Patent application title: Flush or near-flush flooring transitions
Oliver Stanchfield (Garner, NC, US)
Sven Kornfalt (Malmo, SE)
William T. Pierce (Smithfield, NC, US)
Patrick George Smith (Raleigh, NC, US)
Patrick George Smith (Raleigh, NC, US)
Sabad La Serna (Raleigh, NC, US)
Roland Larsson (Apex, NC, US)
Wayne Robert Johnston (San Marcos, CA, US)
PERGO (EUROPE) AB
IPC8 Class: AE04F1500FI
Class name: Static structures (e.g., buildings) bridger strip hiding juncture of panels
Publication date: 2008-10-30
Patent application number: 20080263983
Patent application title: Flush or near-flush flooring transitions
William T. Pierce
Patrick George Smith
Sabad La Serna
Wayne Robert Johnston
NOVAK, DRUCE + QUIGG L.L.P.
PERGO (EUROPE) AB
Origin: WASHINGTON, DC US
IPC8 Class: AE04F1500FI
The invention is a joint cover assembly for covering a gap adjacent an
edge of a panel that covers a sub-surface, and a method of covering such
a gap. The assembly can be installed to be a flush or near-flush
arrangement with adjacent flooring elements.
1. An assembly for covering a gap adjacent a first flooring element
comprising:at least one track, said at least one track comprising a
substantially planar section and an upstanding section, said upstanding
section defining a groove; anda molding component, comprising an upper
section and at least one depending section;wherein said at least one
depending section is sized and shaped to fit in said groove.
2. The assembly of claim 1, comprising two tracks and wherein said molding component comprises two depending sections, wherein each of said depending sections is sized and shaped to fit in one of said grooves.
3. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said molding component is a T-molding.
4. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said upper section and said at least one depending section are substantially perpendicular.
5. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said substantially planar section and said upstanding section are substantially perpendicular.
6. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said molding component comprises a first material selected from the group consisting of fiberboard, flaxboard, metal, composites, gypsum, strandboard, plywood, wood, plastic, stone, high density reinforced plaster, cork and mixtures thereof.
7. The assembly of claim 6, wherein said molding component comprises a second material affixed to said first material and forming an exposed surface of said upper section, wherein said second material is at least one selected from the group consisting of paint, varnish, polyurethane, hard surfaces, laminate, veneer, foil, paper, vinyl, metal, composites, plastic, ceramic and wood tiles.
8. The assembly of claim 7, wherein said second material has a decor which matches a decor of said first flooring element.
9. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said second material has a surface texture which enhances a visual pattern thereof.
10. The assembly of claim 1, wherein said upper section of said molding component has a length corresponding to:((a width of said upstanding section)×4)+((a width of said groove)×2).
11. The assembly of claim 1, further comprising a reducer, sized and shaped to mate with a second track.
12. The assembly of claim 11, wherein the reducer transforms the assembly into a hard surface reducer.
13. The assembly of claim 11, wherein the reducer transforms the assembly into an end molding.
14. The assembly of claim 11, wherein the reducer transforms the assembly into a stair nose.
15. The assembly of claim 11, further comprising a shim, positioned between said reducer and said second track.
16. The assembly of claim 11, wherein said reducer comprises joining elements sized and shaped to mate with joining elements positioned on said second track.
17. The assembly of claim 11, wherein said reducer comprises an outer face comprising at least one material selected from the group consisting of paint, varnish, polyurethane, hard surfaces, laminate, veneer, foil, paper, vinyl, metal, composites, plastic, ceramic and wood tiles.
18. The assembly of claim 11, wherein an exposed surface of said upper section molding component comprises at least one material selected from the group consisting of paint, varnish, polyurethane, hard surfaces, laminate, veneer, foil, paper, vinyl, metal, composites, plastic, ceramic and wood tiles, wherein said material of said exposed surface of said upper section of said molding component matches said material of said outer face of said reducer.
19. The assembly of claim 18, wherein said molding component matches said material of said outer face of said reducer in at least one of decor and texture.
20. A floor comprising:a first flooring element having a substantially planar upper surface and the assembly of claim 1, wherein said upper section of said molding component and said upper surface of said flooring element are substantially co-planar.
21. A structure comprising the floor of claim 20, wherein the structure is selected from the group consisting of a residential structure, a commercial structure, a public structure and an industrial structure.
22. The floor of claim 11, further comprising a second flooring element having a substantially planar upper surface, wherein said upper surface of said second flooring element and said upper section of said molding component are substantially co-planar.
