Wood Flooring FAQ

Pinless Moisture Meters

Are the readings that I take with my Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter affected by the temperature of the wood?

Unlike pin-type meters which require corrections for temperatures above or below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the readings on the Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter are essentially unaffected by the temperature of the wood. When the same wood is measured hours later, again with the Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter, the meter’s readings stay consistently the same, unless the wood continues to dry during the cooling process. For frozen wood, as long as the moisture content of the wood you are measuring is below 15%, you can get reliable meter readings. When moisture content readings in frozen wood exceed 15%, you will need to make corrections.

Please visit TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PIN AND PINLESS MOISTURE METERS for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Why doesn’t my new Wagner Handheld Moisture Meter read the same moisture content as my old pin meter?

Pin-type moisture meters work on a primitive, resistance principle that basically measures the flow of electricity through a substance. This method is subject to many environmental variables that can dramatically affect readings such as chemicals in the water trapped within the wood and the temperature of the wood. Pin-type moisture meter readings must always be corrected for any difference in temperature above or below 70 degrees F. Wagner Meters use advanced electromagnetic wave technology and are sensitive to the actual moisture content of the wood.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How can I take accurate readings without sticking pins into my wood?

Pin-type moisture meters work on a primitive, resistance principle that basically measures the flow of electricity through a substance. This method is subject to many environmental variables that can dramatically affect readings such as chemicals in the water trapped within the wood and the temperature of the wood. Pin-type moisture meter readings must always be corrected for any difference in temperature above or below 70 degrees F. Wagner Meters use advanced electromagnetic wave technology and are sensitive to the actual moisture content of the wood.

Please visit TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PIN AND PINLESS MOISTURE METERS for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How do pin-type moisture meters work?

Pin-type moisture meters work on a primitive, resistance principle that basically measures the flow of electricity through a substance.

This method is subject to many environmental variables that can dramatically affect readings such as chemicals in the water trapped within the wood and the temperature of the wood.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What’s the difference in readings between a Wagner and a pin meter?

Pin-type moisture meter readings must always be corrected for any difference in temperature above or below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Wagner Meters use advanced electromagnetic wave technology and are sensitive to the actual moisture content of the wood.

Please visit TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PIN AND PINLESS MOISTURE METERS for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How Wagner Meters Measure So Accurately

Where is the reading taken with a pin-type meter compared to a Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter?

Pin-type meters take their measurements at the depth that you’ve been able to drive the pins – and only in a line between the non-insulated portions of the pins (often only the tips). In contrast, Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters generate a three-dimensional field that measures from the surface of the wood to a depth of 1/2″, 3/4″, or 1″ (depending on the model)—under the entire sensor.

The meter can be held in one place or slid rapidly along the entire length of the wood product, on both finished and unfinished wood, for a stable, accurate reading.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Handheld Moisture Meters

The flooring for which I am trying to obtain readings is already installed and is 5/8” thick. Will the subfloor have an effect on the readings?

If the subfloor is concrete, it will cause your readings to be higher than the actual moisture in the wood flooring. This is because the concrete is very dense. If the subfloor is a wood composite such as OSB or plywood, and there is not a huge amount of moisture in the subfloor (let’s say from flooding or another event), then the actual moisture measurement of the wood flooring will not be hugely affected.

Keep in mind, that if you are trying to use your Wagner Meters unit as a forensic tool – such as determining moisture after the fact on a failed wood floor job – the meter’s readings are not telling you anything about what the moisture content was in the flooring before it was installed.

All wood flooring, wood-based subflooring and concrete slabs should be measured (or at depth relative humidity in the case of a concrete slab) prior to wood flooring being installed.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What is proper moisture content for wood? What moisture content is considered too high or too low?

There is no one correct answer to this question. As a rule, differences in woods and their uses determine the moisture content desired. For instance, if the wood is to be used in construction as a stud for building, the moisture content requirement could be 15% to 19%. If the wood is to be glued, and it is too dry it will not bond. If it is too wet, it will not hold. Ideally, the moisture content of wood to be used in furniture is between 6 and 8%.

