Title:
Slatwall with hanger securement track
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention pertains to a slatwall extrusion and assembly that supportably secures a hanger, shelf bracket or other hardware. The slatwall extrusion has a board with a downwardly facing lip that combines with a lower like-shaped board to form a uniform longitudinal slot that receives the upper end of a mounting bracket for the hardware. The lip of each board has a track with rim to form an upwardly facing groove. The track receives and supportably secures the lower end of the bracket. The lower end of lip and the track are spaced apart a predetermined uniform distance. The bracket snap fits over the rim and into the groove so that the bracket is securely held by and between the lip and the track. An embodiment of the invention takes the form of an extruded slatwall rail having an upper lip and a lower board with the track.



Inventors:
Fischer, James R. (Sheboygan, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/040942
Publication Date:
09/08/2005
Filing Date:
01/21/2005
Assignee:
FISCHER JAMES R.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
248/220.42, 211/189
International Classes:
A47B47/00; A47B96/06; E04B2/74; (IPC1-7): E04B2/74; A47B47/00; A47B96/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, SARAH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDRUS, SCEALES, STARKE & SAWALL, LLP (100 EAST WISCONSIN AVENUE, SUITE 1100, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202, US)
Claims:
1. A slatwall assembly comprising: at least one piece of hardware, said hardware having upper and lower portions, said upper portion having a ledge and said lower portion having a lower end, said hardware having an effective hardware height substantially equal to a distance between its said ledge and lower end; a plurality of slatwall extrusions, each slatwall extrusion having at least one longitudinal slat, each said slat having a uniform slat height, and each said slat having a front surface, a rear surface, a lower lip and a track, said lip having a lower end and an inside surface, said inside surface being positioned between its said front and rear surfaces, and said track extending from said front surface proximal said lower lip, said track having an upwardly extending rim that defines a uniform longitudinal groove; said longitudinal slats forming a set of adjacent slats including upper and lower slats, said set of adjacent slats being aligned and spaced apart to form a uniform longitudinal slot, said slot having a narrow portion proximal said front surface and a wider portion between said lip and said rear surface, said adjacent slats defining a uniform lip/track height, said lip/track height being a distance between said lower end of said lip of said upper slat and said track of said lower slat, said effective hardware height being between said slat height and said lip/track height; and, wherein said slot receives the upper portion of said hardware and said groove of said lower slat securely receives said lower end of said hardware when said hardware is in a secure position.

2. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein said hardware has a mounting bracket that forms said upper and lower portions of said hardware, said effective hardware height being an effective bracket height, and said ledge being formed by an offset of said bracket, and wherein said rim has a rim height, said effective bracket height being a predetermined amount less than said lip/track height, and said rim height is greater than said predetermined amount, said lower end of said bracket snap-fitting into said groove.

3. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein said effective hardware height is substantially equal to said lip/track height, and said lower end of said hardware rests on said track of said lower slat, said hardware supporting the weight of an object and said track supporting that weight.

4. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein said slats have a uniform slat height, said effective hardware height is substantially equal to said slat height, said ledge of said hardware rests on said upper end of said lower slat, said hardware supporting the weight of an object, and said upper end of said lower slat supporting that weight.

5. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein each of said extruded slats has a continuous rear wall.

6. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein each of said extruded slats is backless.

7. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein each of said slatwall extrusions has upper and lower tabs for joining adjacent extrusions, said upper and lower tabs having a predetermined height to align adjacent slatwall extrusions to form one of said uniform longitudinal slots.

8. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein said track extends from said lower end of said lip.

9. The slatwall assembly of claim 1, and wherein said lip has a stiffening web spaced from said lower end of said lip.

10. The slatwall assembly of claim 9, and wherein said track extends parallel to said stiffening web.

11. A slatwall extrusion for supportably securing a piece of hardware, the hardware having upper and lower portions, the upper portion having a ledge and the lower portion having a lower end, the hardware having an effective hardware height substantially equal to a distance between its said ledge and lower end, said slatwall extrusion comprising: a plurality of slats, each said slat having a uniform slat height, and each said slat having a front surface, a rear surface and a lower lip, each lip having a lower end and an inside surface, said inside surface being spaced between its said front and rear surfaces, and a track extending from said front surface proximal said lower lip, said track having an upwardly extending rim that defines a uniform, longitudinal groove; said plurality of slats forming a set of adjacent slats including upper and lower slats, said set of adjacent slats being aligned and spaced apart to form a uniform longitudinal slot, said slot having a narrow portion proximal said front surface and a wider portion between said lip and said rear surface, said set of adjacent slats having a lip/track height, said lip/track height being substantially equal to a distance between said lower end of said lip of said upper slat and said track of said lower slat, the effective hardware height being between said slat height and said lip/track height; and, wherein said slot is adapted to receive the upper portion of the hardware and said groove of said lower slat is adapted to receive the lower end of the hardware when said hardware is in a secure position.

