Sectional Garage Doors vs Roller Shutter Garage Doors
In the UK the majority of customers looking for any new or replacement garage door can immediately understand the operation of a roller garage door; it is definitely a very neat and compact door design and fits most garage structural openings. The sectional overhead garage door however takes a bit more explaining and understanding and yet in the USA and Europe it is the biggest selling garage door type and has been for many years - Why is this?
The roller shutter garage door can be fitted to nearly every shape of garage opening either inside, inbetween or in front of the aperture with no internal tracking giving a door with a neat, compact style operation.
The sectional garage door however does requires space inside the garage for the horizontal tracks to run, but that’s about all the differences in the basic mechanism and why one is not suitable compared to the other. Both doors open and close vertically and the roller door does actually need quite a lot more headroom to accomodate the roll, so why do we not look at the sectional garage door as an option more often, both doors can be fitted behind any shape of garage after all. The answer seems to be simply down to publicity and awareness and the roller garage door is very well promoted in the UK and the sectional garage door generally so far is not. The roller garage door is easy for a salesman or company to price, sell and install and for a customer to understand so in many ways it is the easy, safe option to aim for. The sectional garage door should always be considered however and in many cases you would get a lot more door for your money.
Have a look at the differences below:
Door Designs and Finishes
The roller garage door has the one design only – horizontal lines. The only options are in colour surface finishes and subtle differences in the curtain slats used from different manufacturers or in the case of the steel continuous curtain roller door even smaller differences. The surface finish is only ever a smooth paint finish or a subtle woodgrain laminate foil coating
The sectional garage door has many designs to choose from and almost any colour paint finish you can think of as well as woodgrain and metallic laminate finishes. The metal front face surface is available in smooth, woodgrain textured, micrograin ribbed, stucco textured and the various effects given by either metallic laminate finishes or woodgrain effects.
Look at timber sectional doors and the designs that can be achieved are endless with modern computer routing techniques into compsite timber panels, even vertical lines for a traditional period look.
The majority of roller garage doors have a good but limited amount of colour painted finishes but a good choice of laminate finishes available such as golden oak, rosewood or mahogany and many others. Sectional garage doors are pretty much available in any RAL or BS paint finish colours with a few exceptions for some obscure fluorescent or special colours.
The laminate wood grain finishes for sectional doors are more limited than the roller door options but sectional doors are also available in some very trendy, modern metallic surface finishes, Anthracite for example, and these finishes are only generally available on sectional and front entrance doors.
Roller garage doors are either produced in foam filled double skinned aluminium slats joined together by a profile at the top and bottom of each slat or in continuous steel single skin curtains - one large steel sheet with horizontal ribbed profiles that means the entire sheet can roll around itself.
Several attempts have been made to produce roller dors in Upvc but have all failed in their final construction and longevity. Timber roller doors are not possible for garage doors sizes and GRP has never been an option. A cheap inferior slat used in constructing a roller garage door will usually give a very short life span as the wear and tear from binding and grinding when the slats deflect will cause the door to drag and damage all moving parts, and there are many in the average roller door so do your research and a simple tip is to make sure the slats are produced in Northern Europe and not an adaptation of a slat used in a basic window shutter for sun protection in Spain or France for example. Many very cheap components of course are finding their way in from China and also include cheap electric motors with non replaceable parts as they are produced in large one off batches.
Sectional garage doors are available in single skin and double skin galvanised steel panels of varying depths, GRP (fibreglass) panels, timber panels and even aluminium panels and the panel finishes vary greatly in the overall effects that the panels display. The economy of single skin steel, the strength and superb insulation of double skinned insulated steel, the beauty and warmth of timber and GRP and the modern feel of aluminium are all options for sectional doors.
Generally steel is the most economical, then aluminium, then GRP, and finally timber is the most expensive option as they are handmade and produced in well selected timber species with minimal risk of warping. Again the best sectional doors are produced in Germany and GRP sectional doors only in the UK.
A roller garage door from any major UK manufacturer normally has a maximum width of about 5.2 metres wide and 3 metres high. The sectional doors manufactured in double skinned foam filled steel panels can be manufactured up to 8 metres wide and 3 metres high or 5 metres high if you use industrial specification mechanism. These huge sizes can also be a spring assisted manual operation if required where the roller garage door constructed from double skinned slats has a maximum width in manual operation of about 3 metres wide and always has to always be electrically operated over this width. All roller and sectional garage doors can be made to measure for a perfect fit.
The roller garage door is either spring assisted for manual operation or electric operated with either a tube motor set inside the roller barrel out of the way or an external fitted motor driving the roller barrel via a gear cog or a chain mechanism. The sectional garage door is always primarily produced as a manual door and uses either a torsion or tension spring mechanism lifting the door panels smoothly during operation. The spring(s) are either at the sides of the door, above the door, at the front or back or with some models above the door but running lengthways, following the horizontal door guide tracks.
The choice of spring positions combined with the choice of radius for the curve of the tracks means the sectional door can be optimised when required according to the headroom, ceiling height or length inside the garage. Height requirements for standard sectional door gear varies from 100mm to 230mm with other special options available on request. The side room required either side is between 75 and 90mm on most sectioanl garage doors, 125mm for the very large doors up to 8 metres wide.