The best way to determine the proper moisture content of the wood you are using is to contact the nearest university forest products department or trade organization for the wood product you are dealing with. You may also call the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Products Research Laboratory in Madison, WI (608-231-9200).

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What is IntelliSense™ Technology and how does it work?

IntelliSense™ Technology is Wagner Meters’ proprietary technology that equips their moisture meters to measure moisture IN the wood, not ON the wood. Most pinless meters cannot distinguish between moisture conditions on the wood surface and the true moisture picture in the wood. With some meters, a person can get a false high reading even though the wood is actually dry. Wagner Meters uses

Wagner Meters uses electromagnetic field (EMF) technology to measure deep into the wood. IntelliSense™ Technology is a proprietary application of EMF technology that discriminates the moisture conditions on the wood surface, so those conditions do not skew the readings as they can with many moisture meters. With IntelliSense™ Technology, you get an accurate picture of the true moisture content of the wood without having to rely on pins that will damage the surface of the wood by creating unsightly holes while providing only very localized (near the pins) moisture content. IntelliSense™ Technology goes beyond surface conditions ON the wood to deliver accurate measurements of moisture conditions IN the wood. With IntelliSense™ Technology, you can confidently take fast, reliable and accurate moisture measurements for all your woodworking or wood flooring projects.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What is the best Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter for me?

It will depend on the application for which the meter is needed. You may want or need a digital display and a method for adjusting the meter’s setting for different species, or you may only need a simple panel meter display. If you need to store moisture readings for later review, Wagner Meters also has a model for this need.

For a side-by-side comparison of the Wagner Meters line, visit: MOISTURE METER COMPARISON MATRIX

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What thickness of boards can I measure?

Depending on the model of meter, you can accurately measure boards as thin as 1/2″ and up to 1-1/2″ thick.

Note: Make sure there is nothing behind boards less than 1″ thick when you take the measurement because Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters will read through the thinner board and measure the moisture in the material behind. Under no circumstances should you measure a piece of wood that is sitting on a metal table.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Where is the reset button on my wood meter?

Our Wood Flooring and Woodworking moisture meters do not have a reset button.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

The flooring I am trying to measure is pre-finished; will this effect the readings I get?

This depends on the type of finish. As long as the finish is dry and is not a metallic finish the meter reading will be unaffected. If there are metallics in the finish, the meter will give you a reading that is higher than the true moisture content of the flooring.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What are the effects of relative humidity on Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter readings?

As long as there is no condensation on the bottom surface of Wagner Meters, there is no effect from changes in relative humidity.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Will Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters work on rough lumber like they do on smooth, clean lumber?

There are little fibers in very rough material that actually allow a minute layer of air between the moisture meter and the main body of the wood. However, this should not materially affect the meter’s reading, or if it does, will only slightly lower it.

Note: It’s important on rough material to use some pressure and force the meter down firmly against the wood. Occasionally, the measurement of exceptionally rough material may necessitate adding 1 to 2% to get an accurate reading.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

The boards I’m measuring have been pressure treated (i.e. ACQ). What meter setting do I use?

Typically the meter readings will read around 3% to 8% higher than the true moisture content. There is no easy way to create an accurate correction factor or correlation since it is possible that each individual piece of lumber could have a different amount of treatment.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Is the Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter safe to use?

Yes. Wagner Meters’ Handheld Moisture Meters have been tested and certified to comply with FCC and CE regulations.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How rugged are the Wagner Handheld Moisture Meters?

The Woodworking series’ meters are designed for compact convenience. They can be damaged by being dropped or slammed down hard on wood surfaces, as can any meter. If a large volume of wood is to be measured, an in-line system should be used.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How does the difference in measuring techniques affect accuracy?

