10 Best Moisture Meters | April 2017

We spent 33 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Capable of measuring the water content of various substances, these moisture meters are invaluable tools for contractors, furniture makers, and building inspectors. Coming in at a range of budget options and with varying moisture percentage reading capabilities, one of these will be ideal for your next project. Skip to the best moisture meter on Amazon.
10 Best Moisture Meters | April 2017
Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 7
Best Inexpensive
Traditionalists will appreciate the analog display on the Sonin 50211. It has a probe attached to the end of a 3-foot cable, so you can get into hard-to-reach spots that one-piece meters can't. Its measurement range, however, is quite small.
  • includes reference charts
  • dual reading scales
  • can turn on accidentally
Brand Sonin
Model 50211
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
The General Tools & Instruments MMD7NP is a contact moisture meter that doesn't require you to puncture material to measure it. It is also a water leak detector with separate settings for drywall, masonry, softwoods, and hardwoods.
  • great for under-finished surfaces
  • simple auto-calibration
  • readings aren't always consistent
Brand General Tools
Model MMD7NP
Weight 2.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
The recently upgraded Dr. Meter MD912 can store the date and measured moisture level in its memory for later recall, and it has a wide measurement range from 2% to 70%. It also has automatic temperature correction to ensure accuracy.
  • intuitive to use
  • can change out sensor pins
  • doesn't have a self-shutoff
Brand Dr.Meter
Model MD-812
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
The Mudder WM-01 has an accuracy of 0.5% and a resolution of 0.1% to ensure close and consistent readings. It also has four operation modes for different wood groups with calibrations for approximately 50 variegated species.
  • suitable for furniture or raw lumber
  • holds the readings after removal
  • pins cause a lot of damage
Brand Mudder
Model WM-01
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0
The Protimeter BLD5765 can check the moisture levels of solid walls and floors in a non-invasive way, plus it can be used for surveying GRP boat hulls to find damp spots. It's also not affected by surface water or condensation.
  • digital content display
  • syncs with a color-coded led scale
  • seems overpriced
Brand Protimeter
Model pending
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
The Amprobe MT-10 can measure moisture without error in temperatures ranging from 32 to 99 degrees F. It also has three LED lights to provide a quick indication, and its snap-on probe cover effectively protects the sensor pins.
  • low-battery indicator
  • automatic power off
  • user interface is a little clunky
Brand Amprobe
Model MT-10
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
The Lignomat Mini-Ligno has a measuring range from 6%-45%, and built-in calibration for domestic species, so you always get an accurate reading. It puts some of the control in your hands by letting you choose a measurement depth of 3/16" or 7/16".
  • bright red numeric display
  • includes a 9v battery
  • plastic casing feels fragile
Brand Lignomat USA, LTD
Model mini-Ligno E/D
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
The Extech MO257 has a unique design that uses a rounded ball instead of pins to measure moisture content, so you don't have to worry about damaging the wood surface of valuable items. Its measurement range runs from 0% to 100%.
  • high frequency sensing technology
  • depth from 20 mm-40 mm
  • two user-settable alarm levels
Brand Extech
Model MO257
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
The General Tools & Instruments MMD4E has a large, easy-to-read LCD screen, and it fits comfortably in the hand, so you can use it for repeated testing without cramping. It's a great choice for contractors who have a lot of wood to check.
  • wide and precise range
  • works as a leak detector
  • strong stainless steel pins
Brand General Tools
Model MMD4E
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0
The Wagner MMC220 features a press and hold function that can be used to instantly and accurately display readings in rough finish-grade wood. It scans to a .75" depth, and is very easy to calibrate without professional help.
  • unaffected by surface moisture
  • lets you select the species settings
  • shock resistant carrying case
Brand Wagner Meters
Model MMC220
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

What A Moisture Meter Does

Moisture meters can be found in the tool belt of any professional construction worker, flooring contractor and anyone else who works with building materials. People working in these professions normally won't begin a job until they've tested the moisture in materials because high levels can lead to structural damage. Excess moisture can cause certain materials to expand, warp, or become brittle over time, and those are only some examples of the problems moisture can cause.

Since moisture is relative to temperature, moisture meters give a percentage moisture content reading. Moisture meters are usually calibrated to wood, so they often have a percentage range of around 5 to 40, but those working with other materials like drywall will need a model with a 0 to 100 percent range. Depending on the model, the meter will either display the reading on an analog scale or digitally. Many have LED indicators that flash green for low or zero moisture, yellow for medium, and red for high. These can be incredibly useful for people who aren't sure exactly what a percentage represents, and whether or not a material is safe to work with.

Some models allow the user to select the material with which they are working, and provide information for that specific one. Pre-loaded materials can include drywall, softwood, masonry, hardwood, cement and more. People who with drywall a lot should get a moisture meter that reads for gypsum, one of the main components of drywall that can completely disintegrate if exposed to moisture. Since temperature can affect a moisture reading, many models have auto temperature correction to ensure an accurate reading. Others are made from materials that are not sensitive to surface moisture, so any condensation on the top of the material being tested will not affect the reading.

Pin Versus Pinless Moisture Meters

There are two main types of moisture meters; pin and pinless. Pin meters contain two metal pins that have to be stuck inside the material being tested. Pinless ones simply need to come in contact with a surface in order to get a reading. These two varieties measure moisture in very different ways.

Pin moisture meters work on the electrical resistance principal and measure the electricity flow between the tops of the pins. Since moisture affects this flow, they usually require the user to insert them in several places to get an accurate reading. Pin meters also only measure moisture in the exact portion of the material between the pins.

Pinless meters send electromagnetic signals out of a sensor pad, and can measure the moisture content of several feet of a material in one reading. Those working with cement or concrete usually don't have the option of sticking pins into their material, so they need a pinless meter. But even woodworkers might prefer a pinless model since it won't leave tiny holes in their product. Pin varieties are also prone to breaking, and users needs to keep spare pins on hand.

One might wonder if there is any benefit in using a pin meter, and in fact there is; these models offer variability in the depth of the readings. Pinless meters automatically measure moisture at 1/4 inch below the surface, and 3/4 inch below the surface. Since a person manually inserts the pin variety, they can test the moisture at different depths, which may provide a more accurate reading. Ultimately, getting an accurate reading from either type of moisture meter depends on whether or not the user has properly calibrated it.

The Top Causes Of Moisture Problems

Moisture problems are not to be taken lightly as they can weaken the structure of a home, cause the insulation not to work properly, and even lead to health problems related to mold. Dampness can be brought on by poor ventilation, busted water pipes, roof leaks, and other issues.

Even if one cannot see mold growing on their walls, if they get a high moisture reading on their meter, there is a good chance that mold has already begun to develop. Rain can also seep into a home if the weather stripping is old and worn out.

Condensation is another top cause of moisture inside of the home. Condensation occurs when warm air cools down, which is why it's important for people who live in hot climates to monitor the temperature and humidity inside of their home. If they allow it to become too warm inside, when the hot air indoors comes in contact with the cooler windows, condensation will stick to the insides of their window panes and cause moisture buildup.

Installing exhaust fans around the house — particularly in high moisture areas like bathrooms — can help prevent hot hair from being trapped inside of a house, which can cause condensation. Those who struggle with burst pipes should use water leak detectors that will alert them to any problems with the plumbing that can cause dampness inside of walls.

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Last updated on April 21 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.