23. A floor comprising:a flooring element having a upper surface with a texture; andmolding, said molding comprising:a longitudinal carrier comprising:at least one selected from the group consisting of fibre board, wood, wood veneer, and metal; andan upper surface with a texture;wherein said texture of said flooring element is aligned with and extends to said texture of said molding.
24. A molding component comprising:a longitudinal carrier anda decorative surface affixed thereon,wherein said decorative surface comprises a texture in register with an underlying visual pattern.
25. The molding component of claim 24, wherein said decorative surface is embossed-in-register.
26. A structure comprising a floor comprising the molding of claim 24, wherein the structure is selected from the group consisting of a residential structure, a commercial structure, a public structure and an industrial structure.
CROSS-REFERENCE RELATED APPLICATIONS
This non-provisional application claims priority benefits of Provisional Application No. 60/858,335, filed on Nov. 13, 2006 which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a one-piece structure which can be used to form flush and near-flush flooring transitions such as T-moldings, hard-surface reducers and end moldings, between or adjacent to flooring elements.
2. Background of the Invention
Hard surface floors, such as wood or laminate flooring have become increasingly popular. As such, many different types of this flooring have been developed. Generally, this type of flooring is assembled by providing a plurality of similar panels. The differing types of panels that have developed, of course, may have differing widths and thicknesses. The same is true when a laminate floor (often referred to as a "floating floor") abuts another hard surface, such as a resilient surface (such as vinyl), tile or another laminate surface, a ceramic surface, or other surface, e.g., natural or engineered wood flooring. Thus, when laminate panels having different thicknesses or different floor covering materials are placed adjacent to a laminate floor, transition moldings are often used to create a transition between the same.
Additionally, one may desire to install floor panels adjacent to an area with different types of material. For example, one may desire to have one type of flooring in a kitchen (e.g., resilient flooring, laminate flooring or ceramic tile), and a different appearance in an adjacent dining room (e.g., solid wood or carpeting), and an entirely different look in an adjacent bath. Therefore, it has become necessary to develop a type of molding or floorstrip that could be used as a transition from one type of flooring to another, either between rooms, or different portions of the same room.
A problem is encountered, however, when flooring materials that are dissimilar in shape or texture are used. For example, when a hard floor is placed adjacent a carpet, problems are encountered with conventional edge moldings placed therebetween. Such problems include difficulty in covering the gap that may be formed between the floorings having different height, thickness or texture.
Moreover, for purposes of reducing cost, it is desirable to be able to have a molding that is versatile, having the ability to cover gaps between relatively coplanar surfaces, as well as surfaces of differing thicknesses.
It would also be of benefit to reduce the number of molding profiles that need to be kept in inventory by a seller or installer of laminate flooring. Thus, the invention also provides a method by which the number of moldings can be reduced while still providing all the functions necessary of different styles of transition moldings.
Moreover, the existing flooring transitions create what is known in the art as a "speed bump." Such speed bumps are formed because the structures forming the transitions are raised above the surface of both flooring surfaces being connected at the transition. These speed bumps create areas which require additional abrasion resistance in order to withstand the traffic conditions placed on the raised structure. Thus, there exists the need in the art for a transition to bridge two flooring structures, which does not create the disadvantageous speed bump, such as disclosed by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/747,261, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention can include a first element to be used in an assembly for covering a gap between edges of adjacent floor elements, such as floor panels of laminate or wood, although it may also be used as a transition between a laminate panel and another type of flooring, e.g., carpet, vinyl, ceramic, and wood. The first element typically includes a body having at least two feet positioned along a longitudinal axis, and a first arm or member extending generally outwardly from the feet. The first element may include a second arm also extending generally perpendicular from the feet.
The outward-facing surface of the first element may be formed as a single, unitary, monolithic surface that covers both the first and second arms. This outward-facing surface may be decorated, for example, with a laminate or a paper, such as a monochromatic or patterned decor, optionally impregnated with a resin, in order to increase its aesthetic value, or blend, to match or contrast with the floor panels. Preferably, the outward facing surface has incorporated therein at least one material to increase its abrasion resistance, such as hard particles of silica, alumina, diamond, silicon nitride, aluminum oxide, silicon carbide and similar hard particles, preferably particles having a Moh's hardness of at least approximately 2, more preferably at least approximately 4, and most preferably at least approximately 6. This outward-facing surface may also be covered with other types of coverings, such as foils (such as metal, paper or thermoplastic foils), paints or a variety of other decorative elements, including, but not limited to wood veneer, ceramic, metal, vinyl or other decorative materials.
