How to Measure the Moisture Content of Hardwood Floors

Measuring the moisture content of hardwood floors is a vital step in the hardwood floor installation process. Installing a hardwood floor without checking its moisture content could lead to big problems down the road, like cupping and gapping.

Here’s how to measure the moisture content of wood using a pinless moisture meter.

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Step 1: Prepare the room.

Solid wood flooring should never be installed in uncontrolled environments. Hardwood flooring should always be installed in homes with the environmental controls running and in livable conditions. For uncontrolled installations, engineered flooring should be used.

If the flooring is being installed in a controlled environment, the wood should acclimate in the home according to NWFA installation instructions, prior to installation. Usually, engineered flooring does not need to acclimate—check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure to measure the subfloor’s moisture content prior to installing a wood floor.

Step 2: Set your meter.

Wagner MMC 220

You have to set your pinless meter to the right species so that it can take the species’ specific gravity (SG) into account.

Your meter should have come with a table detailing the correct SG setting for each species. You must manually set the meter to measure the correct species before performing a moisture content test.

Step 3: Test the flooring.

How to measure the moisture content of hardwood floors

The advantage to using a pinless moisture meter is that it won’t leave holes in the wood. Pinless meters work by transmitting a signal down a predetermined depth into the wood.

To take a reading with a pinless meter, sit it on top of the wood and press the button that turns on its measurement mode. Apply the appropriate amount of pressure. Obtain readings from several different planks to ensure that you get an accurate picture.

Compare the reading to the correct equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of the species. For most regions, there is a chart available for acceptable EMC. If the moisture content of the wood is within the acceptable range, you can install it.

The Wagner MMC 220 Advantage

Wagner MMC 220 meter

The Wagner MMC 220 pinless moisture meter uses IntelliSense technology to measure the moisture in the wood––not on the wood’s surface––and deliver an accurate reading at an extended range.

The MMC 220 uses electromagnetic technology to measure the moisture content of over 150 species.

You can use the MMC 220 not only to measure the moisture content of hardwood flooring meant for installation, but also of wood subflooring, and joists. Use the MMC 220 in between coats of water-based finish.

The meter’s Press and Hold feature allows you to measure the moisture content of flooring in tight spots, like under toe kicks and appliances. Using this feature, the reading stays on the face of the MMC 220 for as long as you hold down the button. This way, the meter doesn’t have to be within your line of sight to give you an accurate reading.


Buy the Wagner MMC 220 online 24/7 or call City Floor Supply at (610) 940-5757 for more information.

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2 thoughts on “How to Measure the Moisture Content of Hardwood Floors

  1. Pingback: The Best Types of Wood to Install in an Outdoor Living Space - Philly Floor Blog

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