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Do Metal Roofs Interfere With Cell Phone Reception?

The short answer: Usually not! It’s pretty unlikely that getting a metal roof on your home will drastically change your cell phone signal.

Read on to find out why, and what you can do if you are struggling to get a cell phone signal in your home.

Metal Roofs and Cell Phones

Metal roofs keep getting more and more popular with homeowners because they have so many benefits. In turn, we get asked a lot of questions about metal roofing, and one of the most common is: will a new metal roof affect the cell phone reception in my home?

Man frustrated with bad cell phone signal

It’s a fair question! Cell phones are a necessary part of daily life for most of us. Bad connections, poor voice quality, dropped calls, texts and emails that won’t go through – not to mention trying to share the cute cat video you found on YouTube – is extremely frustrating and not something you want to be dealing with every time you’re at home. Let’s be real here: not getting cell signal renders your phone practically useless.

However, people tend to forget that they regularly use their cell phones under metal roofs without even noticing it. Many of the restaurants you eat at, the malls you shop at, and other businesses you regularly visit have metal roofs, and you don’t lose cell reception the moment you step into one. Your home environment, with a metal roof, should be the same.

What Causes a Poor Cell Phone Signal?

There are various factors that can affect the strength of a cell signal in your home, such as where your home is located, its distance from a utility tower, weather conditions, and which cell service carrier you use.

Bad cell phone reception generally falls into two categories:

  • Localized poor coverage, where you can get better signal by moving to another room or going outside. This kind of bad reception is due to building materials or some other local destructive interference, and can often be fixed.
  • Geographical poor coverage, where the whole area has a poor signal. This kind of bad reception is because you’re just too far away from a tower, and in this case, you’ll have cell phone issues with or without a metal roof. Geographical reception barriers are often insurmountable, unless you can get a cell tower built closer to your home!

With such strong networks today, if you’re near a city or in suburbia, the cause of a bad cell signal is far more likely to be localized rather than geographical. There are two main culprits for localized poor coverage:

1) Interference from the buildings or landscape around your home. If there’s something blocking a direct line of sight to the closest tower – trees, buildings, hills and so on — the signal will need to bounce off something before it can be received by the tower. In this case, you’ll typically experience erratic signal that fluctuates up and down.

External obstructions that may cause poor phone signal at home

Image courtesy of Wilson Amplifiers.

2) The construction materials used in your home. Common building materials like brick, metal, wood, and energy saving window coatings can impede signal coming in, causing weak signal or dead spots in your home. The tell-tale sign of this is when you have perfect signal outside your home and lose signal once you’re inside.

A metal roof is just one of many building materials that may weaken cell phone reception. Generally, if you do have poor cell phone service in your home, it will be due to the cumulative effect of the materials used. No one material will be the sole perpetrator.  

Internal obstructions that may cause poor phone signal at home
Image courtesy of Wilson Amplifiers.

So, metal roofs don’t actually interrupt cell phone reception. If you have consistently good cell phone signal in all areas in your home, a metal roof shouldn’t make any noticeable difference. Unfortunately, if you currently have a weak or spotty cell phone signal inside your home, it’s possible that a metal roof could be the last straw.

But if you currently have poor cell phone reception, and you really want a metal roof, do not be deterred! There are plenty of ways to improve your phone’s reception no matter the cause – including the unusual situation that a metal roof does drastically affect your cell signal.

How to Improve Cell Phone Signal in Your Home

Give your signal a boost with a Cell Phone Signal Booster

A cell phone signal booster, also known as a cellular repeater, does exactly what it says on the box: it boosts your cell phone signal.

It’s a system that takes an existing outside signal, brings it inside the house, boosts up the power of the signal, and then broadcasts it to parts of or your whole home.

It’s worth remembering that a cell phone signal booster can’t create a signal, only boost a weaker one. For maximum effectiveness, put the unit in an area of your home where you have good reception, such as near a window sill.

You can buy boosters from your cell phone carrier, but that booster will only work on your carrier’s network. If friends and family on a different network visit you, the booster won’t help them. However, you can generally find third party boosters that will work for multiple carrier networks. Prices range from the $100 to $200 all the way to nearly $1,000. Some of the new, more expensive boosters are plug and play: you plug them in and they work right away without having to install an outdoor antenna.

FEMTOCELL: The lifesaver if you have no signal at home

Femtocells are similar to boosters, but they have to be plugged into your router so they can use your internet connection. Essentially, it’s a small cellular tower that provides a signal in and near your home, connecting to the larger mobile network over your internet connection.

