NAFS Requirements for BC Building Code


In the 2012 BC Building code which went into effect last year, one major change for builders and renovators was an upcoming requirement that doors and windows meet a new NAFS standard. This particular clause was twice delayed due to available products in the market but as of Dec 20th, 2013, this clause is in effect for ALL doors and windows installed in British Columbia.

What is NAFS?

NAFS is an abbreviation for the North American Fenestration Standard which is replacing many previous standards for the quality and rating systems for doors and windows. The NAFS standard was brought to us by three standards associations which all have their own acronyms and code numbers so the awkward technical code for NAFS is the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-11 standard.

In Canada, we actually have a slight difference in our NAFS requirements as there is a 'Canadian supplement' which lays our some additional requirements for our market that were not in the NAFS standard originally produced. So in Canada, the correct NAFS compliant code is the AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440-11 with Canadian supplement.

Essentially NAFS lays out the quality requirements for structural strength, water ingress, and wind pressure loads windows and doors must be able to endure. Skylights and other natural light ingress systems are included on NAFS (however glass blocks are not considered a window, they are just a poor insulating material posing as masonry).

What is the biggest difference for the average homeowner?

In one word, doors. Up till now, windows have had very high standards and a complex rating system for different qualities of equipment but doors were largely unrated except perhaps some energy star ratings around insulation. There were no standards that said the door system (including side windows and the door frame) had to hold up to any degree of moisture or rain driven rain. The new NAFS standard for doors means that doors now need to be water and air resistant.

Doors have had weather stripping for a long time however this weather stripping rarely creates a 100% seal, even in new homes. In order to become NAFS compliant, doors need to undergo a new testing similar to what windows have done in the past to prove they are air tight. This is likely going to require new hardware and locking mechanisms including multi-point latching.

What is multi-point latching on a door?

3-Point Latch Example

This is the hardware which would be installed in a 3-point door latch. All 3 latches will release with one handle making operation familiar for users.

99% of doors on residential homes have a latch and a deadbolt in the middle of the door. These, combined with the door pins on the hinge side, are what hold the door in place when it is closed and help hold the door against the seals and create security. New NAFS doors in Canada need to be air-tight in both directions under a pressure load and this is likely going to require doors latch on multiple points. This could mean when you turn the door handle, mechanical linkages unlatch the door at 3, 4, 5, or more multiple points.

For example, a NAFS door my latch at the normal mid-point in the door, plus pins on the top, bottom, and 2 or more additional points mid-way between the top and bottom of the door.

Which doors in the home are impacted?

NAFS says any door that is a transition between a 'conditioned' space and an 'unconditioned' space needs to meet NAFS requirements. This will include:

  • Main Front Entry Doors
  • Balcony Doors
  • Garage Doors to the House (but not to the outside)
  • Basement Entry Doors

Doors that don't need to be NAFS include:

  • Interior house doors (e.g. bedroom/bathroom doors)
  • Doors to suites inside a building (e.g. a door from a common hallway to a condo unit)
  • Garage doors to the exterior (unconditioned space to unconditioned space)

Where will NAFS doors be available?

BC code says only NAFS doors can be SOLD or INSTALLED as of December 20, 2013. This is going to create some major trouble for builders, homeowners, and retailers as despite two delays in implementing this code requirement, there is likely to be a shortage of NAFS compliant doors available.

There is also a question of what about all the inventory of doors sitting at say the local Home Depot or Rona. These doors are not NAFS compliant and should not be sold or installed, however, they can be used in some places such as garage man doors. This whole process will be somewhat confusing however if you are working under a building permit, expect to need NAFS compliance where needed.

Lastly, expect some price increases on doors (and possibly windows) as a shortage of inventory and new product development expenses increase the costs for these new compliant door types.

Final Thoughts

For Home Inspectors, NAFS is not going to make much difference for us for some time to come as code does not require the current 99.9% of non NAFS doors to be removed. However, inspectors should be able to identify these new doors to clients and also be able to provide clients some good information on door changes for clients suggesting any upcoming renovations.

By James Bell - Owner Solid State Inspections Inc.