How to Check Wood Moisture Content - Industrial Physics How to Check Wood Moisture Content - Industrial Physics

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How to Check Wood Moisture Content

How to Check Wood Moisture Content

There are a few ways to check the moisture content of wood, including a range of  highly accurate and non-destructive methods. Discover the ins and outs of some of the most popular methods and products in our guide to testing wood moisture content.   

Easy guide to checking wood moisture content 

Choosing your testing method for checking the moisture content of wood means considering the samples that need to be tested. Can they be taken back to a lab, or do you need to test in the field? Does it matter if the testing method causes damage, or do you need a non-destructive method? No matter what your answers are, there will be a solution to suit. The most popular wood moisture testing methods include: 

Oven drying testing

This is a traditional testing method for checking the moisture levels of wood. It can be time consuming but offers accurate results. The wood sample is weighed then dried out in a specialist oven. After several hours and once the wood is completely dry, it is weighed again and the difference in weight is used to calculate the moisture content. However, the wood sample is often damaged in the process.  

Pin type moisture meter

This type of testing device uses penetrating electrodes to measure the wood moisture content by calculating electronic resistance. The drier the wood, the higher the resistance. This is because water conducts electricity and wood doesn’t. This type of measurement is fast and efficient, but because the pins have to be inserted into the wood it can cause damage to the sample.   

Non-pin type moisture meter 

A non-pin moisture meter uses a non-damaging electromagnetic sensor to scan the wood and determine the water content. It merely needs to be pressed against the wood’s surface and there is no need for penetration, meaning it leaves the sample undamaged. It is also able to assess a larger area than a pin type meter. 

Why measure the moisture content of wood?

Moisture can have a big effect on wood, causing it to shrink or expand. An excess of moisture or underlying dampness can also cause issues such as mold. Applying paint or a coating to wood that is too damp may trap moisture inside or cause fissures or cracking when the wood dries out and changes dimensions.  

Understanding a wood moisture meter

If you’re looking for a non-destructive, non-pin type wood moisture meter, then we recommend checking out the:  

Non-destructive Wood Moisture Detection Meter Caisson V1D6  

This easy-to-use meter measures the moisture levels in wood up to a depth of approx. 20 mm. It contains the calibration lines for 25 different types or wood, guaranteeing a high degree of accuracy and flexibility out in the field. It has a Graphic LCD Display with 128×64 Pixels and the selected wood type and the measuring results are immediately displayed to save you time. The sensor is located on the frontside for easy measurement on narrow surfaces and it comes with its own plastic carry case. 

FAQs about checking wood moisture content

Got questions about measuring the moisture content of wood? We’ve pulled together some answers for you.  

Do moisture meters work?

Yes, provided they are used correctly, moisture meters are a highly accurate way of testing the moisture content of wood or other substances.  

Are moisture meters accurate?

The accuracy of a moisture meter depends on it make, model and manufacturer. Meters made by trusted specialists that have been designed to meet industry standards are typically very accurate.  

What is an acceptable moisture content?

The acceptable moisture content of any given piece of wood depends on what the wood is to be used for. If you are planning to paint the wood or apply a coating or film, then typically the acceptable moisture content is: 

  • Interior wood: no more than 12% moisture  
  • Exterior wood: no more than 15% moisture 

Can a moisture meter detect mold? 

Moisture meters don’t detect mold itself, but they can be very helpful in determining where there are hidden damp or wet patches. Areas that are excessively damp are likely to be breeding grounds for mold and a non-destructive moisture meter lets you judge the likelihood of mold or water-based damage without breaking the surface of the material being tested.  

Checking wood moisture levels with Industrial Physics

We know how essential it is to be confident that your wood is sound, whether you’re in the construction business or you’re testing the efficiency of paints and coatings. Our specialist testing brand TQC Sheen can help you protect the integrity of manufacturers, production lines, and laboratories across a multitude of industries, wherever you’re based. Our experts have a wealth of knowledge testing solutions, so you can find products to rely on. Find out more about the by having a look at our featured TQC Sheen products