U.S. and Canadian Requirements for Windows and Doors

What you need to know about performance standards and testing

26 October 2017

There is no shortage of performance standards in the United States and Canada for windows, doors and other fenestration components. Meeting the requirements outlined in the International Building Code means a product meets minimum requirements. Depending on the intended market, there may be more specific testing and certification requirements. Understanding what is required can be overwhelming and challenging.

A good place to start is with the basic building code requirements in AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440. Performance testing in these requirements includes air infiltration, water penetration, structural performance, forced entry and secondary testing. Products are separated into four classes: residential, light commercial, heavy commercial and architectural grade. The classifications define the minimum test requirements and performance criteria.

In addition to the baseline established by AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, you must also consider:

  • Canadian Supplement Act: Developed to outline additional requirements applicable to Canada, this covers: insect screen serviceability, operating force requirements, air leakage performance, water penetration resistance and driving rain wind pressure.
  • Product Operation and Orientation: Tests must be conducted if changes are made to a product’s profile shape, cross section or swing direction. For example, an inswing product can’t be qualified by testing an outswing product and a fixed product can’t qualify if tested as an operable product. If making any such changes, the product must be retested.
  • Material requirements: Requirements related to wood, wood-clad and aluminum products must also be considered. Wood moisture content, adhesives, lead content, aluminum coatings and tensile strength are just some of the materials that may require testing.
  • Component requirements: There are also requirements related to components such as hardware, fasteners, weather stripping, sealants, coatings and finishes. Documentation illustrating compliance must be submitted by a third-party testing laboratory.
  • Hurricane Testing: Regions classified as high velocity hurricane zones (HVHZ) and wind-borne debris regions (WBDR) have requirements to ensure safety during hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural disasters. Impact testing is necessary for portions of the United States from Texas through Maine, with some local jurisdictions having more stringent requirements than others. Compliance to the most stringent, in Miami-Dade County, ensures compliance to many other jurisdictions.
  • Thermal Testing: Parts of North America that experience warmer weather or extreme temperature fluctuations may have energy performance requirements to ensure comfort year-round, provide higher levels of energy efficiency or reduce a building’s carbon footprint. Thermal testing will illustrate and provide the information needed under these requirements.
  • Acoustical Testing: The demand for sound-reducing building materials has continued to rise, leading to increased regulation in the area. Testing for sound absorption, transmission, impact and power will assist with this need.

Once complete, test results, along with paperwork, form the basis of certification and valid labelling for products. Keep in mind that retesting and re-certification must be conducted every four years.

Performance testing plays a key role in the certification and labelling requirements and to provide consumers piece of mind. Keeping track of the various requirements can be challenging, but important. Working with a trusted third party can play help in fulfilling performance testing needs.

For more insights on the requirements for windows and doors in the U.S. and Canada, download a free copy of our white paper.

Anne Mendoza has spent more than five years at Intertek, where she has mainly focused on product testing. She is currently an Inside Sales Representative across many disciplines. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs from George Mason University and is soon to complete her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership from Elizabethtown College.