The Best Moisture Meters for DIYers
Don’t let unseen water damage linger when you can test for potential problems with a moisture meter.
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- BEST OVERALLCalculated Industries 7445 AccuMASTER Duo Pro MeterCheck Latest Price
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKProster Handheld Wood Moisture Test MeterCheck Latest Price
- UPGRADE PICKLignomat Moisture Meter Mini-Ligno E/DCheck Latest Price
Moisture meters can test the moisture content of many different types of material, including drywall, paneling, and wood studs. Furniture makers and other woodworkers use the meters frequently to ensure they’re working with a quality product, and flooring contractors use the meters to determine ideal moisture conditions when installing a laminate or wood floor over a concrete slab or subfloor.
For home and building inspectors, a moisture meter is a necessary tool in their arsenal for verifying the condition of a home. Similarly, you can use a moisture meter to make sure that your home is moisture-free, or ensure the quality of material during DIY projects. A moisture meter can help you decide if you have too much moisture or need a humidifier. The products below represent some of the best moisture meters in their respective categories for DIYers based on accuracy, ease of use, and overall efficacy, along with a pro pick for anyone wanting professional-level features.
- BEST OVERALL: Calculated Industries 7445 AccuMASTER Duo Pro Meter
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Proster General Digital Moisture Meter
- UPGRADE PICK: Lignomat Moisture Meter Mini-Ligno E/D
- BEST PINLESS: General Tools MMD7NP Pinless Digital Moisture Meter
- BEST FOR DRYWALL: Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter
- BEST FOR WOOD: Tavool Wood Moisture Meter
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL PICK: General Tools MMH800 4-In-1 Combo Moisture Meter
- BEST FOR PROFESSIONALS: Protimeter BLD5365 Surveymaster Moisture Meter
Types of Moisture Meters
DIYers and professionals in industries like home inspection, fine carpentry, and flooring use three common types of moisture meter: pin, pinless, and multifunctional.
Pin moisture meters get their name from the two metal prongs, or pins, that emerge from the top of the meter like antennae. These pins are what measure the moisture percentage. Using a pin moisture meter requires aligning the pins with a spot on the material, and then pushing them so they penetrate the material.
Once the pins are inserted, you can operate the moisture meter with a control pad to send an electrical signal down one pin. This signal travels through the material on its way to the other pin. The moisture meter uses this signal to measure the material’s resistance to electrical current, which can help determine its moisture content.
This method of measurement is considered invasive because it requires puncturing the material to obtain a result. However, pin moisture meters are the only type that can help identify the exact location of moisture.
Pinless moisture meters, so named for their lack of measurement pins, do not penetrate the material to get a reading. Instead, a plate on the back of the meter lays flat against the material and a high-frequency signal travels through it. The signal changes based on the material’s ability to store an electrical charge, which enables the moisture meter to detect the levels of moisture in the substance.
The main benefit of pinless moisture meters becomes clear when testing drywall. Having to drive holes into drywall to detect moisture can quickly turn it into Swiss cheese. A pinless moisture meter can check for moisture multiple times without damaging the drywall.
Although pinless moisture meters are less invasive than pin meters, their readings show moisture in a general area rather than a specific spot. A good option for regular moisture detection is a multifunctional moisture meter. Multifunctional moisture meters use both methods of measurement for noninvasive, generalized moisture detection initially and precise moisture detection if an issue is discovered.
What to Consider When Buying a Moisture Meter
Before purchasing a moisture meter, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about these important considerations to make sure that you settle on the appropriate product for your purposes.
DIYers and pros looking for a moisture meter place accuracy as one of the most important factors in deciding which one to buy. A unit lacking in accuracy is essentially useless for measuring moisture. However, not all units advertise the same accuracy rate.
High-quality moisture meters should be accurate to within 0.1 percent, but these high-end models can cost a lot. For a less-expensive option, some moisture meters are accurate to within 5 percent. This still represents a reasonable accuracy rating for the average DIYer, but if a project or professional requires a more precise measurement, it is best to stick to the high-end models. It isn’t advisable to invest in a moisture meter that has more than a 5 percent variance in its accuracy.
All moisture meters’ readings are displayed as a percentage of moisture content (% MC). Typically, a moisture meter is calibrated for use with wood and has a scale between 5 percent (dry) and 40 percent (saturated). Measuring nonwood material like concrete uses a relative scale from 0 (dry) to 100 (saturated). Moisture meters for use with gypsum or drywall offer a third scale that ranges from 0.2 percent (dry) to 50 percent (saturated). Before deciding on a moisture meter, determine the accuracy levels you need and the material you will want to check.
A product’s durability is important to anyone who will be using their moisture meter regularly on job sites. Even a newer model with the best features should survive having its pins pushed into a wall or being bumped in a tool box.
The moisture meter should include the features a DIYer wants, but also have a reputation for durability and long life. Consider options that have a rubberized casing, a heavy-duty design, or shock resistance built-in. These moisture meters will survive a few falls without damage and make a great investment because they’ll need to be replaced less frequently.