12. The slatwall assembly of claim 11, and wherein the hardware has a mounting bracket that forms said upper and lower portions of the hardware, the effective hardware height being an effective bracket height, and the ledge being formed by an offset of the bracket, and wherein said rim has a rim height, the effective bracket height being a predetermined amount less than said lip/track height, and said rim height is greater than said predetermined amount, said lower end of said bracket snap-fitting into said groove.

13. The slatwall assembly of claim 11, and wherein the effective hardware height is substantially equal to said lip/track height, and said lower end of the hardware rests on said track of said lower slat, the hardware supporting the weight of an object and said track supporting that weight.

14. The slatwall assembly of claim 11, and wherein said slats have a uniform slat height, the effective hardware height is substantially equal to said slat height, said ledge of the hardware rests on said upper end of said lower slat, the hardware supporting the weight of an object, and said upper end of said lower slat supporting that weight.

15. The slatwall extrusion of claim 11, and wherein each of said extruded slats has a continuous rear wall.

16. The slatwall extrusion of claim 11, and wherein each of said extruded slats is backless.

17. The slatwall extrusion of claim 11, and wherein each of said slatwall extrusions has upper and lower tabs for joining adjacent slatwall extrusions, said upper and lower tabs having a predetermined length, said upper and lower tabs having a predetermined height to align adjacent slatwall extrusions to form one of said uniform longitudinal slots.

18. The slatwall extrusion of claim 11, and wherein said track extends from said lower end of said lip.

19. The slatwall extrusion of claim 11, and wherein said lip has a stiffening web spaced from said lower end of said lip.

20. The slatwall extrusion of claim 19, and wherein said track extends parallel to said stiffening web.

21. An extruded slatwall rail for supportably securing a piece of hardware, said hardware having upper and lower portions, said upper portion having a ledge and said lower portion having a lower end, said hardware having an effective hardware height substantially equal to a distance between its ledge and lower end, said extruded slatwall rail comprising: a continuous rear wall having front and rear surfaces, and including a slot forming portion with a forward extending spacer wall; an upper lip having a front surface, said lip being joined to and spaced from said rear wall via a slot forming portion, said lip having a lower end and an inside surface, said inside surface being positioned between said front surface of said lip and said front surface of said rear wall; a lower slat having a front wall with a front surface, said front wall being joined to said rear wall via upper and lower wall portions of said slat; a track extending from said front surface of said slat, and said track having an upwardly extending rim that defines a uniform, longitudinal groove, said rail having a lip/track height substantially equal to a distance from said track to said lower end of said lip, said hardware height being substantially equal to said lip/track height; a slot formed between said upper lip and said lower slat, said slot having a narrow portion proximal said front surfaces of said lip and slat and a wider portion between said inside surface of said lip and said rear wall; and, wherein said slot is adapted to receive the upper portion of the hardware and said groove is adapted to receive the lower end of the hardware.

22. The slatwall assembly of claim 21, and wherein said hardware has a mounting bracket that forms said upper and lower portions of said hardware, said effective hardware height being an effective bracket height, and said ledge being formed by an offset of said bracket, and wherein said rim has a rim height, said effective bracket height being a predetermined amount less than said lip/track height, and said rim height is greater than said predetermined amount, said lower end of said bracket snap-fitting into said groove.

23. The slatwall assembly of claim 21, and wherein said effective hardware height is substantially equal to said lip/track height, and said lower end of said hardware rests on said track of said lower slat, said hardware supporting the weight of an object and said track supporting that weight.

24. The slatwall assembly of claim 21, and wherein said slats have a uniform slat height, said effective hardware height is substantially equal to said slat height, said ledge of said hardware rests on said upper end of said lower slat, said hardware supporting the weight of an object, and said upper end of said lower slat supporting that weight.

25. The extruded slatwall rail of claim 21, and wherein said track extends from said lower wall of said slat.

26. The extruded slatwall rail of claim 21, and wherein said slat has a stiffening web spaced from said lower wall of said slat.

27. The extruded slatwall rail of claim 21, and wherein said track extends parallel to said stiffening web.

28. The extruded slatwall rail of claim 21, and wherein said lip has front, rear and side walls that define a hollow interior, and wherein said walls of said slat define a hollow interior.

