NAFS in Canada vs. USA

For our American Friends: 7 Essential Tips for Complying with NAFS in Canada

Al Jaugelis
By Al Jaugelis, Senior Fenestration Specialist at RDH
March 10, 2015

My ultimate quick list of tips for American Manufacturers looking to qualify their products for the Canadian market.

While NAFS has mostly harmonized fenestration testing requirements between the U.S. and Canada, there are important differences that U.S. manufacturers need to consider with respect to NAFS compliance under Canadian building codes. Products initially tested to only the U.S. requirements in NAFS will need to be retested to qualify them for Canada. It makes sense to plan your test program with both Canadian and U.S. requirements in mind if you have plans to enter the Canadian market in the future.

In my consulting work I have learned that more than a few American manufacturers have been surprised to discover their existing NAFS tests did not qualify their products for the Canadian market, or to discover that NAFS compliance in Canada differed significantly from their experience in the US.

Here are my top 7 tips to help you succeed in qualifying your products to NAFS in Canada:

1. Pay attention to the “optional” Canadian performance requirements in the NAFS standard

Airtightness, water tightness, and operating force requirements are different and in most cases more stringent.

2. Products sold in Canada need significantly greater air leakage resistance than NAFS requires in the US

There are two levels of airtightness for operable products (A2 and A3), and an even more stringent rating for non-operable products (Fixed). These ratings apply to windows, doors and skylights, and they must be achieved under both positive pressure (infiltration) and negative pressure (exfiltration).

3. Test for the Highest Penetration Rating Your Product Can Deliver

While you can’t report higher than minimum values in the Primary Designator, you can report them on the Secondary Designator which is mandatory in Canada. In many parts of the country products need a greater level of water penetration resistance than 15% or 20% of design pressure. Testing to only the Performance Grade level of water penetration resistance will significantly limit your access to the Canadian market.

4. Get a copy of the Canadian Supplement to NAFS, CSA A440S1

Canadian codes require conformance to both NAFS and the Canadian Supplement. It sets forth prescriptive material and testing requirements over and above those in NAFS. It also provides simplified methods for determining the location-specific design pressure and water test pressure for windows doors and skylights as required by Canadian Building Codes.

5. Use Canadian NAFS Performance Grade Calculators

There are publicly accessible Canadian NAFS Performance Grade calculators that can be used to determine location-specific performance requirements based on the Canadian Supplement, such as the Fenestration Canada Performance Calculator. While you may not as a manufacturer be responsible for selecting products to comply with those requirements, you can use that information to determine what levels of performance you will need for the market areas that interest you.

6. Canadian NAFS labels must report performance using both Primary and Secondary Designators

Fenestration Canada has published two labeling guideline documents for the use of Canadian and American suppliers of fenestration products: the NAFS Labeling Guidelines for Canada and the Voluntary NAFS Labeling Guidelines for Products with Mullions. The latter document also contains important information about how to report mullion performance with Primary and Secondary designators as required in Canada.

7. Check which version of NAFS is in effect in your target markets

While the National Building Code now refers to NAFS-11, many provinces and jurisdictions recognized only NAFS-08 at this time. (The Canadian Supplement to NAFS has not yet been updated for NAFS-11.) I recommend referencing both versions of NAFS on product labels to ensure coast-to-coast acceptance by building officials. The NAFS Labeling Guidelines for Canada show examples of labels that refer to more than one version of NAFS.

Great efforts were made to harmonize standards to create NAFS. And indeed, under NAFS and the Canadian Supplement the difference between earlier Canadian and American testing regimes was greatly reduced. In the end, compromises were inevitable: American negotiators did not want to substantially add to existing US testing requirements, and Canadian negotiators did not want harmonization to reduce pre-existing performance expectations.

These tips will help you to identify the performance expectations for the Canadian market and to deploy products that are appropriately tested and labeled. 

This post was first published on the AAMA blog on February 20, 2015.

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AUTHOR

Al Jaugelis

Al Jaugelis, Senior Fenestration Specialist at RDH

Al is an industry leader on the application of the NAFS standard in Canada, its use in construction specifications, and the optimization of test programs for manufacturers.

  • Fritsch

    Thanks for this Al, I just shared it with the reps’ at Nanawall and The Pivot Door Company