How do I know what standards to test my windows, doors and skylights to in order to sell them?
Fenestration product testing and certification can be a challenging hurdle to overcome, all before your windows, doors or skylights even have the chance to enter the market. If you don’t start out on the right path, the requirements, rules and regulations of the industry can make your journey more difficult. Partnering with an accredited laboratory and competent testing partner may help improve your outcomes and save you valuable time and money throughout the journey.
Before you go down the path of testing and certification, ask yourself these questions:
- What market(s) are you trying to get your products into?
Are you a European window or door manufacturer that is interested in entering the United States or Canadian markets? Or are you a U.S. manufacturer attempting to penetrate the European market?
You should also consider if your product is going to be geared toward the residential housing market or if it is intended for use within a commercial application.
If your products will best fit a residential market, you should follow the International Residential Code (IRC) in the U.S., and if your products are more geared towards a commercial application, they will require a look at the International Building Code (IBC). All fenestration products within the Canadian market would follow performance requirements as listed with the National Building Code of Canada. In the U.K., performance requirements are specified through the police force per Secured by Design.
Your market goals will dictate how you move forward and which building codes or country requirements you will need to explore.
Review the building codes required in your area
Reviewing the building codes required in the regions you will be selling your products in will guide you on your path to understanding what test standards are referenced and required in your desired market. Knowing these test standards will guide you in what your products will be tested and certified to in the future. This overview of U.S. Building Codes provides a flow of how model codes will define performance requirements that are tested through developed test standards.
While the image above depicts how building codes in the United States influence test standards, at UL Solutions we have regional expertise around the world to help you navigate the codes and test standards in the market(s) you are intending to enter. If you have specific questions about fenestration testing, please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions at BuildingEnvelope@ul.com.
- Has your product been tested and certified?
It might seem strange that testing and certifying your full product falls near the middle of this list, but depending on your region and its requirements, your product may not meet the certification requirements if its individual parts have not been tested individually first. If your product’s glass and component parts have passed testing and certification requirements, you can move on to testing and certifying your fully assembled product that contains the approved glass and components. If you go out of order and submit your full product first, you may have a problem getting your full assembly certified with your third-party certification agency.
- Why is it important to test and certify your building envelope products?
Many municipalities' laws, codes and regulations require certain building products and systems be tested and evaluated before they can be installed in a jurisdiction. A product can be tested and may not necessarily be third-party certified. Being third-party certified means the product has been evaluated, complies with the requirements of the third-party organization and is manufactured under a quality control program with third-party inspections/follow-up service. Some companies choose to certify with a third-party to minimize the safety risk that may be associated with their products.
- Do your products meet the performance grades you need?
Do you know if your products can meet the thermal requirements of your desired market? Is your customer asking you for higher rated windows than how your design currently performs?
In the United States and Canada, the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) is used to define performance requirements for specific design pressure (DP) or performance grades (PG). NAFS is the window, door and skylight requirement of the International Building and Residential Codes for the U.S., and for the National Building Code of Canada. These codes require you to test and properly label windows, doors and skylights in accordance with this specification, which indicates these products are rated to perform in the area they are being installed.
Your next step is to check that you have tested the product’s component parts as well as its glass and glazing systems. Window and door component parts are expected to be tested and verified by a third-party agency. These components include sealants, hardware, weather strips and foam to name a few examples.
- Why choose UL Solutions for your fenestration product testing?
When choosing an accredited testing and certification laboratory, you want a partner to supply dependable and accurate test results. With decades of combined experience spanning across North America and Europe, our team of dedicated professionals are available to help you navigate the complicated compliance landscape. We are proud to be accredited to perform a wide variety of test standards. In many cases, UL Solutions' knowledgeable staff have worked with industry associations and experts to help create standards. As a reputable third-party testing and certification agency, we can help you understand the standards as well as the building codes and specifications used within the industry.
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FAQ: Fenestration Product Testing and Certification
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