The first element is typically formed from one of a variety of materials, such as a core covered with carpet, laminate, ceramic or wood tile, linoleum, turf, metal, paper, natural wood or veneer, vinyl, wood, ceramic or composite finish, or any type of surface covering, while the core is generally formed from one or more of wood, fiberboard, such as high density fiberboard (HDF) or medium density fiberboard (MDF), plastics, flaxboard, gypsum, high density fiber reinforced plaster, and other structural materials, such as metals or composites, and at least over a portion of the surface thereof may be covered with a foil, a plastic, a paper, a decor or a laminate to match or contrast with the first and second arms.
The assembly of the invention typically includes, in addition to the first element, two tracks, into which the feet of the first element are inserted. The tracks usually include a first section, designed to be installed below a flooring element, and a second or exposed section, which includes a groove, sized and shaped to receive at least one foot of the first element.
When installed, the assembly is designed such that the at least two feet of the first element are inserted into corresponding grooves in separate tracks. As a result, an upper portion of the structure of the first element bridges the gap.
In a preferred embodiment, the size and shape of the first element and the second elements are selected such that when the assembly is installed, the upper surface of the first element is coplanar with the upper surfaces of the adjacent flooring elements.
Not wishing to be bound by theory, it is the inventor's understanding that when the first element is correctly inserted into the grooves of the tracks between adjacent floating floors, the assembly will function to anchor the panels adjacent the assembly together, preventing separation. Effectively, the assembly, it is believed, causes the adjacent panels to "float together," as if they were physically linked directly to each other, with the track affixed only to the adjacent, or finished flooring, i.e., not to the subfloor.
The assembly may additionally be used to cover gaps between tongue-and-groove type panels, such as glued or glueless laminate floor panels, or even other types of flooring which are secured to a subsurface.
An adhesive, such as a glue, a microballoon adhesive, contact adhesive, or chemically activated adhesive including a water-activated adhesive, may be also positioned on any of the pieces of the assembly to either hold the assembly together or in place. Of course, such an adhesive is not necessary, but may enhance or supplement the fit and positioning of the assembly over the gap between the floor elements. Additionally, the adhesive may assist in creating a more air-tight or moisture-tight joint.
The assembly may be used in other non-coplanar areas, such as the edge between a wall and a floor, or even between the run and rise of stairs. For example, the assembly may include the first and second arms, and feet as described above, but instead of transitioning between two floor elements placed in the same plane, may form the joint between the horizontal and vertical surfaces of a single stair element.
The inventive assembly may be used for positioning between adjacent tongue-and-groove panels; in this regard, the assembly functions as a transition molding, which provides a cover for edges of similar or dissimilar surfaces. For example, when installing floors in a home, the assembly could be used to provide an edge between a hallway and a bedroom, between a kitchen and living or bathroom, or any areas where distinct flooring is desired. Additionally, the assembly may be incorporated into differing types of flooring, such as wood, tile, linoleum, carpet, or turf.
The invention additionally includes a new an innovative securing means used to install both the inventive moldings as described herein, as well as other moldings, such as those described by U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,517,935, and 6,898,911, and WO0240809 (each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). This securing means is, most often, a track or clamp which can be glued, or otherwise secured.
Through this invention, it is possible to reduce the profile height of the transition molding where it overlaps onto the surface of the finished floor or can be used as a flush, i.e., coplanar, structure. Such a flush surface can be formed without the need for any milling of a vertical edge of finished flooring, which is conventionally necessary when installing flush transition moldings. In some embodiments, the first element of the assembly can be substantially smaller, having a less visible width than conventional overlapping transitions, as disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,860,074, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. Such a smaller visible width makes the flooring transition less noticeable in doorways and increases the aesthetic appeal of the smooth and overall appearance of the finished flooring when the flooring is installed through passageways from one room to another.
Although the assembly is designed to be used without the need for drilled holes or fastening to a subfloor, the track can be affixed to the subfloor, via any method discussed herein. In such a configuration, one or both of the tracks can be provided with an element which permits movement in one or more directions to permit a degree of movement between the assembly, while still maintaining the flush or near-flush configuration.
In one embodiment, both tracks are affixed to the subfloor, without any movement permitted. It is believed that such a configuration will cause a floating floor to "float about" the assembly, rather than have the assembly "float with" the floor.
The ease of installation of the assembly of the invention is accomplished by the elimination of any need to drill holes and apply fasteners in concrete subfloors or to fasten to wood subfloors with mechanical fasteners. The flush and near-flush surface is accomplished without the need for milling. These two time consuming labors, often requiring specialized tools, have been eliminated from many embodiments of the installation by the assembly of the invention.
