In this article series we discuss the selection and installation of windows and doors, following best construction and design practices for building lighting and ventilation, with attention to the impact on building heating and cooling costs, indoor air quality, and comfort of occupants. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
Photo at left: Florida requires hurricane and wind-resistant windows in some areas.
It is always best to choose windows with third-party certification
from American Association for Window Manufacturers
(AAMA) or the Window and Door Manufacturers
Association (WDMA, formerly the National Wood
Window and Door Association, NWWDA).
AAMA and WDMA are trade associations representing
manufacturers of windows, doors, and skylights. The
WDMA is limited to wood windows and doors, while the
AAMA encompasses a wide range of materials, from
wood, aluminum, vinyl, and fiberglass to the newest
Voluntary Standards for Window Manufacturers
In 1997, the two groups joined
forces to establish a unified standard for evaluating fenestration
products, known as AAMA/NWWDA 101/I.S.
2-97 “Voluntary Specification for Aluminum, Vinyl and
Wood Windows and Glass Doors.” It establishes four performance
requirements for a completed window or door.
Structural ability to resist wind loads
Resistance to air leakage
Resistance to air infiltration
Resistance to forced entry
Products that are certified under 101/I.S. 2-97 are designated
by a four-part code that denotes the type of window,
the performance class, and performance grade. For
example, the code C-R15 indicates a casement window (C)
recommended for residential applications (R), with a performance
grade of 15.
Performance Grade and Design Pressure for Windows
well a window performs when subjected to heavy rains and
high winds is indicated by its performance grade and
design pressure. The design pressure is a structural rating
only, while the performance grade also indicates that a
window has met the water resistance and air infiltration
standards for that grade (see Table 3-2 below).
[Click to enlarge any image, photo or table]
The minimum recommended design pressure for residential
doors and windows is 15 psf. A design pressure of
15 means a window has been tested to withstand sustained
wind pressures of 22.5 psf, roughly equivalent to a 95-mph
wind, applied to either side of the window, simulating both
positive and negative wind pressures.
The test pressure is
always 150% of the rated design pressure to provide a
safety factor. To earn a performance grade of 15, a window
must also pass a water pressure test of 2.86 psf, which
simulates rainfall of 8 inches per hour with a wind speed
of 34 mph. In coastal areas or other areas prone to heavy
winds or hurricanes, higher grade windows are recommended
and may be required by code.
Industry Associations for Windows & Doors
American Architectural Manufacturers Association
Efficient Windows Collaborative
National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)
Sustainable by Design
Shareware calculators for sun angles, solar heat gain,
Window and Door Manufacturers Association
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