Entrances: Your door is a system

NAFS components don’t add up to a NAFS door
Fenestration Staff Report
June 22, 2018
By Fenestration Staff Report
 Canada’s codes won’t let builders install leaky doors any more. It’s important to understand how NAFS requires you to test your products.
Canada’s codes won’t let builders install leaky doors any more. It’s important to understand how NAFS requires you to test your products. Photo: Fotolia by Adobe Stock
According to Al Jaugelis, senior fenestration specialist at RDH Building Science in Vancouver, one of the main struggles pre-hangers have when dealing with the North American Fenestration Standard for air/water/structural performance of doors is understanding that lab testing evaluates doors as a system, but the test does not qualify the individual components.
In fact, the tests don’t necessarily tell us anything about the individual components of a door – the hardware, the gasket, the weatherstrip, the door lite, etc. – they only tell you whether the fabricated door, as an assembled product, passed the test. A test failure could be due to a component or it could be due to fabrication quality. Or to a combination of both.

This matters because door pre-hangers have to offer doors in multiple configurations with multiple options to satisfy all the various consumer demands out there. When individual door components are substituted, or matched with different components than those tested, a previously tested door may no longer perform.

Some of the confusion has been driven by component suppliers advertising “NAFS-compliant” door components. While these components may have been successfully used in a NAFS-tested door system, Jaugelis says it is not possible to predict whether assembling a door from a collection of “NAFS tested” components, would pass a future test. In the lab, your workmanship is as important as your components.  

It is not hard to see why this is the case. In NAFS testing, a door product is set up in a lab and blasted with air and water at ever-increasing levels of pressure, measured in pascals. The testers then note the level at which air and/or water start to penetrate some part of the door system. This is usually going to happen at the various interfaces between the door frame and the door slab, so the way they are fit together and sealed is as important as the properties of the component itself. You can use great components, but if they are not assembled together with the correct tolerances and sealants, the test will reflect it. So when we hear that a component is “NAFS-compliant,” we should be cautious. Most manufacturers fail their first few NAFS tests, even with the right components, because of fabrication tolerances and workmanship issues.

J.F. Kogovsek of Maxam Marketing (a fenestration consultant) is a member of the task group reviewing Fenestration Canada’s guide to component substitution in hinged doors. He says there are three ways to build a door and achieve NAFS compliance.
  1. Make the door however you want with whatever components you want and test it. A successful test will only qualify the door with the same components you tested, but may allow for some substitution of components as permitted under AAMA or Fenestration Canada side-hinged door component substitution guidelines.
  2. Build the door using only components that have been successfully NAFS tested together, such as those offered by a door system supplier, and substitute only components authorized by that supplier.
  3. Jaugelis suggests that prehangers begin by reviewing their product offering with a test lab or a competent consultant, including all the door slab, door lite, frame, threshold, and hardware options you offer. On reviewing the properties and test information available for the components, they will help you to determine the minimum number of tests required to qualify the majority of your product offering to ensure the products you sell don’t fail in the field.
NAFS is a code requirement across Canada and some insurance companies and warranty providers are making builders do on-site testing to make sure products comply. Plus, rumours continue to swirl that governments may soon mandate product certification prior to sale – and meeting the NAFS standard would almost certainly be part of that.

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