Finally, while conventional flush flooring transitions require a different flooring transition height for each additional flooring thickness, the assembly of the invention can be adjusted for various flooring heights and thicknesses. This feature allows for the reduction of multiple SKU's (shop-keeper units), reducing inventory, and increasing the efficient use of materials.
Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description. It should be understood, however, that the detailed description and the specific examples, while indicating preferred embodiments of the invention, are given by way of illustration only, since various changes and modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this detailed description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is perspective view of a first embodiment of a T-molding of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the first embodiment of the invention, showing a preferred installation method;
FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the T-molding to be used in the present invention;
FIG. 3B is a perspective view of tracks to be used in the present invention;
FIGS. 4 and 5 are views tracks to be used in accordance with the present invention;
FIGS. 6 and 7 are views of T-moldings to be used in the present invention;
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a side view of a hard surface reducer to be used in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 10 is a side view of an carpet reducer/end molding to be used in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 11 shows a reversible shim to be used in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 12 depicts a carpet reducer/end molding to be used in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 13A shows a hard surface reducer in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 13B shows a hard surface reducer/carpet reducer in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 14 shows a first hard surface reducer assembly in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 15 depicts a first carpet reducer/end molding assembly in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 16 represents a second carpet reducer/end molding assembly of the invention;
FIG. 17 illustrates a second hard surface reducer assembly of the invention;
FIG. 18 shows a third hard surface reducer assembly of the invention;
FIG. 19 portrays a third carpet reducer/end molding assembly in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 20 illustrates a fourth carpet reducer/end molding assembly in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 21 shows a fourth hard surface reducer in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 22 represents a stair nose assembly in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 23 illustrates a second stair nose assembly in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 24 depicts a third stair nose assembly in accordance with the invention;
FIG. 25 shows a third stair nose assembly in accordance with the invention; and
FIGS. 26 and 27 show an alternative track to be used with the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Generally, the invention is to be used above a subfloor 1, typically an underlayment 2, and between adjacent finished flooring elements 3. Underlayment 2 can be any type of conventional underlayment, e.g., foam, or film laid upon the subfloor or alternatively such underlayment may be affixed to flooring elements 3. As described herein, flooring elements 3 can, independently, be laminate panels, tiles (e.g., wood or ceramic), resilient flooring (e.g., vinyl), or carpet.
Two tracks, 4, 5 are preferably installed between subfloor 1 and one flooring element 3 to hold a T-molding in place. Tracks 4 and 5 can be attached to finished flooring 3, at horizontal surfaces thereof. It is additionally considered with the scope of the invention to attach track 4 to vertical edges of flooring elements 3. If finished flooring 3 has underlayment 2 affixed thereto, a portion of underlayment 2 is preferably removed, by, for example, being cut away, peeled back or shaved away, for direct contact between underside of finished flooring 3 and the respective track 4, 5. The contact is preferably maintained by adhesive 8 (which can be pre-applied, such as an adhesive tape/strip, applied at the time of manufacture of either flooring elements 3 or tracks 4, 5, added during installation as a peel-and-stick adhesive, or an activatable adhesive, e.g., micro-balloon or macro-balloon adhesive, other encapsulated glues (as described by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/725,932 and No. 10/270,163, each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety), adhesive tape, fresh adhesive or can have a mechanical or magnetic attachment (as described by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/747,261, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety, or a fresh adhesive (i.e., an adhesive, such as glue, sealant, or epoxy, applied, typically in liquid form, at the time of manufacture)). It should also be understood that such adhesives, or any adhesive or glue described herein, can be substituted by mechanical elements, e.g., tacks, clips, screws, nails, other mechanic fasteners or magnetic attachments (as described by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/747,261, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). Interiors of vertical surfaces of tracks 4, 5 can also be affixed to flooring elements 3. It should be understood that tracks 4 and 5 are preferably mirror images of each other. Therefore, when a particular part, element or relation is described with respect to either of track 4 or track 5, such part, element or relation can also be found on the other of track 4 or track 5. However, track 4 and track 5 need not be identical mirror images of each other. The present invention allows for one leg of the two-legged T-molding and one groove of one of the two tracks to match, as described below. The one smooth leg of the T-molding set into the one smooth groove of one track will allow lateral movement of the finished floors, while the other `notched leg and notched groove` can lock the T-molding vertically and hold the finished flooring together horizontally while still allowing the two finished floating floors to expand and contract easily in any direction.