Description:

This is a Continuation-In-Part of Design Patent Application Nos. 29/200,780 and 29/200,781 filed Mar. 4, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Slatwall is used to support or display a wide variety of products in an organized manner. The slatwall is typically mounted flush against a wall, and is particularly useful in retail stores, garages and the like where goods or items need to be displayed or stored, and a more finished look is desired but bulky cabinets or conventional shelving are inappropriate due to lack of space. Slatwall includes a number of horizontal boards or slats. Adjacent slats are spaced apart a given distance to form a number of uniform, horizontal slots. The slots are evenly spaced, one above the other, through the height of the slatwall. A number of hangers or supporting hardware are secured to the slatwall by inserting them into the slots. The hangers are generally cantilevered from the slatwall so that items can be hung from or supported by the hangers. The hangers or hardware can also be used to support a platform for displaying or storing smaller items such as shoes, packaged fasteners or the like.

A problem with conventional slatwall is that the supporting hardware can be dislodged. When people walk by slatwall or quickly reach for an item on the slatwall, they can inadvertently bump one or more of the hangers with enough force to rotate and dislodge the hanger and cause it and the item it supports to fall to the ground. This can be particularly frustrating and embarrassing to customers and storekeepers in a retail store setting, and can damage the goods being displayed. When the slatwall is supporting heavy or sharp objects such as shovels, racks, saws, and the like as in a garage setting, the falling objects can cause injury. When many items are hung or supported by the slatwall at different heights and a person bumps one of the upper hangers, a cascading effect can result with several pieces of hardware and objects falling to the ground.

Another problem with conventional slatwall hangers is the unreliable nature with which they grip the slatwall. Only a small portion of the hanger typically engages the slatwall to keep it from falling to the ground. Frequently, only one eighth (⅛) inch of the rim of the hanger engages the slatwall to prevent the hanger from rotating forward and falling to the ground. This small contact area produces concentrated stresses on the hanger and slatwall. These stresses can bend the rim of the metal or plastic hanger and cause the hanger to rotate forward or otherwise pop out of its supporting slot and fall to the ground. Similarly, these concentrated stresses can bend, chip or break the slatwall and cause the hanger to rotate forward and out of its slot. Normal wear and tear on the slatwall and the hangers can cause the assembly to function unreliably because the hangers are more easily dislodged and knocked from place during use. Hangers with slightly bent or worn rims will no longer grip the portions of some or all of the slots, particularly if the lip is worn or chipped. Wood slatwall is particularly problematic because the edges of the lips of the board forming the slot can chip under stress or through normal wear and tear, which permanently damages the slatwall so that hangers will continue to pop out at the damaged location. Slight variations in the uniformity of the slots due to manufacturing tolerances and installation error also cause the hangers to grip the slatwall less reliably in certain areas of the assembly.

A further problem with conventional slatwall is that it can be difficult to rearrange the hangers and the items being displayed or stored on the slatwall. More permanent type fasteners such as nails or screws that secure the hangers to the slatwall need to be removed. This is a cumbersome process that damages the slatwall. Adding or removing even one hanger and item to the slatwall can require the removal and reattachment of several hangers. Repeated rearrangements of the hangers ultimately causes physical and aesthetic damage to the slatwall. Replacing or repairing the slatwall results in extra expenses and down time.

The present invention is intended to solve these and other problems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to a slatwall extrusion and assembly that supportably secures a hanger, shelf bracket or other hardware. The slatwall extrusion has a board with a downwardly facing lip that combines with a lower like-shaped board to form a uniform longitudinal slot that receives the upper end of a mounting bracket for the hardware. The lip of each board has a track with rim to form an upwardly facing groove. The track receives and supportably secures the lower end of the bracket. The lower end of lip and the track are spaced apart a predetermined uniform distance. The bracket snap fits over the rim and into the groove so that the bracket is securely held by and between the lip and the track. A stiffening web is used to strengthen the lip. An embodiment of the invention takes the form of an extruded slatwall rail having an upper lip and a lower board with the track. The hardware is easily positioned along the slatwall by sliding it along the track.

One advantage of the present slatwall extrusion is that it reliably secures the hardware or hanger to the slatwall. The track and groove secure the lower end of the hardware, and prevent the lower end from rotating forward into a release position. By securing the lower end, the track helps prevent inadvertent dislodgement of the hardware, as well as any shelving or goods being supported by that hardware. The hardware remains in place even if inadvertently bumped by a person walking by the slatwall display assembly or a person reaching to grab an item hanging or otherwise supported by the slatwall. The track significantly improves the overall performance and satisfaction of the slatwall assembly. Displayed and stored goods are kept in place and are less likely to be damaged. Customers and storekeepers do not need to keep picking up slatwall hardware and display items, and heavy or sharp items are less likely to fall and injure people.

