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Title:
DECK RAILING COUNTERTOP SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A deck rail countertop system adapted to attach to a railing of a deck or balcony. The system includes a plurality of mounting brackets and a countertop. Each mounting bracket includes a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion. The deck railing interface portion defines structure for receiving and coupling to a component of the railing. The countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket have cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length of the countertop.


Inventors:
Ciardelli, Tony (Duluth, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/163595
Publication Date:
01/01/2009
Filing Date:
06/27/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B37/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON, THUENTE, SKAAR & CHRISTENSEN, P.A. (4800 IDS CENTER, 80 SOUTH 8TH STREET, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402-2100, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A deck rail countertop system adapted to attach to a railing of a deck or balcony, the system comprising: a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket comprising a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion defining structure for receiving and coupling to a component of the railing; and an elongate countertop presenting a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension, the countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket having cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop

2. The deck rail countertop system of claim 1, wherein the deck railing interface portion of each mounting bracket comprises an over-post portion defining a cavity, the cavity dimensioned so as to receive an end of a post of the railing therein.

3. The deck rail countertop system of claim 1, wherein the deck railing interface portion comprises a pair of horizontally oriented members, the members vertically spaced apart so as to define a slot therebetween adapted to receive a horizontal member of the railing.

4. The deck rail countertop system of claim 1, wherein the deck railing interface portion comprises a first body portion and the countertop interface portion comprises a second body portion separate from the first body portion, the first body portion and second body portion each having cooperating structure for removably operably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion.

5. The deck rail countertop system of claim 4, wherein the cooperating structure for removably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion comprises at least one projecting tab on one of the first body portion or the second body portion, and structure for receiving the projecting tab on the other of the first body portion or the second body portion.

6. The deck rail countertop system of claim 5, wherein the structure for receiving the projecting tab comprises an aperture.

7. The deck rail countertop system of claim 1, wherein the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes an elongate slot defined in the bottom surface of the countertop, the elongate slot oriented along the length dimension of the countertop, and a t-shaped portion of the countertop interface portion adapted to be slidably received in the elongate slot.

8. The deck rail countertop system of claim 1, wherein the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes a plurality of recess arrays, each recess array comprising a plurality of recesses, the recess arrays defined at spaced apart locations in the bottom surface of the countertop, and each countertop interface portion includes a plurality of apertures corresponding to the recesses of the recess array, the apertures of the mounting bracket disposed to be registerable with the recesses of each of the plurality of recess arrays to receive fasteners for fastening the mounting bracket to the countertop.

9. A deck system comprising: a deck; a railing operably coupled with the deck, the railing comprising a plurality of upright posts and a horizontal rail operably coupling the upright posts; and a deck rail countertop system comprising: a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket comprising a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion operably coupled to the railing; and an elongate countertop presenting a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension, the countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket having cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop.

10. The deck system of claim 9, wherein the deck railing interface portion of each mounting bracket comprises an over-post portion defining a cavity, and wherein the cavity of each mounting bracket receives a separate one of the upright posts of the railing.

11. The deck system of claim 9, wherein the deck railing interface portion of each mounting bracket comprises a pair of horizontally oriented members, the members vertically spaced apart so as to define a slot therebetween, the horizontal rail of the railing being received in the slot of each mounting bracket.

12. The deck system of claim 9, wherein the deck railing interface portion comprises a first body portion and the countertop interface portion comprises a second body portion separate from the first body portion, the first body portion and second body portion each having cooperating structure for removably operably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion.

13. The deck system of claim 12, wherein the cooperating structure for removably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion comprises at least one projecting tab on one of the first body portion or the second body portion, and structure for receiving the projecting tab on the other of the first body portion or the second body portion.

14. The deck system of claim 13, wherein the structure for receiving the projecting tab comprises an aperture.

15. The deck system of claim 9, wherein the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes an elongate slot defined in the bottom surface of the countertop, the elongate slot oriented along the length dimension of the countertop, and a t-shaped portion of the countertop interface portion adapted to be slidably received in the elongate slot.

16. The deck system of claim 9, wherein the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes a plurality of recess arrays, each recess array comprising a plurality of recesses, the recess arrays defined at spaced apart locations in the bottom surface of the countertop, and each countertop interface portion includes a plurality of apertures corresponding to the recesses of the recess array, the apertures of the mounting bracket disposed to be registerable with the recesses of each of the plurality of recess arrays to receive fasteners for fastening the mounting bracket to the countertop.