Tracks 4, 5 are typically provided with grooves 4a, 5a, defined by spaced upstanding sections 5B, extending generally perpendicularly from a straight section 5C. A first T-molding 6 can join tracks 4 and 5. Legs 6a of track 6 are sized and shaped to be inserted into grooves 4a and 5a to join tracks 4 and 5. Legs 6a are joined by an upper section 6b of T-molding 6. In order to accommodate flooring of different thicknesses, T-molding 6 need not be fully or evenly inserted into both grooves 4A, 5A. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 upper section 6b forms a "speed bump" where it overlaps adjacent flooring elements 3. Because upper section 6b is typically provided with rounded lateral edges 6C, the transition between the flooring element 3 and the T-molding 6 is can be gradual transition. As such, this embodiment is a "near-flush" molding assembly.
Preferably, T-molding is formed from a metal or plastic or fiberboard, such as high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), flaxboard, plastic, brass, aluminum, steel, copper, composites, gypsum, high-density fiber reinforced plaster, or other natural or synthetic material such as cork, or any additional material, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,860,074, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. Preferred plastics include extrudable and/or moldable thermosetting and thermoplastic resins, the latter including high density olefins and polyvinylchloride.
Although T-molding 6 is shown as being a single unitary structure without any joints or connections therein, it is considered within the scope of the invention to form T-molding 6 by joining two or more separate elements. Such separate structures need not be of the same material(s), and may be joined by, for example, by friction joints, tongue-and-groove joints, compression joints, glue, or any combination thereof. Although the figures show T-molding 6 as being solid, it is additionally considered within the scope of the invention to utilize a hollow structure, optionally with one or more supports or reinforcements provided in the interior thereof.
FIG. 3 shows an alternate T-molding 7, which can be used to eliminate the "speed bump" of the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2 to form a flush molding assembly. This embodiment is similar to that of FIGS. 1 and 2, with straight lateral edges 7C, which permits the upper surface 7B of T-molding 7 to be co-planar with upper surfaces of adjacent flooring elements 3 (See, e.g., FIG. 18).
Upstanding sections 4B of track 4 can be smooth on both the interior and exterior surfaces thereof (FIGS. 4 and 5). Straight section 4C is, in one embodiment, provided with one or more joining element 4D, which can take the shape of a tongue or groove, having, for example, a dove-tail shape, in order to mate with corresponding structures as will be later described. Gripping structures 4E can be located on interior portions of upstanding sections 4B. Such gripping structures can take the form of notches, bendable barbs or glues, sealants or adhesives (e.g., pre-applied, fresh, activated) as described herein, to hold T-molding 6, 7 in place after assembly. Track 4 may additionally have a matching tongue or groove 4F (not shown) for finished flooring 3 that has tongues/grooves, or standard or locking-types. Such tongue/groove 4F can be sized and shaped to mate with a corresponding tongue/groove of finished flooring 3 and also allow lateral movement.
Smooth surfaces of legs 6B or 7B and corresponding groove 5B allows for easy lateral movement of finished flooring 3 that is attached to track 5. This lateral movement of finished floor 3 can be caused by the expansion/contraction of finished floor 3. The ability of the transition molding of the invention to move laterally releases expansion/contraction pressures of finished floor 3, when installed as a floating floor. These surfaces can also have gripping grooves similar to gripping structures 4E of track 4.
An alternate embodiment of T-moldings 6 and 7 are shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, respectively. This embodiment is similar to that which is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, wherein one leg 6A is provided with barbs or other gripping elements similar to gripping structures 4E of track 4. Upper surface 6C of T-molding 6 can have a variety of finishes, such as paints, varnishes, polyurethane, hard surfaces (optionally containing hard particles, to increase the durability, e.g., abrasion and scratch resistance, of the surface materials), such as laminates (such as taught by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/902,062, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety), or hardwood flooring finishes, veneers, foils, stainable papers, direct printing, or digital printing or other flooring materials, such as vinyl, metal, composites or plastics. It is additionally within the scope of the invention to provide upper surface 6C with ceramic or wood tiles, as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,860,074. Typical laminates which can be used for upper surface 6C are those taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,517,935, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety), including monochromatic or patterned (including random) decor sheets which may or may not be impregnated with a thermosetting resin, and a cellulosic overlay paper, such as one made from α-cellulose, which also may or may not be impregnated with a resin. Other laminates include ones in which the overlay is eliminated, and may be substituted by a polymer containing cellulosic particles, evenly or randomly distributed throughout a (typically otherwise clear) resin.