Another advantage of the present slatwall extrusion invention is its increased contact area between the upper end of the hanger bracket and the lip of the slatwall. This increased contact area improves the strength and reliability of the extruded slatwall, assembly and rail. The track lifts the mounting bracket so that its upper end rises in the slot to increase the contact area between the upper end of the bracket and the lip of the slatwall. A full half (½) inch of the bracket engages the inside surface of the lip of the upper board. This increased contact area reduces the stresses on the lip, the surrounding portions of the slatwall, and the bracket so that they do not bend and allow the hanger to pop out of the slot during use. As a result, much heavier objects can be more reliably hung or supported from hardware or hangers without risk that they will pop out during use, even if inadvertently bumped.

A further advantage of the present slatwall extrusion invention is that hangers can be easily secured in place, rearranged and removed. The mounting bracket of a piece of hardware is easily snap-fit in place between the cooperating lip, slot and track. The uniform spacing of the longitudinally extending lip, slot and track allow the hangers, shelving brackets and other hardware to slide horizontally along the length of the slatwall and assembly so that they can be positioned or repositioned at a desired location without removing and resecuring them. The mounting bracket snap fits in place without the need of any tools. The hangers are easily removed from the slatwall with a screwdriver or other similar flat headed tool, or they can be slid off the end of the slatwall or assembly. No nails or screws are required to secure the hardware to the slatwall, so the slatwall remains physically sound and aesthetically pleasing even after many rearrangements of the display items.

Other aspects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon making reference to the specification, claims and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a slatwall assembly formed by several horizontal sections of slatwall with hangers such as hocks and shelf brackets that are secured in place to the slatwall invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a slatwall extrusion forming two adjacent boards, where each board forms a lower lip that includes a support track.

FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly with a hanger secured to a slot formed by adjacent boards with the hanger secured between the lower lip of the upper board and the track of the lower board.

FIG. 4 is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly formed by a first alternate embodiment of the slatwall extrusion with a stiffening web in the lip and the track extending from the web and offset from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 5 is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly formed by a second alternate embodiment of the slatwall extrusion with the stiffening web in the lip and the track extending from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of a single board embodiment of the present slatwall extrusion invention.

FIG. 6B is a side sectional view of the single board embodiment shown in FIG. 6A.

FIG. 6C is a side sectional view of the single board embodiment of FIG. 6A with a stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the web.

FIG. 6D is a side sectional view of the single board embodiment of FIG. 6A with the stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 7A is a side sectional view of a three-board embodiment of the present slatwall extrusion invention.

FIG. 7B is a side sectional view of the three-board embodiment with a stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the web.

FIG. 7C is a side sectional view of the three-board embodiment with the stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 8A is a side sectional view of a four-board embodiment of the present slatwall extrusion invention.

FIG. 8B is a side sectional view of the four-board embodiment with a stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the web and offset from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 8C is a side sectional view of the four-board embodiment with the stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 9A is a perspective view of a backless embodiment of the present slatwall extrusion invention without a continuous rear wall spanning from its upper end to its lower end.

FIG. 9B is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly formed by the backless embodiment shown in FIG. 9A.

FIG. 9C is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly formed by the backless embodiment shown in FIG. 9A with a stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the web.

FIG. 9D is a side sectional view of the slatwall assembly formed by the backless embodiment shown in FIG. 9A with the stiffening web in its lower lip and the track extending from the lower end of its lip.

FIG. 10A is a perspective view of a rail extrusion incorporating the present invention, where the rail includes an upper lip and a lower board that are spaced to define the slot, and where the track extends from the lower end of the board.

FIG. 10B is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the rail of FIG. 10A with a stiffening web in its lower board, and where the track extends from the web and is offset from the lower end of the board.

FIG. 10C is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the rail of FIG. 10A with a stiffening web in its lower board, and where the track extends from the lower end of the board.

FIG. 11A is a side sectional view of FIG. 10A showing the rail extrusion secured to a supporting wall and with a hanger positioned for insertion into its slot.

FIG. 11B is a side sectional view of the rail of FIG. 11A showing the hanger rotated so that its upper end is inserted into the slot of the rail.

FIG. 11C is a side sectional view of the rail of FIG. 11B showing the hanger just prior to being snap fit into the track of the rail.

FIG. 11D is a side sectional view of the rail of FIG. 11C showing the hanger after being snap fit to rail.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

While this invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms, the drawings show and the specification describes in detail the preferred embodiments of the invention. It should be understood that the drawings and specification are to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention. They are not intended to limit the broad aspects of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.

