7 Building Materials That Kill Your Mobile Phone Signal Strength

Connectivity has never been more important, with the number of smartphones in use today and the reliance upon them we have seen a situation arise where poor phone signal isn’t an option. As our day to day lives can see us relying on communication and ease of such, the use of signal boosters has seen a significant rise. This is both because we now have license exempt legal solutions and the reliance on the networks has reached an all time high. In this article we will take a closer look at the building materials which are known to cause issues to the phone signal in buildings and especially buildings that require a hotel signal booster.

It may be a case of one or many of these materials causing the problem, however, rest assured there is a solution to all of them. Now as we all know, phone signal can be affected by a number of things, it can be that your network is down, a mast near you may have been disconnected and taken offline or it may even just be the weather.

However, if the problems persist, it’s more likely that issues are with the building itself. At Sure Signal, we provide installations of the full range of Cel Fi mobile phone signal boosters. We have provided installations to many large UK companies and have done bespoke solutions for all our happy customers. To take a closer look at our case studies and to see who we have worked with in the past, click here. Mobile signal boosters are predominantly installed using a distributed antenna system.

This works by picking the strongest possible signal available in the area by utilising the nearest network base stations.
The external antenna is placed in the optimal location which is usually on the roof. Once a consistent and suitable signal is achieved, the antenna is the cable to the Cel Fi, license exempt mobile signal booster. This in turn is then cabled to the internal antenna which is used to distribute the signal throughout your building. In some cases, larger buildings may need to utilise a hybrid distributed antenna system which works similarly but has less cable required and uses a network and coverage unit to work off each other and provide the in-building mobile phone signal required. Now to take a closer look at the building materials which are causing the phone signal problems in your building.

Fibreglass Insulation

One of the most commonly seen building materials to directly influence having no phone signal strength in buildings is Fibreglass insulation. Fibreglass insulations is a frequently used kind of building insulation which, while being extremely lightweight, can be too disruptive to signals if a lot of layers are used. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a large amount of insulation used in older buildings which find it more difficult to retain heat.

Foil Insulation

Similar to the fiberglass insulation we previously mentioned, foil insulation can have the same deadly effects on the performance of phone signals in a building. Foil insulation is sometimes used in collaboration with other insulations like fibreglass and solid foam, with a layer of foil surrounding the insulation to provide more heat retention. As the foil is a metal material, it directly disrupts the chances phone signal has of getting through. Overall, insulation can cause losses of up to -2db in some cases, with it causing issues with 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.


Wood is something which you may be surprised to find on the list, with it being generally unknown how much wood can actually affect phone signal in buildings. It’s well known that nearly all buildings have wood of some nature used in their construction, especially residential structures. Plywood is used quite often, and is in many cases the biggest culprit for preventing phone signal from getting into buildings. Plywood has been seen to cause losses of between -6dB and -9dB in some properties. The thickness of the plywood is the biggest factor in whether it affects your phone signal, with more layers causing more problems. Natural wood can also cause interference of between -5dB and -12dB and with their use in floors being common. This will cause issues in particular to buildings with many floors, as the signal will generally get poorer as you get lower in the building.


It is very unusual for plasterboard to cause significant issues with phone signals in buildings. However should the signal be already extremely poor it will definitely play a role in preventing it from penetrating further into the rooms of your building.


Another unusual addition to this list is glass. We have all been in that situation where you are leaning out the window to get a good signal. Glass as you know it is perfectly see through and in many ways hard to imagine being a direct influence on poor phone signal. This however is not the case, with phone signal seeing a lot of disruption from glass. Glass can be very good at reflecting a signal and sending it in different directions. The amount of panes in your glass will have a definite role, with double and triple glazing showing much more signal loss than older single pane windows. In modern buildings it is becoming a lot more common to see emission reducing metal tints in the glass of commercial buildings in particular. These metal tints are difficult to notice with the naked eye but can play a detrimental role on phone signal.

Stone, Brick and Tiles

Masonry has been used in buildings for a very long time, it’s only recently that their use has become an issue with phone signal. Stone, Brick and tiles are all important components of any building, with their use expected to continue long into the future. However, they are a phone signals arch enemy with up to roughly -28dB of loss being associated with these materials. These durable and long lasting materials really are one of the biggest offenders for affecting phone signal in buildings.


The one you probably expected the most is the material on every signals list, Metal. Metal is one of the most commonly used materials to directly cause interference with network signals. It is seen in particular on the roof of many buildings, with this being detrimental to the smartphone users inside. Loss can be as -50dB in some cases and is by far the most trouble causing building material there is. When it comes to phone signal, metal cannot be penetrated, the signal therefore has nowhere to go and bounces off the metal back in the area it came from.

Phone signal can be seriously influenced by all the materials above so it may be worth your while having one of our surveyors test your signal both indoors and outdoors to determine whether these materials are causing you problems in connectivity. One of our expert staff will gladly assist you with a free quote and plan to serve your signal needs.

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