Volume 14, Issue 4 - May 2013

AAMA Analysis

Head to Head
Third-Party Certification Versus the Test Report
by Dean Lewis

Since 1962, AAMA’s certification program—the original thirdparty window performance verification program—has provided fenestration manufacturers with the means to independently test product performance against consensus standards. Backed by ANSI accreditation since 1972, the AAMA “Gold Label,” which manufacturers elect to affix to authorized products, is now well-recognized throughout the industry and its markets as the definitive sign of code-mandated compliance and performance quality. This year, the AAMA Gold Label iscelebrating its 50th anniversary.

Based as it is on AAMA/ WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440, North American Fenestration Standard/ Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights (NAFS) or its applicable predecessors, AAMA certification offers a uniform, material-neutral, performance-based platform from which all pertinent materials and products can be tested and compared
on a level playing field.

Why Certify?
The key benefits of certification
are that it:

• Provides product acceptance by building control authorities. Certification programs, especially those with a labeling component, free the design professional as well as the building official from the timeconsuming process of researching the validity of manufacturers’ claims;

• Manages legal liability;

• Increases market potential and efficiency, while raising the overall bar for fenestration products
in the market;

• Promotes good manufacturing practices;

• Facilitates the use of new and innovative products that meet performance requirements; and

• Provides consumer assurance by third-party verification of performance

Self-Testing vs. Certification
The key reason for these demonstrable benefits is that the AAMA certification program brings the transparency, impartiality and credibility of independent thirdparty testing to door, window and skylight quality assurance. “Thirdparty” means an entity independent from both the manufacturer and the customer. With no conflict of interest, a “third party” can be completely objective in the evaluation of the product being tested.

It is true that any manufacturer may have product prototypes tested for conformance to AAMA standards and may claim that they meet the standards based on these test results. And perhaps they do. However, AAMA certification assures the end user that test reports are up to date, that components being used in production are as-tested and that the plant’s quality control procedures are in place to assure repeatability and consistency.

There is also the question of the competence and independence of the testing laboratory that is the source of the test report. All laboratories that perform testing for AAMA certification must be accredited by AAMA to demonstrate competence in testing and to show that they, too, are third-party—completely independent from the manufacturer. Many test labs in our industry (and others) proudly carry legitimate accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, and include in their accreditation scope the critical test methods for fenestration performance specified in NAFS—ASTM E283, E330, E331, E547 and others. This valuable credential is primarily a laboratory management system standard. By contrast, AAMA accreditation focuses on these key fenestration test methods, technician competence directly related to fenestration testing and requires witnessing performance of the test routine and verified calibration of the equipment.

This consistent and carefully documented independent testing and inspection procedure is the reason that the AAMA certification label has earned a reputation over the past 50 years as the credible thirdparty indicator of product quality and documented performance.

Dean Lewis serves as educational and technical information manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers
Association in Schaumburg, Ill.


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