Metal Buildings: How Do They Affect Your Signal?


Metal Buildings: How Do They Affect Your Signal?


Many people prefer metal when it comes to building materials since it’s incredibly durable. In fact, metal buildings can often better withstand fire and other destructive elements, making them all the more appealing. However, steel isn’t great for your cellular signal and can even worsen your reception. If you’ve ever wondered about metal buildings and how they affect your signal, then keep reading this article!


Metal Weakens Cellular Reception

Poor reception can occur for a variety of reasons, but in this instance, it’s due to the building materials, as metal is notorious for weakening a cell signal. This is because metal reflects the radio waves put out by a cellular tower, which in turn makes it harder for your phone to communicate. This is also one reason why you may have a more challenging time making calls when you are in the car; the main material surrounding you is metal.


Understanding dBm

Experts use decibels (dB) to measure signal strength, then use decibel-milliwatts (dBm) to measure the level of power. The main difference between these units is that we use dB when comparing values, and dBm when discussing power level. We’ve broken down the numbers to make understanding a good signal easier:

  • -50 dBm is ideal

  • -80 to -89 dBm is a good signal

  • -90 to -99 dBm is average

  • -100 to -109 dBm is poor

  • -120 dBm and lower is awful

Noting these numbers is important since metal can cause a signal loss of -32 dB to -50 dB, which means approaching -120 dBm—a dead zone. The pathway used to find your dBm reading differs from phone to phone. While Android users can find this in their network settings, it’s a bit tricker for an iPhone.


Other Factors Weakening Signal

Understanding how metal buildings affect your cellular signal is a key step in improving call quality. But building material may not be the only factor hindering your calls, so you may want to rule out some of the other common causes. Other factors known for weakening cellular signal include:

  • Heavy foliage

  • Mountains and valleys

  • Phone damage

  • Your location

Considering the other factors that typically impact your signal is essential since it helps you rule out the cause. By determining the exact cause of your weak signal, it becomes much easier to find the ideal solution to put an end to dropped calls.

Detecting the Cause

Do some trial and error to determine what exactly is to blame for your poor signal. For example, if your location is too far off the grid, then this could be the reason why; pay attention to when your signal goes bad. On the other hand, you can test whether metal and other building materials cause your dropped calls by exiting the building. If your signal improves as you walk outside, the metal building is to blame.


Tips for Improving Signal

How do you fix a weak signal caused by building material? When the cause is a building’s material, your best solution is to get a cellular signal booster. This is because these boosters improve communication between your phone and the nearest tower by amplifying the network tower’s signal.


How Does a Cellular Booster Work?

A cellular signal booster contains three components: an indoor antenna, an outdoor antenna, and an amplifier. The outdoor antenna communicates with the nearest network tower to capture a signal which it can then send to the amplifier to boost. After doing this, your amplifier will communicate with the indoor antenna to rebroadcast it.


Finding the Right Signal Booster

Before purchasing a cellular booster, you’ll want to ensure that you buy the appropriate size for your building and the number of users. Both of these factors impact what type of booster you purchase since a large building with various users requires a signal booster capable of keeping up.


While companies make cellular booster kits for homes, commercial buildings, and vehicles, they’re not interchangeable. All these kits may have the same main components, but they offer different signal gain since the intended use differs. So, the booster you buy for a car won’t have the gain you need for a commercial building since a vehicle is much smaller.

Outdoor Antennas

As for outdoor antennas, you’ll have to choose between a Yagi antenna and an omnidirectional antenna; the one you choose depends on your location. For example, if the metal building is in a rural area far from the nearest network tower, then you should get a Yagi antenna since it points in the direction of the closest tower. This means it’ll pull the best possible signal for your area.


On the other hand, if you’re close to the nearest network tower, then you can purchase an omnidirectional antenna. This outdoor antenna searches 180-degrees for the best signal and communicates with various network towers rather than one.

Indoor Antennas

Similar to outdoor antennas, there are a few different indoor antennas to choose from, depending on your office space. Most cellular experts advise purchasing a dome antenna for a small office building where you only need to improve the signal on one floor. But if you own a larger, multi-level building, then a panel antenna would work best.

Pro Tip: Survey the Property

Once you’ve decided which cellular booster kit best meets your needs, take time to walk around the exterior of your property. This is an easy way to locate the nearest network tower—something you’ll need to know when installing your booster.


Try making a call as you walk around outside to figure out where the quality seems best. In addition to this, you could go into your phone settings to pull up the dBm reading. Just remember that you want this number to remain as close to -50 dBm as possible.


Shop at SureCall Canada

SureCall Canada sells phone signal boosters for homes, commercial spaces, and vehicles to ensure you have great call quality no matter where you go! All our cellular boosters are certified to use in Canada, so all you must do is install them after purchasing your kit.


If you find yourself struggling to find the best booster kit for your metal building, then contact our customer service team for help. SureCall is happy to assist you in finding the ideal booster kit to secure great call quality in your metal building!


Metal Buildings: How Do They Affect Your Signal?