Types of Materials That Affect Cell Phone Reception

By Michael Batton Kaput

A variety of building materials can affect your cellphone signal.
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"Can you hear me now?" isn't just a tagline in a popular cellphone provider commercial. It's also what you might find yourself saying inside your home or at your office. A variety of building materials, devices and phenomena can negatively impact your cellphone signal, reducing call quality or even making outgoing calls impossible.


The very material out of which your home or office is built may be interfering with your ability to place calls and hear the person on the other end of the line. Rebar -- steel that reinforces concrete buildings -- is dense enough that cellphone signals have a tough time penetrating walls made with it. These buildings may interfere with cellphone service while you're outside, too, but heading outdoors is a better bet than sitting inside your office dead zone.

Aluminum and Stucco

Many houses feature aluminum siding. While it may stand up to the elements, it also can reflect your cellphone signal back to its point of origin. That means your calls are muddled, or you can't get a connection at all. Stucco exteriors and interiors sometimes present the same problem. The stucco itself isn't too harsh on cellphone signals, but often stucco is reinforced with wire mesh that can block signals.

Other Obstacles

There are a variety of other devices, objects and phenomena that can severely impact your cellphone service. One of the most common is other electronic devices. If you're getting a fuzzy signal or no service at all, check your immediate area for numerous electronic devices. These can interfere with service. Additionally, the weather itself is a significant factor in how well your cellphone connects. Thunderstorms and rain can negatively affect cellphone signals.

Combating Bad Signals

There are a variety of ways to combat cellphone signal interference. One is to move to another location. Giving your phone more room to breathe, away from rebar, stucco or aluminum structures, can improve things. Sometimes, however, this isn't enough to improve your signal significantly. You can buy several items to boost the signal in the worst of conditions, namely wireless repeaters and femtocells. Both are expensive options; repeaters and femtocells can cost hundreds of dollars as of the date of publication. These devices amplify your cellphone signal within your office and home. In the case of a structure that is a dead zone, they can be a good investment.