Most roller garage doors require between 205mm and 450mm of headroom for the curtain roll to operate without encroaching on the opening height (usually the lintel height if possible) and with this kind of height required it is rare to install one underneath the lintel of the garage opening, they are nearly always fitted behind. The single skin continuous roller doors do need generally more headroom than the individual slat construction of the aluminium roller doors. The side room required either side is between 60 to 100mm for most standard roller doors
Roller garage doors are generally very secure apart from the single skinned steel version in its basic form. Double skinned aluminium roller doors are generally more secure and the SWS Seceuroglide Excel aluminium roller door even has a level 1 secured by design insurance rating and when installed correctly will provide high levels of resistance to attempted forced entries at all sizes. Security is quite a big issue with roller doors and many do have a weak point in that they can lack proper mechanisms at the top of the curtain to sufficiently hold the door secure and prevent a forced opening from the bottom. The leading manufacturers use various methods to overcome this.
The sectional doors are secure by the very nature of their design and mechanism with door panels set behind a sturdy steel framework and generally 5 rollers either side on a standard door providing great lateral resistance. The only weak point is when a basic handle and locking system is used on a manually operated door meaning if the lock is compromised access would be quiet and easy for an intruder. Most leading manufacturers use a high security europrofile cylinder locking system with strong rotary latches secured inside to the side tracks. Many high quality electric operators fitted as an option to sectional doors have excellent extra security design features over and above just the motor and towing arm attachment holding the door closed. A good quality electric operator installed with a double skinned steel sectional door will give a big challenge to any would be intruder!
Windows and Glazing
Roller garage doors can only have a limited amount of small glazing cut out sections in the individual curtain slats and whilst this does give some vision and light, it is minimal and not possible in the continuous steel roller door curtain door.
Sectional garage doors in every material and panel design offered can have small, medium or large window sections fitted with extra glazing bar designs if required in single and double glazed specifications. Arched designs and modern stainless steel designer windows are also readily available now to create a real statement on your home. Although generally only fitted into the top panel it is possible to add windows to nearly all the panels in the door or even opt for a commercial specification door that is almost entrirely glazed top to bottom!
Many sectional garage door designs also now have high quality matching entrance doors to give a perfect co ordinated look.
Insulation and Sealing
A roller garage door produced using aluminium foam filled double skinned slats, which are usually about 19mm thick obviously offers a reasonable degree of insulation but there are no accurate published 'U' values as the roller door curtain effectively has a small gap between each slat as they interlock with each other, metal to metal. Figures are published for some manufacturers but these have to be taken as very rough as there are so many variables when installing a roller door and many tiny gaps that can reduce the U value quoted.
The majority of manufacturers making sectional garage door panels in either 42 or 45mm thick foam filled sections also have rubber seals between usually only 4 panels on a standard door and rubber seals to the top, side and bottom. On a well constructed, square garage opening you can achieve very high levels of insulation with consistent tested 'U' values achievable as the seals work more effectively even when the opening may not be square There are even upgraded insulation rubber seals now offered from companies such as Hormann for extra insulation with insulated fascia panels available where required.
Emergency Opening Method
For an electric operated insulated roller door the basic override system when faced with a power cut is an internal winding manual mechanism to wind the door up through a geared section on the motor and the same in reverse to close. The Hormann and Garador roller doors have a full release from the external fitted motor and a spring balance allowing simple push up and pull down operation when released.
A sectional garage door is always primarily a manually operated door first and the electric motors are optional so when fitted to a door and requiring releasing in a power failure it is a matter of releasing the motor towing arm from inside or outside by the handle or a key mechanism and then the door can be lifted and closed as it would if it was a manual door, with the assistance of spring balance so very easy as well. Both the roller and sectional door motors can also have emergency battery back up systems installed to give several electric operations without mains power available.
A conclusion is really not possible as the real trick is to always consider the sectional garage door as a very real option to the roller garage door before making a decision based simply on familiarity with the roller door mechanism. The sectional garage door does win on most technical and design options and as we said at the start only has one negative point and that is only relevant to people who do not like tracks in their garage. Bear in mind though the tracks are normally higher than a normal up and over door as well as wider so tend to be out of the way and can be specified at different heights anyway if your ceiling is high. You make your own mind up but we are here to help with prices, technical information, sizes and installation details.
Certainly if the door is to be over 5 metres wide (16'5") we would recommend the sectional garage door with a double skin construction as this door is manufactured in the same thickness of panel up to 7500mm wide with very little, if any panel deflection. This panel type is very strong indeed and supplied by Hormann or Carteck primarily.
DO NOT buy a cheap electric aluminium roller garage door!! Too many so called roller garage door experts are selling low priced double skinned aluminium roller garage doors nowadays due to the popularity and they are very risky. Inferior parts internally and insufficient safety mechanisms make these roller doors cheap but also a nightmare for you, the user. See our summary page on Roller Doors > . Look to pay at least £750 upwards for a descent quality single sized insulated roller garage door and if your budget is less you are better off buying a single skin steel roller door from the likes of Gliderol or looking at a single skin steel sectional door for reliability long term from either Hormann, Garador or Gliderol.
There isn't really a bad sectional garage door as they are all produced as manually operated doors in the first instance with electric operation optional. Many models are on the UK market from the USA but are far removed from the quality of the European manufactured doors - Hormann, Carteck, Garador, Novoferm to name the 4 main ones.
One of the best features of a quality sectional door such as Hormann or Carteck is the panels are all predrilled unlike cheaper sectional doors where the whole kit will be like a huge great jigsaw puzzle for assembly with holes to be drilled everywhere.
Look at our Insulated Roller Door Selection >
Look at our Sectional Door Selection >
Look at our Non Insulated Roller Door prices >
Look at our Hormann Sectional Door Prices in our quick calculator >