Pros & Cons of Upright vs Canister Vacuum Cleaners

You need a new vacuum cleaner, not the most exciting thing to shop for, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. The question is, will an upright vacuum or a canister style meet your needs best?  Each style has it’s pros and cons, but what’s best in meeting your vacuuming needs? You need to weigh up at 4 different factors to decide between an upright or canister:

  • Cost
  • Type of floors
  • Storage space
  • Other considerations


Prices range from $50 to $1,200 no matter which type of vacuum you’re looking at. However, you can usually get a better quality upright vacuum for the same amount of money as compared to a poorer quality canister. If your budget is $350 for a new vacuum, your money will buy you a higher quality upright vacuum than a canister. To get the same quality in a canister vacuum, you may need to spend $450. If your home has all bare floors such as tiled and hardwood floors the canister vacuum is probably a better choice for you. It offers greater versatility while cleaning, especially if storage is not a problem. Most importantly, canister models won’t scratch your hardwood floors as they don’t have a rotating brush-roll with  bristles that may scratch. Most Canister vacuums also come with rubber wheels.

Type of Floors

What kind of floors will you be vacuuming most of the time?

When it comes to Upright vs Canister vacuum cleaners, the Upright has been traditionally thought of as working best on carpets. Conversely, a canister style vacuum works best on bare floors, especially on hardwood floors.
Upright vs Canister Vacuum CleanersBut most vacuums now are so good that they work well on both types of floor surfaces. Designers have created them to work better on one over the other but its a fine line in many cases. Whilst there are fewer differences between the two now, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting in your home, you will be better served by an upright vacuum.

If your home has bare floors throughout, a canister vacuum would likely better serve you. Most modern homes have both carpeting and bare floors. This makes your decision a little more complicated. As you are deciding, perhaps look at how much carpet you have versus hard floors. If you have carpet and tile, go with an Upright.  If you have Carpet, rugs, and cherished hardwood, you would be leaning towards a Canister.  There are some other factors to consider as well.

Storage Space

Upright vacuums come in very slim models these days. You can find very lightweight models that take up very little closet space. Most people think an upright vacuum is easier than a canister model to store. If you have limited closet space, and you don’t want to risk having a hefty canister vacuum fall on your guests while they hang their coats up. If this is you, you might be happier with an upright. Read our storage tips for hiding your vacuum cleaner.


Other Considerations in Upright vs Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Besides cost, type of flooring and storage issues, there are a number of other factors that it would behoove you to think about. If you can buy a less expensive, yet better quality vacuum, one that doesn’t take up as much storage space, it seems like an upright would be the best choice.

But, I actually prefer canister vacuums since I have multiple sets of stairs in my home! Moreover, with my canister I’m able to easily vacuum my car interior. With kids riding in my car all the time, it’s always a mess so this is a constant need. At any given time there are Cheerios, raisins, chips and whatever else my kids snack on, building up in the crevices of the seats. But all I need do is quickly vacuum, it all disappears.

There certainly is no “right or wrong” choice. You just have to balance up your needs, decide what type of vacuum will fit your profile best, and go with that.

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