Ease of Use
Choose a moisture meter that is relatively simple to use. Complicated moisture meters take much longer than a more straightforward design, and can lead to inaccurate and inconsistent readings that could result in undetected moisture damage.
Instead, opt for a moisture meter with an easy-to-read, backlit, digital display that shows the information you need. Users should be able to navigate easily between the menus on the device and switch between functions quickly. Pinless moisture meters are much easier to use than pin moisture meters, but the trade-off is in pinpoint accuracy.
Range of Measurement
The range of measurement a moisture meter offers is determined by the minimum and maximum moisture percentages it can read. The broader the range of measurement, the less precisely the device will measure, with some moisture meters offering as wide a range as 0.2-60 percent.
Smaller, more precise scales provide more accurate measurement and frequently come in meters used in the flooring and fine carpentry industry to ensure optimal moisture percentage. However, most DIYers would benefit more from a broader scale range so they can use the same meter for many applications.
Moisture meters, like most electronic devices, can pack plenty of additional features to make the task easier. One of these features is a temperature display that can track a hot or cold water leak. Following changes in the temperature helps locate the source.
Other features include memory functions that can keep track of previous readings instead of having to write them down or remember them, audible alerts for the moisture level reading, and a carrying case to protect the moisture meter.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for quality, price, and customer satisfaction to help you find the best moisture meter for your projects.
1. BEST OVERALL: Calculated Industries 7445 AccuMASTER Duo Pro Meter
The multifunctional Calculated Industries 7445 AccuMaster Duo Pro moisture meter features a pinless pad to test a large area, plus a switch to a pin-style measurement for accurate tests, within 3 percent at various depths. The large, backlit display uses bold, white lettering on a black background for easy reading, while a hold key allows the user to freeze the reading on the screen during use.
The durable body of this moisture meter has a rubberized grip that makes it hand-friendly and simple to press the pins into the target material. If a pin breaks off it’s easy to replace, which keeps the meter working for longer. The moisture meter has optional audio alerts and a range of measurement from 5 percent to 50 percent in pin mode and 0.1 percent to 100 percent in pinless mode.
2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Proster General Digital Moisture Meter
The Proster General Digital Moisture Meter is specially made for use with wood and wood products only. This specialization comes with two big benefits: The first is that DIYers can get this moisture meter for a bargain compared to other models. The second is that the Proster can provide impressive accuracy to within 0.5 percent on a massive scale of 0 percent to 99.9 percent for wood, firewood, logs, cardboard, paper, and other wood products.
The pin moisture meter settings can switch between four different wood groups and 50 wood species for precision measurement. The large LCD screen is easy to read and the body of the device comes in sturdy ABS plastic for superior durability. This moisture meter won’t work with concrete, gypsum, drywall, or other nonwood building material, but DIYers with wood-based projects have an affordable specialty pick.
3. UPGRADE PICK: Lignomat Moisture Meter Mini-Ligno E/D
The Lignomat Mini-Ligno E/D Moisture Meter is a premium tool designed for a specialized purpose. The pin moisture meter comes calibrated for use with wood and wood products, but it boasts an accuracy of 0.5 percent on a precision scale of 6 percent to 45 percent. The sturdy body is easy to hold and use, with sharp pins that can push through even the toughest wood.
The body of the moisture meter holds a longer second set of pins for deeper penetration, but the real benefit of this model is the simplicity of the design. Select the wood type to be measured, then push the pins into the material. A unique on-off switch between the pins activates the meter so the user only has to look at the reading on the bright, digital LED display.
4. BEST PINLESS: General Tools MMD7NP Pinless Digital Moisture Meter
The General Tools MMD7NP Pinless Moisture Meter makes it easy to take readings of various types of material without damage, including softwoods, hardwoods, concrete, drywall, and more. The pinless moisture meter uses a measurement range of 0 percent to 53 percent for softwoods like pine, a range of 0 percent to 35 percent for hardwoods like maple, and a relative scale for drywall and masonry.
The moisture meter detects the type of material and uses autocalibration so the user doesn’t have to input this information. The readings display on a vivid LED screen with an accuracy within 3 percent. Visual and audible alerts indicate where it finds the most concentrated moisture to help track down leaks and quickly address a moisture issue.
5. BEST FOR DRYWALL: Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter
The Klein Tools ET140 Pinless Moisture Meter uses a range of 0 percent to 35 percent for hardwoods, 0 percent to 55 percent for softwoods, and a relative scale of 0 to 100 for drywall, gypsum, brick, concrete, and other building material. The moisture content shows up immediately on a 9-bar LED scale for quick moisture categorization while the exact percentage displays on the reverse-contrast display.
The pinless moisture meter calibrates for each material easily with the push of a mode button that switches between types of material for precision measurement. The durable design has been built to withstand a 6.6-foot drop and includes an auto-power off function to keep the battery from running dry when the device isn’t in use.
6. BEST FOR WOOD: Tavool Wood Moisture Meter
The Tavool Digital Pin Moisture Meter is an excellent addition to any woodworking shop. It comes with calibration settings for seven types of wood so DIYers can be as precise as possible with their measurements, at an accuracy within about 2 percent. The pin moisture meter also can measure the temperature of the material within 4 degrees to help quickly track down leaks.