Residential, commercial and industrial buildings typically have walls 5 with a number of uniformly spaced vertical studs 6. The studs 6 are usually covered by an outer drywall layer 7 or other covering. The present invention pertains to a slatwall extrusion 10 used to form a slatwall assembly 12 having a number of like-shaped slats or boards 15 as generally shown in FIGS. 1-3. Each extrusion 10 has a uniform cross-sectional shape that extends along its length form one side 10a to the other 10b. Each board 15 has a generally hollow interior or core 15a. Each extrusion 10 can have a single board 15 as in FIG. 6A or two or more boards 15 as in FIGS. 2, 7A and 8A. In other words, each board 15 can be a separate piece that is individually secured to the wall 5, or a number of integrally joined boards can be included in a single extrusion 10. The boards 15 of a multi-board extrusion 10 are uniformly spaced and parallel.

The slatwall assembly 12 is formed by a number of like-shaped extrusions 10. The extrusions 10 are horizontally aligned so that each board 15 is uniformly spaced from and is parallel to its adjacent boards. Two adjacent boards 15 form a working set 16 that includes an upper board 17 and a lower board 18. Fasteners 8 or an adhesive coating are used to secure the slatwall extrusions 10 to the studs 6 or wall covering 7. Screws 8 are preferred for strength and removability. The slatwall assembly 12 and its individual extrusions 10 are used to mount or display a variety of objects off the floor of the building in an organized manner. The objects can be similar, such as in a display for a number of shoes, or they can vary in size, shape, weight and type, such as in a garage to mount shovels, racks, saws, garden tools, etc. The slatwall extrusions 10 are preferably extruded plastic having a desired combination of rigidity, strength, durability, and aesthetic appearance.

Each slatwall extrusion 10 has a rear wall 21 with front and rear surfaces 21a and 21b that span the height of the extrusion. In one embodiment, the rear wall 21 extends continuously from the top of the extrusion to its bottom as in FIGS. 2 and 3. The continuous rear wall 21 includes a segment 22 that forms the rear wall of each board 15 in that extrusion 10. The rear wall 21 also includes upper and lower tabs 23 and 24 that position separate adjacent extrusions 10 into abutting engagement and horizontal alignment as in FIGS. 1 and 3. The upper tab 23 includes an offset 23a at its upper end to snuggly receive the lower tab 24 of an adjacent extrusion 10. The upper end of tab 23 and the lower end of tab 24 are parallel to the boards 15 of the extrusion. When separate extrusions 10 are properly aligned and secured to a wall 5, the boards 15 of the separate extrusions forming the assembly 12 are in substantially parallel and horizontal alignment. The tabs 23 and 24 of separate adjacent extrusions 10 also combine to form a slot segment between the adjacent boards of separate extrusions as shown in FIG. 3. The rear wall 21 of the multi-board extrusions 10 shown in FIGS. 2, 7A and 8A 10 have one or more slot forming segments 25 that integrally join adjacent boards 15 of that extrusion. The single-board 15 extrusion 10 shown in FIG. 6A does not include this segment. The extrusions 10 in the assembly 12 are secured to the wall 5 so that the rear surface 21b of each extrusion 10 and board 15 lays flush against the vertical wall studs 6 or wall covering 7.

Each board 15 in the extrusion 10 and assembly 12 has a substantially similar shape. Each like-shaped board has a front wall 27 with a front surface 27a that is generally parallel to the rear wall 21. The front wall 27 defines the height or width of the board 15, which is preferably about three (3) inches. The front wall 27 also defines the depth or thickness of the board 15, which is preferably about one-half (½) inch. Each like-shaped board 15 also includes opposed upper and lower sidewalls 28 and 29. These walls 21, 27, 28 and 29 combine to define the hollow interior 15a of the board 15. The upper wall 28 is generally perpendicular to the front and rear walls 21 and 27. The lower side wall 29 extends perpendicularly from the front and rear walls 21 and 27, but includes an offset to form a lip 30.

The lip 30 is an integral part of its respective board 15. When secured to the wall 5, the lip 30 extends in a downward direction. Each lip 30 is formed by a lower portion of the front wall 27 and the bottom wall 29 of the board 15. The bottom wall 29 includes a substantially horizontal lower end wall 32 with surface 32a, and has a substantially vertical inner wall 33 with surface 33a. The lower wall 32 has a width or depth dimension of about one-quarter (¼) inch. The inside wall 33 has a width or height dimension of about one-half (½) inch. Each lip 30 has a generally hollow interior 30a that is part of the hollow interior 15a of the board 15. For increased rigidity, the lip 30 includes a stiffening web 35 that is preferably horizontal or perpendicular the rear and front walls 21 and 27 as shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 6C, 6D, 7B, 7C, 8B and 8D. Each of the walls 21, 27, 28, 32 and 33 and the web 35 has a uniform thickness of about one-sixteenth ( 1/16) inch.

