Interim Door Certification Provides Method of Code Compliance Today

Rich Walker
October 1, 2009
COLUMN : Industry Watch | Codes & Standards

For some time, the side-hinged door was something of an outsider in the arena of standards development and certification, owing to unique properties of both the product and its marketplace.

Although the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-08 North American Fenestration Standar for windows, doors, and skylights–and its immediate 2005 predecessor–have been referenced by the I-codes, their sections on side-hinged doors are exempted due to the common marketplace practice of post-manufacture component substitution by jobbers, distributors and door pre-hangers that must satisfy individual customers. If the NAFS-08 standards’ requirements were enforced to the letter, each final side-hinged door configuration–with each custom menu of substituted components–would have to be separately tested, certified and labeled for compliance with the standard. Such testing would be costly.

After some six years of work, that situation is nearing resolution. But, specifiers and manufacturers should not forget that structural and impact certification of side-hinged doors is, and has been, available in the interim to meet current code requirements.

Available Now
In 2004, AAMA announced an interim third-party certification and labeling program allowing manufacturers to demonstrate compliance with Florida Building Code structural performance requirements. Applicable to both pre-assembled exterior doors and those shipped "knocked down" (KD), the program addresses structural testing per ASTM E330 and permits optional additional certification for impact resistance (per ASTM E 1886 and E 1986, or Miami-Dade Protocols TAS 201 and TAS 203.

Under the program guidelines, structural and optional impact testing must be performed by properly qualified AAMA-accredited labs per the specifications outlined in AAMA Technical Bulletin 04-01. The program does not include any gateway size requirements but the size tested will qualify doors of equal or smaller size. The structural test pressure must be 150 percent of the design pressure and the test report must include both positive and negative structural test pressure performance as well as both positive and negative design pressure performance.

The specific door configuration tested qualifies only those configurations with the same corner construction, frame/insert assembly, hinges and hinge locations, locking/latching hardware and installation methods. Bulletin 04-01 includes a chart which details alternate configurations qualified by the product tested. Glazed and unglazed door units do not qualify each other and door leaves with glazing must be tested with the largest glazing area provided in the door system for which compliance is desired.

Interestingly, this “interim” program has taken on a permanency of its own, providing a valid means to demonstrate basic code compliance, as the I-Codes provide an exemption for side-hinged doors from the full requirements of 101 by testing to ASTM E 330 for structural performance alone.

Component-Based Program Coming
Meanwhile, since the goal has always been to ensure the performance of side-hinged exterior entry doors from the standpoint of structural strength, resistance to air leakage and water penetration, forced-entry resistance and durability of hardware and components, the framework for a component-based testing and certification program is nearing completion. Under this approach, the basic exterior door system would be tested to air-water-structural requirements per the applicable “101” standard. Substitution would then be permitted from an array of components that have been tested and performance-rated per the specific test requirements cited in the standard. The governing structural rating is then either that of the complete door assembly or its weakest component, whichever is lowest. It is expected that there would be limits to the number of substitutions permitted without having to re-test the new configuration.

In an effort to spur industry collaboration on component substitution for door testing and certification, AAMA’s Door Council sponsored multiple industry forums in 2008 and 2009 inviting representatives from associations, test labs, door manufacturers and pre-hangers. Guidelines are being finalized for the permitted scope of component interchangeability, which can then be used to craft certification procedural guides. These guidelines could be completed this year. As the NAFS standard is reorganized to provide a separate section for doors, interchangeability guidelines may be included in a future edition. NAFS-2011 is already being developed and is targeted for publication by November, 2010.

Door manufacturers are encouraged to explore participation in the AAMA Door Council and contribute their expertise to the development of the standards which their products will eventually be required to meet.

Rich Walker is president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, 847/303-5664, rwalker@aamanet.org.