When working with wood, drywall, or stone and concrete, it’s essential to invest in one of the best moisture meters available before starting any work to ensure you encounter no hidden, mystery defects after it’s too late. Moisture meters are a much-adored component for house and building inspectors, contractors, and even you and us, saving potentially thousands in damage and repair costs.
They aren’t just useful around the house before DIY projects, nor when planning on renovations for local buildings. They can also come in handy if you need to stay warm while camping to ensure your firewood will burn because everyone has been on the wrong side of that result. Whether you need a pinned or pinless device, you can find the perfect meter for you and your next project or trip right here, right now.
The Best Moisture Meter
Our first choice of the best digital moisture meters is the General Tools Digital Pinless Moisture Meter, which ensures superb accuracy without damaging the surface. It boasts an easy-to-read LCD screen you’re able to check in both high- and low-light environments and ensures you can identify tricky-to-find leaks with ease.
There are separate settings for multiple applications, offering versatility across a variety of professions, and it can detect moisture up to 3/4-inch beneath the surface level. When considering the price, it more than pays for itself, and is a vital, necessary tool to keep contractors honest when you can tell they’re trying to take or your family for a ride. Make sure you always keep it handy in your tool box.
Non-invasive and non-marring design
Separate settings for drywall, softwoods, hardwoods, and masonry
Detects moisture up to 3/4-inch (20mm) depth
Accurate within 4% of damp area
- BrandGeneral Tools
- Weight4 ounces
An upgrade on previous models, the Wagner Meters Orion 910 Pinless Wood Moisture Meter which is highly durable and highly effective. It’s able to withstand a myriad of temperatures, while the fast species selection increases efficiency when time is of the essence (which is often is with leaks).
The IntelliSense technology gives you confidence with accuracy while the pinless sensor prevents surface damage around your home. For inspectors and contractors, it’s a wood moisture meter that’s easy to use, easy to handle, and easy to read, ensuring you never get caught in the middle of a rot-damaged building ever again. This is a must-have tool in your tool bag.
Temperature resistant to handle variety of conditions
Fast material selection for versatile readings
IntelliSense technology and non-invasive pin sensor
3/4-inch depth measurement
- BrandWagner Meters
- Weight7.2 ounces
Offering the best of both pin-type and pinless, the General Tools 4-in-1 Combo Moisture Meter is ideal for identifying and overcoming mysterious damp around the home. The pinless functions find the damp while the pin-type function hones in and provides an accurate reading of the moisture level.
The additional features also allow it to work as a wood humidity meter along with ambient temperature to deliver a variety of applications while still coming at a remarkable price. If you’re working on large areas, the hold readings feature gives you quick access and allows you to refer back to it later. Be sure to also check out our list of the best cordless drills for more great items like this.
Pin or pinless application and intrusive or non-intrusive reading
Two displays show moisture percentage, ambient temperature, and relative humidity
Holds readings for easy access and viewing later
Audible alarm for moisture level
- BrandGeneral Tools
- Weight2 pounds
The Dr. Meter Pinless Wood Moisture Meter uses an intuitive and accurate (within 0.5%) pinless operation to prevent surface damage and provide you with one of the most precise readings around. It’s an ideal option for woodworking and is compatible with 10 different grades of timber density. This makes it perfect for a variety of jobs, from checking flooring to determining which wood is best for the fire.
To prevent unnecessary battery loss, there’s an automatic shut off function, and it offers a durability not always possible with pin-type meters. It’s easy to use, and if you know what you’re doing, it’s relatively straightforward to calibrate towards other materials, too. Our handy guide to the best stud finders features more great products like this.
Inductive, pinless design prevent surface damage
High precision measures 10 different grades of timber density
Accurate within 0.5% of moisture level
Automatic off function to save battery when not in use
- BrandDr. Meter
- Weight4 ounces
With multiple depth measurement settings, the Lignomat Moisture Meter Mini-Ligno E/D is a useful and compact device ideal for simple home use, especially areas which suffer more damp than you thought possible. It’s capable of measuring multiple wood densities, all of which are easy to set with simple double clicks, while the LCD digits are easy to read, even without a proper display screen.
We can look past that, though, as it’s still effective and accurate, measuring moisture up to 45% (which is too much, anyway). It’s durable, it’s lightweight, and the attached wrist strap keeps it safe from drops. For those who need a solid mid-range option they can trust, this is the perfect product for that. Love this product? Check out our review of the best laser measuring tools for our top picks.
Measuring depth of 3/16-inch and 7/-16-inch
Easy calibration for domestic wood species
Measuring range between 6 – 45%
High impact plastic with extra pins stored inside meter
- Modelmini-Ligno E/D
- Weight5.6 ounces
The Protimeter Surveymaster Dual-Function Moisture Meter is the unquestionable premium pick of the greatest moisture meters around. Though pricey, it boasts a remarkable number of features which justify such a price, making it an all-in-one option for professionals who spend their whole days – and sometimes their nights – measuring moisture.