This means that you can use them in areas where you have absolutely no signal what so ever. Most of the major carriers have their own Femtocells: you may have heard names like Verizon Network Extender, Sprint Airave and T-Mobile Personal CellSpot. Interestingly, AT&T dropped their Microcell product as of December 2018, shifting their focus to Wi-Fi calling.

Similar to boosters, if you get one from a carrier, it will only work for phones using that provider. On the plus side, if you live in an area your carrier knows has poor service, give them a call. You may be able to get a femtocell for free or at a steep discount.

You can also buy femtocells that work for multiple carries from Amazon or at a tech store. These devices cost more than cell phone signal boosters and it can be hard to source ones that cater for all the specific carriers you need. You should also be aware that a femtocell may affect your monthly broadband internet bill, so be sure to factor this into your decision.

Furthermore, almost anyone can use the signal your femtocell is providing so long as they have the same carrier as you, which means that someone who is nearby or passing through can use your internet connection. If you’re in an urban area, multiple devices may connect to your femtocell, taking up your precious bandwidth and using up data. To combat this, some carriers allow you to create a whitelist so only your devices can connect, or you can have priority numbers. 

Take Advantage of your Wi-Fi Network

In all likelihood you have Wi-Fi already set up in your home and you are aware of the fact you can send texts and make calls using apps such as Skype, Google Hangouts, iMessage and Facetime. We won’t preach to the choir here.

However, you may not know that T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, MetroPCS and Verizon have developed Wi-Fi calling. When this feature is enabled due to weak signal, your phone will automatically switch to a nearby open Wi-Fi network without you even noticing!

Consult Apple’s list of carriers that support iPhone features and check if your carrier offers the “Wi-Fi calling” feature on an iPhone. To enable Wi-Fi calling on an iPhone, head to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling.

There’s no big list of carriers and devices that work with Wi-Fi calling on Android, so consult your carrier or search the web for more information if you’re using Android. To enable Wi-Fi calling on an Android phone, head to Settings > Wireless and Networks > More > Wi-Fi Calling. Phone manufacturers can customize Android, so this setting may also be located in a different location or called something else on your Android phone. Again, your carrier will likely have instructions for you.

Over the 25 years we have been in business, none of our clients have reported a loss of cell signal when a metal roof has been installed on their home. So, while it is possible for a metal roof to affect your cell phone reception at your home, it’s extremely unlikely – and there are a number of good solutions that can boost your signal if needed!

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  • Rusty, Plano

    All I can say is – dealing with Aaron Lenhart and Designer Roofing of Texas was excellent. Aaron and his people were professional, knowledgeable and nice to work with every step of the way.

    I felt their price was fair and they delivered exactly as promised. What more can you ask for in the real world? They started on time, ended on time and the house looks great with the new style of tile. I have referred a few friends to them since then and so far, everyone has been pleased!

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    The roof is fantastic and I really appreciate Designer Roofing’s hard work and professionalism throughout the process. It was absolutely the right decision for my project. Feel free to hand out my information as a reference for your company should anyone ask, I am happy to help.

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    I was impressed throughout with Designer Roofing’s professionalism, experience and knowledge of the business. As my agent, you worked with my insurance company to get their approval, and I was delighted to see that you ordered specialized pictures of the house to make it easier for the insurance company to assess the damage and approve.

    Your team was experienced and they worked with a good work ethic to get the job done very quickly. This was key since you did not use novices to install the specialized Gerard stone coated steel roof. Your team was well trained: they covered the pool and daily used a magnet to clear the home premises of any metallic materials.

    You had no hesitation in ensuring my complete satisfaction, and sent in the experts to fix a couple of minor things that I wanted changed. Please accept my gratitude and congratulations for a job well done and a super service!! I shall be happy to recommend you and your company to anyone without hesitation. 

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    Pam and Rick, Frisco

    We just wanted to drop you note and tell you how much we enjoy the new roof. The style we chose with your help looks great. More importantly, the service of you and your team was outstanding. Your crew was attentive to the details and cleaned up well each and every day. And, to top it off, you started and finished when you said you would. Job well done!

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    Bing and Rachel, Plano

    We were battered by the windstorm of April 2008, which tore down our entire fence, a beautiful 10-year old tree, and a huge section of our composition roof.

    Designer Roofing came to our rescue and immediately patched the roof to prevent further weather damage. Despite a heavy workload brought on by the storm, Designer Roofing proceeded to replace our entire roof as soon as was possible. They replaced all fixtures and chimney flashings to perfectly match our new roof color, too.

    Designer Roofing was very professional throughout the job, helping us understand the re-roofing process, eagerly answering our every question, and giving us the greatest value for our insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs. If we ever need a new roof again, Designer Roofing will be #1 on our list, and we would gladly recommend them to friends and family alike!