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How to solve the biggest problem with roller shutters: the noise

Is the noise from your roller shutters driving you crazy? 

You're not the only one.

At Remax we're often approached by clients who are looking for a quiet roller shutter for their home, business, or organisation, especially when loud noises affect the activity on site (such as a busy office or hospital for example).

How noisy is your roller shutter in comparison to others on the market and how loud is too loud?

Why roller shutters become noisy

There are many reasons why roller shutters can be noisy when they operate. Often, this tendency only becomes more severe as the door gets older, since they require some maintenance and upkeep to run efficiently - which is often overlooked. 

Motor parts require lubrication in order to work properly. When the gears, wheels and other metal moving parts are not well-lubricated, they tend to become noisy. Lubrication not only overcomes this noise, it also makes the motor work more efficiently.  Motorized roller shutters also tend to get noisy when parts are loose, not in their proper locations, or corroded.

Keep in mind that roller shutters are typically constructed from roll-formed steel ‘slats’ which roll onto each other as the door opens. This action produces a lot of "metal on metal" noise. Even the guides are typically bare metal, and the curtain sliding down in them produces a loud screeching noise. This noise can also be caused by vibration of metal against metal of the roller shutter parts, or loose rails.

Older roller shutters can suffer from further issues because over time, the slats will stretch and cause the door to sag or ’corkscrew’ as it rolls up. This in turn places additional load on the motor and guides, exacerbating the noise.

Larger doors will expand with direct heat, causing binding and additional friction as the door operates, and this often translates to loud screeching as the door opens.

Compact sectional doors: a quality alternative to noisy roller shutters

The compact sectional door is a high quality alternative to standard roller shutters with many benefits: one of them their quiet operation. 

In a recent on-site noise assessment carried out by the Remax team, we found that a standard roller shutter screamed in at 77dB* whilst our compact sectional door whispered in at 52dB.

Download the Sectional Door Brochure

What's more, the roller shutter which we tested on-site was relatively new (roughly a year old). Older roller shutters tend to be even noisier if they are not well maintained - some screeching even louder at around 85dB for example. 

This is significant when you consider that a conversation in a restaurant or office; background music; or an air conditioning unit 100 feet away can be just 60db which is half as loud as 70dB.

Roller shutters are not only noisy, they also lack insulation. If your roller shutter:

  • Takes up too much space
  • Does not leave room for overhead lighting or skylights
  • Is not sufficiently insulated, or
  • Does not move smoothly.

...then a compact sectional door by Remax can be the ideal solution.

Compact Sectional Doors vs Roller Shutters

How Loud is Too loud for a Roller Shutter?

Some roller shutter doors are astoundingly loud. By way of comparison:

  • Breathing is registered at 10 decibels.
  • A garbage disposal, food blender, or drilling machine is anywhere between 80 to 85dB (twice as loud as 70dB and causing possible hearing damage with 8 hours exposure).
  • A Boeing 737 at 6,080ft before landing registers noise at 97dB.
  • Motorcycle at 25ft registered at 90dB is four times as loud as 70dB.
  • A riveting machine is registered at 110 dB (the average human pain threshold. 16 times as loud as 70dB)
  • A thunderclap / chain saw / oxygen torch is registered at 120dB. 32 times as loud as 70dB.
  • A jet take-off at 25m is registered at 150dB with an effect of an eardrum rupture! Source < Industrial Noise Control>

The table below shows decibels translated into terms we relate to: 

Change in Sound level  

Change in apparent loudness

3 decibels =

Just perceptible

5 decibels =

Clearly noticeable

10 decibels =

Half as loud

20 decibels =

Much quieter

<source: http://www.rollershutters.com.au/Noise-Insulation.php >

To understand how some common noises compare with changes in sound levels (decibels) and the predicted apparent change in loudness, refer to the table below.

Noise Reduction in Decibels Predicted subjective response
City traffic (10m from kerb) 4 decibels just perceptible - clearly noticeable
Urban motorway (40m from edge) 3 decibels just perceptible

Jet airliner flying at 300m

6 decibels

clearly noticeable

Dishes being washed (kitchen) 10 decibels

perceived as half as loud

2 stroke whipper snipper at 7m 7 decibels clearly noticeable
2 stroke lawn mower at 7m 4 decibels

just perceptible - clearly noticeable

Small dog barking at 5m 9 decibels clearly noticeable – perceived half as loud

How Can You Improve The Noise from a Roller Shutter?

  • Typically, intermediate slats are fitted with nylon slat clips. These help to keep the metal slat away from the guide, and reduce noise. Check for any clips that are broken or missing and replace them to reduce noise and free up the operation of your door

  • Check your guides for damage. Even a small dent in the guide can create a pinch point for the door travel, adding load and noise.

  • Some (not all) shutters will respond to some lubrication of the guides to reduce the metal-to-metal wear and tear, and noise. We recommend you check with your roller shutter service technician on this one, before applying.

  • Check the door's spring tension. An under-tensioned or out-of-balance door will operate under substantial load and generate noise from the guides and motor. Not to mention, it will be dangerous to operate!

  • Check for damaged slats. Sometimes the door may have been hit and bent in the past and has not been properly straightened out, causing additional friction and noise. Damaged slats can be easily replaced, adding new life to an old door. Talk to us on 1800 010 221.

Compact Folding Sectional Doors Meet Requirements

The compact sectional door folds up above the opening so there is plenty of space for lighting and a sprinkler system. The insulated door blades mean that energy loss is limited.

Compact sectional doors also fulfil one of the most important requirements – smooth operation. The panels fold up quietly and smoothly: the panels fold without noise; the electric motor is low noise; and when the door closes, the panels glide shut quietly using gravity.

Low Maintenance Costs, Reduced Noise, and Energy Savings

If you have many doors on-site, you need a quiet site, or you meet with clients often and can no longer handle the screeching roller shutter downstairs, the compact sectional folding door is the perfect replacement for roller shutter doors.

Compact Doors_recessed ceiling.jpg

This folding door is self-supporting with its side rails, so nothing more is needed. Since the compact door folds up above the door opening, it therefore does not require a steel structure on the ceiling or above the access.

No balance springs are needed, the door blade is moved up by an electric motor and when closing, gravity plays its part. The advantage of this is that there are lower maintenance costs because there is simply less to maintain.

The quiet and gradual movement uses little energy and this means a longer lifespan and lower maintenance costs.

Download your Compact Sectional Door Brochure

Find Out More about Quieter Alternatives To Roller Shutters

If you're concerned about noise at your office, home, or worksite, talk to Remax about quiet compact sectional doors. 

When employees are frequently exposed to loud noise in the workplace, it can damage their hearing and lead to irreversible tinnitus or hearing loss.

Damage to hearing from noise accumulates - the higher the level of sound and the longer the exposure, the more damage is likely to occur.

For more information about better doors for your facility, get in touch with the expert Remax team online or call us on 1800 010 221.