17. A method of providing a deck rail countertop system adapted to attach to a railing of a deck or balcony, the method comprising: providing a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket comprising a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion defining structure for receiving and coupling to a component of the railing; providing an elongate countertop presenting a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension, the countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket having cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop; and providing instructions for attaching the mounting brackets to the railing and for attaching the countertop to the mounting brackets.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising packaging the plurality of mounting brackets and the countertop together in a kit.

19. The method of claim 18, further comprising packaging the instructions with the kit.

20. The method of claim 17, further comprising recording the instructions in a tangible medium.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/946,614, entitled DECK RAILING COUNTERTOP SYSTEM, filed Jun. 27, 2007, hereby fully incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to outdoor deck accessories, and more particularly, to a deck railing countertop system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many residential structures such as single-family homes, townhouses, apartment buildings, and other such residences, include an attached outdoor deck. A basic deck built to typical local standards minimally includes a deck platform and a railing system. Most deck platforms include a series of adjacent treads, or decking, with an understructure to support the platform. A typical railing system includes a series of support posts attached to the deck platform, a hand rail, and supporting intermediate posts. The railing system safely keeps occupants and belongings from falling off the deck platform.

For many homeowners, the outdoor space provided by a deck becomes an integral part of their home, and they often place items such as tables, chairs, grills, decorative items, and so on, onto the deck platform for their use and enjoyment. All too often, though, the usable area of a deck platform may not comfortably accommodate multiple pieces of furniture, let alone leave room for social gatherings. The result may be that a homeowner compromises by limiting the number of items placed onto the deck platform. This may mean that space-consuming tables may be sacrificed in order to make room for higher priority items such as chairs or grills.

If a homeowner desires table-like surfaces, options include building a larger deck, bringing a table onto, and off of the deck platform as needed, and so on. For many, the option of a larger deck may be expensive, impractical, or impossible. Regarding the use of a temporary table, lack of storage space and general inconvenience make this a non-ideal solution. Furthermore, tables placed upon a deck platform may be blown about during storms, causing damage to the table itself, the deck, or other items nearby. Therefore, a need exists for a system or apparatus that provides table-like surfaces for a deck, without sacrificing deck platform space.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a deck rail countertop system that attaches to a deck railing system. The countertop system includes a mounting bracket, countertop, and fasteners. In one embodiment, the mounting bracket is a T-shaped bracket that attaches to the front side of a deck support post. In another embodiments, the T-shaped bracket attaches to the back side of a deck support post. The countertop provides a table-like surface and includes a recess and matching slot for receiving the top portion of the mounting bracket.

In another embodiment, the present invention provides a deck rail countertop system that attaches to a deck railing system, and includes a mounting bracket that fits over the top of a support post. In this embodiment, a countertop rests on a support portion of the mounting bracket and is secured to the bracket via fasteners. The mounting bracket is secured to the support post using fasteners. In a related embodiment, the mounting bracket is an E-shaped bracket that fits over a hand rail, rather than a post, and supports a countertop via a support portion on the bracket.

In yet another embodiment, the present invention provides a deck rail countertop system that attaches to a deck railing system via a snap-lock mounting bracket. The snap-lock mounting bracket includes a top bracket with snap-lock tabs that fit into recesses located in the sides of the bottom bracket. The bottom bracket is attached directly to a support post or multiple intermediate posts. In one embodiment, the top bracket includes a boss that fits into a recess in the countertop. The top bracket may be pressed into the countertop to create a press fit, or friction fit, securely holding the assembly together.

Other embodiments include a variety of countertop mounting brackets, such as a T-shaped mounting bracket, an E-shaped hand rail mounting bracket, and a snap-lock mounting bracket.

In an embodiment, the present invention may also include a method for connecting a countertop to a deck railing system that includes attaching a mounting bracket to a support post, sliding a countertop onto a bracket top portion, and securing the countertop to the bracket.

Accordingly, a deck rail countertop system adapted to attach to a railing of a deck or balcony may generally include a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket comprising a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion defining structure for receiving and coupling to a component of the railing, and an elongate countertop. The countertop presents a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension. The countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket have cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop.

In an embodiment, the deck railing interface portion of each mounting bracket includes an over-post portion defining a cavity, the cavity dimensioned so as to receive an end of a post of the railing therein.

In an embodiment, the deck railing interface portion includes a pair of horizontally oriented members, the members vertically spaced apart so as to define a slot therebetween adapted to receive a horizontal member of the railing.

In an embodiment, the deck railing interface portion includes a first body portion and the countertop interface portion includes a second body portion separate from the first body portion, the first body portion and second body portion each having cooperating structure for removably operably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion.

