November/December 2002


New Door Standard Hot Topic for Jobbers
by Alan J. Campbell

Editor’s note: At the recent NSDJA Convention in San Antonio, Alan Campbell, president of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), led a seminar titled “What’s New?—A Comprehensive Review of New Entry Door Standards.” The seminar proved to be quite controversial among many jobbers who attended, because many are afraid they will be run out of business if the standard’s wording remains the same. The following article by Campbell was published in SHELTER’s sister publication, Door and Window Maker, in its January/February 2002 issue. Campbell will also be writing a follow-up article in the January/February 2003 issue of SHELTER to address many jobbers’ concerns.

Technical standards quite literally can make or break a product. They must promote world-class production techniques, yet work well in practical application.

The WDMA continues to initiate, support and implement those standards integral to the success of the window and door industry. One of the standards that WDMA has developed and maintained is the WDMA I.S. 9 Wood Primary Entrance Doors document. In the fall of 1998, the WDMA Entry Door Standards Committee initiated the revision of the WDMA I.S. 9 Standard. The committee recognized that the standard should be updated to be material-neutral and include structural performance criteria applicable to the building code requirements. The WDMA Entry Door Standards Committee considered other industry standards such as the Canadian Standard for Insulated Entry Doors, Steel Door Institute Standards and ASTM standards 
and test methods. The result of this work is the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA)/WDMA Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems. 

Meeting a Need
This new standard was created to fill a void in the testing and performance of primary entrance doors. Purported as the first all-encompassing specification for the performance of hinged entry and patio door systems, the Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems is out for public review and can be accessed at

A combined effort by AAMA and WDMA, the standard will bridge a gap that existed in the testing of these products. Prior to publication, there were several material-specific standards applicable to side-hinged exterior door systems, leaving performance requirements up to interpretation by building code bodies, specifiers, architects and others. Manufacturers had no uniform standard to follow and often feared the lack of set criteria might constitute the need for testing and evaluating every different door product line—a costly endeavor to say the least. 

Performance Requirements
WDMA knows it is critical for entry doors to be designed successfully and with the proposed application of the product first and foremost. The AAMA/WDMA Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems establishes minimum and optional performance requirements for side-hinged exterior door systems, focusing on design pressure and related performance ratings. The voluntary specification covers requirements for single and dual side-hinged exterior door systems for new construction and retrofit applications. 

The Joint Exterior Door Task Group of AAMA and WDMA worked together to complete the new specification draft. It parallels the requirements and product designation systems of the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS-1) and represents five performance classes: residential, light-commercial, commercial, heavy-commercial and architectural. The material-neutral door standard compares products on the same basis, with set criteria established in gateway performance and other guidelines. The new specification evaluates products in a neutral manner based on performance, so designers and specifiers can readily match door products to individual project requirements.

Gateway performance is a set of primary requirements that must be met before entry into a performance class can be considered. Side-hinged exterior door systems included in the standard are designated by a five-part code that includes: product type, performance class, positive performance grade (design pressure), negative performance grade (design pressure), and maximum size tested. 

In addition to including the standard air, water, structural, forced- entry and component requirements, the new specification includes the limited resistance to water penetration, positive and negative design pressure and cycle testing. 

AAMA/WDMA Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems addresses and allows for limited water testing and ratings that may be applicable because of accessibility issues and applications pursuant to the Americans With Disabilities Act. For example, design limitations in threshold/sill heights make it difficult to meet standard gateway performance water-resistance requirements in published standards. In addition, many side-hinged exterior door systems in certain locations do not require the water penetration resistance levels of other fenestration products used in the same structure. Additionally, an exterior door is operated more than a window or skylight, also addressed under cycling performance.

Technical Expertise
WDMA continues to exert its technical expertise, focusing on the integration of standards and establishing recognized and credible performance testing. Like other specifications, the revised document benefits manufacturers because they have one standard with which to design their products and can meet and often exceed those targets. In addition, designers and architects do not have to juggle a variety of standards that use different test methods and criteria in an apples-versus-oranges approach.

Entry doors are different from windows and skylights, so they must have a standard that reflects their in-application use, assuring top quality. In addition, they must be able to stand the test of time, as well as meet requirements for accessibility and emergency exit. AAMA/WDMA Voluntary Specification for the Performance of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Systems does this and more. 



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