January-February 2003

The Final Stages
The New Side-Hinged Door Standard is Not Planned to be a Stand-Alone Document
by Alan Campbell

As you recall from the previous issue of Shelter magazine (page 40), the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) has been working for several years now to develop a sophisticated new industry standard for entry doors. This document, titled Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems, is a joint effort with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).

The Standard in Short
Briefly, this new standard was created to recognize the fact that entry doors can not be treated simply as "slabs." In fact, in the real world, those doors are always part of a "door system" that includes the door slab, the jamb or frame, the threshold, mounting and locking hardware and even sidelites. In the past, WDMA's entry door standard focused exclusively on wood door slabs. This new standard is completely material-neutral, meaning that it applies to all materials used in the design and assembly of these door systems, including wood, steel, fiberglass and composites.

Furthermore, this document is a performance-based standard. It creates five distinct performance classes and establishes minimum gateway levels of performance that a product must meet in order to be rated in that class. This is the first time that the industry is being exposed to these new performance criteria for entry doors. The standard clearly outlines required testing and acceptable performance levels for air infiltration, water resistance, structural loading, forced entry resistance and component requirements. These are certainly not radical new tests. In fact, these tests have been used on window products successfully for many decades. By evaluating the door systems' performance in these tests, a design pressure (DP) rating can then be assigned to the product and that DP rating helps determine its performance class. 

Because there are some complex issues related to the maximum threshold heights allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and the minimum threshold heights for good water resistance, the new standard creates a new classification for "limited water" resistance. This change allows products to still be certified to the standard and also meet ADA requirements. The actual product certification label will alert the builder/architect/consumer that the product meets limited water resistance.

Products Addressed
It is always important to have a clear understanding of what products are addressed within a standard and also those that are not covered. In the case of this new entry door standard, as its name implies, it is focused just on side-hinged doors (not garage doors, sliding doors or revolving doors). 

Likewise, the standard specifically excludes those products that don't feature an actual frame assembly, such as the glass doors in an aluminum storefront. Similarly, curtainwall designs are excluded from the standard. One final, but very important exception, excludes "site-built" situations. In these cases, the individual components of an entry door system (i.e., door slab, frame, threshold, weatherstrip, hardware, etc.) arrive separately at the construction site and are assembled into one "unit" on-site by the contractor. To be as simple as possible, this new standard is really targeted toward those complete entry door systems that arrive at the job site ready for installation, either from the manufacturer or from the distributor/pre-hanger. It should be noted that these units can be either fully assembled or in a knock-down (KD) state, but everything is complete from one source.

A Radical New Concept
Because this is such a radical new concept within the door industry, it is certain to generate some strong opinions. That was certainly evidenced at the National Sash & Door Jobbers Association (NSDJA) Convention in San Antonio in October 2002. WDMA was invited to participate in the educational programs, and we presented a seminar on the new standard. We presented data on the enormous size of the residential door market and emphasized the need to develop a strong, performance-based standard to address those 12.5 million units annually. There was also a sweeping overview of the contents of the new standard, with particular emphasis on the complex issue of limited water penetration.

The area which generated the most concern and debate was actual product testing and certification. This debate clearly highlighted the critical difference between the window and door industries. Windows are produced almost exclusively as "whole units," meaning that they are complete and ready for installation when shipped by the manufacturer, even allowing for KD units. Doors are a completely different matter. There are a large number of doors that are produced just as "door slabs" by the various manufacturers and then shipped to dealers, distributors, lumberyards, jobbers and retailers. It is at that next level in the supply channel when those units are combined with other products (frames, thresholds, hardware, etc.) and are assembled as a "whole unit" or an entry door system.

Testing and certification of window units is a relatively easy process for window manufacturers because they obviously control the entire design and assembly process, and they can adjust their designs and components to achieve whatever DP rating they desire. There are a good number of door manufacturers who likewise produce the entire entry door system, and in those cases, they are able to guide the design process and are responsible for conducting the product testing and certification.

The new standard and subsequent certification programs, however, will now involve all those dealers, distributors, pre-hangers, jobbers, etc. who have the responsibility of assembling whole door systems for their customers. If they are purchasing door slabs from one manufacturer, frames from another, thresholds from another, weatherstrip from someone else, and finally hardware from a different source, then that company is essentially producing the "entry door system." 

In those cases, the duty to perform testing and certification rests with the company that puts all the pieces together. It would be virtually impossible to assign any type of a DP rating to just a door slab as it left the factory without knowing what type of frame it will be installed in. This testing and certification process is entirely new to many dealers and distributors, and they forced their clear concern during the presentation at the NSDJA convention. The point was made numerous times during the discussion that dealers and distributors need to become involved in the process in order to help shape the process.

Reaching the Final Stage
At this point, the new standard has reached its final stage. It is being incorporated into a comprehensive new standard for all fenestration products in North America, rather than existing as a stand-alone document. 

Visit to view the standardís final draft. The new entry door standard will be a prominent chapter or section of that new standard. Even though work is now complete on the entry door section of NAFS-2, there is still significant work to be completed in other sections of the document. When all of that work is completed, the entire NAFS-2 standard will be presented to the industry for final approval. It is not our plan currently to ballot and adopt the new entry door standard as a "stand-alone" document.

Anyone interested in the final content of the entry door standard is encouraged to go to to review the final draft. Likewise, they can contact the WDMA office at 847/299-5200 and speak with Rick Perry, WDMA director of industry standards. 


CAMPBELL Alan Campbell, CAE, serves as president of the WDMA, based in Des Plaines, Ill.




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