New AWI Standards: ANSI/AWI 400 Factory Finishings

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The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) has recently published a new set of AWI Standards to meet the changing needs of the industry. Among these is ANSI/AWI 0400 – Factory Finishing, which replaces the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS) Section 5 – Finishing.

While those familiar with the AWS will recognize the majority of ANSI/AWI 0400, there are two major changes from Section 5 that you need to be aware of:

  • The removal of step-by-step application instructions for finishes
  • The inclusion of performance testing

In this blog, we’ll explore the purpose, scope, and requirements of ANSI/AWI 0400, as well as why these two changes from Section 5 have been made.


1.0 Purpose and 2.0 Scope

ANSI/AWI 0400 provides standardized objective criteria for the evaluation of finish technologies applied to architectural woodwork and related interior products. This includes performance and aesthetic characteristics.

The standard covers:

  • The factory application of transparent or opaque finishes
  • The application of primer prior to delivery to the jobsite

It doesn’t cover:

  • Jobsite field finishing
  • Repair after delivery or installation
  • Brush-applied topcoat finishes, except as called out under the scope of work
  • Exterior priming, painting, and finishing

One other aspect that ANSI/AWI 0400 doesn’t cover is doors that are included in the scope of ANSI/WDMA I.S. 1A (latest edition) and ANSI/WDMA I.S. 6A (latest edition). This is because ANSI-approved standards aren’t allowed to conflict. Therefore, AWI defers to WDMA requirements for the finish of doors covered by these standards.


3.0 Requirements


Choosing a finish technology

The first thing to note about the requirements of ANSI/AWI 0400 is that the design professional is responsible for specifying a particular finish technology or desired performance characteristics. However, if the design professional doesn’t specify, the manufacturer or supplier is free to choose the finish they feel is best suited for the project.

To help guide this decision, section 3.3 Structural details the performance characteristics of 13 finish technologies. This chart, found under 3.3.2 Performance Characteristics, is the same as what was used in AWS Section 5. The finish technologies listed are:

  1. Lacquer, nitrocellulose

2A. Lacquer, post-catalyzed

2B. Lacquer, pre-catalyzed

  1. Latex acrylic, water-based
  2. Varnish, conversion
  3. Oil, synthetic penetrating
  4. Vinyl, catalyzed
  5. Acrylic cross-linking, water-based
  6. Acrylated epoxy, polyester or urethane, UV cure
  7. UV curable, water-based
  8. Vinyl, catalyzed
  9. Polyurethane, water-based
  10. Polyester, catalyzed

For each finish technology, the chart provides ratings from one to five for chemical resistance against a variety of substances, as well as abrasion resistance. These numbers refer to:

  • 5 – No effect from the test
  • 4 – Minimal effect or slight change and little repair required
  • 3 – Some effect; noticeable change, and the coating will recover with minimal repairs
  • 2 – Moderate effect, performance adversely affected and repairs required
  • 1 – Poor performance and film failure is imminent and repairs are difficult

Finish technologies not listed in 3.3.2 Performance Characteristics can still be used under AWI Standards. However, they must first be tested in accordance with AWI test methodologies CR-1 for chemical resistance and AR-1 for abrasion resistance. Allowing design professionals and woodworkers to evaluate unfamiliar finishes against popular choices encourages the use of new and more advanced technologies.

No matter which finish technology you choose, application must comply with the coating manufacturer’s documented instructions. While the AWS gave prescriptive application instructions, ANSI/AWI 0400 respects the expertise and guidance of coating manufacturers.


Aesthetic performance

The aesthetic requirements of ANSI/AWI 0400 apply to exposed and semi-exposed surfaces visible after installation. They mainly cover color matching and defects, but also detail coats and sealing, as well as other aesthetic concerns such as filled nail holes, raised grain, and sanding scratches.

For custom- and economy-grade projects, overall appearance should be compatible for color. This means that there should be no sharp contrast between components, and your eyes shouldn’t be drawn to color variations or tone differences. For premium-grade projects, appearance must be well-matched for color, meaning the colors of components should be similar and nearly uniform.

Similarly, each aesthetic grade has different requirements for defects. Under ANSI/AWI 0400, defects are considered to be:

  • Indentations
  • Scrapes
  • Blotching
  • Orange peel
  • Runs
  • Sags
  • Blistering
  • Blushing
  • Checking
  • Crazing
  • Cracking
  • Adhesive spots
  • Pin holes

Custom- and economy-grade projects permit “inconspicuous” defects. This means defects must not be readily visible without careful inspection at a distance of 48” for custom and 72” for economy. For premium-grade projects, defects are not permitted.


4.0 Figures/Illustrations and 5.0 Supplemental Information

For ease of reference, the finish technology Performance Characteristics chart from section 3.3.2 can also be found in section 4.0 Figures/Illustrations. Section 5.0 Supplemental Information includes a glossary and references, and explains the design professional’s responsibilities under ANSI/AWI 0400.

In addition to designating a finish technology, the design professional must ensure compliance with building codes and local regulations. This isn’t the responsibility of the woodwork manufacturer, supplier, or the party who will apply the finish.


Who needs to know about ANSI/AWI 0400?

This new standard applies to design professionals, woodwork manufacturers, third-party finishers, general contractors, installers, and any other major parties within a project. But unlike most AWI Standards, ANSI/AWI 0400 is also relevant to coating manufacturers.

If a coating manufacturer wants to confirm a new product conforms to ANSI/AWI 0400, it will need to undergo CR-1 and AR-1 testing. That’s why it benefits them to understand the requirements of these tests.


Ensure compliance with ANSI/AWI 0400 through the Quality Certification Program

By complying with ANSI/AWI 0400, you can deliver woodwork finishes that offer high performance. The best way to ensure compliance is through AWI’s Quality Certification Program (QCP) — the industry standard for quality and risk assurance.

Explore the benefits of project registration to find out how QCP can enhance and elevate your woodwork projects.