Title:
Trim paneling with miterless corner joints and related methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein is a paneling system including a first and a second span element each possessing a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section and at least one butt end having a surface substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the span element. The paneling system also includes a transition element having a first end defining a first coping profile, the first coping profile being mateable to the butt end of a first span element at substantially a right angle, and a second end defining a second coping profile, the second coping profile being mateable to the butt end of a second span element at substantially a right angle. Also disclosed is a method of installing a paneling system that includes arranging transition and span elements to mate and form miterless corners.



Inventors:
Questel, Roger (Arlington, VT, US)
Application Number:
11/133779
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
05/20/2005
Assignee:
Questech Corporation (Rutland, VT, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAUX, JESSICA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kevin, Farrell Pierce Atwood M. (Suite 350, One New Hampshire Avenue, Portsmouth, NH, 03801, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A paneling set comprising: a first span element defining a longitudinal axis and a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross section, the first span element comprising a first end defining a surface such that the longitudinal axis is substantially normal to the surface of the first end; a second span element defining a longitudinal axis and a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section, the second span element comprising a second end defining a surface such that the longitudinal axis is substantially normal to the surface of the second end; and a transition element comprising: a first end defining a first coping profile, the first end of the transition element being mateable to the first span element along at least the first coping profile at substantially a right angle; and a second end defining a second coping profile, mating of the second end of the transition element to the second span element along the second coping profile occurring at substantially a right angle.

2. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to complement the substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-sections of the first and second span elements.

3. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to complement the surfaces defined by the first and second ends of the first and second span elements.

4. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein at least one of the span elements mates with the respective end of the transition element to form a paneling assembly having at least one coping joint, the assembly closely fitting over a surface of a structure comprising at least two orthogonally-joined planar elements.

5. The paneling set of claim 4, wherein the planar elements comprise adjoining walls of a building.

6. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein the transition element comprises a decorative surface.

7. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein the first and second span elements comprise a decorative surface.

8. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein the surfaces defined by the first and second ends of the first and second span elements are substantially planar.

9. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein the paneling set is one of metal, wood, stone, ceramic, plastic, or a composite material.

10. The paneling set of claim 1 wherein the paneling set comprises a composite material.

11. The paneling set of claim 10 wherein the composite material comprises a polyester portion and a metal portion, the metal portion defining the decorative surfaces of the paneling set.

12. The paneling set of claim 10 wherein the composite material comprises a polyester portion and a stone portion, the stone portion defining the decorative surfaces of the paneling set.

13. A transition element for a paneling set, the transition element comprising: a first end defining a first coping profile; and a second end defining a second coping profile; wherein the first and second coping profiles are configured for the formation of a coping joint between the transition element and at least one span element, the at least one span element defining a longitudinal axis and a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section, the at least one span element comprising an end defining a surface such that the longitudinal axis is substantially normal to the surface of the end.

14. The transition element of claim 13, wherein at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to match the substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section of the at least one span element.

15. The transition element of claim 13, wherein at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to complement a profile of the surface defined by the at least one span element.

16. The transition element of claim 13 wherein the transition element comprises a decorative surface.

17. The transition element of claim 13 wherein the at least one span element comprises a decorative surface.

18. The transition element of claim 13 wherein the transition element is configured for forming an inside corner with the at least one span element.

19. The transition element of claim 13 wherein the transition element is configured for forming an outside corner with the at least one span element.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to paneling, and, more particularly, to a system and method of installing trim paneling with corner joints formed without miter cuts.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Generally, paneling systems employ sequentially joined individual paneling elements, which may be used in conjunction with a surface, or are freestanding. For example, casing around a doorjamb includes a number of paneling elements that cover an underlying wall surface. As another example, decorative barriers, e.g. surrounding flowerbeds, typically consist of freestanding panel elements. Further, paneling systems may be employed in a functional manner or as decorative accents.

Decorative panel elements having complex non-rectangular profiles and designed to cover a surface are often referred to as molding panels or simply moldings. Examples of molding panels include crown molding, base molding, chair molding, and cove molding. Moldings are often employed to visually soften edges and to mask imperfections. For instance, a common use of moldings entails disposing them at a base of a wall that intersects a carpeted floor, such that the edge of carpet adjoining the wall is concealed and the intersection of the floor and the wall is visually softened. As another example, stone or ceramic tiles are a popular medium for surfacing or resurfacing generally flat surfaces on both the interior and exterior of buildings. In order to achieve a visually pleasing appearance after tile installation, it is often desirable to cover imperfections and gaps that are sometimes present when two or more surfaces meet at a boundary by employing moldings.

