A Guide to the AWI Standards of Architectural Woodwork

How Woodworkers Can Use The QCP License To Get More Projects

What are the AWI Standards?

As a leading regulatory body in the interior architectural woodworking industry, the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) creates and updates national standards for quality assurance. This mission began in 1961 when we developed and published the first version of the Architectural Woodwork Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI).

The AWI Standards set industry best practices for the specification, materials, fabrication, finishing, and installation of interior architectural woodwork. They form a simple, clear, and definitive reference manual that ensures outstanding quality and consistency in every project.

These standards provide comprehensive guidance and support to:

  • Woodworkers in delivering compliance, consistency, and quality
  • Architects in comprehensively specifying interior architectural woodwork elements
  • General contractors in identifying the industry standards they should meet in the delivery and installation of millwork
  • Installers, manufacturers, and suppliers in meeting client needs while maintaining the integrity of workmanship
  • Drafters in creating a strong foundation for industry best practices from the first stages of a project

Originally, the AWI Standards set prescriptive rules for the fabrication, finishing, and installation of interior architectural woodwork. But the current edition instead focuses on the structural integrity and aesthetic performance of woodwork products. This allows woodworkers greater flexibility, freedom, and creativity in their craft and promotes the continuing advancement of effective techniques and construction methods.

Almost all AWI Standards have been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This confirms that each standard exemplifies openness, balance, consensus, and due process. In doing so, they create superior outcomes for all project stakeholders, including construction professionals and project owners.

The standards found in the Architectural Woodwork Standard Edition 2 have recently been replaced. Use our handy Roadmap to the New AWI Standards to see what’s changed.


AWI and the Quality Certification Program

When your project is certified with the AWI Quality Certification Program (QCP), it receives the industry standard for quality and risk assurance. The primary driver of this assurance is compliance with AWI Standards and project specifications. You'll receive visits from trained QCP inspectors to confirm that your woodwork meets these standards and specifications throughout the project, enhancing the outcome and safeguarding you against disputes.

Through the use of AWI Standards, QCP empowers woodworkers, architects, general contractors, and other construction professionals to deliver compliance, consistency, and quality to their clients. Earning a QCP license requires woodworking firms to demonstrate masterful skill and a comprehensive knowledge of the standards, making it easy to contract a reliable firm. And with options for virtual inspections and specification reviews, QCP ensures your project meets its timeline, stays on budget, and stands out for its exceptional caliber.

This gives you the edge you need to inspire confidence in clients, deliver better products, and attract more business for a powerful competitive advantage.

AWI 100 – Submittals

Creating the foundations for a successful project

Every woodworking project begins with the submittal of architectural specifications. By ensuring superior detail and precision at this stage, AWI 100 promotes open and consistent communication while reducing the risk of costly errors.

This section covers the items and specifications that form the foundation of a woodworking project, including:

  • Shop drawings
  • Material data
  • Samples
  • Approval
  • Product data
  • Scheduling

It provides clear details on the series of steps necessary for a successful project, as well as guidance for overcoming typical challenges.


AWI 200 – Care and Storage

Ensuring long-term quality and functionality with proper environmental control

Extreme temperatures, incorrect relative humidity, and poor handling can have a serious negative impact on the quality and longevity of wood materials and products. That means it’s vital to establish appropriate environmental conditions before, during, and after installation to minimize waste, defects, and the risk of product failure.

AWI 200 outlines optimum environmental controls for the storage, delivery, and handling of architectural woodwork, as well as guidelines for acclimation, cleaning, maintenance, and protection. This includes extensive details about proper humidity control in both climate-controlled and non-climate-controlled environments in different US climate zones to prevent unwanted dimensional change.

The standard also defines the responsibility of each project stakeholder for care and moisture conditions before, during, and after installation.


AWI 200 - Care and Storage

Proper Care & Storage

We detail the three things woodworkers need to do to prevent the negative effects of poor care or storage, and look at how and why this is an important part of the AWI Standards.

AWI 300 – Materials

Identifying, selecting, and preparing wood species and sheet products

The majority of woodwork and casework is made from lumber or wood-based core materials. As such, choosing appropriate wood species and sheet products can elevate the appearance and performance of an interior architectural woodworking project.

AWI 300 provides comprehensive information on the characteristics of various types of wood to guide your materials decisions. This includes requirements for:

  • Lumber
  • Panel cores
  • Panel surfaces
  • Sheet products and goods
  • Hardwood and softwood veneers
  • High-pressure decorative laminate (HPDL)
  • Overlays
  • Backers
  • Related materials such as solid surface, solid phenolic, epoxy resin, and natural and manufactured stone

Similarly, the standard details methods of sawing, filling of open characteristics, adhesive requirements, dimensional requirements, and characteristics of hardwood and softwood of different finishes. This ensures your chosen materials deliver high levels of both structural integrity and aesthetic performance.


