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While drywall is a fantastic, strong wall material, it’s incredibly sensitive to moisture.
If it gets wet for a prolonged period, mold, mildew, and rot can develop. And when this happens, the best way to determine whether or not the wall is salvageable is with a moisture meter.
Moisture meters will assess the moisture content in the wall and give you a reading to help determine your next steps.
Here are the best moisture meters for drywall, depending on your needs.
Best Moisture Meters for Drywall
- General Tools Non-Invasive Moisture Meter (Top Pick)
- Klein Tools ET140 (Best Budget)
- Extech MO260 Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter (Best Combination)
- Protimeter BLD5365 Surveymaster (Best for Professional Use)
Types of Moisture Meters
Moisture meters come in three main types: pin, pinless, and combination. Here’s how each works and which is best for drywall.
Pin moisture meters have two prongs on the top that look like antennas.
To use a pin meter, you must insert the prongs into the material you are inspecting. Once inserted, the meter uses electrical resistance to determine the moisture level.
While pin moisture meters have long been the standard for wood, they aren’t the best for drywall since they create small holes in the wall.
Pinless moisture meters are noninvasive. Instead of poking them into a material, you hold them against the surface you’d like to check.
Because you don’t have to puncture the material you’re checking, pinless moisture meters are best for drywall and concrete subfloors. You can also use them to check the moisture content in wood.
The downside to pinless meters is that they are sometimes less precise than pin moisture meters.
Combination moisture meters combine pin and pinless functionality for a broader range of use. This type of moisture meter is ideal for prolific DIYers and professionals that work with many building materials.
Top Factors to Consider When Looking for Moisture Meter
Level of Accuracy
A regular moisture reading of drywall is about 5 to 12%. If moisture exceeds 17% in your drywall, you’ll need to replace it. So, as you can imagine, the level of accuracy of your moisture meter is critical.
High-end moisture meters can detect moisture at up to 0.001 accuracies. But, with high-end often comes high cost. Luckily, many budget moisture meters are also pretty accurate.
When any tool is too complicated to use, it can lead to mistakes and inaccuracies. So, while extra features are nice, they should be easy to use.
When looking for a moisture meter, it’s important you understand how to use it.
Durability is important if you expect to use your moisture meter a lot. On the other hand, if you want something for one-time use and don’t want to spend a lot of money, then you’ll need to sacrifice a bit on quality.
The measurement range is the minimum and maximum moisture readings a meter makes. The range of measurement can vary depending on the specificity of the tool.
For example, you might find some moisture meters that range from 50-100% – which is not helpful for drywall.
For drywall, the measurements need to include the 5-17% range. Luckily, most pinless moisture meters have a relative range of 0-100%.
Extra features may be important if you work in construction or do a lot of home improvement jobs.
Some additional features you can find in drywall moisture meters include temperature tracking (helpful for finding leaks), previous reading records, and of course, the ability to detect moisture in several types of material.
Best Drywall Moisture Meter Reviews
1. General Tools Non-Invasive Moisture Meter (Top Pick)
The General Tools noninvasive moisture meter is one of the best for drywall and suitable for hardwood, softwood, and masonry.
You can hold this model against your drywall for deep moisture readings of ¾ of an inch without inserting pins into the wall. It has specific readings for hardwood, softwood, and relative readings for drywall.
One of the best things about this model is that it can help you locate a leak. The meter will display visual cues and audible alerts where moisture is most concentrated.
It also has a backlit display.
- Multi-Use – drywall, hardwood, softwood, masonry
- Noninvasive, deep readings
- Can help you locate leaks
- Backlit LCD screen
- Easy to use
- None. This is a highly rated drywall moisture meter that has many great features and is relatively inexpensive.
Buy The General Tools Non-Invasive Moisture Meter On Amazon
2. Klein Tools ET140 (Best Budget)
The Klein Tools ET140 is another drywall digital moisture meter with great features and a very budget-friendly price. If you’ll only be using your moisture meter a handful of times, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The Klein Tools ET140 is noninvasive but gives readings up to ¾ of an inch deep. It also has water leak detection and is suitable for drywall, masonry, and wood.
While this meter is highly rated, it does have a few complaints – mainly that the wood and masonry readings aren’t always accurate.
- Suitable for drywall, masonry, and wood
- Water leak technology
- Some user complaints about inaccurate masonry and wood readings.
Buy The Klein Tools ET140 On Amazon
3. Extech MO260 Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter (Best Combination)
If you’re a professional woodworker, builder, or avid DIYer and looking for a great dual moisture meter, consider the Extech MO260.
This meter combines technology, allowing you to use the pinless or pin tester depending on your needs. For example, pinless technology will work on walls, carpeting, wood, and even tile.
Then, when you need more accurate readings, say on wood or a particular spot of drywall, you can switch to the pin-type wood moisture meter.
This model has replaceable pins and even comes with a spare set – great if you plan on using it for years to come.
- High-quality pin/pinless
- Suitable for drywall, carpet, tile, wood, and more
- Replaceable pins
- Great for builders, woodworkers, and avid DIYers
Buy The Extech MO260 Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter On Amazon
4. Protimeter BLD5365 Surveymaster (Best for Professional Use)
If you want a professional moisture meter that’s accurate, easy to use, and will last for years, it’s the Protimer BLD5364 Surveymaster.
This pin/pinless moisture meter measures on and below the surface of many different types of materials. This model is the top choice for many insurance adjusters, home inspectors, and contractors.
On Amazon, the Protimeter has a perfect 5 out of 5 rating. So the only con to this model is that it’s expensive and probably unnecessary for the average homeowner.
- Extreme accuracy
- Pin/pinless moisture meter
- Easy to use
- Great for home inspectors, insurance adjusters, professionals
Buy The Protimeter BLD5365 Surveymaster On Amazon
Get yourself a drywall moisture meter if you suspect moisture in your drywall. These tools can help pinpoint leaks and give you an idea of whether or not your drywall is salvageable.
The General Tools and Klein pinless meters are great budget-friendly options for most homeowners. However, if you’re an avid DIYer or home professional, you’ll likely benefit from a combination moisture meter.