Best wood floors in dry climate?

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Chris: My wife and I installed about 900sf of Oak in our new home last year and so far it is great. I think we live on the other end of the humidity scale because here (extreme SE KS) it is pretty humid year- round, especially summer. However, we temper with air conditioning.
The product is a pre-finished 3/4" oak, with a micro-bevel edge that was manufactured in SW Missouri; so it never got far from its manufacturing origin. We listened to the manufacturer and his main advice was "acclimate, acclimate, acclimate" We did most of the home finish during the winter and we took delivery of the flooring a full month ahead of installation. Up until it arrived, we were letting the house cool during the night and warming it back up to 55-60 degrees during the day to save money. When the wood arrived we reprogrammed the thermostat to keep the house at 65 degrees until we moved in a couple of months later (we normally keep temp at 70 degrees during day). The boxes sat in the house closed, two deep, and criss-crossed for a week to allow air circulation among them. Then we opened them and shifted the contents around a bit. We were anticipating about a week to install, so a few days before we started we removed about 1/3 of the contents from the cartons. and blocked them off of the floor with scrap strips. We laid roofing felt on the floor and nailed the flooring on 8" centers (on joist, and one between) with a pneumatic flooring nailer. As we used material, we removed similar amounts from the cartons and spread them out, so everything had a few days of open air exposure.
I kept a pretty close eye on things for the first few months expecting to seem some activity as we headed into spring and I was disappointed - nothing really happened. We did hear an occasional night-time "creak" for the first few weeks after moving in. After a full year the floor looks great. There are a very few places where the edge gap might have opened slightly and most of these are near the wall where we had to surface nail (versus tongue nail). We also have a very few squeakers but again, most are close to walls. I am convinced the acclimation process paid off.
We too looked at engineered products but I couldn't sell myself. My concern wasn't off-gassing as much as long-term viability. A hardwood floor should last 'forever'. Granted, you have to refinish every 15-25 years (ours has a 25 year finish warranty (yeah, right!)). Many of the engineered products wouldn't allow more than one sanding, if any. That puts it into the category of expensive carpet.
Regarding off-gassing and odor of our pre-finished product, we never noticed any odor when we opened the cartons. When we built our last house we had a hardwood installer install and finish bare material. The smell during finish was truly eye-watering and lingered for some time after completion. We had none of that with pre-finished.
Hope this helps. I think the main lessons are get the material into the house early, put down a good underlay and don't skimp on nails. If you hire someone to do it make sure the installer is qualified and does it right. Living with the opened containers, for several weeks, might be a little uncomfortable but it will pay off.
RonB
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A few people asked about the relative humidity in our house, I'm afraid I really don't know. We do keep the humidifier running pretty strong in the winter (due to various allergies and other sinus issues) and turned off in the summer, so it's quite possible we have a noticeable RH swing between winter & summer.
Chris
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On Feb 19, 10:00 am, Chris Shearer Cooper

A fairly accurate gauge is fairly cheap.
Watch the amplitude of the seasonal RH swings, and ... dollars to donuts ... you'll have your answer.
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Will I have an answer, or just more questions? :-)
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that my house gets really dry in the summer, and is relatively humid in the winter. There's no way I'm going to run the humidifier in the summer, it's hot enough as is, the A/C has just enough oomph to keep the house cool without making it fight with a humidifier too. So I still need to find a flooring solution that can handle the humidity swings (which sounds like I need to avoid solid wood and also solid grass).
Or, what if my house isn't that different (humidity-wise) in winter vs. summer. Then I guess we say the problems I've seen with my bamboo are not with seasonal variations, but rather just that the bamboo wasn't fully dry when it was installed, and that installing bamboo in the future might do just fine ... except that it's difficult to say when bamboo is really fully dry (has reached equilibrium moisture content), so I run the risk of having the same problem with the new floor, so I'm still better off avoiding bamboo.
Yes?
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Will I have an answer, or just more questions? :-)
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that my house gets really dry in the summer, and is relatively humid in the winter. There's no way I'm going to run the humidifier in the summer, it's hot enough as is, the A/C has just enough oomph to keep the house cool without making it fight with a humidifier too. So I still need to find a flooring solution that can handle the humidity swings (which sounds like I need to avoid solid wood and also solid grass).
Or, what if my house isn't that different (humidity-wise) in winter vs. summer. Then I guess we say the problems I've seen with my bamboo are not with seasonal variations, but rather just that the bamboo wasn't fully dry when it was installed, and that installing bamboo in the future might do just fine ... except that it's difficult to say when bamboo is really fully dry (has reached equilibrium moisture content), so I run the risk of having the same problem with the new floor, so I'm still better off avoiding bamboo.
Yes?
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