Patent application title: PANEL SYSTEM
Ken Mulhair (Oregon City, OR, US)
MARITIME SERVICES CORP.
IPC8 Class: AE04F1321FI
Class name: Static structures (e.g., buildings) sheetlike element assembled parallel to existing wall, ceiling, or floor (e.g., insulating panel, sheathing) assembled with fastening device
Publication date: 2012-06-21
Patent application number: 20120151861
A panel system incorporating a plurality of side by side panels which are
joined to one another with tongue and slot connectors. The connectors are
configured to permit each panel to be attached to an underlying surface
through the connector before a subsequent panel is attached to it.
1. A panel system comprising: (a) a plurality of panels each having a
first edge and a second edge which is parallel with and separated from
said first edge; (b) said panels including a base sheet having an outer
surface and an inner surface; (c) a tongue member which is attached to
said inner surface of said base sheet along a margin of said first edge,
said tongue member having a defined thickness and projecting a first
distance from said first edge; (d) a receptacle member which is attached
to said inner surface of said base sheet along a margin of said second
edge, said receptacle member having a support element and an attachment
element; wherein (e) said support element is attached to said inner
surface of said base sheet and is separated from said second edge by a
second distance which is at least as large as said first distance and has
a thickness substantially equal to the thickness of said tongue member;
and (f) said attachment element projects from said second edge of said
2. The panel system of claim 1 including a decorative cover attached to said outer surface of said base sheet.
3. The panel system of claim 2 wherein said decorative cover is wood veneer.
4. The panel system of claim 2 wherein said decorative cover is vinyl.
5. The panel system of claim 2 wherein said decorative cover is a plastic laminate.
6. The panel system of claim 2 wherein said decorative cover is tile.
7. The panel system of claim 1 wherein said tongue member and said receptacle member extend along the entire extent of said first and second edges respectively.
8. The panel system of claim 1 wherein said attachment element has an attachment surface on the side thereof which is opposite the side which is attached to said support element, said attachment surface configured to be adhered to an underlying surface by an adhesive.
9. The panel system of claim 8 wherein said underlying surface is an existing wall surface.
10. The panel system of claim 1 wherein said attachment element comprises one or more openings which allow said panel to be attached to an underlying wall surface with fasteners.
11. The panel system of claim 10 wherein said fasteners are screws.
12. The panel system of claim 1 wherein said panel is bent intermediate said first and second edges to provide a corner.
13. The panel system of claim 1 including an edge piece which is attachable to said panel adjacent said second edge of said base sheet after said attachment element has been shortened to be coterminous with said second edge, said edge piece comprising: (a) a molding piece; and (b) a tongue which projects from said molding piece by an amount approximately equal to said first distance.
14. The panel system of claim 13 wherein said molding piece is flush with said outer surface of said panel.
15. The panel system of claim 13 wherein said molding piece partially overlies said outer surface of said panel.
16. The panel system of claim 1 including a hanger system, comprising: (a) a hanger element which is attached to said inner surface of said base sheet and extends across said base sheet perpendicular to said first and second edges; (b) said hanger element having a body portion which contacts said base sheet, and a hook portion which projects downwardly from said body portion; (c) a mounted element which is attached to a wall; (d) said mounted element having a body portion which contacts to said wall; and (e) said mounted element having a body which contacts said wall, and a receptacle which is configured to releasably engage said hook portion of said hanger element.
17. The panel system of claim 16 wherein there are multiple hanger elements and multiple mounted elements.
18. A method for constructing a wall with the panels of claim 1, comprising: (a) placing a first one of said panels vertically against an underlying surface; (b) attaching the support element of said first one of said panels to said underlying surface; (c) inserting the tongue of a second one of said panels into the slot formed between the base sheet and receptacle member of said first one of said panels; (d) urging said second one of said panels towards said first one of said panels until the first edge of said second one of said panels abuts the second edge of said first one of said panels; (e) attaching a support element of said second one of said panels to said underlying surface; and (f) repeating steps (c) through (e) until the wall is constructed.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 It often is desirable to replace an existing wall quickly and easily with an updated wall without having to remove the original wall. One area where this need exists is with cruise ships and other large vessels where the interior surfaces are routinely refurbished. While it is possible to glue panels on top of the existing wall, it is difficult to remove these panels when subsequent renovations are required. However, it is desirable to remove the previously applied panel since multiple layered panels would eventually infringe upon the space bounded by the panels and would create problems with openings in the wall. Moreover, at times it is desirable to remove the existing wall down to the studs and a wall system used in this environment must also be capable of being attached directly to the studs.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The subject invention provides a panel system which is constructed from panels having a tongue member along one edge and a receptacle member along the opposed edge. The receptacle member is configured to receive the tongue member of an adjacent panel with the edges of the panels abutting one another.
 The foregoing and other objectives, features, and advantages of the invention will be more readily understood upon consideration of the following detailed description of the invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view, looking from the front, of a panel embodying the subject invention.
 FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the panel of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view, looking from the rear, of the panel of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 4 is a rear elevation view of the panel of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 5 is a foreshortened cross-sectional view taken on the line 5-5 of FIG. 1.
 FIGS. 6 and 7 are foreshortened cross-sectional views showing two of the panels being joined.
 FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of an edge piece which is an element of the invention.
 FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the edge piece.
 FIG. 10 is a foreshortened cross-sectional view of a mounting system which is a feature of the subject invention.