The moisture meter uses a scale of 6 percent to 60 percent for wood and 0 percent to 40 percent for other building material. The big, backlit, LCD screen makes for easy readability, even in dim lighting. A “Hold” key freezes readings on the screen, while the built-in memory function stores readings so the user doesn’t have to keep track.
7. MULTIFUNCTIONAL PICK: General Tools MMH800 4-In-1 Combo Moisture Meter
This multifunctional moisture meter helps DIYers test for moisture using pinless, flat sensors without damaging the material. If the meter finds moisture, the user can remove the cap to expose two pins for accurate moisture measurement within 3 percent, humidity measurement within 5 percent, and temperature measurement within 2 degrees.
The moisture meter measures the moisture content of wood, drywall, plaster walls, carpeting, flooring, brick, grout, soil, paper, or powders and shows readings on two bright displays. The meter has a moisture level range of 5 percent to 50 percent for wood and 1.5 percent to 33 percent for other building material, plus a humidity range of 25 percent to 95 percent and a temperature range of 32 to 140 degrees.
8. FOR PROFESSIONAL GRADE: Protimeter BLD5365 Surveymaster Moisture Meter
The Protimeter Surveymaster Moisture Meter is a multifunctional meter but doesn’t just use standard pins and pads to take readings. It also features a set of 5-inch pins for deep penetration and a moisture probe that can plug into the unit to help with taking readings in difficult-to-access areas. It even includes a calibration tool to ensure the readings are accurate.
The heavy-duty design and highly accurate moisture readings within 1 percent make this a must-have tool for discerning DIYers and industry professionals like contractors, surveyors, inspectors, and many more. With two modes of operation for search (pinless) and measure (pin), the moisture meter works with concrete, wood, tile, vinyl, drywall, and many other building material with a scale of 7.9 percent to 99.9 percent using the pins and a relative scale of 70 to 999 using the pads (where 70 to 169 is dry, 170 to 199 is at risk, and 200 to 999 is considered wet). The only downside to this moisture meter is its high price, but for a pro or DIYer looking for one of the best options available, the price tag might be worth it.
The Advantages of Owning a Moisture Meter
Having a moisture meter handy can save you a lot of trouble in your home and with DIY projects. It is easy to quickly test areas that look like they might be accumulating moisture to determine whether there is an issue. By taking the reading yourself, you avoid having to call a professional inspector and paying a costly fee only to find no moisture problem exists. If you have frequent problem areas in your home or in a high-moisture basement or cellar, a moisture meter can take regular readings to quickly identify and treat mold growth.
In addition, a moisture meter improves the outcome of DIY projects by providing accurate moisture readings for flooring projects, when installing wallpaper, and during woodworking projects. Without a moisture meter, DIYers only can guess at the moisture content in a material, which could lead to problems with mold growth or structural issues if the moisture buildup becomes severe.
- Owning a moisture meter helps you to detect problems without having to call in a professional.
- Regular readings in high-moisture homes can help detect and stop mold growth.
- Using a meter for flooring, wallpapering, and other DIY projects will ensure a high-quality finish and appropriate moisture percentages.
FAQs About Your New Moisture Meter
Before buying a new moisture meter, take a look at the most frequently asked questions and their answers below.
Q. How does a moisture meter work?
Pin moisture meters work by measuring the resistance electrical current meets when passing through a material. Inserting the pins into the material sends a current down one pin to flow into the second. The meter then measures the resistance the current met traveling through the material between the pins to generate a moisture reading.
Pinless moisture meters use a high-frequency signal to permeate the material. The electrical signal changes based on the material’s ability to hold a charge, and the moisture meter receives a measurement of the moisture content in the material.
Q. What is a normal reading on a moisture meter?
In general, a reading of 5-12 percent is optimal, but a normal reading on a moisture meter depends on the material, with drier ones like drywall needing lower moisture readings of around 5-7 percent, and damp material like wall studs having acceptable moisture levels of up to 12 percent.
Q. How do you use a moisture meter on drywall?
To use a moisture meter on drywall, first ensure that the meter is calibrated to accurately measure moisture in the material. If the meter is not calibrated, the results will be inaccurate.
Once the meter is calibrated to test drywall, operate the moisture meter normally according to product instructions. Insert pin meters into the drywall in several different spots to get an accurate reading of the entire wall. Similarly, a pinless meter should scan several sites on the wall for a full scope of its moisture content. For drywall, a reading of 5 percent to 7 percent is optimal.
Q. Are moisture meters accurate?
The short answer is that moisture meters are accurate if used correctly. A more complete answer is that the accuracy of a moisture meter varies depending on the material you are testing, the calibration of the meter, the type of moisture meter, the procedures used during the test, and the meter’s functionality, which can vary based on upkeep and maintenance of the unit.
A high-quality moisture meter used on the correct material by an experienced DIYer can accurately measure moisture to within 0.1 percent. However, an inexpensive moisture meter used on an inappropriate material without a proper scale could return inaccurate readings, in the same way that a poor-quality stud finder can fail to find a stud if used improperly.