When you install subfloor there should be an inspection process to check the moisture content of the subfloor and joists. A moisture meter should be your best friend on the job. Whether you are using a pin or pinless model, make sure it is calibrated correctly for the species you are testing.
Take a reading of the subfloor moisture content—a minimum of 20 per 1,000 square feet—and clearly document them. Most installers indicate the MC reading and date right on the subfloor, log them in the job-site notes and take digital photos for further documentation. If problems arise later, you may need to submit proof that you followed the correct procedures.
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For solid strip flooring, there should be no more than 4 percentage points' difference in MC between the subfloor and the flooring; solid plank flooring wider than 3 inches requires no more than 2 percentage points' difference.
Although moisture may be in check at the time of installation, it could slowly seep in through the wood subfloor and eventually into the wood flooring above.
To help prevent this, an approved moisture-vapor retarder should be placed between the subfloor and the wood flooring. Approved vapor retarders include 15-pound asphalt felt paper, asphalt-laminated paper and 15-pound kraft paper. A vapor retarder material with a perm rating of 0.7 or less, such as polyfilm, can trap moisture in the wood subfloor and should not be used. Some manufacturers have their own recommendations for vapor barriers depending on which product you are installing, so always check with the flooring manufacturer first.
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