Sectional Vs Roller Shutter Garage Doors

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Sectional Doors Vs Roller Shutter Garage Doors

Sectional Doors Vs Roller Shutter Garage Doors

Jump to: Colours and Material // Size and Security // Windows and Installation // Conclusion

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 and movement of a roller garage door; it is definitely a very neat and compact door design, and fits most structural garage openings.
The sectional overhead garage door does need a bit more explaining and understanding, yet in both the USA and Europe it is the biggest selling garage door type, and has been for many years - why is this?

Sectional garage door demonstration diagram

The roller shutter garage door can be fitted to nearly every shape of garage opening, either inside, between or in front of the aperture with no internal tracking, giving a door a neat, compact-style operation.

The sectional garage door, however, does require space inside the garage for the horizontal tracks to run, but that’s about all the differences in the basic mechanism and why one may not be suitable when drawing comparisons between the two. Both doors open and close vertically, and the roller door does actually need quite a lot more headroom to accommodate the roll.

So, why is the sectional garage door not considered as an option more often? Both doors can be fitted behind any shape of garage opening after all. The answer seems to be simply down to publicity, price and awareness. The roller garage door is very well promoted in the UK and the sectional garage door, generally, still isn't. The roller garage door is easy for a salesman or company to price, sell and install, and for buyers to understand without prior knowledge, so in many ways, it is the most basic option to aim for. The sectional garage door should always be considered, however, and in many cases, you can get a lot more garage door for your money.                

Internal view of insulated roller door

Internal view of roller shutter door

Internal view of sectional garage door

Internal view of sectional garage door

Door Designs and Finishes

The roller garage door has the one visual design only – horizontal lines. The only variable options are in colour surface finishes and the subtle differences in the curtain slats used from different manufacturers. Or, in the case of the steel continuous curtain roller doors, even smaller differences; the surface finish is only ever a smooth paint finish or a subtle, woodgrain laminate foil coating.

On the contrary, the sectional garage door has many designs, with a huge choice between almost any colour paint finish, 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.

The images below only begin to exemplify the variety available among sectional doors, whilst the second row shows the differences between aluminium and steel slatted roller doors.

Hormann LPU42 S Panelled Sectional

Georgian Panelled Sectional

Ryterna retro style sectional garage door

Period Aesthetic Sectional

SWS Insulated Aluminium roller garage door

Two Insulated Roller Garage Doors

Gliderol single skin roller shutter

Single Skin Manual Steel Roller Shutter


The majority of roller garage doors have a good, but limited amount of colour painted finishes, however there is a large choice of laminate finishes available such as golden oak, rosewood, mahogany and many others. Sectional garage doors are pretty much available in any RAL or BS paint finish colours, with a few obsessions for some obscure fluorescent or special colours.

The laminate wood grain finishes for sectional doors are more limited than for roller door options, but sectional doors are also available in some very trendy, modern metallic surface finishes; Anthracite for example. These finishes are generally only available on section and front entrance doors.

Hormann lpu42 l ribbed sectional door in anthracite

Black Sectional with Windows


SeceuroGlide roller garage doors in white

Two Roller Shutter Garage Doors in White


Roller garage doors can be produced in two different materials: steel or aluminium. Aluminium slats are foam-filled, double-skinned slats that are joined together by a profile at the top of each slat, whereas a steel roller door is a continuous, single-skin curtain. These single skin curtains consist of one large, steel sheet with horizontal ribbed profiles, meaning that the entirity of the sheet can roll around itself.

Several attempts have been made to produce roller doors in Upvc, but all have failed in their final construction and longevity. Timber roller doors are not possible for the sizes required for garage doors, 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 due to the the wear and tear from binding and grinding when the slats deflect. This in turn causes the door to drag and damage all moving parts, which there are many of in the average roller door. Be sure to carry out the necessary research, ensure that the slats are produced in Northern Europe, and are 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 aluminium panels. 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 consideration for sectional doors.
Generally, steel is the most economical, followed by aluminium, GRP, and finally timber, which 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.