Each board 15 includes an outwardly extending track 40 to support a piece of hardware, as discussed below. The track 40 is an integral part of each board 15 and each extrusion 10. Each track 40 extends along the length of the extrusion 10. Each track 40 is in substantially linear alignment with and is parallel to the lower end 32 of its corresponding lip 30 as shown in FIGS. 3, 5, 6B, 7A and 8A. The track 40 can also be positioned to extend linearly from the stiffening web 35 as shown in FIGS. 4, 6C, 7B or 8B. Each track 40 includes a horizontal rail 42 having a forward end 42a and an upper surface 42b. The forward end 42a of the rail 42 has an upwardly extending rib 43. The rib 43 has a tip 43a, a curved outer surface 43b and a flat vertical inner surface 43c. The rail 42 extends from the front surface 21a about one-eighth (⅛) inch. The height of the rib 43 is about one-sixteenth ( 1/16) inch from upper surface 42b to tip 43a. Similar to the walls of the board 15, the rail 42 has a thickness of about one-sixteenth ( 1/16) inch, except at its forward end 42a where the track and rim have a combined height of about one-eight (⅛) inch. The surface 21a of the front wall 21 of the board 15 combines with the upper surface 42b of the rail 42 and the inner surface 43c of the rib 43 to form a groove 45.

Each set 16 of adjacent boards 17 and 18 in the assembly 12 has the same lip/track height. The upper surface 42b of the track 40 of each lower board 15, 18 is spaced a uniform distance from the lower end 32 of the lip 30 of its adjacent upper board 15, 17. The adjacent boards 15 of a multi-board extrusion 10 are integrally formed to have this lip/track height. The tabs 23 and 24 of the extrusions 10 are structured and sized so that when two adjacent extrusions are properly assembled and fastened to the wall 5, the lowest board 15, 17 of the upper extrusion and the upper board 15, 18 of the adjacent lower extrusion form a working set 16 with this lip/track height. In the embodiments shown, the lip/track height is about two and five-eights (2-⅝) inches. The lip/track height is uniform along the length of the extrusion 10 and assembly 12.

Each set 16 of adjacent boards 17 and 18 forms a slot 50 that is generally L-shaped when viewed in cross-section as in FIG. 3. Each slot 50 extends uniformly along the length of the extrusion 10 and assembly 12 from one side 10a, 12a to the other 10b, 12b. The L-shaped slot 50 has a narrow portion 52 and a wide or tall portion 54. The narrow portion 52 forms an opening through the front of the extrusion 10 or assembly 12 between the adjacent boards 15. The narrow portion 52 is located between the lip 30 of the upper board 17 and the upper sidewall 28 of the lower board 18, and more particularly between the plains formed by the front surface 21a of the front wall 21 and the inside surface 33a of the lip 30. The narrow portion 52 has a width or height dimension of about three-eighths (⅜) of an inch, and a depth dimension extending into the slatwall 10 of about one-quarter (¼) inch. The wider portion 54 is located between the inside surface 33a of the lip 30 and the rear wall 24. The wider portion 54 has a width dimension of about seven-eighths (⅞) inch, and a depth dimension of about one-eighth (⅛) inch. The total depth of the slot 50 is about three-eighths (⅜) inch. Although the slats 15 are shown and described to have only a lower lip 30 so as to form an L-shaped slot 50, it should be understood that the upper sidewall 28 of the slat 15 could also have an upwardly extending lip so as to form a T-shaped slot without departing from the broad aspects of the invention. When the track 40 extends from the lower end 32 of the lip 30 as in FIG. 3, the lip/track height is roughly the height of one board 15 and the narrow portion 52 of one slot 50.

Another embodiment of the slatwall extrusion 90 is shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B. In this embodiment, the rear wall 21 does not extend continuously from the top of the extrusion 90 to its bottom. The segment 22 of the rear wall 21 that would otherwise form the rear wall of its board or boards 15 is missing. This backless slatwall extrusion 90 is otherwise generally shaped and sized similar to the extrusion 10 having a continuous rear wall 21. The backless slatwall extrusion 90 can also include a stiffening web 35 in its lip 30 as in FIGS. 9C and 9D. The track 40 is in parallel alignment with and extend from the stiffening web 35 as in FIG. 9C, or is in parallel alignment with and extends from the lower end 32 of the lip 30 as in FIGS. 9B and 9D. Although not shown, the upper and lower tabs 23 and 24 of the rear wall 21 can have the structure shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 or the structure shown in FIGS. 9A and 9B.