In a preferred embodiment, upper surface 6C includes is a laminate formed from a thermosetting resin, having a decor sheet, optionally an overlay sheet (with or without cellulosic fibers atop or therein) and hard particles therein in order to impart an abrasion resistance thereto, which is affixed or joined to the remainder of T-molding 6 in a high-pressure laminate process step. Such laminate may be affixed as described by U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,951, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. Upper surface 6C can be other finishing materials such as thermoplastic containing laminates, wood veneers, thermosetting polymers, such as melamine or phenolic resins, thermoplastic polymers such as olefins, foils (such as thermosetting, thermoplastic, paper or metal foils), optionally impregnated with or without hard particles, polyesters, vinyls, solid metals, metal sheets or strips), or combinations thereof. For example, upper surface 6C can include multiple elements, as described herein. It is additionally considered within the scope of the invention to affix upper surface 6C during a direct lamination step, as is known in the art.
Often, upper surface 6C is provided with a patterned paper sheet therein, wherein the pattern resembles a natural or synthetic object, such as wood, ceramic, stone (including marble and granite), or fantasy patterns (i.e., those not found in nature), including a monochromatic or random field. The specific decor can be selected to enhance the appearance of the surfaces which will be adjacent to T-molding 6 when installed. Such enhancement can be accomplished by matching exactly the visual pattern of upper surface 6C to that of the adjacent surface, or by contrasting the patterns, for example, such that when installed, a visual pattern extends from a flooring element onto and possible completely across the molding, as described by U.S. application Ser. No. 09/964,838, filed Sep. 28, 2001, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. The resulting products typically have durability rating. As defined by the European Producers of Laminate Flooring, such products can have an abrasion resistance rating of anywhere from AC1 to AC5. Typical abrasion resistances are >300 cycles, >400 cycles, >500 cycles, at least 900 cycles (AC1), at least 1800 cycles (AC2), at least 2500 cycles (AC3), at least 4000 cycles (AC4) and at least 6500 cycles (AC5), as measured by European Standard EN 13329 (Annex E). Typical products according to the invention can also have impact resistance ratings of IC1, IC2 or IC3, as measured by European Standard EN 13329.
Moreover, it is possible to provide upper surface 6C with a texture which enhances the pattern of the underlying paper sheet. Such texturing can be created to be "in register" with, offset from, or to contrast with the image of the paper sheet. Such texturing may be created by physical pressing, e.g., embossing (as taught by U.S. application Ser. No. 10/440,317 (filed May 19, 2003), U.S. Pat. No. 7,003,364, and WO9731775 and WO9731776, each of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety) or chemically created (as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,991,830, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety). The texture can be selected by the installer to enhance (e.g., match or contrast with) any texture of adjacent surfaces. The texture may also be provided on upper surface 6C such that features of the texture extend from a flooring element onto and possible completely across the molding, which texture may, or may not coincide with the underlying decor.
T-molding 7, when installed, has its upper surface 7C co-planar with upper surfaces of the adjacent flooring elements 3, forming the flush molding of the invention (FIG. 8). In order to ensure that no gaps exist between T-molding 7 and the adjacent flooring elements 3, it is preferable to have the length of upper section 7A correspond to the total distance between flooring elements 3. This can be accomplished by manufacturing upper surface 7C to have a length corresponding exactly to the total of ((the width of upstanding section 5B)×4)+((the width of groove 5A)×2), i.e., the total distance between adjacent flooring elements 3 (See FIG. 8). In such an installation, tracks 4 and 5 are to be directly abutting, such that there is no space therebetween. Such an installation allows for a perfect fit without the need to calculate and measure distances of flooring elements 3.
For wider T-moldings, the installation method can be different. For example, it is within the scope of the invention to manufacture multiple types or styles of T-moldings, having varying widths for different applications. In order to use the T-moldings in a flush installation, a spacer 7E (not shown) can be utilized between tracks 4 and 5, to be positioned between tracks 4 and 5 to have a known total distance between adjacent flooring elements. In such a situation the width of upper surface 7A should be the total of ((the width of upstanding section 5B)×4)+((the width of groove 5A)×2)+(the width of spacer 7E). In many situations, T-molding 7 can be packaged and sold along with the correct spacer 7E, such that the installer receives the correct parts without having to measure and calculate. Of course, it should be understood that the widths of each of the upstanding sections 5B need not be the same, and in such embodiments, the resulting calculations would need to incorporate the actual widths. A wider T-molding 7 can also be used without the need for any spacer.
Such installation methods are particularly useful when T-molding 7 is installed when a new floor is laid. However, it is within the scope of the invention to install T-molding 7 as a replacement for an existing molding, or adjacent a previously installed floor. In such a situation, it will often be necessary to measure the gap between adjacent flooring, such that T-molding 7 can be correctly installed.
