The Quality is in the Details
Hardware Standards Evolve
by Dean Lewis
In this day of high-profile buzz about energy-efficiency and green attributes, a relatively unsung but nevertheless critical aspect of a door or window is its operating hardware. Sash balances, multi-bar hinges, door hinges, rotary operators and roller assemblies—all provide the products’ basic functionality. They must operate repeatedly for many years while withstanding the forces of nature and human misuse. The only way to ensure this reliability is to test to meaningful performance standards that apply test forces which simulate actual use and operating environment.
AAMA hardware standards designed to accomplish this task cover basic components such as:
• Gear-type rotary and linear operators (AAMA 901-10). A good example of the rigor of these standards is the requirement for 8,000 open/close cycles without any compromise in performance.
• Sash Balances (AAMA 902-07) and friction based sash balances (AAMA 908-09). These cover block-and-tackle, constant force, spiral and gas shock balances, rating them for travel range, minimum and maximum sash weight carrying capacity and the force required to initiate and maintain sash movement.
• Multi-bar hinges (AAMA 904-09). This standard provides maximum weight, height and width ratings for the multi-bar hinges used in casement, project-out, parallel-opening and project-in configurations.
• Sliding glass door roller assemblies (AAMA 906-07). The required testing includes 10,000 full-open/full-close cycles without the roller jumping its track or causing the door sash to become more difficult to operate.
• Door hinges and locks. Standards also exist that govern hardware performance for exterior side-hinged doors. These cover open/close cycling (AAMA 920-11), vertical cantilevered loading on the door edge opposite the hinges (AAMA 925-07) and water penetration of locking/latching hardware (AAMA 930-03).
If a door or window is to be certified under the code-mandated North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) these components must also be verified through testing as meeting the listed standards.
As anyone involved in the process knows, it’s virtually a full-time effort to ensure these standards include or reference current test methods and address the moving target of evolving technology, as well as the changing requirements set forth by various codes and performance rating programs. Many of these changing requirements are spurred by safety and security considerations and market expectations as to a product’s ease of use and service life.
By way of example of the ongoing effort to stay current, newly updated within the last few months is AAMA 907-12, Voluntary Specification for Corrosion Resistant Coatings on Carbon Steel Components. All steel hardware items, except those made of stainless steel, must meet AAMA 907, which requires hardware made of carbon steel to have a corrosion-resistant coating of cadmium, zinc or nickel-and-chrome plating.
Also newly released is AAMA 903-12, Voluntary Standard for Performance Testing of Handle Sets used with Multipoint Hardware on Side-Hinged Doors. Other hardware standards typically test a lock and its handle set together, which often results in many performance requirements for the lock but few for the accompanying handle set. But AAMA 903 defines performance criteria unique to handle sets, providing users with more capability to evaluate these products specifically.
The latest addition to this collection is the first North American standard for evaluating the durability of multipoint locking hardware for side-hinged door systems. AAMA 909-13, Voluntary Specification for Cycle Performance and Testing of Side-Hinged Exterior Door Multipoint Locking Hardware. Prior to this publication, the only existing applicable North American standards dealt with single-point locking hardware, such as a typical latch and dead bolt. There was never a standardized set of basic product requirements unique to multipoint locking hardware. The test methods and evaluation criteria in AAMA 909 ensure a rigorous representation of real-world lock use.
For certification and code approval, meeting every current component performance specification—right down to the sash balances and sliding door rollers—is as much a requirement as passing structural load tests for the entire product. It’s one more critical aspect of effective quality control.
Dean Lewis serves as educational and technical information manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill.
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