In an embodiment, the cooperating structure for removably coupling the first body portion and the second body portion includes at least one selectively deflectable tab on one of the first body portion or the second body portion, and structure for receiving the selectively deflectable tab on the other of the first body portion or the second body portion. The structure for receiving the selectively deflectable tab may be an aperture.

In an embodiment, the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes an elongate slot defined in the bottom surface of the countertop, the elongate slot oriented along the length dimension of the countertop, and a t-shaped portion of the countertop interface portion adapted to be slidably received in the elongate slot.

In an embodiment, the cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop includes a plurality of recess arrays, each recess array comprising a plurality of recesses, the recess arrays defined at spaced apart locations in the bottom surface of the countertop, and each countertop interface portion includes a plurality of apertures corresponding to the recesses of the recess array, the apertures of the mounting bracket disposed to be registerable with the recesses of each of the plurality of recess arrays to receive fasteners for fastening the mounting bracket to the countertop.

In further embodiments, a deck system according to the invention includes a deck, a railing operably coupled with the deck, the railing comprising a plurality of upright posts and a horizontal rail operably coupling the upright posts, and a deck rail countertop system. The deck rail countertop system includes a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket comprising a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion operably coupled to the railing, and an elongate countertop presenting a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension, the countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket having cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop.

In other embodiments, a method of providing a deck rail countertop system adapted to attach to a railing of a deck or balcony includes providing a plurality of mounting brackets, each mounting bracket including a deck railing interface portion and a countertop interface portion, the deck railing interface portion defining structure for receiving and coupling to a component of the railing, providing an elongate countertop presenting a top surface, a bottom surface and a length dimension, the countertop and countertop interface portion of each mounting bracket having cooperating structure for coupling the mounting brackets to the bottom surface of the countertop at a plurality of spaced apart locations along the length dimension of the countertop, and providing instructions for attaching the mounting brackets to the railing and for attaching the countertop to the mounting brackets.

In an embodiment, the method may further include packaging the plurality of mounting brackets and the countertop together in a kit.

In an embodiment, the method may further include packaging the instructions with the kit.

In an embodiment, the method may further include recording the instructions in a tangible medium.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the invention in connection with the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of one embodiment of a front-mount deck rail countertop system attached to a deck railing system;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a front-post mounting bracket;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of one embodiment of a front-mount deck rail countertop system;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a front-mount deck rail countertop system attached to a deck railing system;

FIG. 5 is a side view of one embodiment of a rear-mount deck rail countertop system attached to a deck railing system;

FIG. 6 is a front perspective view of one embodiment of an over-post mounting bracket and deck railing system;

FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view of one embodiment of a hand-rail mounting bracket as attached to a deck railing system hand rail;

FIG. 8 is an exploded perspective view of one embodiment of a snap-lock mounting bracket;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a top bracket of a snap-lock mounting bracket;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of one embodiment of an assembled snap-lock mounting bracket;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a deck railing countertop system attached to a deck railing system by mounting to a support post and a pair of intermediate posts; and

FIG. 12 is another perspective view of one embodiment of a deck railing countertop system attached to a deck railing system by mounting to a support post and a pair of intermediate posts.

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a front-mount embodiment of the deck-railing countertop system 20 is connected to a deck railing system 22 of deck 24. In this embodiment, deck-railing countertop system 20 generally includes front-post mounting bracket 26, countertop 28, and fasteners 30 (depicted in FIG. 4). Deck railing system 22 includes posts 32, hand rail 34, and intermediate posts 36.

Referring now to FIG. 2, in one embodiment, front-post mounting bracket 26 is a generally “T” shaped bracket, and includes a body portion 38 and head portion 40. Front-post mounting bracket 26 and countertop 28 may be made of any of a variety of materials including wood, plastic, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, composite materials, and other materials suitable for outdoor use.

Head portion 40 generally includes front extension 42 with front end 44, rear extension 46 with rear end 48, top surface 50, front bottom surface 52, rear bottom surface 54, and a plurality of optional holes 56. The lengths of front extension 42 and rear extension 46 may be varied to accommodate the dimensions of countertop 28, and to adjust the position of countertop 28 in relation to deck 24 and hand rail 34. For example, in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1, front extension 42 is slightly longer than rear extension 46 such that rear end 48 is substantially in the same plane as the outside of post 32. As depicted in FIG. 2, rear extension 46 may be slightly longer than front extension 42.

Still referring to FIG. 2, front end 44 includes a front surface 58, while rear end 48 includes a rear surface 60. In one embodiment, horizontal portion 40 is generally rectangular in shape and connected to, or integral with, body portion 38. Front surface 58 and rear surface 60 may be curved as depicted, but in other embodiments, may be flat, depending on countertop 28 characteristics. In one embodiment, holes 56 extend through head portion 40 and are located at both front end 44 and rear end 48.