A further embodiment of the invention is an extruded slat rail 100 shown in FIGS. 10A-C. The slat rail 100 has a continuous rear wall 121, a lower board 126 and an upper lip 130. The rear wall 121 has front and rear surfaces 121a and 121b. The rear wall 121 spans the height of the extruded rail and extends continuously from the top of the extrusion to its bottom. The rear wall 121 includes a segment 122 that forms the rear wall of its board 126 and a segment 125 that forms the rear wall of its corresponding slot 50. The board 126 has a front wall 127 with a front surface 127a that is generally parallel to the rear wall 121. The front wall 127 defines the height or width of the board 126, which is preferably about two and three-eighths (2-⅜) inches. The front wall 127 also defines the depth or thickness of the board 126, which is preferably about one-half (½) inch. The board 126 includes opposed upper and lower sidewalls 128 and 129 that are generally perpendicular to the front and rear walls 121 and 127. These walls 121, 127, 128 and 129 combine to define the hollow interior 126a of the board 126. The rail extrusion 100 is secured to the wall 5 so that its rear surface 121b and board 126 lay flush against the vertical wall studs 6 or wall covering 7.

The lip 130 is integrally joined to the board 15 via the slot forming segment 125 of the rear wall 121 and a spacer wall 137 that extends forward a distance of about one-eighth (⅛) inch. When secured to the wall 5, the lip 130 extends in a downward direction. The lip 130 is formed by a front wall 131 with a front surface 131a, a lower end wall 132 with a surface 132a, an inside wall 133 with an inside surface 133a, and an upper sidewall 134. The bottom wall 132 has a width or depth dimension of about one-quarter (¼) inch. The inside wall 133 has a width or height dimension of about one-half (½) inch. Each lip 130 has a generally hollow interior 130a.

The track 40 of the rail 100 has the same structure discussed above. The outwardly extending track 40 is an integral part of the rail 100 and extends the length of the rail. The track 40 is in substantially linear alignment with and is parallel to the bottom sidewall 129 of its board 126 as shown in FIG. 10A. The board 126 can include a horizontal stiffening web 35 as shown in FIGS. 10B and 10C. The track 40 can be positioned to extend from the stiffening web 135 as shown in FIG. 10B or the bottom sidewall 129 of the board as in FIG. 10C. The components and dimensions of the track are similar to those discussed above. Each wall 121, 127, 128, 129, 131, 132, 133 and 134 of the extruded rail 100 as well as its track rail 42 has a uniform thickness of about one-sixteenth ( 1/16) inch. Again, the lip/track height is the distance between the upper surface 42b of the track 40 and the lower end 132 of the lip 130. This lip/track height remains substantially constant along the length of the rail 100.

Hangers 60 are supportably secured by the cooperating lip 30, 130, track 40 and slot 50 of the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12, backless extrusion 90 or rail 100. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 11A-D, each hanger 60 has a mounting bracket 61 for mounting it to the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12 or rail 100. The mounting bracket 61 has inside and outside surfaces 62 and 63, an upper portion 64 with a ledge or offset 65 and an upper most end 66, a middle portion 67 that is generally flat, and lower portion 68 with a lower most end 69. The upper portion 64 has a length or height dimension of slightly less than the length of the lip 30 or about one-half (½) inch. The combined length or height dimensions of the middle and lower portions 67 and 68 of the hanger is about the combined height of one board 15 and a narrow portion 52 of slot 50, or about two and a half (2-½) inches. The hanger 60 has an effective height for the purpose of securing it to the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12, backless extrusion 90 or rail 100. For the hangers 60 shown, the effective height of the hanger is determined by the effective height of the bracket 61. Given that the upper end 66 of the bracket 61 does not engage the wall 29 forming the top of the slot 50, the height of the lower and middle portions 67 and 68 of the bracket 61, the distance between its offset 65 and lower end 69, forms the effective height of the hanger 60 or bracket 61. This effective hardware height is substantially equal to the lip/track height of the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12, backless extrusion 90 and rail 100. Were the upper end 66 of the bracket 61 to engage the wall 29 forming the top of the slot 50, then the effective hanger height would be the distance between the upper and lower ends 66 and 69 of the bracket.

