When it comes to getting assurances about your replacement windows and doors, one of the top go-to organizations to consult is the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Members of AAMA follow a strict code of conduct and guidelines on specifications for quality standards on all parts concerning a structure. This means that the organization is heavily involved and invested in the education, training, developing of industry standards, and compliance with government regulations all for the safety of the consumers.
AAMA conducts 3 types of tests for its window certification:
- Air leakage – The window assembly has to have an infiltration rate of over 0.3 cfm at 25 miles per hour although lower is better
- Structural strength – Look for assemblies that can handle at least the minimum structural strength standard of 94 miles per hour
- Water leakage – The minimum standard for water leakage is 33 mph. AAMA subjects window assemblies to 8 inches of rain/hour with wind loads that increase incrementally. The rating each assembly get is determined by the amount of rainfall per hour wherein the water is able to leak through.
A product that has the AAMA certification will have a sticker on the top of the frame.
Aside from AAMA, another third party organization has taken it as part of their mission in the industry to test brands on efficiency and performance. This is the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), a nonprofit organization that focuses primarily on energy performance ratings.
The NFRC conducts several tests including the:
- U-Factor – This test measure heat loss or how much heat escapes from the windows. A good U-factor rating would be anywhere from 0.2 to 1.2 although the lower, the better.
- Visible Light Transmittance (VT) – This test measures the amount of light coming through a window
- Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) – This test will measure the amount of heat from the sun that is being blocked by the window glass. The SHGC rating is either 0 or 1 with 0 being the preferred rating which means less solar heat coming in and a cooler room.
- Energy Star – Although not a test per se, this is what you can use to assess the overall energy thermal test results done by the organization. The Energy Star level is a formula that takes into consideration your climate and place of residence. However, it does not incorporate the test results of AAMA.
If you can find the window assembly that has been certified and tested by both organizations, and you get are able to get a professional to fit the assembly so it is custom-fit, you can be sure that you will have a window set-up that can handle a lot of wear and tear while adding more value to your property.