When the gap to be bridged is between a flooring of a first height (e.g., laminate flooring) and one of a second height (e.g., ceramic or wood tile, carpet, concrete, or stone), a hard surface reducer (HSR) 9 (FIG. 9) is often utilized to gradually transition the different heights. When the gap to be bridged is between a flooring and the end of the floor, such as at a wall, appliance, fireplace hearth, doors (e.g., sliding glass doors), tub and shower basins, marble sills/thresholds or other typically vertical structure, a carpet reducer/end molding 10 (CR/EM) (FIG. 10) is often used. Such CR/EM 10 can also be used against surfaces which cannot accommodate a traditional wall trim molding such as a quarter-round molding, shoe molding or wall base. Although having different functions, the features, installation and construction of HSR 9 and CR/EM 10 can be substantially similar, thus, in the interests of simplicity, the features, installation and construction of HSR 9 and CR/EM 10 will be presented with reference to HSR 9 only, however, unless specifically identified each feature, installation and construction is also applicable to CR/EM 10. The same can be said of the embodiment of stair nose 20 shown in FIGS. 23 and 24.
HSR 9 has an outer surface 9A which can be provided with a variety of surfaces, such as those which may be used for upper surface 7C. For example, typical surfaces include paint, varnish, polyurethane, hard surfaces (optionally containing hard particles that increase durability, e.g., scratch and abrasion resistance) such as laminates or foils, veneers, vinyl, metal, composites, plastics, cork and other conventional flooring materials, or any combination thereof. The interior 9B of HSR 9 can be made of a variety of materials, such as fiber board (typically high density or medium density fiber board), strandboard, particle board, plywood, hardwoods, metals (e.g., brass, copper or aluminum), stone, plastics, (thermosetting or thermoplastic, such as melamines or PVC, respectively) or composites. Interior 9B can be formed by shaping a block of the material of interior 9B by cutting, sanding, sawing, milling, shaving, planing, chipping, chiseling, notching, grinding, or drilling, which shaping can be mechanized or involve hand-and-arm pressure alone. It is also possible to form interior 9B through an extrusion process, which can eliminate any need for further shaping. Although HSR 9 preferably includes upper surface 9A as a distinct element, typically having different properties than interior 9B, it is within the scope of the invention, to have upper surface 9A as merely the upper surface of interior 9B, having the same properties, i.e., not being a distinct element.
HSR 9 also typically has joining elements on an underside thereof. As shown in FIG. 9, a tongue 9C and a groove 9D can be provided to form a joint with shim 11 (FIG. 11). Such joining elements can be shaped to form dove-tail, half dove-tail, friction, interference, pre-stressed, positive or non-positive connections with shim 11. Although shown with one tongue 9C and one groove 9D in particular locations, should be understood that such illustration is merely for exemplary purposes, and the number and locations of the joining elements can vary. Additionally, the joining elements can take the form of an adhesive, such as a pre-applied or activated adhesive as discussed herein. However, it is possible to eliminate mechanical joining elements to form CR/EM 12 and HSR 13 (FIGS. 12 and 13A, respectively).
It is also considered within the scope of the invention to use a combined hard surface reducer/carpet reducer 13' (HSR/CR), as shown in FIG. 13B. This HSR/CR 13' is a combination profile of a hard surface reducer with a blunt end 13A that can also serve as a carpet reducer when the carpet is finished against the blunt end 13A. When this profile is not used as a carpet reducer, a graduated curve 13B above the blunt end 13A can serve as a hard surface reducer.
Shim 11 can be a reversible element to adjust the height of HSR 9. In order to increase the versatility of shim 11, shim 11 can be provided with one or more removable sections 11A-C, which sections are designed to mate with corresponding joining elements on HSR 9, with or without an adhesive as described herein. By removing or not removing certain one or more of removable sections 11A-C, HSR 9 can be used to accommodate flooring of varying different heights (See FIGS. 14 and 15). Preferably, removable sections 11A-C snap-fit with corresponding tongues/grooves on HSR 9. Such construction can permit removal of shim 11 from HSR 9 without damaging either element. However, it is also within the scope of the invention to have the joint between HSR 9 and shim 11 be a permanent connection which cannot be removed without destroying either element.
In an additional embodiment, shim 11 is designed to accommodate a relatively thick flooring element, but without any space between HSR 9 and the flooring element therebelow. In such an embodiment, the proximal section, i.e., section closest to finished flooring 3, is raised when compared to the distal section of HSR 9, i.e., section furthest from finished flooring 3. This is accomplished by utilizing shim 11 such that the part connected to the proximal section of HSR 9 is thicker than the part of shim 11 connected to the distal section of HSR 9. As a result, the lower surface of HSR 9 will not be parallel to the subfloor, allowing for upper surface 9A to extend completely from finished flooring 3 to the subfloor.
