New Canadian Standards Could Impact Door Suppliers

By Jim Meeks and John Westfall, Quanex Building Products
November 8, 2011
FEATURE ARTICLE | Codes & Standards

In 2012, pre-hung door manufacturers selling into the Canadian market will encounter a game changer that might leave some scrambling. A Canadian Supplement will be included with the update to the North American Fenestration Standard that will likely impact the future of the entire exterior door industry.

The change means Canadian building codes will require fabricators selling into the Canadian market to adhere to marking specifications and have all exterior door products third-party tested to meet minimum performance levels outlined in NAFS-08. These test areas will include:

  • positive and negative design pressure,
  • water penetration resistance,
  • Canadian air infiltration/exfiltration
  • and forced entry resistance.

A grace period for compliance is likely, but exterior door producers are encouraged to act quickly to avoid over-filling at labs–and the subsequent extended lead times for testing. Currently, it can take up to six months to complete the testing and approval process.

 The Canadian supplement requirements will require manufacturers and pre-hangers to reconsider thresholds and a variety of other components they are using.

Exterior Door Design Considerations
To date, the exterior door industry has been driven more by price than by performance, so a shift in attitude will be necessary for many exterior door fabricators to comply with the rigorous tests outlined by the NAFS Canadian Supplement. They will need to look at the entire door system, including all materials and components, and the way they work together to meet performance requirements.

The water penetration resistance test will be a primary source of concern because just one drop of water on the interior of the door jamb could result in immediate failure of the system. Since the threat of water penetration is greatest at the bottom of the door, thresholds should be one of the first components to be reviewed. Commonly used threshold designs, such as "rail over dam" or a fixed sill with an adjustable sweep manage water but are not designed to keep water out 100 percent of the time.

Other components that contribute to the overall performance of the door system include sweeps, pads, weatherstrip, astragals, and the material of the door itself. There are components out there, including thresholds, that are designed to work together to meet and exceed NAFS standards in all areas, so the first step should be to talk to your suppliers.

If history repeats itself, these mandates in Canada are bound to be just the beginning. This is likely just the first step in a whole new era for exterior doors in North America–and the industry has a long way to shift its focus to performance.

Next week's Win-Door North America show, scheduled for November 15-17 in Toronto, couldn’t have happened at a better time as the industry tries to understand the implications of the NAFS Canadian Supplement.  A forum focusing on these developments is planned for November 17 in the Education Pavilion on the show floor.  Our company, and numerous other suppliers that can help door industry customers prepare for these changes, will be exhibiting as well. 

Jim Meeks is engineering manager and John Westfall is business development manager/window & door components at Quanex Building Products. The company is exhibiting in booth 1927 at Win-Door North America and welcomes attendees to stop by learn more about what the code changes mean for door pre-hangers and others.