Not Just a Pretty Window 
Beauty is Important But Manufacturing Techniques Reign Supreme

by Alan Campbell

While beauty and looks are certainly important attributes of windows, doors and skylights, without top-of-the-line manufacturing techniques and tactics, none of this would be possible. Manufacturers are innovators in their own rights, and they start their endeavors at the onset of construction and earlier, to make certain that what they bring to market is the best it can be.

At the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), our members are involved in securing the longevity of the industry through standards, certification programs and other critical areas that take manufacturing excellence to the next higher level and beyond. Skylights have been no exception. 

New Standards
A new National Fenestration Rating Council standard for skylights is slated to take effect on April 1, 2004. It uses a new 20-degree slope, which is a change from a 90-degree simulation formerly afforded for testing. Now, the rating will better reflect skylight product efficiencies as they relate to the entire building envelope.

Windows, doors and skylights continue to play a leading role in the overall integrity of the building envelope, which is why there has been so much focus on these products. WDMA has made significant progress in the area of standards and certification and other programs that ultimately affect the success of the industry. For example, in 2003, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) granted approval of the 101/I.S.2/NAFS-02 North American Fenestration Standard, Voluntary Performance Specification for Windows, Skylights and Glass Doors as an ANSI standard. This new standard was the result of a four-year effort by WDMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association and others.

The first version of the North American Fenestration Standard (known as NAFS-1 before it achieved ANSI recognition) combines the performance-based standards from ANSI/AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S. 2-’97, Voluntary Specification for Aluminum, Vinyl (PVC) and Wood Windows and Glass Doors and the performance requirements from AAMA/WDMA 1600/I.S. 7, Voluntary Specification for Skylights. Preparation for the next edition of NAFS is well underway. The draft includes a side-hinged door specification and is titled 101/I.S. 2/A440, Specification for the Performance of Windows, Doors and Unit Skylights, which was also moving toward achieving ANSI accreditation at press time.

Strategies Target Performance
We feel the move toward performance documents is an important one for WDMA and the industry. Performance criteria help determine the selected practical application for the product. In the past, standards might simply have told manufacturers what materials and dimensions to use, rather than base the materials on how the product would be applied. We quickly realized that it’s not a smart way to ensure the 
stability of the window, door and skylight industry, thus the move toward performance specifications whenever and wherever applicable.

Doors are also crucial to our evolution to performance standards. The ANSI/WDMA I.S. 1-A Architectural Wood Flush Door Standard Committee is completing final revisions and corrections to this standard, including criteria for “Performance Duty Levels.” It, too, will have ANSI accreditation procedures initiated when the time comes, so interior doors certainly have not been ignored. An Interior Door Standards Committee, formerly the Door Steering Committee, is working on addressing interior fenestration products further. One of its first tasks is developing an Interior Door Environmental Standards Task Group to study environmental issues impacting this segment of the industry.

So, in all facets of the window and door industry, we are hard at work to address the issues most important to manufacturers.