Both do-it-yourselfers and professional installers often face difficulties when installing paneling elements around edges, boundaries, corners and joints, because the elements preferably have to be configured to fit snugly in place while forming corners. Various configuring techniques commonly entail cutting paneling elements.

Various methods exist for configuring paneling elements in and around corners. One known method for forming corners includes making a beveled or mitered cut in the end portions of each of two paneling elements that are to be joined to form a corner, with these two miter cuts forming complements of an approximately right angle. An abutment between elements occurs along the plane of the cut. Referring to FIG. 1A, in order to form a mitered corner joint, miter cuts are made in end portions of paneling elements 102, 104 resulting in mitered planes 106, 108, respectively. Then, elements 102, 104 are joined together by positioning a first mitered plane 106 in contact with a second mitered plane 108 to form approximately a right angle. Typically, each element is cut to about 45° and joined together. This configuration is the most common using this technique because the length along which the two elements abut, i.e., the face of the cut, is substantially the same, which simplifies the installation. A drawback to this approach is that an angled cut must be made in each of the paneling elements 102, 104 by the end user, and the probability of chipping, cracking, or breaking increases because the paneling material is thin near the intersection of the mitered planes 106,108 and the outside surface of the paneling element.

In another known technique, in order to form a corner joint, an end portion of only one of two paneling elements that are to be joined is configured to mate with the other element without customizing that other element. Referring to FIGS. 1B-1C, an end portion 122 of a first paneling element 120 is configured to form an inside corner joint with a second paneling element 130 by forming a coping profile 126 in the end portion of the first paneling element shaped to mate with a surface 134 of the second paneling element 130. As skilled artisans would appreciate, the profile is typically formed by first mitering the end portion with an inside 45°-angle cut. A small saw is then used to remove the cut face from the end portion of the element 120 by using the saw blade to trace the profile of an outside surface 124 of the element 120 across the end portion. Because the contour of the surface 124 is identical to the contour of the surface 134, the profile 126 is shaped to snugly mate with the surface 134 forming a corner joint without altering an end portion 132 of the paneling element 130 in any way. Thusly, formed corner joints are often referred to as coping joints.

Yet another category of known techniques for forming corners in a paneling system employs prefabricated corner-turning elements, thereby eliminating the need for mitered cuts or coping profiles. Butt ends of the corner-turning element are configured to match the lateral cross-sectional profiles of the abutting paneling elements. This approach, however, affords limited flexibility to the installer of molding panels because it relies on walls of a building intersecting at exactly a right angle for a snug fit. Even slight deviation from the right angle between the adjoining walls, for example, due to surface imperfections or construction defects, results in flawed fit and poor visual appearance of a corner joint. In addition, many examples of this design require three separate elements to form a corner (see, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,790).

As shown above, some of known methods of forming corner joints in a paneling system require the end user to configure the mass-produced paneling elements prior to installation. Techniques that exist to cut the paneling elements, however, require specialized equipment and often risk cracking or otherwise damaging the elements, particularly if manufactured from brittle materials, such as ceramic. Further, pre-installation adjustments to achieve proper fit are often prone to human errors and associated waste. For these reasons, it is desirable to simplify pre-installation adjustments and minimize the number of angled or profile cuts made in the paneling elements. On the other hand, it is also desirable to avoid excessive customization of the paneling systems by mass manufacturers to allow for certain degree of flexibility during installation and reduce manufacturing costs.

Hence, there exists a need in the art for a cost-effective paneling system that is easy to install with limited amount of customization of paneling elements, as compared to paneling systems known in the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to a paneling set employing two types of paneling elements, span elements, and at least one transition element. A key feature of the invention involves the transition element having two prefabricated coping profiles configured to mate with a span element at each end of the transition element, i.e. a single prefabricated transition element can be used to form two corners. Depending upon the configuration of the prefabricated coping profile, outside or inside corners, or inside turns may be formed between the transition element and the adjoining span element without any customization of the ends of the paneling elements by the installer.

