Moisture content testing & species identification

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Oven dry moisture content testing provides the most accurate method of determining the moisture contents of timber flooring or timber subfloors. However, it is important that samples are correctly obtained and sent to ATFA so as to minimise moisture loss.

Testing is carried out in accordance with AS 1080.1 Timber – Methods of test – Method 1: Moisture Content, and as such the procedures of the standard which includes transport of samples must be followed. Failure to do so can cause less meaningful results. Also note that oven dry testing is the only recognised method for testing particleboard and plywood subfloors. Oven dry

To obtain the best results just follow the 5 steps below:

  1. Samples need to be representative of either a specific floor area of concern or in the case of a pack of flooring, the samples need to capture the variation present
  2. From flooring packs or the jobsite, view the end of boards and choose some wider boards as well as some narrower boards. If some boards are cupped include these. If from packs, select some outside boards as well as some from within the pack. Boards that are cupped or where cover widths vary by more than 1 mm (80mm wide boards) can be indicative of higher moisture content flooring at the time of installation
  3. Provided the variation present can be captured, three or more samples each from different boards will provide a reasonable representation. If the flooring is all close to its nominal cover width (e.g. 80mm ± 0.5mm), then three samples from different boards including outside and inside boards from packs will suffice. Outside boards should be labelled as such. Do not use packing boards
  4. Samples are to be individually ‘plastic wrapped’ or put in separate sealed plastic bags. Samples should also be stored in cool conditions prior to dispatch to ATFA, U17 / 29 Tick St, Mount Gravatt East, QLD, 4122 or in Western Australia please send to 42 O’Malley St Osborne Park WA 6017 with a copy of your request form

To request an oven dry test please click here to download our order form.

The moisture content of solid timber flooring can be assessed with both resistance and capacitance moisture meters.

To estimate the moisture content of the flooring or exposed subfloor timber members, resistance moisture meters can be used. The resistance meter is accurate to the meter readings ±2% and due to this averaging a number of results can provide a closer estimate of the average moisture content. The estimated moisture content is after applicable temperature and species correction factors have been applied. The meters use pins that are pressed or ‘hammed’ into the timber and this, therefore, marks the timber surface with two small holes. As such this needs to be considered although in a raw board such marking would not be noticed on a finished floor. Another use of this type of meter is to assess the moisture gradient through a board. That is the difference in reading from near the top, middle and near the bottom of the board. An increasing gradient is often associated with a moisture affected floor.

Capacitance moisture meters are used for comparative purposes, highlighting differences in moisture content between one area of a floor and another. One advantage of these meters is that they are very quick to use, so multiple readings can be easily taken. The other main advantage is that they do not mark the floor. However, the disadvantage is that they are a little less accurate than the resistance meter at estimating moisture content.

These meters work best on solid timber flooring or the solid face lamella on an engineered board, although both can still be used to assess moisture differences in other products such as bamboo and laminate flooring. Moisture meters are not accurate in plywood or particleboard subfloors.

Generally, an ATFA accredited inspector with has both meters and both often used to assess timber.

When testing is carried out, you will subsequently be provided a report that indicates the make and model of the moisture meter used, an outline of what was tested, applicable settings or details in relation to the testing, aspects that could have influenced results (if applicable), as well as the test results. The testing will be carried out as closely as possible to the procedures outlined in AS/NZS 1080.1 Timber – Methods of Test – Method 1: Moisture content. The report will not provide an interpretation of the results.

Note that solid timber flooring is generally manufactured to between 9% and 14% moisture content, with average moisture content often between 10% and 12% at the time of manufacture. If a more accurate assessment of moisture content is desired, then samples of the timber would need testing by the oven-dry method.

To request on-site timber moisture content testing, please click here to download our order form.

Onsite moisture assessment of concrete can be undertaken in a variety of ways. These include assessing the moisture vapour leaving the slab, assessing the relative humidity inside the slab and the method that ATFA can offer being an estimation the moisture content of concrete in the upper 20 to 30 mm of the concrete slab. A meter called an impedance meter is used for this and is similar to the capacitance meter used with timber. So many readings can be quickly taken, and such meters are generally used for survey work to assess difference in slab moisture across a slab. Hence, they are very effective at assessing slab edge dampness, leaks at patio doorways or how much a slab has been affected by moisture events. Some will use these meters to assess the risk and need for other slab moisture protection, or to evaluate locations for alternate test methods e.g. in-slab relative humidity tests.

A house slab that is a month or so old is often about 5% moisture content near the upper surface, but it is still quite ‘wet’ and could easily transfer moisture to the flooring above. (Note that you cannot compare the moisture content of different products such as timber and concrete based on their moisture contents. Where timber would be considered dry at 11% moisture content, concrete is not equally dry unless it is about 2% moisture content.). Often slab moisture assessment is used to assess that a new slab is drying as expected and what additional measures may be needed to guard the new timber floor against possible slab moisture.

Following testing a report will subsequently be provided, that will include the test results but not an interpretation of those results.

To request on-site timber moisture content testing, please click here to download our order form.

What We Do
Under the microscope analysis of wood cells to determine the likely botanical identification of a submitted species. Note however that species characteristics can be very similar and therefore the analysis may result in more than one species being possible, even with species that are well known.

What’s Required
At least 75mm long piece (or pieces) of the timber flooring in question – one piece for the standard fee test. The minimum thickness able to be examined is 3mm and width can be anything from 25mm wide upwards. It is also important to provide as much information about the sample as possible. This may include aspects such as when the timber was purchased, the approximate age of the building the sample was taken from, what the species was thought to be or had been sold as and whether the sample is typical in colour to the other wood present. If there is a concern over colour, samples should include the range of colour present. However, note that samples sent must also contain heartwood (not the sapwood, which is the timber present beneath the bark and often distinctly lighter coloured wood).

Fees

  • Member $275.00 per piece.
  • Non-Member $325.00 for one piece, $275 for each additional piece.

Despatch Details
Samples should be sent to either:

ATFA Timber ID
Att Bronwyn Harmer

124 Wallandra Rd
Tallai QLD 4213
ATFA Timber ID
c/- Planet Timbers
42 O’Malley St
OSBORNE PARK WA 6017

Upon receipt of the samples you will be invoiced accordingly. Please supply your contact details including name, company (if applicable), phone, email, fax and postal details.

Timber and Concrete Moisture Content Testing

On return of the completed form an invoice will be provided and payment is due at the time of receiving the invoice. When testing has been completed and payment has been made, you will receive a report by email with the test results.

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