Generally we have found in the UK that the majority of customers looking for a new or replacement garage door will immediately understand the  operation of a roller door and it is a neat and compact design and is always possible to install to most garage openings. The sectional garage door however takes a lot more explanation and understanding and yet in Europe and the USA it is the biggest selling garage door type and has been so for some time - Why?

Certainly the roller type garage door can be installed to nearly every shape of garage inside, inbetween or in front of the aperture with no internal tracking mechanism giving a door with a neat, compact style operation. The sectional garage door does requires space internally for the horizontal steel tracks to operate, but really that’s about it for the differences in operation!!  

Why do we not look at the sectional garage door as an option more often, both doors open vertically and can be fitted behind any shape of garage.


The answer seems to be simply down to general publicity and awareness and the roller garage door is a very well promoted door type in the UK and the sectional garage door generally is not. The roller door is simple for any 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 as an alternative however and in many cases you would get much more for your money.


The roller garage door has the one design only, albeit a classic– horizontal lines, so the only options generally are in colour and surface finishes and very subtle differences in the curtain slats used or in the case of the steel continuous curtain roller door even smaller differences. 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 front surface of many sectional doors can be also in different surface finishes - smooth (silkgrain), woodgrain embossed, micrograin ribbed, stucco embossed and smooth laminate woodgrain. All these surface finishes will crete a very different look to the door and give customers the chance to really personalise their door to suit their home.

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The majority of roller garage doors have a good but somewhat limited amount of colour painted, plastisol coated and laminate finishes available. Sectional garage doors are pretty much available in any RAL or BS colour with a few exceptions for some obscure colours nobody would use on a house anyway.
The laminate wood grain finishes are more limited than the roller door but sectional doors are available in some trendy, modern metallic surface finishes.


Roller garage doors are all either made in double skinned foam filled aluminium slats or a continuous steel single skin curtain. Sectional garage doors are available in single and double skin steel panels of varying thickness options, 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 fantastic strength and incredible insulation of double skinned steel, the beauty and warmth of timber and GRP and the modern feel of aluminium.


A roller garage door from any major manufacturer normally has a maximum width of about 5.2 metres wide and 3 metres high with some options at 6 metres wide. Most roller garage doors are made to order which is a good feature to ensure you get a perfect fit to your garage opening maximising the width and height. 


The sectional doors in double skinned foam filled steel panels can be produced up to 7.5 metres wide and 3 metres high or 5 metres high if you use industrial specification mechanism. These huge sizes can also be a simple manual operation if required where the roller garage door in the aluminium slats has a maximum width in manual operation of about 3 metres wide so has to be electric operated above that size. Sectional doors are supplied as standard or purpose made sizes with cut down options on standard door widths and heights for faster delivery times.



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 the way or an external fitted motor driving the roller barrel by a gear cog or a chain mechanism. The sectional garage door is always produced as a manual door primarily so has either a torsion or tension spring mechanism lifting the door smoothly all the time 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 door 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 according to the headroom, ceiling height or length available in the garage.
The roller garage door usually requires anything from 205mm up to 450mm of headroom for the curtain roll to operate without encroaching on the opening height although a further allowance must be made for the bottom slat hanging ino the opening for any roller door.


Roller garage doors are generally secure unless single skinned steel in a basic form. The TWF aluminium roller door  has a level 1 secured by design insurance rating and if installed correctly will provide high levels of resistance to attempted forced entries at all sizes.
Some manufacturers of roller doors will produce low priced insulated roller doors and the price reduction is achieved usually through low quality components and many of these are in fact very easy to force open, beware of such doors if you do want security!!


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 can be if 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. 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.

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 always minimal. The sectional 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 specification.


A roller garage door constructed 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 door curtain effectively has a small gap between each slat as they interlock with each other, metal to metal. 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 tested U values and there are even upgraded insulation seals now offered from companies such as Hormann for extra insulation with insulated fascia panels as well where required.

Emergency Opening

For an electric operated roller door the basic override system when faced with a power cut in 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 door 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 manufactured as a manually operated door first and the electric motors are optional so once fitted to a door when they require releasing in a power cut it is a matter of releasing the motor towing arm form 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. 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

Our Conclusion?

A conclusion is difficult as the real trick is to always consider the sectional garage door as an 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 options and as we said only has one real negative point and that is only relevant to people who do not like tracks in their garage. Bear in mind however the tracks are normally higher than a normal up and over door as well as wider so do tend to be out of the way and can be specified at different heights anyway if your ceiling is high.

Take a good look at both options before making a decision and beware of those cheap low quality insulated roller doors!!

Call or email us for advice of course on any queries you may have on either door type.