During installation, if necessary, the transition element can be cut between the coping profiles to effectively alter its length. Specifically, the distance between two coping profiles can be increased by making a cut between the coping profiles and positioning one or more span elements between the disjoined portions containing coping profiles. Conversely, the distance between two coping profiles can be reduced by making two parallel cuts in the transition element, removing a middle portion, and joining the portions containing coping profiles. Thus, the invention provides the user with the ability to customize the dimensions of the paneling system. As mentioned above, however, no customization is necessary in order to form corner joints themselves.

Among other benefits, various embodiments of the paneling system of the invention are easy to install with only limited amount of customization by the end user, while at the same time being easy to manufacture by limiting the number of different prefabricated elements in the paneling set.

While being directed to paneling systems in general, in various embodiments, the paneling system may be employed in conjunction with a plurality of orthogonally-joined planar elements, such as walls of a building. Specifically, the paneling elements of the invention may be used as moldings closely fitting over adjoining walls or around a desired perimeter on a wall.

Generally, in one aspect, the invention features a paneling set including first and second span elements each comprising a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section and at least one butt end having a surface substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the span element. The invention further features a transition element including a first end defining a first coping profile, the first end of the transition element being mateable to the first span element along at least the first coping profile at substantially a right angle, and a second end defining a second coping profile, mating of the second end of the transition element to the second span element along the second coping profile occurring at substantially a right angle. In some embodiments of this aspect of the invention, at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to match a lateral cross-section of the respective span element. In other embodiments, at least one of the first and second coping profiles is shaped and dimensioned to complement a profile of a surface of the respective span element. In a particular embodiment, at least one of the span elements mates with the respective end of the transition element to form a paneling assembly having at least one coping joint, the assembly closely fitting over a surface of a structure comprising at least two orthogonally-joined planar elements, such as, for example, adjoining walls of a building.

In general, in another aspect, the invention is directed to a transition element for a paneling set, the transition element having a first end defining a first coping profile; and a second end defining a second coping profile, the coping profiles facilitating formation of a coping joint between the transition element and adjoining span elements of the paneling set, each span element having a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section. At least one of the first and second coping profiles may be shaped and dimensioned to either match the cross-section of the respective adjoining element of the paneling set, or to complement a profile of a surface of the respective adjoining element of the paneling set.

In yet another aspect, the invention is directed to a method for installing paneling that includes providing a transition element having first and second ends; providing first and second span elements each comprising a substantially non-rectangular lateral cross-section and at least one butt end having a surface substantially parallel to the cross-section; mating the first end of the transition element with the first span element at substantially a right angle to form a first coping joint there between; and mating the second end of the transition element with the second span element at substantially a right angle to form a second coping joint there between. In various embodiments, the method also includes the step of altering the length of the transition element, for example, in some embodiments, by laterally severing the transition element into at least a first portion and a second portion, the first portion including the first end and the second portion including the second end; and inserting at least one extension element between the first portion and the second portion, or, in other embodiments, by laterally severing the transition element into at least first, second, and third portions, the first portion including the first end and the second portion having the second end, removing the third portion; and linearly abutting the first portion and the second portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings are not necessarily to scale; instead, the drawings generally place emphasis on illustrative principles of the invention. The advantages of the invention can be better understood by reference to the description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1A depicts a corner joint formed using miter cuts according to methods known in the art.

FIG. 1B-1D depicts a coping joint formed according to methods known in the art, with FIG. 1B depicting a paneling element having a coping profile at one end and FIGS. 1C-1D depicting formation of a corner joint using the paneling element shown in FIG. 1B.

FIG. 2A depicts a transition element having a coping profile for forming outside corners at each end, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2B depicts an embodiment of the transition element of FIG. 2A in which a span element is mated to an end of the transition element at a substantially right angle.

FIG. 2C depicts a transition element having a coping profile for forming inside corners at each end, according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIGS. 3A-3B depict a transition element forming inside corner turns and configured to mate with adjoining span elements, according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4A-4B depict different ways of effectively altering the distance between the profiled ends of the transition element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As mentioned above, various embodiments of the invention feature a paneling set that includes a transition element having two prefabricated coping profiles configured to mate with a span element at each end of the transition element, i.e. a single prefabricated transition element can be used to form two corners.

