The 10 Best Moisture Meters

Updated February 14, 2018 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Moisture Meters
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. A handy device for measuring the water content of various substances, these moisture meters serve as an invaluable tool for contractors, furniture makers and building inspectors. Available for a wide range of budgets with a variety of moisture percentage reading capabilities, one of these options should be able to provide what you need to get the job done right. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best moisture meter on Amazon.

10. General Tools Tricolor

The General Tools Tricolor is a contact model that doesn't require you to puncture the material to measure its water content. It’s also useful as a leak detector, with separate settings for drywall, masonry, softwoods and hardwoods.
  • operates on a 9-volt battery
  • color digital screen
  • tough to read in low light
Brand General Tools
Model MMD7NP
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Dr. Meter Tester

A fairly versatile unit with a digital display screen, the Dr. Meter Tester can store data in its internal memory for recall at a later date. It offers a wide measurement range from 2 to 70 percent, and it comes with a dependable protective cover for its probe.
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • sensor pins are replaceable
  • calibration is rather difficult
Brand Dr.meter
Model MD-812
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. GE Protimeter Mini

Whatever the building material — wood, drywall, masonry or concrete — the GE Protimeter Mini should be able to get a quick, accurate reading. This rugged unit can handle the daily use that comes with being an integral part of a contractor’s toolbox.
  • color-coded moisture scale
  • useful auto-shutoff feature
  • leaves noticeable holes in surfaces
Brand GE
Model BLD2000
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Liumy Detector

Constructed with a durable plastic body, the Liumy Detector also includes a quality protective cap that snaps on tightly over the metal pins. Thanks to a low battery indicator on its screen, you won’t be caught off guard with a powerless tool.
  • 4 wood species modes
  • less than 6 inches tall
  • pins are 10 millimeters long
Model LIUMY D5468
Weight 5 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

6. Lignomat Mini-Ligno

To accommodate the needs of everyone from furniture makers to basic home users, the Lignomat Mini-Ligno features an extensive measuring range and the ability to utilize two separate measuring depths. It comes with a pouch for carrying it from place to place.
  • bright red numeric display
  • includes a 9-volt battery
  • interior storage for extra pins
Brand Lignomat USA, LTD
Model mini-Ligno E/D
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Extech MO257

The innovative design of the Extech MO257 enables you to use a rounded ball instead of pins to measure moisture content, so you don't have to worry about damaging any surfaces. Its measurement range runs the gamut from zero to 100 percent.
  • 2 adjustable alarms
  • comes with a storage pouch
  • easy to read in low light
Brand Extech
Model MO257
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

4. General Tools MMD4E

A compact model that fits comfortably in your hand, the General Tools MMD4E features a large, easy-to-read LCD screen with a button for selecting wood or concrete. It's a reliable choice for contractors who have a lot of surfaces and substances to check.
  • 4 design styles available
  • also works as a leak detector
  • strong stainless steel pins
Brand General Tools
Model MMD4E
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

3. Tramex MEP

Ideal for commercial applications such as water damage restoration, pest control and building surveys, the Tramex MEP accurately detects moisture through paint, wall coatings, ceramic tiles and roof coverings. It’s efficient and easy to use.
  • precise and consistent readings
  • emits a high moisture warning tone
  • weighs only about 8 ounces
Brand Tramex
Model MEP
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Wagner MMC210

The Wagner MMC210 allows you to select the specific species of wood you’re working with to ensure the reading is as accurate as possible. This is a fast, high-performance model that comes with an impressive seven-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
  • manual is clear and helpful
  • features a belt clip
  • includes a durable carrying case
Brand Wagner Meters
Model MMC220
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Protimeter Surveymaster

Readings from the Protimeter Surveymaster are immediate and precise, and the bright digital display screen will promptly indicate which condition you’re dealing with — dry, at risk, or wet. Its auto-shutoff feature is a nice touch, too.
  • simple one-handed operation
  • pinless sensor on the back
  • intuitive control panel
Brand Protimeter
Model Survey Master
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

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 February 14, 2018 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.

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