If you’re using a pin-type moisture meter, the moisture content you are reading is determined by the micro-thin path the electricity takes to travel from one pin to the other. In effect, it measures only the moisture content of that very tiny path. If there is a single wet fiber between the pins, the electric charge will flow easily along that fiber and cause pin-type moisture meters to exaggerate the moisture content in the wood when in fact it is just a very small fiber that is wet.

However, if the place you choose to drive the pins into the wood is simply extraordinarily dry and untypical of the rest of the piece you will get an exaggerated dry reading. On the other hand, Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters take an average of the moisture content discovered by the full scan of the three-dimensional field so small wet fibers are not read as large wet spots. Plus, it only takes seconds to scan the entire board.

Please visit TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PIN AND PINLESS MOISTURE METERS for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How are moisture meters affected by surface moisture?

Most meters can be affected by standing water, or visible water on the board. You should always wipe off as much excess water as possible. Once the standing water is removed, a pin-type moisture meter with non-insulated pins will register a highly exaggerated reading. Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters will read slightly higher than normal (probably less than 3 to 4%). If water is allowed to soak into the wood, it will naturally show a higher moisture content. If a piece of wood is quite rough, it will soak up the water quite readily and readings will be affected.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How accurate is the Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter?

Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters are as accurate as or more accurate than any moisture meter that is on the market. This has been proven by several university studies.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Does my Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter ever require readjustment or need to be calibrated?

Occasionally Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters require adjustment. However, the process of checking zero points and calibration is very simple.

Note: Wagner Meters are originally calibrated at the factory. Type and amount of use will determine how long this original calibration will last. A calibration reference block is available for the customers who must check their meter’s calibration often. Any time that the moisture meter is not reading correctly on that calibration block, it should be sent to the factory for calibration.

Please visit VALIDATING MOISTURE METER CALIBRATION for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Does it matter which way you set a Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter on the wood?

Because Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters use advanced electromagnetic wave technology, the meter’s readings are completely unaffected by orientation on the wood.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Wagner Wood Moisture Meter Technology 1 of 2

Wagner Wood Moisture Meter Technology 2 of 2

Do I need to worry about moisture gradients and wet pockets?

Although the various drying processes for green lumber can leave wet cores and pockets, moisture continues to pass from fiber to fiber within the wood until it has equalized through the whole board, and then to surrounding humidity levels. Determining if a board or load of lumber will equalize within tolerance levels can be difficult and tricky, but Wagner Meters Hand-Held Moisture Meters provide this information automatically.

Penetrating deep into the wood, Wagner Meters mathematically determine equalized moisture content and are capable of allowing you to check, within minutes, a truckload of lumber for specified moisture content. For even more convenience, many companies use their Wagner Meters to read right through the plastic wrapping around the wood on new deliveries before they allow unloading!

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Can you check moisture content of particle board or wafer board with handheld moisture meters?

Because of the glues and mixed species nature of these materials, it is very difficult to take reliable readings with pin-type or Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meters.

Note: However, if you would like to work up your own meter calibrations for materials you use repetitively, you can contact Wagner Meters for guidelines and suggestions.

Please visit HOW SUBFLOORS AFFECT YOUR HARDWOOD FLOORING for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Can I use my handheld moisture meter for materials other than wood?

Yes, but only to obtain relative (non-quantitative) readings.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

How can I take accurate readings without sticking pins into my wood?

Pin-type moisture meters work on a primitive, resistance principle that basically measures the flow of electricity through a substance. This method is subject to many environmental variables that can dramatically affect readings such as chemicals in the water trapped within the wood and the temperature of the wood. Pin-type moisture meter readings must always be corrected for any difference in temperature above or below 70 degrees F. Wagner Meters use advanced electromagnetic wave technology and are sensitive to the actual moisture content of the wood.

Please visit TOP 5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PIN AND PINLESS MOISTURE METERS for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Will the sub-floor effect my readings? The previously installed flooring measures 5/8” thick.