Body portion 38 includes a top end 62, bottom end 64, bottom side 66, rear side 68, a left side 70, right side 72, left-front edge 74, right-front edge 76, recess 78, and width W. In one embodiment, rear side 68 and bottom side 66 are generally flat, while left-front edge 74 and right-front edge 76 are curved. Although not depicted, in one embodiment, rear side 68 includes mounting holes 80. Recess 78 is substantially defined by bottom side 66, rear side 68, left side 70, right side 72, and head portion 40.

Referring now to FIG. 3, countertop 28 generally includes a top side 80, bottom side 82, rear side 84, front side 86, recess 88, slot 90, and inner surface 92. Countertop 28 may also include an optional lip 94 located at the corner of top side 80 and rear side 84. In one embodiment, countertop 28 is a substantially rectangular shape, though countertop 28 may be square, curved, or otherwise shaped. In one embodiment, front end 86 forms an obtuse angle with top side 80 and has rounded edges. The shape of recess 88 generally matches the shape of head portion 40 as viewed from the side, such that head portion 40 may be inserted into recess 88. As such, the width of slot 90 is slightly larger than width W. In one embodiment, slot 90 extends longitudinally along the entire length L of countertop 28, in other embodiments, slot 90 extends longitudinally only along a portion of length L.

Still referring to FIG. 3, in one embodiment, mounting bracket 26 is adapted to fit into recess 88 such that top surface 50, front bottom surface 52, rear bottom surface 54, front surface 58 and rear surface 60, contact countertop 28 inside surface 92. In some embodiments, not all top portion 40 defined surfaces will contact inside surface 92.

Referring now to FIG. 4, deck countertop system 20 may be mounted to a front side of deck railing system 22. In the depicted embodiment, a pair of front-post mounting brackets 26 are inserted into countertop 28. Each front-post mounting bracket 26 is connected to a post 32 using fasteners 30. In one embodiment, fasteners 30 are screws, and a screwdriver or other tool is inserted into recess 78 and used to screw fasteners 30 through holes or slots (not shown) in brackets 26, thereby securing mounting brackets 26 into posts 32. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 4, rear sides 68 of front-post mounting brackets 26 contact font sides of posts 32, and mounting brackets 26 are flush with each end of countertop 28. In other embodiments, a length of countertop 28 may be longer than the distance between posts 32, and may also utilize more than two mounting brackets 26.

In one embodiment, rear side 84 of countertop 28 extends rearwardly over posts 32 and hand rail 34. Front side 86 is located above the treads of deck 24. Because countertop 28 is supported by mounting brackets 26 attached to posts 32, and not supported by a separate support structure resting on deck 24, the entire area of deck 24 remains open for use.

Fasteners 30 may also be similarly used to secure countertop 28 to mounting brackets 26 via holes 56. In other embodiments, fasteners 30 are not used so that countertop 28 may be more easily removed from brackets 26. In some embodiments, countertop 28 may include lip 94 that prevents items placed on countertop 28 from easily falling off the rear side of the countertop.

Referring now to FIG. 5, deck railing countertop system 20 may be of a rear-post mount type. In the rear-mount system as depicted in FIG. 5, rear-post mounting bracket 94 is substantially similar to previously described front-post mounting bracket 26, and countertop 96 is substantially similar to countertop 28. In this embodiment, front extension 42 is longer than rear extension 46, and slot 90 is located closer to countertop 94 rear side 84. This causes countertop 96 to extend further over deck 24, as opposed to off the rear of deck 24.

As depicted, in this rear-mount embodiment, a front side 98 of mounting bracket 94 abuts post 32, and is secured to the post with fasteners 30 similar to the manner previously described. Furthermore, rear-post mounting bracket 94 is positioned on post 32 such that an air gap is created between countertop 96 and post 32. This enables easy placement of countertop 96 onto mounting bracket 94.

Referring now to FIG. 6, in another embodiment, deck railing countertop system 100 generally includes an over-post mounting bracket 102, countertop 104, and fasteners 30. In this embodiment, mounting bracket 102 is an L-shaped bracket and includes an over-post portion 106, support extension 108 with top surface 110, post holes 112, and extension holes 114. Over-post portion 106 is generally hollow, or recessed, such that it fits over post 32. In one embodiment, the over-post recess is dimensioned to fit over a standard nominal 4″×4″ post 32. In other embodiments, over-post portion 106 is adapted to fit over posts 32 of other dimensions and shapes. After being placed over post 32, mounting bracket 102 may be secured to post 32 by inserting fasteners 30 through holes 112 and into post 32. In some embodiments, mounting bracket 102 may include more than one support extension 108, and may be rotatable about post 32.