ANSI/AWI 0400 – Factory Finishing

Preparing, priming, and finishing wood products

An architectural woodworking finish is traditionally used to enhance or alter the natural beauty of wood. But a good-quality finish also provides protection from moisture, contaminants, and general handling to ensure the product stays in peak condition for the longest possible time.

ANSI/AWI 0400 outlines the performance evaluation and characteristics of 13 wood finishing technologies to help you select an appropriate protection for your applications. It also covers sanding, surface preparation, staining, grain filling, priming, and sealing of exposed and semi-exposed areas, along with details on acceptable defects for each grade requirement.


ANSI/AWI 0620 – Finish Carpentry/Installation

Tolerances for the quality and fit of architectural woodwork

In the previous Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), different Sections featured independent requirements for installation. But ANSI/AWI 0620 provides guidelines for a variety of applications in one place.

This standard covers the installation of:

  • Casework
  • Wall and ceiling surfaces
  • Standing and running trim
  • Passage doors
  • Countertops
  • Other related finishes

You’ll find the specific requirements and tolerances for each application, as well as details on how they should be installed for maximum performance.


ANSI/AWI 0641 – Architectural Wood Casework

Guidelines for delivering high-performance custom architectural wood cabinetry

ANSI/AWI 0641 provides standards, tolerances, and requirements for architectural wood casework. It covers:

  • Base, wall, and tall cabinets
  • Doors
  • Drawers
  • Shelves
  • Hardware

Inside, you’ll find information on the minimum dimensions, degrees of moisture resistance, and expected features of architectural wood casework. This includes acceptable load values to ensure proper functionality, and construction tolerances for high aesthetic performance.

For details on manufactured wood casework, please see ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework.


ANSI/AWI SMA 0643 – Wood Stair, Handrail, and Guard Systems

Comprehensive staircase tolerances for quality and integrity

Unlike casework, millwork, or countertops, staircases consist of a very high number of individual surfaces and components, and experience heavy impacts on a daily basis. To maintain quality and integrity, woodworkers and design professionals must be careful and strict with regards to staircase tolerances.

ANSI/AWI SMA 0643 provides extensive details on wood stair and railings as specified under CSI MasterFormat Divisions. This includes:

  • Stairs
  • Rises
  • Platforms and intermediate landings
  • Winders
  • Guard and handrail components
  • Rail and fitting connections
  • Fittings
  • Guard in-fill
  • Well-hole trim

ANSI/AWI 1232 – Manufactured Wood Casework

Guidelines for delivering high-performance manufactured cabinetry

ANSI/AWI 1232 provides standards, tolerances, and requirements for manufactured wood casework typically found in a manufacturer's catalog. It covers:

  • Base, wall, and tall cabinets
  • Doors
  • Drawers
  • Shelves
  • Hardware

Inside, you’ll find information on the minimum dimensions, degrees of moisture resistance, and expected features of manufactured wood casework. This includes acceptable load values to ensure proper functionality, and construction tolerances for high aesthetic performance.

For details on architectural wood casework, please see ANSI/AWI 0641 – Architectural Wood Casework.


ANSI/AWI 1236 – Countertops

Fabricating attractive countertops that withstand heavy use

Countertops are among the most heavily used surfaces in a home or commercial building. Therefore, they need to be sufficiently strong and robust. Incorrect fabrication or installation can lead to problems such as cracking and rupturing, chemical stains, water damage, and scratches.

ANSI/AWI 1236 includes information on dimensions, weight tolerances, and maximum deflect depths for countertops and window sills manufactured from:

  • Wood
  • High-pressure decorative laminate (HPDL)
  • Solid surface
  • Epoxy resin
  • Solid phenolic
    Natural and engineered stone

It also provides instructions for assembly, edges, and joints to meet aesthetic grade requirements.


ANSI/AWI 1236 - Countertops

Common Non-Conformities In Countertop Installation

Discover the most common types of countertop installation non-conformities and how the standards help ensure many years of trouble-free use.

Architectural Woodwork Standards | Section 12 – Historic Restoration Work

Carefully returning historic properties to great condition

Due to its diversity of styles, conditions, and functions, historic restoration work is incredibly difficult to standardize. To ensure the greatest possible degree of quality without corrupting the intended aesthetics, AWS Section 12 focuses on assisting compliance with:

  • The US Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (including preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction)
  • The Standards & Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada