How Do I Understand Moisture Meter Readings on a Wood Scale?

Posted by Tom Laurenzi on May 1, 2017 12:51:19 PM

What is a Wood Scale for Moisture Measurement?

Moisture meters are used to measure the amount of moisture in different types of materials, including wood, drywall, and concrete. When you make moisture meter readings, you need to apply your results to a scale to understand what these numbers mean for your project.


Contractors and woodworkers use several scales. The wood scale and the reference scale are the most widely used, but there  is  also a drywall and some moisture meters feature all three scales for more versatility.  

The wood scale is calibrated for wood and if used on other materials, should only be considered a relative indication of the presence of moisture. On wood, it provides the percentage reading of the actual moisture content of the wood. You cannot get the accurate ratings you need if you try to use another type of scale. If a meter set to the wood scale is used on other materials, such as drywall or insulation, then the measurement should be considered a qualitative measurement rather than a quantitative one.

Checking Different Species of Wood

The wood scale can be used on several varieties of wood, and the moisture meter readings will vary depending on the type of wood you measure. Individual species of wood can be different in several ways, such as in terms of their specific gravity and electrical resistance.

For this reason, many meters come with wood species correction charts. You can use these charts to compare moisture levels of one type of wood with another. Some meters include built-in species correction technology. This allows your meter to automatically adjust to the specific type of wood it's measuring.

The reference scale provides relative ratings, not actual percentages of moisture. This makes it less precise than moisture meter readings that use a wood scale, but also allows it to be used on a wide range of materials, such as wood, concrete, drywall, and hay. If you want versatility, use the reference scale, but if you want accurate readings in wood, use the wood scale.

How does the Wood Scale Measure Moisture?

The wood scale provides users with the percentage of moisture in wood building materials.  Which is critical when working on a construction or woodworking project.

According to the wood scale, wood is typically "safe" if it's between 8-11% moisture. Wood scale meters are calibrated to detect between 6-40% moisture content. If you have a moisture meter, you will easily be able to tell how wet your wood is and whether or not it's suitable for the work you need to complete.

Delmhorst’s Products

When you need a tool that will provide accurate, reliable moisture meter readings, choose one that comes from reliable, trusted manufacturer. Delmhorst Instrument Co. has a wide variety of wood moisture meters, including:

  • ProScan. Pinless, non-invasive moisture meter widely used for wood floor installation.
  • TotalCheck. 3-in-1 moisture meter that uses both pin and non-invasive technologies.
  • HT-4000F Thermo-Hygrometer. Moisture meter that uses a built-in thermo-hygrometer to deter moisture in wood. It's popular among flooring installers and inspectors.
  • BD-2100. A versatile meter that can be used on a variety of flooring materials, from wood to concrete.
  • BD-10. Easy to use moisture meter that works with wood and nonwood materials.

The Craftsman's Guide to Using Woodworking Moisture Meters

Topics: woodwork