With reference to FIGS. 16-19, CR/EM 12 and HSR 13 can be used with track 4, having no joining elements on either structure. The connections can be maintained in such configurations by adhesives or glues as disclosed herein, with or without forces provided by the structures. As shown in these figures, CR/EM 12 and HSR 13 are preferably used without a structure similar to shim 11.
It is additionally within the scope of the invention to combine the carpet reducer and T-moldings of previously described embodiments into a single carpet reducer 16. In order to utilize HSR 16, an alternate T-molding, i.e., T-molding 17, is used, having a tongue 17A. As shown in FIG. 20, T-molding 16 has a distal section 20 similar to HSR 13 and a proximal section 21 similar to T-molding 6, which sections can be joined, by for example, an adhesive (shown as a stair nose 20; FIG. 25). A groove 16C is positioned on an underside of an upper section of CR 16, sized, shaped and positioned to mate with tongue 17A. Such tongue-groove joint can be a dove-tail, half dove-tail, friction, interference, pre-stressed, positive or non-positive joint, and it should be understood that the particular locations of the tongue/groove are exemplary only (just as all tongues-grooves of this application are), and that any position, number or configuration may be used. When this embodiment is used, T-molding 17 is formed from a resilient material, (such as natural or synthetic rubber, plastic, or metal) without any need for a decorative upper surface. Similarly, T-molding 17 can be formed by adding the tongue 17A to T-molding 6 with an adhesive. Such a configuration allows for the T-molding of the previously described embodiment to an alternate use, permitting retailers to reduce the number of SKUs required. A HSR 18, similar to the embodiment shown in FIG. 20, is illustrated in FIG. 21, while a similar stair nose 19 is depicted in FIG. 19.
An alternate form of track 4, 5, i.e., tracks 22 can have additional structures (FIGS. 26 and 27). Track 22 can have smooth surfaces on interior and exterior portions of legs 23A. Track 22 may also have on one or both legs 22A, dove-tail grooves or tongues (not shown) that can form a snap fit or act has a holding groove or tongue that are attached to one or both legs. A groove 22B may also be provided in a horizontal section of track 22 where mechanical fasteners (screws, nails, tacks, etc.) may be placed. When such a fastener is inserted through groove 22B, track 22 is permitted to shift along an axis of groove 22B, when pushed or pulled by the adjacent flooring elements, without stressing any adhesive or other component of the installation. Track 22, or any track disclosed herein, may also include a magnetic strip 22D, which can be adhered to the subfloor (or underlayment). Magnetic strip 22D allows track 22 to move 360°, but as long as track 22 does not move beyond the magnetic field of a similar magnet 24 affixed to the subfloor (not shown), track 22 would remain affixed to the subfloor.
A single magnetic strip 22D can be used in combination with a thin metallic strip 22E (not shown). The magnetic strip 22D can be adhered to the subfloor and the thin metallic strip 22E can be fastened to the underside of the tracks 22 or visa versa, the magnetic strip 22D can be attached to the underside of the track 22 and the thin metallic strip 22E can be attached to the subfloor. When the track 22 is made of a magnetic metal, it can be held by magnetic attraction without the need for the metallic strip 22E. Similarly, if the track 22 is formed of a plastic or other non-metallic material, magnetic materials (e.g., small pieces of magnets iron or other magnetic materials) can be incorporated therein, forming a magnetic structure from a non-magnetic material.
By providing magnet 24 in the form of an electromagnet, i.e., a magnet that achieves its magnetic properties when provided with an electric current, it is possible to lay the invention in place, and when it is in the correct location, electrify magnet 24, resulting in magnet 24 becoming joined to magnet 22D of track 22. In order to disassemble the molding of the invention, it is possible to de-energize magnet 24, allowing for simple and easy removal.
It is additionally possible to provide one or more of the structures of the invention as part of a larger generic structure, from which the individual elements can be removed. Such "break-away" sections can be manufactured as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,860,074, herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
The structures of the invention as described above, are typically used in the construction of a floor or at a joint between disparate floors. Such floors are often found in residential structures (e.g., single and multi-family houses, condominiums, townhomes, co-operatives, apartments, and lobbies of such buildings), commercial structures (e.g., retail stores, strip malls, shopping malls, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, banks, churches, airports and other transit stations), public structures (e.g., stadiums and arenas, schools, museums, theaters, post offices, hospitals, courthouses and other government buildings), as well as industrial structures (e.g., manufacturing plants, mills, and warehouses).
It should be apparent that embodiments other than those specifically described above may come within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Hence, the present invention is not limited by the above description.
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