If the subfloor is concrete, it will cause your readings to be higher than the actual moisture in the wood flooring. This is because the concrete is very dense. If the sub-floor is a wood composite such as OSB or plywood, and there is not a huge amount of moisture in the sub-floor (let’s say from flooding or other event), then the actual moisture measurement of the wood flooring will not be hugely affected. Keep in mind, that if you are trying to use your Wagner Meters unit as a forensic tool – such as determining moisture after the fact on a failed wood floor job – the meter’s readings are not telling you anything about what the moisture content was in the flooring before it was installed. All wood flooring, wood-based sub-flooring and concrete slabs should be measured (or at-depth relative humidity in the case of a concrete slab) prior to wood flooring being installed.

Please visit Moisture Problems Between the Flooring and the Slab for more information or call (800) 634-9961 to talk to a professional.

Specific Gravity

How do I get a specific gravity (SG) for engineered flooring?

Contact Wagner Meters at 1.800.634.9961 to discuss.

I need to measure the moisture content in a very exotic species of wood with my Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter, and this species’ specific gravity (SG) is not included in the species adjustment tables. How can I find the correct SG?

A list of resources to help you find the specific gravity of wood (or meter species setting) are available at Wood Species Settings Database – 7500+ Species Listed or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

My Wagner Meters digital moisture meter can only be set to measure wood species with specific gravities (SG’s) up to 0.70, but the wood species I am trying to read has a published SG higher than that. What do I do?

You can obtain a conversion chart for your meter here:

High SG Lookup Table

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

What is the correct specific gravity (SG) setting for OSB, Plywood or MDF?

Plywood and OSB

Specific GravityPlywood, OSB and MDF
0.57Plywood Subfloor and Sheathing
0.60Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
0.70PermaCore® MDF


Specific Gravity Correction Value Sources

This specific gravity (SG) correction value was developed by Wagner Meters. These values are based on our research and have been developed to give users a general correction factor for plywood & oriented strand board (OSB). Please keep in mind that plywood & OSB manufacturing processes can differ slightly and some plywood and OSB of the same species may vary slightly.

Plywood OSB, MDF, Veneer

What is the correct specific gravity (SG) setting for OSB, Plywood or MDF?

Plywood and OSB

Specific GravityPlywood, OSB and MDF
0.57Plywood Subfloor and Sheathing
0.60Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
0.70PermaCore® MDF


Specific Gravity Correction Value Sources

This specific gravity (SG) correction value was developed by Wagner Meters. These values are based on our research and have been developed to give users a general correction factor for plywood & oriented strand board (OSB). Please keep in mind that plywood & OSB manufacturing processes can differ slightly and some plywood and OSB of the same species may vary slightly.

Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Can I use my Wagner Meters Handheld Moisture Meter to measure subfloors such as plywood, OSB or MDF?

Wagner Meters has established guidelines for measuring these materials. See the “Plywood and OSB Correction Factors” section of the Species Adjustment Tables (last page on attached file).

Click on the attached file to view the Species Adjustment Tables. Please visit www.wagnermeters.com for more information or call 1.800.634.9961 to talk to a professional.

Wagner Meters Specific Gravity Tables (300 KB)

Can I use my meter to measure accurately through laminated materials?

If you’re measuring an all-wood door with a very thin veneer wood laminate, you can probably use a correction factor to determine the moisture content of the core material.

Note: If you’re measuring a door that has a plastic laminate or Formica-type laminate, the Formica laminate is going to have its own density, which is going to affect the reading of the moisture meter. You can determine the variance caused by the laminate by first measuring only the core and then the core with the laminate. For example, if the core measures 12% without the laminate and 13.5% with, you will then know to correct your meter’s readings of the combined material by 1.5%.

Please visit VENEER WOOD FLOORING UNCOVERED for more information  or call 1.844.829.3335 to talk to a professional..