WiFi is a wireless technology that gives us the most convenient way to connect to the internet. What “wireless” actually means is that it uses radio waves to transmit data to devices. Those radio waves can be affected by various factors, such as distance from your access point (such as a router) or the speed of your devices.
One factor people often overlook that can impact WiFi signal strength is the materials in the surrounding environment. Some physical materials can block those radio waves enough to make a difference in your experience, making it difficult to connect to the internet or get a smooth connection. Keep reading to learn the most common materials that block your WiFi, so that you can try to avoid them and get the strongest WiFi signal possible for your setup.
Top 6 materials that block WiFi signals
- Metal: Heavy or dense metal is the most difficult material to penetrate. Metal also has the unique ability to absorb and disrupt the signal. Larger objects made of metal, including doors, walls, and beams, can reduce your WiFi signal significantly. The more metal that stands between your router and the device you’re trying to connect, the worse the WiFi signal is likely to be.
- Concrete: Concrete is an extremely dense material, so WiFi signals also struggle to penetrate it. The thicker the concrete, the greater the blockage. This interference is compounded if the concrete is coupled with metal reinforcement.
- Ceramic: Ceramic is another commonly used material for floors and walls, often in the form of ceramic tiles. WiFi signals are weakened as they pass through substantial areas covered in ceramic.
- Windows and glass: You might not think windows would interfere with WiFi, since you can see right through them. But in fact, the signal can bounce off a window or other piece of glass, such as a large mirror. This is especially the case for Low-E (low-emissivity) windows, which contain a type of metallic film that helps reduce energy consumption. This is part of the reason that WiFi signal strength drops outside the home or business.
- Appliances: Large household appliances like washing machines, microwaves, dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators, and even air conditioners can disrupt and weaken the strength of your WiFi signal. This is partly because they contain metal components, already listed above, and partly due to electromagnetic interference. You’ll want to make sure your router is placed away from these appliances to avoid blockage.
- Water: Water is an excellent conductor of electricity, meaning that it can absorb WiFi signals. Anything with large amounts of water, such as fish tanks and indoor fountains can interfere with WiFi signals. These are also best to avoid when choosing a place for your router or other WiFi access point.
It’s worth noting that plaster and drywall, the most prevalent materials used in most homes and businesses, have a minimal impact on your WiFi signal as well. Compared to the other materials listed above, they are relatively thin. That said, walls and ceilings can still weaken WiFi, especially if there are several of them between your router and the device you’re trying to connect.
Tips to avoid materials that block your WiFi
Of course, every room in your home has at least one of these materials. It’s not possible to avoid them altogether, but being aware of the biggest WiFi blockers can help you choose a place for your router that avoids the worst culprits. Follow these best practices to maximize WiFi performance:
- Place your router in a high, central location within your home. The further away it is from floors and walls, the better.
- Try to keep your router at least 10 feet from any of the worst blockers, such as major appliances, fish tanks, large mirrors, or heavy metal doors.
- If your building is constructed mostly of concrete, you may need additional extenders or repeaters to allow your WiFi signal to reach all rooms.
WiFi is essential in our daily lives, so it can certainly be frustrating when the signal is weak. By knowing the most common materials that block your WiFi signals, including metal, concrete, ceramic, windows, appliances, and water, hopefully you can avoid having these stand between your WiFi access point and your devices. Keeping the above tips in mind will help you get a stronger internet connection by improving your WiFi signal.
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