How to Set Up a Bridge Using Two Routers

By Andy Walton

Bridge mode can be a good way to make use of an old router.
i Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Using a wireless bridge can extend the range of your wireless network, allowing you to connect devices wirelessly across different rooms or floors. Bridges link physically or logically separated segments of a network together, effectively combining two smaller networks into one large one. You need at least two routers to run a wireless bridge: one to act as a primary router and one to act as an access point on the other side of the link.

Check Capabilities

The first thing to do when setting up a wireless bridge is to ensure that your routers have the technological capability to run in bridge mode. Many modern routers have a “bridge mode” function, allowing you to convert them between router and bridge operation through a menu setting. If neither of your routers have this function, you may still be able to set up a bridge by installing DD-WRT on one of the devices. DD-WRT permanently replaces a device's manufacturer firmware with custom bridging firmware.

Set Bridge Mode

Connect your computer to the router that you want to put into bridge mode and then open up the router's configuration menu. Select the device's “bridge mode” option, and edit its wireless network mode and service set identifier (SSID) so that these values are the same as those used by the primary router. When running in bridge mode, both primary and bridge routers must use the same wireless details in order for the service to work.

Configure Security

Your bridge router must be able to decrypt the wireless signal generated by the primary router. To ensure that this is the case, open the bridge router's wireless security page, and then set the device's encryption type, security mode and shared key to the same values as those used by the primary router. If your bridge router runs a stateful packet inspection firewall, you should disable it at this point, as SPI firewalls can prevent communication between primary and bridge routers.

Set IP Details

Your bridge router must have its own static IP address on your local network in order to work. Open the router's setup page, and give it an IP address that has not already been taken by another device. Ensure that the device's default gateway value is set to the IP address of the primary router. The device is now connected to the primary router via a wireless bridge. Test your connection using an ethernet cable first, and then try removing the cable to test wirelessly.