One of the most practical and cost-effective ways to provide insulation and security to a building is to install roller shutters. Made from interlocking horizontal slats that roll down to form a rigid barrier, roller shutters have multiple uses but are easy to install and maintain.

Every property and property owner has different needs, which is why there are different types of roller shutters that can meet varying requirements. These doors can be classified by the application, operating system, and materials they’re made of, among other factors.

If you aren’t sure which kinds of roller shutter doors are available, or which type of roller shutter is best for your property, here is a quick guide to roller shutters to help you decide.

Roller shutters (roller garage doors)

For most people, the most familiar type of roller shutter is the standard roller garage door style, typically found in residential buildings to protect garages and car ports. These roller shutter doors can also be used in private or commercial buildings to control access to a parking area.

These products tend to have double layers for added insulation and strength, with a motor that can be operated by remote control. For example, at Roller Shutter Services, we supply automatic insulated roller garage doors that provide safety with a clean and compact finish.

This type of shutter opens and closes by rolling vertically around a barrel mounted above, guided through channels on either side to keep the curtain aligned. They often come with extra features like a photobeam sensor to prevent the shutter from closing if there is an obstruction.  

Rapid roll doors (high-speed shutters)

As the name suggests, rapid roll doors are shutters that can open and close at high speed. This also gives them their other well-known name, high speed shutters. This fast action ensures that there is as little disruption to work flow as possible, as well as reducing security risks.

These rapid roller shutter doors are most often found in factories and warehouses, which tend to have loading bays for moving goods in and out of the building that require secure protection. They can also be found securing access points to supermarket storage areas.

Rapid roll doors are known for efficiency and reliability, and are insulated to reduce heat loss and noise pollution. The quick and smooth operation – opening/closing at a speed of up to 0.8m per second – reduces both the risk of impact-related accidents and running costs.

Fire shutters (and fire curtains)

In public and commercial buildings where there may be a higher risk of fire, it’s required by law to have heightened fire safety measures in place, which may include fire shutters. These are not regular fire exit doors, but purpose-designed barriers to limit the spread of fire.

Insulated fire roller shutters are made from toughened metal that can prevent smoke and heat from passing through when closed, as well as cutting off the pathway so that flames can’t spread. These shutters have an integrity rating based on how long they should last in a fire.

For example, our fire shutters at Roller Shutter Services are designed to hold out against flames for up to 1 hour, allowing people time to evacuate and limiting property damage to the contained area until emergency services can arrive with the professional resources to put the fire out.

Another style of fire-resistant barrier is a fire curtain, which is not the same thing as a fire shutter. Instead of being a rigid metal shutter, fire curtains are textile barriers made from woven fibreglass – though they do operate similarly with guide channels and a headbox.

Roller shutter operating systems

Typically, roller shutters work by inserting a curtain of connected horizontal laths into tracks attached to either side of a door or window opening, and rolling the curtain around a barrel mechanism housed in a canopy or headbox mounted overhead to open the shutter.

A roller shutter usually has a rigid bottom rail for reinforcement, which also features a locking mechanism to secure the shutter when fully closed. They can be opened or closed either manually or automatically, though many roller shutters use a combination of these operating systems.

Manual roller shutters only have a manual operating system, usually either a push-pull style or a mechanical gear system with a winding chain or crank handle. This simple system makes them cheaper to buy and install, but less convenient to use.

Meanwhile, automatic roller shutters use an electric-powered motor that automatically triggers the shutter to descend or lift at the press of a button. No physical effort is required and they open and close much faster, making them worth the higher price for the more complex system.

Of course, power failures are always a possibility, which is why doors such as our automated roller shutters and electric rapid roll doors all come with a backup manual override and safety fall arrests in case of motorised brake failure. This is especially important for fire shutters, too, as there is a higher possibility of electrical failure in a building resulting from a fire.

Roller shutter materials and designs

Most roller shutters are made from either lightweight aluminium or heavier steel, both of which are strong and durable materials. These tough metals hold up well against corrosion and wear, offering protection against weather as well as attempted forced entry or vandalism.

At Roller Shutter Services, our roller shutter doors are made using 77mm double-skin sections of aluminium to form a curtain, along with 90mm aluminium guide rails and support plates, bottom rails, and full box canopies all made of aluminium.

Meanwhile, our rapid roll doors need to be suitable for heavier industrial use, so their curtains are made from polyester curtains reinforced by a tubular steel structure. These also have the option of containing PVC windows for improved sightlines.

Similarly, fire shutters must be much tougher than a standard roller garage door, which is why our fire shutter doors are made from slats of 75mm galvanised steel, with a box assembly and guide rails also made using galvanised steel.

Though these are the set options for shutter materials, it’s possible to customise roller shutters with a powder coating. All doors supplied by Roller Shutter Services can be powder-coated in any RAL colour, allowing you to match the curtain, guide rails, and canopy box to your chosen colour scheme.

Roller shutter applications

There are many places where roller shutters can be installed, both internally and externally. However, shutters are most often used as a security feature, and therefore tend to be installed on the exterior of a building to protect entrance and exit points.

Domestic roller shutters are usually limited to garage doors or window covers, but there are many more potential applications for commercial roller shutters and industrial roller shutters. The same goes for fire shutters, which are found in a variety of building types.

Here are some common applications for the different types of roller shutters:

  • Commercial roller shutters – retail units, offices, storerooms, leisure facilities, health centres, banks, restaurants
  • Industrial roller shutters – warehouses, factories, loading bays, distribution centres, hangars, agricultural buildings
  • Fire shutters – kitchens, labs, and storage areas in restaurants, bars, offices, schools, supermarkets, hotels, hospitals, prisons

The most suitable roller shutter for a specific application depends on the location and overall needs of the business or premises, e.g. level of security and accessibility or level of fire protection.

Which type of roller shutter is the best?

Every roller shutter is different, especially when they can be manufactured to custom specifications like the products available from Roller Shutter Services. This makes it possible to tailor a roller shutter to your exact needs within your budget.

While the overall cost is undeniably an important factor, you’ll need to consider the following when choosing the best roller shutter for your property:

  • Location and size
  • Operating system
  • Power availability
  • Usage (high or low)
  • Safety controls
  • Security features
  • Material and finish

If you need help considering the various options and designing a bespoke roller shutter, don’t hesitate to make an enquiry and request a quote.

The Roller Shutter Services team is happy to help with a range of roller shutter types, as well as other types of doors and curtains (including steel security doors, sectional doors, fire curtains, and UVPC strip curtains).

We manufacture and install roller shutters in Bolton and across the North West, also helping with manual to electric conversions and emergency repairs. Whether you’re in need of design, supply, installation, or roller shutter repair services, we can help – so get in touch today.

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