The Ultimate Guide to Roller Garage Doors

Here at ABi we have been selling and installing garage doors for nearly 40 years and we have seen a lot of changes and technical innovation over this time.

One type of garage door that has definitely become a lot more popular recently is the roller door. Once the mainstay of post-apocalyptic industrial estates and dilapidated warehouses its appearance has dramatically improved over the years and is no longer considered a bit too ‘industrial-ified’ for the discerning homeowner. It is in fact one of the most popular types of garage door we now install.

In this guide we will take a look at the modern roller door, examine some of the pros and cons and provide some information on what to look out for if you are in the market for a new roller garage door.

So what is a roller door exactly?

Basically, a roller door, well, rolls up. Roller doors are constructed in such a way that as the door or ‘curtain’ opens, it rolls around an axle or drum and forms a neat a tidy roll, usually above the opening.

There are however, different types of roller door, which we can separate into two main categories as follows:

Single skin steel roller doors

Steel Single Skin Roller Garage Doors

Single skin roller doors are manufactured from specially formed corrugated sheets of steel. This is usually coated with a plastic or a foil finish which provides colour and design options but also provides a very durable finish. The corrugated steel fits into guides at the side of the opening and is flexible enough to roll onto a drum above the opening. Available in manual and automatic options, these doors used to be the budget friendly option for a roller door, but as the cost of insulated type roller doors has dropped over the last few years, they are not as budget as they once were. They are very reliable though, and especially for a manual type roller door, they still provide a pretty good product for the money. Gliderol and Garage Door Systems (GDS) are the main two manufacturers to look out for this type of door in the UK.

Insulated Aluminium roller doors

Aluminium Roller Garage Doors

Insulated roller doors are usually constructed using aluminium slats or ‘laths’ that are formed in such a way that they slot into each other and form a hinge. This allows the curtain to be flexible enough to curl around a drum above the opening and form a roll. The laths are filled with polyurethane foam to provide a decent level of insulation and whilst they can be supplied as a manual roller door they are really designed to operate as an electric roller door.

The curtain fits into guides at the sides of the opening and the drum can be enclosed in a full box cover so that it is not visible, which provides a pretty neat and tidy product, although this does add to the cost. The door is then combined with a motor, control unit and safety system to provide the automation.

There is, however, quite a large variation in quality with this type of roller door, and whilst most insulated roller doors look similar from the outside, there can actually be large differences in the mechanisms and quality of the parts that make up the product. The depth of the side guides, type of drum, construction of the laths, and type of automation and safety system can have a significant impact on the durability, security, and safety of an insulated roller door, and we would always recommend purchasing a door from an established and reputable company. All good, insulated roller doors should be fully CE (or UKCA) marked with a published wind load specification. Some manufacturers we would recommend looking out for are Hormann, SWS, and Gliderol.

Are roller doors secure?

Yes, all good quality roller doors are very secure. Some products such as the SWS SeceuroGlide incorporate additional features such as centralised locking blocks for added security, and one certification to look out for is Secured by Design (SBD). This is a certificate awarded to products that have been independently tested and shown to withstand a forced entry attack. More information can be found at the Secured by Design website.

Can I have windows in a roller door?

Roller Garage Doors Windows

Yes, insulated roller doors are available with ‘vision slats’. This means some of the laths can have glazed sections and whilst they can only be the same height as a single lath, it is possible to install a number of vision slats in the curtain to provide a good level of glazing.

Are roller doors weatherproof?

Roller Door Weather Seal

Ultimately, all garage doors are designed primarily as vehicle access doors, and there is no garage door on the market that provides the same level of weather protection as a fully sealed double-glazed window. That being said, some garage doors provide more protection than others and roller doors are definitely some of the most weatherproof garage doors available. Insulated roller doors obviously provide higher levels of insulation but features such as bottom rubber seals and brush strips in the guides provide good levels of weather protection across most good quality roller doors.

Do roller doors require regular maintenance?

Roller Garage Doors Maintenance

Most roller doors generally require very little maintenance. It doesn’t hurt to occasionally clean the curtain, and maybe check the side guides for any stones or obstructions. They don’t usually need any lubrication but if you find your door is a little squeaky then some light silicone based lubrication in the guides is usually sufficient to keep them in good working condition.

Colour and design options

Roller Door Colours
A roller door curtain needs to be flexible enough to roll around the drum, so the construction of the curtain means the design is pretty much set. There are, however, a huge range of colour and finish options, including timber and wood grain effects, which means modern roller doors looks infinitely smarter than the old galvanised steel industrial roller doors.

Can I paint a roller door?

Painting roller garage doors
Yes, it is possible to paint a roller door, though it is worth bearing in mind that the curtain is flexible, and any paint finish will be subject to quite a lot of movement and abrasion. There are companies that offer professional on-site spraying of doors and windows, and we would always recommend this over an old tin of gloss you had lying around. Ensuring the door surface is prepared properly before painting will definitely help ensure a longer lasting finish.

How are roller doors installed?

Roller Garage Door Behind Opening
Where possible we would usually install a roller door on the back of or ‘behind’ the opening. This allows the full width and height of the opening to be available as drive through space. There needs to be enough room above the opening to accommodate the roller door drum and roll, usually 300mm, and enough width on the back of the opening to allow for the guides to be fitted. It is possible to install a roller door in between the opening but this means that the drum is positioned in between the opening at the top, which will reduce the height and width available.

External roller doors

External Roller Garage Doors
Roller doors can also be installed on the outside of an opening. The drum is enclosed in a weatherproof full box cover and fits on the outside, above the opening. Whilst this method of installation is not always the most aesthetically pleasing, it does provide the maximum amount of drive through space when it is not possible to install the door internally.


Modern Roller doors look great, require little maintenance, and provide a very neat and tidy space saving solution. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the cheaper doors on the market don’t necessarily offer the same level of security, durability, and safety as the higher quality products and its definitely worth checking to see what warranties are provided. It’s also worth considering how much space is available to install a roller garage door and what method of installation a particular opening might need, and whilst the design options for roller doors are limited the huge range of colour and finish options means that a modern roller door will enhance the kerb appeal of any property!