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Home Network Tech Hidden Behind the Wallpaper

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Cat DiStasio on June 29, 2020

Find Your Internet - Home Network Tech Hidden Behind the Wallpaper

The construction of your home is probably the last thing you’re thinking about while streaming your favorite shows on Netflix. But if you’re among the 9 out of 10 homeowners who plan to renovate your existing property, you’ll want to consider how the home’s building materials and layout might impact your home network—and your connectivity.

What’s Blocking Your WiFi?

If you’ve ever struggled to get a good WiFi signal in a particular section of your home, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem and it could be due to what’s behind the walls. Certain building materials—such as concrete, masonry blocks and brick—can block WiFi signals.

While it’s not common to find these materials within the internal walls of a home, a renovation is a good time to look for any signs of a walled-in chimney or other hidden features that may contain these materials. Removing them may be a costly investment; therefore, you may be better off adding a signal repeater, such as the Amped Wireless Athena-EX, to boost the wireless network signal within your home. A signal repeater is an additional router that connects to your existing wireless network and extends the signal so that it reaches farther from the initial router. Using a signal repeater can help boost the wireless signal in dead zones in your house that may be due to construction materials.

The good news is that glass, plywood and drywall result in virtually no signal blockage, making them ideal building materials for your renovation project if wireless signal strength is a top concern.

Hard to Go Hardwired?

While a hard-wired internet connection may seem very 1990s, there are several hard-wired advantages to consider.

A wired Ethernet network can exist on its own or help improve the efficiency of your wireless network. Wired networks are faster, more reliable, and more secure than wireless networks, making them an attractive choice if you’re already planning a renovation. If your goal is to run a wired Ethernet network throughout your home so you can plug a computer or laptop directly into the wall, you’ll need to know what’s happening behind that drywall. The electrical wiring already running through the walls could affect your home network signal, for example. Running Ethernet cables too close to electrical wiring could result in interference or signal loss—exactly what you don’t want in your network.

Installing a wired Ethernet network is typically a job for a professional. While feeding CAT5 or CAT6 (aka Ethernet) cabling through your walls and installing RJ45 jacks in the walls may seem like a do-it-yourself project, it’s actually a complicated process that requires careful planning and an array of specialized tools. Save yourself the headache and hire a professional networking contractor to do the work for you. As wireless options become faster and more affordable, it’s worth seriously evaluating the pros and cons of a hardwired home network before you hire an installer.

To Demo or Not to Demo

Knocking out a wall or a portion of a wall is a major undertaking!

The question of whether to knock out a wall is typically decided by the load that walls bear, and any electrical wiring or plumbing that may be running through it, as those are both costly to relocate. Fortunately, your home network’s infrastructure probably won’t be a factor in the decision. If you’re working to renovate a home with an existing hardwired Ethernet network, rerouting that cabling is fairly simple, provided the home has a nearby wall along the same pathway. If you’re in the position of adding Ethernet cabling during a renovation project, those plans become part of the larger home renovation plan and the cabling can be mapped accordingly. As mentioned earlier, a professional network installer is an ideal partner for a project like this.

When planning a home renovation project, it’s important to understand what you want from your home network. How do you want it to be set up and how do you want it to function? In most modern homes, wireless technology is adequate to provide connectivity to the entire space, and repeaters can help boost signal to any trouble spots. If you still decide to install a hardwired Ethernet network so you can plug devices directly into the wall, consult a professional network installer for advice before you pick up the sledgehammer.

Cat DiStasio

Find Your Internet - Compare offers from the top Internet and TV providers in your area all in one place.

Cat DiStasio is a technology and business writer with a background in human resources and recruiting. She specializes in human resources, technology, sustainability, parenting, and freelance life. She often works with small business clients, and her work has appeared on Medium, Inhabitat, Engadget, and other sites. Cat holds a bachelor’s degree in ethnic, gender, and labor studies, and is an expert vegan cook.

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