bar is going to cause some damage to a wooden floor. Scratches at the least and I’ve heard of some taking big gouges out of the floor. That is even those models advertised as being suitable for wooden floors when clearly they are not.Manufacturers have of course also recognised this problem and some have done something about it.There are two things that it is possible to do. One is a lever or setting that lifts the beater bar so it is not in such close contact with the floor. The other is to have some form of mechanism that disengages the drive to the beater bar and stops it rotating.


In some models both of theses options are available.If the bar is lifted but not stopped from rotating it would still be possible for it to pick something up and wrap around the bar with the end still beating the floor. I can just imagine what the end of a broken necklace would do to the floor it was thrashing.It is sounding more and more like it’s a straightforward choice of going for a cylinder model over an upright model. Well, it might be but then a whole new box of choices opens up. Large, medium or small models? With pet hair attachments or are they not necessary? What about hose length or cord length?Do you need one with a cord at all? There are battery models of both cylinder and uprights or what are known as stick vacuum cleaners. If you go for a battery operated model will the battery last long enough for the job you have to do? Will the cylinder hold enough dust and debris for the job? Choices choices!Now the Verdict – Upright or Cylinder Vacuum Cleaners?So, in conclusion of whether to go for an upright vacuum cleaner or cylinder vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors I think I’d pretty well go for a cylinder model most times. There are some uprights that could do the job reasonably well and would be suitable if you have mostly carpets and only a small area of hardwood but when there are reasonable sized areas of hardwood that need vacuuming then I’d personally choose a cylinder model.


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