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Updated Standards for Door Hardware Performance

Doors need to be designed to remain intact and operable under high-use conditions

The Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance’s AAMA Product Certification goes beyond basic structural, water penetration and air infiltration performance assurance for a completed window and door unit. That is because fenestration products are complex, interacting systems of components that must perform properly over a long service life. For this reason, as a prerequisite for their use on fenestration products that bear the AAMA Certification Gold Label, the various components, hardware, weatherstrip, sealants and painted coating applications must be qualified through separate, independent testing. This must be accomplished by an accredited full-service laboratory or an approved component laboratory per the most current versions of the standards and test methods referenced in the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/IS2/A440.

A door presents certain performance requirements apart from those of a window, given its greater frequency of use, limited water penetration resistance, and exposure to cantilevered loading forces. For example, in terms of operating frequency, while a window may be operated once or twice in a week, a side-hinged exterior door may be opened and closed a half-dozen or more times a day. This will vary greatly depending on whether the building is residential or commercial in use. Doors designed for these different environments must remain intact and operable under the expected conditions.
Standards governing hardware performance for exterior side-hinged doors cover open/close cycling (AAMA 920) and vertical loading on the door edge opposite the hinges (AAMA 925), previously issued in 2016 and 2017, respectively. 

Cycle testing of door systems

AAMA 920-22, Specification for Operating Cycle Performance of Active Side-Hinged Exterior Door Slabs, was recently updated for cycle testing of door systems and their associated hardware under accelerated operating conditions. The rate of application of open/close cycles prescribed by the test method permits a range of 12 to 24 cycles per minute at the test lab and/or manufacturer’s discretion. Each cycle consists of opening the door by 60 ± 5 degrees using a pneumatic/hydraulic piston or linear actuator and then closing it (after a minimal dwell time of no more than 2.5 seconds) using a similar piston or a counterweight-and-pulley arrangement (or a self-closing device if applicable). This is performed on a sample product inclusive of all components.

Locking hardware may be omitted for the test but is simulated by an added equivalent weight. The total number of open/close cycles applied in the test increases with the NAFS Performance Class for which the door is intended, ranging from 25,000 for R Class doors up to 500,000 for AW Class doors.

This testing is not intended to predict the life expectancy of the door in service but acts only to provide an indication that cycling will not cause it to fail prematurely. To pass the test, there can be no cracking, separation of welded joints, or separation or misalignment of stile seams in the door slab. There also must be no disengagement, shearing or breakage of the fasteners or the base material supporting them, and no failure of non-replaceable weatherstripping, seals or integral gaskets.

Vertically applied cantilevered load

AAMA 925-22, Specification for Determining the Vertical Loading Resistance of Side-Hinged Door Leaves, provides a method for evaluating a door for its ability to withstand a significant cantilevered load applied vertically down the lock stile and remain operable. During the test, the slab is opened to 90 ± 5 degrees to the frame, then closed and latched using the deadbolt five times. After applying a “pre-load” of 200 ± 4 N (45 ± 1 lbf) to the top surface of the door slab in the open position for 60 ± 5 seconds, the test load that corresponds to the desired NAFS Performance Class is applied and maintained for five minutes. The total applied load increases with the target NAFS Performance Class, varying from 667 N (150 lbf) for doors intended for R and LC class rating up to 2,224 N (500 lbf) for AW class.

After completion of the prescribed loads, the door must latch and the deadbolt engage without having to lift the slab. There can be no disengagement, shearing or breakage of the fasteners or the base material supporting them and no fastener pull-out or pull-through.

AAMA 920-22 and 925-22 may be purchased in the FGIA Online Store by visiting


Janice Yglesias FGIA

Janice Yglesias

Janice Yglesias is the executive director of FGIA overseeing the full organization. She joined the association in 1999 and can be reached at