Backsplit house/crawl space/humidity issues when considering hardwood

Q: We live in Ontario Canada and have a back split house in which we are thinking seriously about installing hardwood in the living room and dining room. The house was built is the mid 1970’s and it has that amber coloured mahogany trim incl. around door frames. The furniture in the house is french provincial. The only hardwood we could find that compliments the woodwork and furnishings is hickory (the stain the company uses really enhances the wood an brings in the colours in the rooms).

My question is about humidity. We have air conditioning, but only run it when the heat gets absolutely unbearable, because we really enjoy having the windows open in the summer. I’m concerned about humidity affects on the hardwood flooring. Fluctuations range anywhere from 30 to 60. Today it is 63. Should we be considering engineered hardwood or are fluctuations okay? Is hickory a good choice or should we considering another type of wood? Thank you for help!

A: Hickory is a very hard wood. However, it is sensitive to changes in humidity and will experience gapping. A much more stable wood as far as side to side movement is quarter sawn white oak. You can stain it any colour you like to achieve the look you are after.

Follow-up Q: Thank you for your reply. Can you suggest any companies that sell prefinished 1/4 sawn white oak hardwood flooring (some sites are referring to it as tiger). I looked at Mirage and I don’t think they do. Would you suggest engineered as well?

A: Engineered should be very stable due to it’s plywood like construction. The Mirage product is the best engineered I’ve used. Having said that, I’m not a great fan of pre-finished floors for a number of reasons. There is a company in Schomburg called Northern Wide Plank Flooring which mills quarter sawn. Farther north you might look at Stanley Knight Ltd. In Meaford.

Second Follow-up Q: My house is a back split and the crawl space has concrete floor that is 4 1/2 feet high and approximately 20 ft x 20 ft. We store Christmas stuff and luggage under there. It does have a sump pump hole at the far end and it is not insulated. Our living room and dining room sit above this crawl space. I have read that hardwood flooring can’t be laid down over crawl spaces- is this true? Based on information I have provided can I lay hardwood flooring in these rooms? Any information you can provide is much appreciated!

A: The living room is well above the crawl space which has a concrete floor. This space clearly stays dry or you wouldn’t be storing luggage in the space. You should be fine as far as the hardwood floor is concerned. Make sure the wood is acclimated in the room prior to install and check moisture levels between the hardwood and the wood sub floor, which should be within 4% points (the sub floor should not be giving readings more than 4% higher moisture than the hardwood).