This opening article in our in-depth series explores the unique moisture meter needs within the hardwood flooring industry. We will look at the various stages of hardwood flooring and why installers need to maintain optimal moisture levels throughout a project.
More importantly, we will share how meters can help professionals keep hardwood material in top shape by preventing damage caused by high moisture content. Our insights on moisture measurement apply to various applications within the hardwood flooring industry including installers, inspectors and associated trades.
Understanding Hardwood Flooring
Wood flooring is hygroscopic by nature, which means that the material loses and absorbs moisture in response to the humidity levels of the surrounding atmosphere. For instance, hardwood flooring materials may gain moisture in response to a humid environment or lose water content in dry settings. Temperature and humidity levels vary across regions of the country so the job site conditions for moisture content of wood vary accordingly.
While hardwood flooring is durable, natural, and renewable, it is essential to keep humidity levels between 35% - 55% and temperature levels between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain the long-term performance of installations. A quality moisture meter helps you make sure the flooring is at the right equilibrium moisture content (EMC) levels at installation and while in service as well.
Maintain Job Site EMC - Equilibrium Moisture Content
Hardwood flooring will take a few days to weeks to reach EMC levels or fully acclimatize to a specific environment, depending on the wood’s moisture content and relative humidity levels in the area. The EMC is an essential metric for the hardwood flooring industry as installations that do not meet the condition may start to show signs of damage, such as warping, buckling, gapping, crowning, and cupping when exposed to wet environments.
Flooring installers require an accurate, reliable moisture meter to check that material has reached EMC. A wood moisture meter makes it convenient for you to accurately track the progress the wood is making in reaching EMC. Check the moisture levels every few days until the readings stabilize and remain within +/-2%. You can be confident you’ve established the flooring’s EMC and proceed with installation.
Installations at less than optimum ambient conditions usually result in callbacks and costly defects. Not to mention unhappy customers.
Reduce Liability Issues
Moisture-related damage may result in costly material losses and undermine your professional reputation in the long term. A moisture meter enables you to thoroughly check the moisture content of both the floor and subfloor at every step in the process.
Checking the moisture during acclimatization and floor installation lets you assure customers that they will receive quality and durable products that last. Also, with reduced liability issues, you can expect less repair work from warranty claims, so you can focus on other value-added aspects of running the business.
Determine Moisture Content Based on Wood Species
Each wood species reads differently at the same level of moisture content and has its own electrical properties that affect its behavior and overall durability. Choosing a professional-grade moisture meter that employs built-in species corrections is important for accurate measurements. By choosing the proper settings according to wood species, you can more precisely gauge the movement of flooring that can occur during seasonal shifts and avoid miscalculations and damage that may occur when using non-specific moisture measurements.
Record Processes for Future Reference
Some moisture meters enable you to record MC readings and conditions for sharing and documentation purposes. These recording functions usually include the date, time and geotag, providing accurate information for tracking specific moisture issues. For example, you may refer to data from a specific installation as a reliable reference for comparing and overseeing future projects within the same area with greater confidence. You may readily present the documentation to confirm to a customer that you followed industry standards and procedures.
Delmhorst — Discover the Ideal Hardwood Flooring Moisture Meter
Delmhorst Instrument Co. is a specialized solution provider of reliable and user-friendly moisture meters for various industries, including hardwood flooring.
The new JX-20 and JX-30 are the latest meters in the new Navigator family, bringing flooring installers and inspectors two more professional-grade, accurate and versatile tools to address moisture issues with complete confidence. The JX-30 features the Delmhorst EDGE™ App with expanded wood species, customizable settings, and the ability to share data from any location.
The popular J-2000 provides flooring installers and inspectors with built-in species and temperature correction to capture accurate MC readings across ever-changing job conditions. The model has storage capabilities for easy reference between different job sites.
Another Delmhorst moisture meter model, TotalCheck 3-in-1, offers corrections for 69 wood species in pin mode, and employs scan and thermo-hygrometer modes for added versatility. The moisture meter provides fast and accurate results every step of the way.
Our next article highlights the significant advantages of choosing high-quality and reliable moisture meters over standard alternatives for your hardwood projects.
Contact Delmhorst’s experts for more information to discover a suitable moisture meter for your specific hardwood flooring needs!
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