When it comes to commercial and residential building products, standards exist to establish baseline levels of performance, quality or safety. When a building code requires a product to meet certain parameters, standards ensure manufacturers understand what those thresholds are, so they can design their products to meet those requirements. In other words, building codes tell manufacturers what they’re required to do, and standards tell them how to do it.
For example, the International Residential Code requires all exterior windows, sliding doors and side-hinged doors to be tested and labeled as conforming to the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440 North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS for short). The NAFS Standard specifies the testing requirements various products must meet to achieve a performance rating and performance classes. Manufacturers who are in conformance with the NAFS standards are permitted to label their products to indicate a product has been tested and certified to meet the code requirements.
Architects, builders and remodelers who need to be sure they’re specifying or installing high-performance windows, doors and skylights turn to the Window and Door Manufacturers Association’s (WDMA) Hallmark Certification Program, which verifies that certified products were tested to finished product performance attributes, as well as the most rigorous and comprehensive industry standards.
So if the WDMA Hallmark Certification Program ensures certification with standards, what does this say about the product?
There are five primary performance requirements that the NAFS standard applies to all windows, doors and skylights. Products certified to the NAFS standard must ensure the fenestration meets the applicable design loads of the building codes (wind, snow, dead load, etc.). Equally important is making sure the windows, doors and skylights meet the minimum water penetration resistance and air infiltration/exfiltration requirements, followed by forced entry resistance and maximum operating forces for the applicable products.
The NAFS standard establishes the levels of performance a product must achieve, regardless of the material used in the design of the frame, sash or panel. The standard outlines various “performance grades” that a given product can achieve, and signifies if the product has achieved a higher uniform structural load capability and passed higher water resistance testing. This is important when the building is located in coastal areas or exposed to higher than average wind pressure.
In addition to performance grades, the standard also defines four performance classes (R, LC, CW & AW), which designate the level of performance expected from the product and correlate with the level to which the product was tested. These performance classes are designed to assist designers and specifiers in selecting products within the appropriate class, based on the intended design of the building.
The key takeaway all architects, builders and remodelers should know is when the product you install bears the WDMA Hallmark Certification Program Label, you can rest assured that the product is code compliant and was manufactured in accordance with the applicable referenced standards.
As a builder, architect and remodeler, a certified product shows you’re confident in the performance of the materials you use or specify. Standards play an important role in ensuring that the windows, doors and skylights will perform for the life of the building, and the label helps communicate to the code official the product is code compliant.
For more information about WDMA standards or the Hallmark Certification Program, visit the WDMA website.
By: Steven Orlowski
Senior Director of Standards and Technical Activities for the Window & Door Manufacturers Association.
Understand the benefits of window, door and skylight certification and how certified products can enhance your projects.
The Understanding Window, Door & Skylight Certification webinar is designed to help architects and remodelers understand the benefits of window, door and skylight certification and how certified products can enhance their projects.