The hanger 60 has a hang rod 71 for supporting the goods or a shelf. The hang rod 71 has one end 72 that is secured to the middle portion 67 of the bracket 61, a cantilevered middle portion 73 that extends generally horizontally when the hanger is secured to the slatwall 10, and an inclined end 74 that is angled up to keep the goods from sliding off the hanger 60. The cantilevered support 60 creates a torque that causes the middle and lower portions 67 and 68 of the bracket 61 to push against the front wall 27 of the lower board 18, and the upper portion 64 to push against the inside surface 33a of the lip 30 of the upper board 17. When the hanger is in its secured position as in FIG. 3, the hanger 60 and the weight of the goods it supports rests on the track 40. The lip 30 and slot 50 formed by a set 16 of boards 17 and 18 combine with the upper portion 64 of the bracket 61 to prevent the bracket from rotating forward out of the slot 50 and out of supporting engagement with the track 40. Although the hanger 60 is shown and described to have a particular shape, it should be understood that other hangers or pieces of hardware with other shapes, such as a hook or shelf bracket, could be used to support the goods, or a rack, tray or shelf for the goods, without departing from the broad aspects of the invention. For example, the mounting bracket 61 could be replaced by other components, or the upper portion 64 of the bracket could be formed by the hang rod 71.

The hangers are secured to adjacent boards 17 and 18 of the slatwall extrusion 10, 90 or assembly 12 in a multi-step process. These same steps are used to secure the hangers 60 to the slatwall rail 100. First, the hanger 60 is angled backward into a tilted position 81 as in FIG. 11A. The upper stepped portion 64 is inserted into the slot 50 until the upper most portion 66 clears the narrow outer portion 52 and enters the wider inner portion 54. The hanger 60 is then rotated forward by hand or otherwise into a generally vertical engaged position 82 as in FIG. 11B. The hanger 60 now engages the slatwall 10 but is not secured to the slatwall. Although the hanger 60 cannot rotate any further forward, it can be rotated backward, which could cause it to become dislodged from the slatwall. Next, the hanger 60 is slid upward until the upper surface of the stepped portion 64 engages the lower end 32, 132 of the lip 30, 130. The hanger 60 is now in a pre-snap fit position 83 and is ready to be secured by and between the lip 30, 130 and track 40 of adjacent boards 17 and 18 or the rail 100 as in FIG. 11C. The lowermost end 69 of the hanger 60 is just below the tip 43a of the rib 43 of the track 40. As discussed above, the front 43b of the rim 43 of the track 40 is rounded so that pushing the lower most end 69 of the hanger towards the lower board 18, 126 causes the hanger 60 to move a little further up and elastically bends the track 40′ down to allow the lower most end 69 to snap fit into the groove 45. The weight of the hanger 60 and the object it supports causes the hanger to slide down onto the rail 42 so that the weight of the hanger and the object are supported by the track 40. The hanger is now in its secured position 84 as in FIG. 11D. The lowermost end 69 of the hanger 60 is in groove 45 and abuttingly engaging the rail 42, its flat middle and lower portions 67 and 68 flushly engage the front surface 27a of the front wall 27, and its upper stepped portion 64 is inserted in slot 50 with its flat outer surface 63 flushly engaging the inside surface 34a of the lip.

The secure position 84 increases the load carrying capacity of the hangers 60 and allows for easy positioning and removal of the hangers. As discussed above, the inside surface 43c edge of the upper end of the rib 43 is flat and not rounded. The lowermost end 69 cannot be easily knocked out so that the hanger 60 remains in its secure position 84 even when the hanger or object is bumped. In addition, when the hanger 60 is in its secured position 84, a majority of the outer surface 63 of the vertical segment of the upper stepped portion 64 abuttingly engages the inside surface 33a, 133a of the lip 30, 130 of the upper slat 17 or rail 100. By having the hanger 60 extend higher up in the slot 50 so that it presses against an upper portion of the lip 30, 130, less torque is produced on the upper portion of the lip so that the lip more effectively resists outward bending and better retains its shape under load. In addition, the higher contact area requires more bending of the lip 30, 130 before the uppermost end 66 of the hanger 60 will clear the lower end 32 of the lip, which would allow the hanger to rotate forward and out of the slot 50. Thus, the higher contact increases the holding strength of the slatwall 10, assembly 12 and rail 100, and their weight carrying capacity. Although the hanger 60 is held firmly in place by the cooperating track 40 and slot 50 of the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12 and rail 100, the hanger 60 is free to slide from side to side along their length. This sliding allows the hangers 60 to be easily positioned or repositioned at a desired lengthwise location along the slatwall extrusion 10, assembly 12 or rail 100. In addition, the hanger 60 can be easily removed from the track 40 and slot 50 by simply sliding the hanger to the end of the slatwall and off on of the side ends 10a or 10b, or 100a or 100b.

While the invention has been described with reference to its preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the broad aspects of the invention.





 
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