You can make either pin or pinless readings, with the non-invasive features measuring 3/4-inch beneath the surface. For home inspectors, it’s the perfect tool for surmounting any situation, and it’s also easy enough to use you don’t need to be a pro to get to grips with it. Durable, effective, and clear, if you’re willing to splash the cash, you can be it will (eventually) pay for itself. Find more great products like this by checking out our guide to the best screwdriver sets.
Two operating modes for search (pinless) and measure (pin-type)
Non-invasive measurement up to 3/4-inch
Rugged construction with back-lit display for easy reading
Easy one-handed operation
- Weight1.25 pounds
Capable of measuring three different materials with consistent results, the Tramex MEP Moisture Encounter Plus Moisture Meter is a superb option for those who encounter a variety of surface types every day. Perfect for searching for pesky, hidden leaks behind the wall, its non-destructive operation is a go-to choice of many building inspectors and contractors across the country.
It can detect moisture through a strong 1-inch signal without damaging the wall surface, and it works just as effectively with drywall, roofing materials, plaster, and brick as it does with wood and timber. It comes with a convenient carry case for easy transportation while the wrist strap protects it from tumbles. Along with its fast-acting performance, its versatility provides just about everything you could want from a wall moisture meter. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best hearing protector.
Wide range of wood readings from 5 to 30%
Deep signal penetration over 1 inch prevents surface damage
Three ranges of sensitivity including Wood and Timber, Drywall and Roofing, and Plaster and Brick
Convenient wrist strap for easy holding and carrying
- Weight13.6 ounces
If you’re hunting for the best moisture meters in terms of value, the Calculated Industries AccuMASTER XT Digital Moisture Meter is the product for you. Despite its excellent price, it delivers an accurate and wide range of moisture levels, from 5% to 50%, which is something you don’t find even with more expensive options.
The back-lit screen makes it easy to read, while its durable construction is perfect for a variety of environments. While its sharp pins can cause damage to the surface, this may not be an issue depending on its intended purpose. Perfect for casual needs, this is a digital moisture meter which is reliable and comes at a price that may feel you’ve cheated the system somewhere along the road – don’t worry, though, you haven’t. If you are a passionate handyman check out our guide to the best safety glasses.
Easy to use with simple and clear back-lit screen
Durable construction can withstand variety of construction and trade environments
Sharp pins ensure accurate moisture readings in wood and building materials
Identifies 3 levels of moisture from low (5 – 11%), Medium (12 – 15%), and High (16 – 50%)
- BrandCalculated Industries
- Weight6.4 ounces
The General Tools Moisture Meter combines pin and pinless technology to deliver a product capable of finding moisture, damp, rot, and infestation anywhere around the building. The dual mode functionality provide versatility, and its clear screen displays various information at the same time to give you a complete picture of what you’re dealing with.
The data hold function is ideal for long jobs requiring multiple measurements, and you can feel confident that both measuring methods are reliable. This alone is perhaps enough to look past the price (although it’s not as expensive as other options) and makes it a high performing moisture meter suitable for several applications either at home or at work. If you need your tools handy check out our guide to the best tool belts.
Dual modes for both pin and pinless reading
Displays wood moisture equivalent percentage or relative readings simultaneously
Data hold function allows easily accessible readings
Large LCD screen is intuitive and easy to read
- BrandGeneral Tools
- Weight2 pounds
Our final pick is the dual-function Extech Combination Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter which uses visual aids to give you all the information you need regarding your moisture levels. This is ideal for those who need fast results in high-pressure situations. The pinless mode provides substantial measurements of 1 inch beneath the surface, and you can use it on a variety of materials.
These materials include wood, sheetrock, and plastic, and the built-in audible alarms work like a Geiger counter (just not as dangerous) and beep faster when exposed to more moisture. For accuracy, this is a crucial addition, and something guaranteed to come in useful regardless of whether you’re a professional or just trying to figure out why your carpet is so sodden.
Various moisture icons display moisture level in material
Audible alert function beeps faster as moisture increases
Pinless measurement mode reads moisture up to 1 inch below surface
Multiple material and surface compatibility including wood, sheetrock, and plastic
- Weight4.3 ounces
Moisture Meter Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Moisture Meters
When making your decision over which of the best moisture meters are perfect for you, consider these key features to ensure you select one that’s appropriate for the applications you face.
Type - A pin-type moisture meter useful in situations where accuracy is paramount, but these are not always necessary or even wanted. Depending on your desired application, consider which types of moisture meter is the best choice for you, pinless or pin-type.
Both have their benefits but also their disadvantages, check out or useful guide below to get a more comprehensive ideal of the difference between types. Of course, if you still can’t decide, there’s always the all-in-one option.
Display - A large, bright display is useful for taking readings at a glance or in low-light situations and they are more useful than meters without displays. It’s not just the digits you’re able to read but also icons that help you determine which material you’re measuring or the level of moisture present.
Functions - While moisture meters are mainly used for measuring, well, moisture, some options (often more expensive) can be used as a humidity meter, which is handy when trying to determine the cause of the moisture.
Extra functions are not always necessary and they will make your meter cost more, but if you’re using it frequently, versatile functions are useful for different applications and could help you more than you expect.
