Specification Alert: Incremental Release of New AWI Sections Is Underway

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As a design professional, you may be aware that the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) has been engaged in developing a series of new sections to the Architectural Woodwork Standards, most of which are being created under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  Named simply “AWI Standards,” four of its eleven sections were released for industry use on March 15, 2019.  These include AWI 100 — Submittals; AWI 200 — Care and Storage; AWI 300 — Materialsand ANSI/AWI 0620-2018 — Finish Carpentry/Installation 

These sections will all be recognized by QCP.

Those four sections are AWI updates to their corresponding sections in the Architectural Woodwork Standards, Edition 2 (AWS2), AWI’s previous standard since 2014. The balance of AWS2 sections that are “still standing” will remain in force until they too are “phased out” as additional sections from the new AWI sections are released.  (Note: For projects bid prior to 03/15/19 which call for “current AWI Standards,” the entirety of AWS2 applies.)


Navigation Curve

Users of the new standard will find that the “road map” required for its successful navigation is significantly different, and in some ways more complex than that employed for previous standards, with the new format being much less “self-contained.”  With minor exception, users of previous standards could find within “the book” every line item and requirement necessary to, specify, fabricate, finish, and install products that conformed to AWI rules.  Whenever other specific industry standards were adapted for use by AWI, the relevant portions of those “outside” standards would usually be partially or fully re-printed in the AWI Standard itself.  It was therefore generally not necessary to own or have access to the external standard from which AWI was borrowing.

That is not always the case with the new AWI sections (at least those released to date).  One of the best examples of this is the manner in which AWI 300 — Materials treats information found in the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association’s (HPVA) HP-1 Standard.  Previously, in AWS2 Section 4 (Sheet Products), seven pages of HPVA’s “Allowable Wood Veneer Face Grade Characteristics” are fully reproduced, and another five pages of similar HPVA material is printed in AWS2 Section 9 (Doors).  By contrast, the AWI sections do not reprint that material in its Section 300, and line item 3.3.1.a instead directs the user to a chart listing eight outside “reference standards,” including ANSI/HPVA HP-1.  The eight standards are published by organizations that deal with everything from veneer to HPDL to hardboard.  The chart’s introduction states:

  • “The standards referenced below, adopted for the performance, fabrication, and appearance of face veneers, laminates, overlays, backers, and cores, serve as the [AWI section’s] basis for evaluation of natural characteristics, defects, and other properties.”  

Based on that information, it is then up to the AWI section’s user to find and access any of these “outside” standards which may be relevant to the particular product under consideration.


Multi-polar Conformity

The content of the currently released ANSI/AWI 0620-2018 — Finish Carpentry/Installation is another indication that the AWI section is no longer a wholly self-contained collection of rules, but instead uses a “multi-polar” organization of conformance requirements.  The first requirement presented in ANSI/AWI 0620-2018 is 3.1.b:

  • “Installer shall obtain, review, and comply with manufacturer/supplier’s documented instructions for installation. Product shall be securely attached. Contract documents regarding installation method(s) shall supersede manufacturer/supplier’s directive unless design professional’s approval to deviate is provided in writing.”

Such manufacturer’s instructions could be fairly characterized as “Specifications Light,” since they supersede any conflicting line items in ANSI-AWI 0620-2018, but do not prevail over any conflicting installation specification from the designer.  Thus, for any project where the new AWI section is specified, the architect may consider it necessary to determine whether installation instructions have been issued by the woodwork fabricator, and if so, to review them for comment, like shop drawings and other submittals are reviewed.  Any installation requirements not issued by either the manufacturer or the architect must be found by the installer in ANSI/AWI 0620-2018.  Whereas AWS2 provided installation standards in each product section separately, 0620-2018 covers installation for all product categories.  


Casework Considerations

If the product to be installed is casework, there is an additional consideration.  As with installation of other products covered by the new standard, casework installation is subject to the general requirement that the installer obtain installation instructions from the manufacturer.  However, if casework installation instructions (in particular) are not provided to the installer, then the installer is subject to an additional requirement per 3.3.1.a:

  • “If the manufacturer/supplier does not provide such documented instructions for installation or if such instructions are not applicable to a particular job, installer shall refer to the AWI Casework Installation Guidelines – (available for download at http://gotoawi.com/standards) and follow the installation method set forth in those guidelines. Installer shall not install a manufacturer/supplier’s casework in any manner prohibited by the manufacturer in its instructions.” (Editor’s Note: The specific “Installation Guideline” currently available at the link is “Installation Guidelines, Anchorage”.) Again, specifications prevail if in conflict with manufacturer-issued installation instructions, or standards-related line-items or related documents.

Authoritative Documents

Many readers may be familiar with the standard QCP project inspection report.  For any particular aspect of a product, the determination of conformance up to this point would be based on either the specifications or the standard (in the absence of a specification).  In either case, the line item supporting the conformance determination would appear in the report.  For projects bid after 03/15/2019, and during the period of partial release of the updated AWI sections, the number of standards or documents that might be the cited authority for conformance has multiplied, and include:

  • Architect’s specifications
  • Sections of Architectural Woodwork Standards, Edition 2 not yet replaced by AWI Standards
  • Any released section of the new AWI sections
  • The manufacturer’s installation instructions
  • The “Installation Guidelines, Anchorage” download for casework (see preceding paragraph)
  • Any one of the eight “outside” standards (see paragraph 2 above)
  • Other contract documents, such as architect-ratified change orders or RFIs
  • Documents pertaining to successful product performance testing (a focus of the AWI Standards)

The new sections are owned by AWI, and http://gotoawi.com/standards is an authoritative source for additional information regarding their ongoing development, opportunities for standards input from stakeholders, product testing, and AWI technical assistance.