For several years, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), in a joint effort with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), has been working on an industry standard for  side-hinged exterior doors.

“This new standard (Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems) was created to fill a void in the testing and performance of side-hinged exterior doors and to recognize that sidehinged exterior doors cannot be treated simply as slabs,” said Alan Campbell, WDMA president.

He pointed out that in reality, doors are always part of a door system consisting of the door slab, jamb or frame, threshold, mounting and locking hardware, sidelites and transoms.

“While there have been several standards applicable to side-hinged exterior door systems, they have been material-specific, leaving performance requirements to the interpretation of specifiers, architects and other involved parties,” he said.

According to Campbell, without any uniform industry standards for manufacturers to follow, there is concern that the absence of a set of performance criteria could create some problems. For example, the lack of an industry standard would generate the need (through a regulation or code) for testing and evaluating every type of door product line—a situation that would be not only cumbersome but quite costly.

“Look at what has happened in Dade County Fla. where municipalities created codes following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew. In the absence of an all-encompassing standard for side-hinged exterior door systems, we as an industry could find ourselves faced with a standard that is difficult or impossible to comply to,” said Rick Perry, director of industry standards for WDMA.

Clarifying the scope of the proposed standard, Campbell said it applies to side-hinged exterior doors only; not garage doors, sliding doors, revolving doors and products that do not have an actual frame assembly, such as glass doors in an aluminum storefront. Curtainwall designs are also excluded. One other exception Campbell referred to is “site-built situations” where individual components of a door system from multiple manufacturers arrive separately at a job site and are assembled into one unit by the contractor.

Key Points

Following are some key points of the standard:

Who Is Affected

In October 2002, WDMA gave a seminar on the new standard at the annual convention of the National Sash and Door Jobbers Association (now known as the Association of Millwork Distributors).

“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. The area that generated the most concern and debate was product testing and certification,” said Campbell.

Outlining the scope of the standard, Campbell explained that it and subsequent certification programs would involve dealers, distributors, pre-hangers and jobbers (glazing contractors) 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 hardware from another source, then it is the pre-hanger that is actually producing the door system. The duty to perform testing and certification rests with the company that puts all the pieces together.”

Campbell also added that door manufacturers who produce the entire door system and oversee the design process are responsible for product testing and certification as well.

Who Is Not Affected

Contractors who install a fully assembled door or products that do not have a frame assembly—glass doors in an aluminum storefront, for example—or who are involved with curtainwall, would be exempted. Since the standard is focused on residential installations, contractors who do not handle residential projects would not be affected.

Reaction To Proposed Standard

Reaction to the presentation at NSDJA could be described as spirited—or rioted—depending on your point of view.

“Codes and standards are best crafted when all affected channel partners participate in the design and language of the standard. When only one party or channel creates such an initiative, it can have the impact of tilting the playing field, thereby creating barriers to competition and increasing prices. Our members are comprised of jobbers, wholesale distributors and assorted varieties of material dealers. Very few perform installations of any kind,” said incoming AMD president Brian McIlwee, JJ McIlwee Co.

In his article, “NSDJA & WDMA-Working Together,” published in NSDJA News, current NSDJA president George Lorenz, Western Building Products, outlined members’ concerns. One is the long-term impact on their businesses if the current wording in the standard remains. Some members, according to the article, suggested that entry doors supplied by distributors who assemble their own door systems could potentially be eliminated. Others expressed a fear that manufacturers with a complete, tested system would meet the standard. And many questioned the need for another standard in light of ENERGY STAR®, National Fenestration Rating Council and thermal ratings, referring to it as redundant and cumbersome.

Lorenz mentioned the importance of the two organizations working together to modify the standard so it is suitable for everyone because “we are linked by our participation in the same supply chain. WDMA represents the manufacturer with a focus on product standards and technical aspects of the window and door industry. NSDJA, on the other hand represents the sales, marketing, assembly and logistics functions within the entire millwork industry.”

The Next Step

Through close communication between the two associations, the proposed standard was on the agenda once again, for NSDJA’s convention. (Editor’s note: At the 2002 meeting, the NSDJA voted to change its name to the Association of Millwork Distributors).

“This (proposed standard) is being incorporated into a comprehensive new standard for all fenestration products in North America,” said Campbell. “With a clear understanding of what it is and how each party will be impacted, the side-hinged, exterior door standard will be able to stand the test of time and meet requirements for accessibility and emergency exit.”

For more information on the standard, contact Rick Perry, WDMA at 847-299-5200.

Alan B. Goldberg is a contributing writer for DWM. He has more than 30 years of experience in the insulating glass market.