Moisture Range - The best wood moisture meter will offer a large range, typically between 5% and 30%, although this is not always the case. Pin-type meters provide a greater range than pinless, but you may not want a pin-type meter because of the damage they can cause.
Ease-of-Use - An easy-to-use product is far more satisfactory and successful than one that takes days just to figure out how to switch it on. While moisture meters are not necessarily too challenging to use, your may take getting used to if you’ve never owned one before.
Also consider how long the meter takes for readings, while speed is good, accuracy is better, so consider if the quickness to accuracy tradeoff is worth it.
Durability - Like any tool, you expect durability and long life from a moisture meter. However, some products are not as durable as others, and the pins often fail long before they should. Consider this - and the warranty - when buying your moisture meter and remember the longer the warranty the better.
Types Оf Moisture Meters
While there is no moisture meter that is decidedly better than any other (depending on who you ask, of course) you can choose which type works best for you and the demands of your project or inspection procedure. The three types of moisture meters are:
Pin-Type Moisture Meter
A pin-type moisture meter is the traditional, standard design which measures the moisture within a material using the tips of the pins to read the moisture level within. On average, the can read between 5% to 40% moisture, 5% is considered low level moisture, whereas 40% is considered high.
However, because the pins are sharp and you may need to penetrate the material to get a moisture reading, you will mar the surface, which isn’t ideal if you want to maintain an attractive aesthetic, although many believe they are the most accurate instrument for testing moisture levels.
These pin-type moisture meters are ideal for testing wood, carpet, drywall, and painted surfaces
Pinless Moisture Meter
The pinless variety is perhaps the preferred type of moisture meters for woodworking as they do not penetrate the wood to get a reading. Unlike pin-type meters, which use electrical resistance and test the conductivity between pins, pinless meters operate using electrical impedance.
When you cannot or do not want to destroy the material, these meters are a perfect solution. They work best with non-wood materials, such as concrete, and you can also use them to measure the buildup of moisture behind the bathroom or kitchen tiles before issues occur, as it is often challenging (sometimes impossible) to determine growing moisture without visual cues.
While there are no pins, these moisture meters still deliver readings as deep at 1 inch.
All-in-One Moisture Meter
Taking the best of both worlds, and all-in-one moisture meter allows you to work with a variety of surfaces and materials and saves you damaging the area but still giving you the opportunity to get an accurate reading. This is ideal for identifying the general area where moisture occurs and then being able to pinpoint its exact location.
It uses the same scales for both wood and non-wood surfaces, which provides excellent versatility when tackling potential moisture build up in a building or material. Because of this versatility, they are often favored by flooring specialists, home and building inspectors, and general contractors.
Moisture Meter FAQ
Q: How accurate are moisture meters?
A: The accuracy of a wood moisture tester (or any-material-moisture-tester) depends on the quality of the meter. Top of the range meters are by default more accurate, and you can expect them to provide readings within 0.1% of the moisture-by-weight of the material.
Those on the lower end of the quality scale are not as reliable, which isn’t a major problem if you’re not using this handy device professionally, it still isn’t ideal.
If you need a moisture meter for large jobs, like building inspections and flooring, finding a high-quality, highly accurate meter is worth the money, but for casual use-once-or-twice-a-year purposes, you can likely get away with one that will provide an acceptable reading, even if it isn’t wholly accurate.
Q: What is normal moisture reading?
A: A normal or acceptable moisture reading varies between the purpose of the material, which in most cases will be wood.
For general-use objects, the level should be between 6% to 8%, for wood flooring, it is 6% to 9%, and with construction, 9% to 14%. If you are working with drywall, acceptable moisture levels are anything of 17% and below, although the optimum percentage is between 5% and 12%.
Obviously, the dryer the better, regardless of material, so just because the moisture level is technically within range, it may not stay that way forever, so if you are concerned about it, get it checked out or at the least keep a close eye on its progress.
Q: What type of moisture meter works best for water-damaged structures?
A: This depends on what you need to inspect. If the structure is already showing signs of damage, you may as well use a pin-type meter to identify the level of damage. However, if you merely suspect damage but have no proof (and don’t want to stick the pins into the surface) start with a pinless meter.
Q: How far should I drive non-insulated pins into the wood?
A: As far as you can, otherwise you won’t get the necessary contact for an accurate reading.
Q: Can I use a moisture meter to check for pest infestation?
A: You can! Pin-type meters are ideal for this situation, as they can quickly identify the exact area where infestation is a risk by taking several readings around any area you suspect could be the culprit.
Q: How to care for my moisture meter?
A: Like any electronic device, it’s essential you care for your moisture meter to guarantee high performance and longevity. By design, moisture meters are durable, but you can’t leave it all to them to withstand multiple applications.
- Store the meter in a clean and dry place
- Replace batteries and pins when needed to maintain performance
- Clean using a biodegradable clean and only sparingly on external parts
Should you need to re-calibrate or undertake repairs to the meter mechanism, we advise sending it off to the manufacturer if still under warranty.