Referring to FIGS. 2A-2B, in one embodiment of the invention, a paneling set 200 includes a transition element 202 and span elements 204 and 206, whereby the transition element 202 is positioned to form a first corner with a first span element 204 and a second corner with a second span element 206. The elements of the paneling set have a rear face 214 and a front face 212. In various embodiments of the invention, the front faces 212 of both the span elements 204, 206 and the transition element 202 are designed to be substantially non-planar and decorative, whereas the rear faces are substantially planar, i.e. having a non-rectangular lateral cross-section.

Generally, configuration of the transition element 202, i.e. the shape of prefabricated coping profiles 208 and 210 disposed at each end of the transition element, determines whether the particular corner formed is an inside corner or an outside corner. Similarly, configuration of the span elements 204, 206 with regards to the shape of the respective ends 220, 222 of the span elements 204, 206 determines whether the particular corner formed is an inside corner or an outside corner. The ends 220, 222 of the span elements 204, 206 are oriented in such a fashion so that an imaginary line representing the longitudinal axis of either of the span elements 204, 206 would be substantially normal to the surface defined by the respective ends 220, 222. It follows that most joints formed by the paneling set 200 of the present invention will define ninety-degree turns between the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206.

In one embodiment, the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206 combine to form inside corners, in which the decorative faces 212 of the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206 face inward. In another embodiment, the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206 combine to form outside corners, in which the decorative face 212 of the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206 face outward.

The paneling elements of the present invention can be manufactured from a variety of materials, including metal, wood, stone, ceramic, plastic, and composite materials according to methods known in the art. In various embodiments, the elements are manufactured by compression or injection molding, with the molds being designed to reflect the desired shape of the elements, including the decorative face and coping profiles of the transition element. In one particular embodiment, the transition element and span elements are manufactured from a ceramic material. In another embodiment, the paneling elements comprise composite material including a plastic portion, such as, for example, polyester, and a metal portion defining the decorative surface, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,177,124, incorporated herein by reference. In other embodiments, the composite paneling set may include a plastic portion and a stone portion, wherein the stone portion defines the decorative surfaces of the respective elements of the paneling set.

FIG. 2A depicts a view of the rear face 214 of the transition element 202 designed to form outside corners, according to one embodiment of the invention. The transition element includes a first end portion 207 defining a first coping profile 208 and a second end portion 209 defining a second coping profile 210. The configuration of the coping profiles 208, 210 at the end portions 207, 209 enables the transition element 202 to mate with the span elements 204, 206 thereby forming outside corners.

Specifically, referring now to FIG. 2B, each of the coping profiles of the transition element is shaped to match the contour of decorative faces 216, 218 of the lateral cross-section of the respective span element, as projected onto its end 220, 222. Thus, each of the end portions 207, 209 of the transition element 202 is shaped to substantially match the ends 220, 222 of the adjacent span element 204, 206 with the coping profiles 208, 210 substantially coinciding with the contours of the decorative faces 216, 218. In order to form the outside corners, therefore, each of the ends 220, 222 of the span elements 204, 206 contacts the transition element 202 on its rear face 214 against the respective end portion 207, 209 and along the coping profile 208, 210.

When span elements 204, 206 are mated with respective coping profiles 208, 210 of the transition element 202, a corner joint is formed that is substantially smooth. In a particular embodiment of the invention, elements of the paneling set 200 employing outside coping profiles 208, 210 form a closed perimeter with the decorative faces 212, 216, 218 of the transition element 202 and span elements 204, 206 on the exterior of the perimeter.

In one embodiment of the invention, paneling elements are merely disposed adjacent to each other to form a paneling set. In another embodiment, the paneling elements are fastened to other paneling elements. In still another embodiment, the paneling elements are fastened to generally flat planar elements, like the exterior surface of a wall that has no walls adjacent to it or the exterior perimeter of a four-sided structure. In a particular embodiment, in which paneling elements contact a generally flat surface like a wall, the elements are configured to fit snugly against the surface and against other paneling elements.

Referring to FIG. 2C, in one embodiment of the invention, coping profiles 208 and, 210 of the transition element 202 are designed to form inside corners with the span elements, wherein the decorative faces 212, 216, 218 of the transition element 202 and the span elements 204, 206 face inwards. In this embodiment, the coping profiles 208 and 210 comprise contoured edges of the transition element 202 that are shaped to mate with a contour of the decorative faces 216, 218 of the respective span element 204, 206 at a right angle. In a particular embodiment of the invention, elements of a paneling set 200 employing inside coping profiles form a closed perimeter with the decorative faces 212, 216, 218 of the transition element 202 and span elements 204, 206 on the interior of the perimeter. For example, a transition element 202 with inside coping profiles 208, 210 and span elements 204, 206 could be used as base molding for the perimeter of a wall at its juncture with a floor.

