Sectional Roller Garage Door Comparison

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Sectional vs Roller garage doors

Roller shutter or sectional garage doors

In the UK, most people looking for any new or replacement garage door can immediately appreciate the unique mechanism of a roller shutter garage door, and it is certainly a neat and compact door design type, fitting most garage structural openings. The sectional garage door however, can take a bit more explaining and understanding, yet in the USA and Northern Europe, it is the single biggest selling garage door type and has been for a long time - 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. And, with no internal tracking, the door provides a neat, compact style operation.
Go to our Guide to Roller Garage Doors > for further information if the roller door is your preferred choice. 

sectional garage door operation and benefits

The sectional garage door however does require space inside the garage for the horizontal runners to operate, but that is about all the differences there are in the basic requirements and why one door is not suitable compared to the other!! One current factor to be aware of is there are an extraordinary amount of very cheap and unsuitably specified roller garage doors being sold in the UK, many of them actually not compliant with basic regulations. Sectional garage doors are all fairly consistent but the differences between roller garage doors is quite shocking right now and you should be aware and do a lot of research before buying.

Both door types open and close vertically and the roller door does actually need quite a lot more headroom to accomodate the curtain 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 opening and still operate prefectly. So, the answer seems to be simply down to general publicity and awareness and the roller garage door is very well promoted in the UK and the sectional garage door 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 most cases you would get a lot more garage door for your money.

Compare the Differences

Door Designs

The Roller Garage Door has the one design only – horizontal lines, the only options are in colour surface finishes and very subtle differences in the curtain slats used from different manufacturers or in the case of the steel non insulated continuous curtain roller door even smaller differences.

The Sectional Garage Door in contrast has many panel designs to choose from and almost any colour paint finish you can think of as well as woodgrain and metallic laminate finishes. The door panel front face can be specified in smooth silkgrain, woodgrain, micrograin, stucco and Decograin (laminate foil coatings) for the ultimate in individual design for your home. There are also some real designer type finishes such as corten or brass, etc..


any ral colour for most sectional garage doors

The majority of roller garage doors have a good but limited amount of colour painted and laminate finishes available. Sectional garage doors are generally available in any RAL or BS paint finish colour with a few exceptions for some obscure fluorescent or odd 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 such as Titan, TT703 and others.

Sectional panel and roller door slats comparison

1: 42mm sectional door panel 2: Hormann SB roller door slat 3: Standard roller door slat 4: Compact roller door slat 5: Shutter slat often mis-used for roller doors


Roller Garage Doors

Roller doors are either produced in foam filled double skinned aluminium slats and then joined 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.

Roller doors at The Garage Door Centre


Sectional Garage Doors

Sectional doors are available in single skin and double skin insulated steel panels of varying depth, GRP (fibreglass) panels, timber panels and even aluminium panels and the panel finishes vary greatly in the 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 more information on our sectional doors, click here


A domestic roller garage door from any major UK manufacturer normally has a maximum width of about 5.2 metres and 3 metres high although some will go up to 6 metres wide. The sectional doors manufactured in double skinned foam filled steel panels can be manufactured up to a massive 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.

Standard torsion spring arrangement for a sectional door

steel roller garage door illustration

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 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 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

Call The Garage Door Centre


Roller Doors

security is important on all garage doorsRoller garage doors are generally very secure except 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.

Find out more about the SWS SeceuroGlide Excel

Sectional Doors

The sectional doors are secure by the very nature of their design and mechanism with door panels set behind a sturdy steel framework andgenerally 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 garage door will provide a big challenge to any would be intruder!
Hormann recently announced their LPU40 sectional door installed with thier latest series 3 electric operator has the 'Secured by Design' accreditation so this recognition is certainly a good step forward for sectional doors.

Carteck sectional garage door with windowsWindows 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.
Many sectional garage door designs now have high quality matching front entrance doors to give a perfect co ordinated look to your home.

Insulating sectional door panel cross-section

Insulation and Sealing

A roller garage door produced using aluminium foam filled double skinned slats, which are usually about 12 - 15mm 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

For an electric operated 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. This does take time to perform and requires some effort and co ordination so is not ideal if you have any sort of disability or shoulder problem.  The Hormann and Garador roller door do 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 simple matter of releasing the motor towing arm from inside or outside by the handle or a key mechanism and then the secgtional door can 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. These should be carefully considered if you do have any physical disability or probelms with your shoulders or back.


Put simply: the sectional may well win on various technical terms, however every individual application varies.

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 final 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.

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