 FIG. 11 is a perspective view showing how the panels are joined.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2 of the drawings, a panel system comprises a plurality of panels 10 which interconnect with one another to form a wall. The panel system is configured to allow the wall to be used to refurbish an existing wall or to create a wall in new construction. The panels have a base sheet 11 with an inner surface 12 which abuts an existing wall, or a series of wood or metal studs, and an outer surface 14 which either serves as a wall surface or is covered with a decorative cover 16 which serves as a wall surface. The decorative cover is a typical wall surface material, such as wood veneer, vinyl, plastic laminate or tile. The panel is made from a rigid material such as metal, wood, or plastic. One panel material which works well and is readily available is 0.080 inch or 0.090 inch aluminum sheets. The panels normally would have parallel opposed edges which would typically be vertical when the panel is installed. The panel can be any size, but typically would have a standard panel width and height, such as 2' by 8', 3' by 8', or 4' by 8', although where appropriate, the panel could have a 10' height. Referring now also to FIG. 5, located on the inner surface 12 of the panel 10 at a first edge 18 is a tongue member 20 and located at the inner surface of the panel at a second edge 22 is a receptacle member 24 which receives the tongue member from another panel and allows the two panels to be joined side by side quickly and easily with the edges of adjacent panels abutting one another.
 Referring now to FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, in the embodiment illustrated, the tongue member 20 is a strip of material which extends over substantially the entire height of the base sheet. The tongue member has a defined thickness and projects outwardly from the first edge 18 by a first distance `A`. The tongue member may be of the same material as the base sheet 11, in which case it probably would be the same thickness also. The tongue member is attached to the base sheet by conventional means such as an adhesive, welding, or mechanical. The tongue member needs to overlay enough of a base sheet to allow a good bond between them. In the embodiment illustrated in the drawings, the receptacle member 24 also extends over substantially the entire height of the panel. The receptacle member 24 includes a support element 26 which is attached to the inner surface 12 of the base sheet 11. The support element is separated from the second edge by a second distance `B` which is at least as great as the first distance `A`, the tongue member extends outwardly from the first edge 18. The support element 26 has a thickness which is substantially equal to the thickness of the tongue member.
 Attached to the support element 26 is an attachment element 28 which projects outwardly from the second edge of the base sheet 11. The attachment element 28 is attached to the support element in the same manner that the support element is attached to the base sheet 11. The side of the attachment element 28 that is not attached to the support element is an attachment surface which is configured to be attached to an underlying surface. This underlying surface can be an existing wall 30, FIG. 6, or studs 32 in an unfinished wall, FIG. 7. With the existing wall, the attachment element can be attached either by means of an adhesive or a series of opening can be provided to receive screws 34. The attachment element probably would be attached to studs only by screws.
 A wall is fowled with the panels by attaching the attachment element 28 of a first panel to the underlying surface. A second panel is attached to the first panel by inserting the tongue member 20 of the second panel into the slot 36 formed between the attachment element 28 and the base sheet 11 on the first panel. The attachment element 28 of the second panel is then attached to the underlying surface and the process is repeated to attach additional panels. Attaching the attachment element 28 of the second panel to the underlying surface locks the tongue member 20 of the second panel in place in the receptacle member 24 of the first panel. If there is a corner, a panel can be bent to extend around the corner, FIG. 11.
 Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, when it is desired to have an exposed edge, an edge piece 38 provides a finished edge. A moulding piece 40 has a tongue 42 projecting from it. The tongue 42 has a length which is approximately equal to the length of the tongue member 20 so that it can fit into the slot 36 between the inner surface 12 of the base sheet 11 and the attachment element 28. The edge piece 40 can either be flush with the decorative cover 16 on the outer surface 12 of the base sheet 11, FIG. 8, or overlap the decorative cover, FIG. 9. The tongue 42 can be attached to the molding piece 40 by fasteners such as a series of screws 46, FIG. 8, or by an adhesive, FIG. 9. The molding piece can be made from any suitable material, such as wood or plastic. While the edge piece shown and described attached to the second edge 22, a similar edge piece could be provided which attaches to the first edge 18.
 Where it is desired to install the panels quickly, or to change them frequently, a hanger system 48 can be utilized, FIG. 10. The hanger system includes a hanger element 50 which is attached to the inner surface 12 of the base sheet 11 and extends across the base sheet perpendicular to its edges so that it will be horizontal when the panel is installed. The hanger element 50 includes a body portion 52 which is attached to the outer surface 14 of the base sheet 11, and a hook portion 54 which extends downwardly from the body portion 52 and is separated from the base sheet. The hanger element interacts with a mounted element 56 which is attached to the existing wall 30, or studs 36 which the panel covers. The mounted element includes a body 58 which is attached to the existing wall 30 by a series of screws 60 or an adhesive. Projecting upwardly from the body 58 is a receptacle 62. The receptacle is separated from the existing wall 30 by an amount which is equal to the thickness of the hook portion 54. By inserting the hook portion 54 between the body 58 and the existing wall 30, the hanger element 50, and thus the panel 10, is suspended by the mounting element 56. As can be seen in FIGS. 2 and 4, there are several hanger systems at spaced apart vertical locations on each panel.
 The terms and expressions which have been employed in the foregoing specification are used therein as terms of description and not of limitation, and there is no intention, in the use of such terms and expressions, of excluding equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof, it being recognized that the scope of the invention is defined and limited only by the claims which follow.
Patent applications in class Assembled with fastening device
Patent applications in all subclasses Assembled with fastening device