FIGS. 3A-3B depict another embodiment of the paneling set 300 of the present invention wherein a transition element 302 forms inside corner joints, referred to herein as inside turns, with adjacent span elements 304 and 306. In a preferred embodiment, the inside turns formed by the paneling set 300 encompass at least one substantially right angle.

A pair of end portions 307 and 309 of the transition element 302 has coping profiles 308, 310 that are shaped and oriented to substantially coincide with the contour of the ends 320, 322 of the span elements 304, 306 in a desired perimeter configuration. In various versions of this embodiment, contours of the coping profiles 308, 310 lie in a plane that is coplanar with the inward-oriented face of the transition element 302 and perpendicular to the orientation of at least one of the span elements 304, 306, as shown in FIG. 3A-3B. Paneling sets 300 having inside turn coping profiles according to this embodiment of the invention may be positioned as either an interior or an exterior perimeter. Examples of an interior perimeter include chair molding around the perimeter of an enclosed room. One of the examples of an exterior perimeter is casing around a window opening or a piece of artwork.

In a particular version of this embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 3B, the transition element 302 is configured such that a decorative face 312 of the transition element 302 contains ninety-degree turns disposed in the end portions 307, 308. Coping profiles 308, 310 are shaped and oriented to substantially coincide with the contour of the ends 320, 322 of the span elements 304, 306, respectively forming corner joints therewith at substantially right angles. The coping profiles 308, 310 are coplanar with an inside face 314 of the transition element 302 and coplanar with the ends 320, 322 of the span elements 304, 306. Thus, the coping profiles 308, 310 provide contact area for the span elements 304, 306 to form a corner with the transition element without requiring the transition element 302 itself to turn a corner and thus become L-shaped.

This aspect of the present invention obviates the need for a complicated and expensive manufacturing process for making the transition element 302. That is, the transition element 302 can be manufactured into a substantially linear element and still be coupled to a pair of span elements 304, 306, which is a vast improvement over attempts to manufacture a substantially U-shaped transition element for the same purpose.

In various embodiments of the invention, an installer may customize paneling elements to fit the area to be paneled by altering the distance between coping profiles of the transition element, while still using a single transition element and at least two span elements to form two corner joints. An installer may customize paneling installation either by cutting the transition element once and inserting at least one span element between the two disjoined ends, each with a coping profile, thereby increasing the distance between coping profiles. Another technique is to remove a middle portion of a transition element and joining the coping profiles thereby reducing the distance between coping profiles.

FIG. 4A depicts an exploded view of a transition element 400 divided into a first transition portion 402 and a second transition portion 404 that allows longitudinal expansion between the profiled ends of the transition element 400. Employing this technique, an installer makes a lateral cut in the transition element and then a span element 406 is placed between the disjoined transition portions 402 and 404. This technique is not limited to a single span element, and more than one span element 406 may be disposed between the disjoined transition portions 402 and 404, as necessary.

FIG. 4B depicts a view of a customized transition element 400 that is shorter than an originally provided transition element 400. An installer using this technique decreases the distance between disjoined ends 410 and 412 of a transition element 400 by removing a portion 414 of the transition element 400 from there between. Typically, the removed piece 414 having desired length is produced by laterally cutting the transition element 400 twice.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the rear faces of a transition element and a plurality of span elements may be substantially flat to engage a substantially planar surface such as an interior or exterior wall of a building in the case of, for example, a molding set. In one embodiment, in which the panel elements are freestanding, the rear faces of a transition element and a plurality of span elements do not contact a generally flat planar element.

In embodiments in which panel elements contact a generally flat planar element, the paneling elements may be affixed to the planar element or to each other using attachment means including but not limited to adhesives (glue, cement, grout, etc.), driven-force joint means (nails, screws, brads, tacks, pins, staples, etc.), or support means (brackets, braces, holders, etc.).

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to specific illustrative embodiments, it should be understood that those skilled in the art can envision various modifications to those embodiments described above without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.