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A roller garage door from any major UK manufacturer normally has a maximum width of about 5.2 metres wide and height of 3 metres. 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 an industrial specification mechanism. These huge sizes can also be operated with a spring-assisted manual mechanism if required, where the roller door constructed from double skinned slats has a maximum width in manual operation of about 3 metres wide; the door always has to be electrically operated over this width.

All roller and sectional garage doors can be made to measure for a perfect fit.

Carteck super sectional garage door


The roller garage door is either spring assisted for manual operation or electric-operated, with either a tube motor set out of the way inside the roller barrel, or an externally fitted motor that drives the roller barrel via a gear cog or 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, or springs, 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 and according to the headroom, ceiling height or length inside the garage. Height requirements for standard sectional door gear vary from 100mm to 230mm, with other special options available on request. The side room required either side is between 75 and 90mm on most sectional garage doors, 125mm for the very large doors up to 8 metres wide.

Most roller garage doors require between 205mm and 450mm of headroom to allow 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 generally need more headroom than the individual slat construction of the aluminium roller doors. The side room required either side is between 60mm to 100mm for most standard roller doors.


Roller garage doors are generally fairly secure, excluding the single skinned steel door 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. This means that, when installed correctly, the door will provide high levels of resistance to attempted forced entries at all sizes. However, security can be quite a big issue with roller doors, and many cheaper doors do have a weak point in that they can lack proper mechanisms at the top of the curtain; these sufficiently hold the door secure and prevent a forced opening from the bottom. The leading manufacturers, however, do use various methods to overcome this.

Sectional doors are secure by the very nature of their design and mechanism; with door panels set behind a sturdy steel framework, and generally five or more rollers either side on a standard door, great lateral resistance is provided. The only weak point is when a basic handle and locking system is used on a manually operated door, meaning that 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 modern electric operators are fitted as an option to sectional doors, and have excellent extra security design features that are 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 be a big challenge to any would-be intruder!

Carteck sectional garage door with square windows

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 at all in the continuous steel curtain roller door.

Sectional garage doors in any material and panel design offered can have 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 now also readily available to create a true statement for 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 entirely glazed, top to bottom!

Many sectional garage door designs now also have high quality matching entrance doors to give a perfect, co-ordinated look.

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Insulation and Sealing

Roller shutters A roller garage door that is produced using foam-filled, double-skinned aluminium slats, which are usually about 19mm thick, does offer a reasonable degree of insulation, but there are no accurate tested or published U-values. 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 a very rough guide 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, 45 or now even 67mm thick, foam-filled sections, also have rubber seals between usually only four 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. Manufacturers such as Hormann now even offer upgraded rubber seals for extra insultation, with insulated fascia panels when required. The new LPU 67 sectional door from Hormann is an industry leader in insulation values.

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 which winds 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. The door can the be lifted and closed as it would if it was a manual door, with the assistance of spring balance. 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 - the real trick is to always consider the sectional garage door as a very real, competitive 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 mentioned, only has one negative point which is only relevant to people who would prefer no tracking in their garage. Be sure to bear in mind that the tracks are normally higher than a normal up and over door, as well as wider, so they do tend to be out of the way and can be specified at different heights if you have a high ceiling.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, however we are able to guide you in terms of prices, tehcnical 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 panel thickness of up to 7500mm wide with very little, if any panel deflection. This panel type is very strong indeed and primarily supplied by Hormann or Carteck


DO NOT buy a cheap, electric aluminium roller garage door!! There are many so-called roller garage door experts that are now selling low-priced, double-skinned aluminium roller garage doors due to their popularity - this is very risky as a customer. Inferior parts internally and insufficient safety mechanisms make these roller doors not only cheap, but also a nightmare for you, the user.  Look to pay at least £750 upwards for a decent 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 long term reliability 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 four main ones.
One of the best features of a quality sectional door, from manufacturers such as Hormann or Carteck, is the fact that the panels are all pre-drilled, unlike cheaper sectional doors where the whole kit will be like a huge jigsaw puzzle to assembly with holes to be drilled everywhere.

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