Support portion 108 extends outwardly and away from over-post portion 106, and in one embodiment forms a 90 degree angle with over-post portion 106. Top surface 110 of support portion 108 is substantially flat such that countertop 104 may be placed onto, and supported by, top surface 110. Fasteners 30 may be inserted through holes 114 and into countertop 104 in order to secure the countertop to support bracket 102. Predrilled arrays of recesses (not depicted) may be provided in the bottom surface 118 of countertop 104. In each array, the recesses are arranged in the same pattern and spacing as extension holes 114. The arrays can be spaced apart at selected locations along the length of countertop 104 corresponding, for example, to various standard spacings of posts 32. Upon installation of the system, the support brackets 102 can be secured to the posts 32, and the countertop 104 placed over the support brackets with extension holes 114 of each support bracket 102 registered with the recesses of one of the recess arrays. Fasteners can then be driven through extension holes 114 and into the recesses to secure the countertop to the support bracket. Advantageously, these pre-defined recess arrays eliminate the need to drill countertop 104 in order to accommodate fasteners.

In this embodiment, countertop 104 has a substantially flat, planar bottom surface 118 and top surface 116. As described previously with respect to countertop 28, countertop 104 similarly may be made of wood, plastic, fiberglass, aluminum, stainless steel, stone, or other similar materials suitable for outdoor use. As depicted in FIG. 6, countertop 104 may be substantially rectangular, but in other embodiments, may take other shapes in accordance with the particular functional and aesthetic features of deck 24.

Referring now to FIG. 7, in another embodiment of deck railing countertop system 100, the mounting bracket is an E-shaped mounting bracket 120 that connects to hand rail 34. In this embodiment, mounting bracket 120 includes support extension 108, vertical portion 122, top hand rail extension 124, bottom hand rail extension 126, recess 128, recess face 130, and holes 132.

In one embodiment, support extension 108, top hand rail extension 124 and bottom hand rail extension 126 are connected, or integral with, vertical portion 122. These extensions may be positioned at a substantially ninety-degree angle with vertical portion 122, depending on the particular hand rail 34 and desired pitch of countertop 104. As depicted in FIG. 7, in one embodiment, support extension 108 is longer than, or extends outwardly further than, either top hand rail extension 124 or bottom hand rail extension 126 in order to adequately support countertop 104. Top hand rail extension 124 is located atop hand rail 34, while bottom hand rail extension 126 is located beneath hand rail 34. In this embodiment, the distance between extensions 124 and 126 are such that only a minimal air gap between bottom hand rail extension 126 and hand rail 34 exists when extension 124 rests on hand rail 34.

Recess 128 and recess face 130 are located opposite extensions 108, 124, and 126, on the rear side of mounting bracket 120. Recess face 130 may include one or more holes 132 located adjacent hand rail 34.

When assembled, mounting bracket 120 rests on, and is attached to hand rail 34. Top hand rail extension 124 rests on the top side of hand rail 34, and may be attached to hand rail 34 by inserting fasteners 30 (not shown in FIG. 7) through holes 134 and 132 and into hand rail 34. At the same time, the two extensions 124 and 126, along with vertical portion 122, essentially form a clamp over hand rail 34, substantially preventing bracket 120 from rotating about an axis along the length of hand rail 34. Countertop 104 is attached to support extension 108, resting on surface 110, by way of fasteners 30 and holes 114.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, in another embodiment, deck railing countertop system 100 utilizes a snap-lock mounting bracket 140 that includes a top bracket 142 and a bottom bracket 144. Top bracket 142 generally includes a top boss 146, top surface 148, left side 150, right side 152, outer side 154, inner side 156, bottom side 157, one or more snap-lock tabs 158, channel 160, holes 162 and holes 164.

Top boss 146 projects above top surface 148 and includes a boss surface 147, and may also include multiple recesses 166. In one embodiment, a countertop 104 includes a recess or receptacle adapted to receive top boss 146, and top bracket 142 may be pressed into the recess of countertop 104. In another embodiment, countertop 104 does not include a recess, and is located on top of top boss 146, resting on boss surface 147. Fasteners may be inserted through holes 164 and into countertop 104 to secure the countertop to top bracket 142. Holes 162 in bottom side 157 allow a screwdriver to be inserted into top bracket 142 to facilitate the fastening process.

Left side 150 and right side 154 may include a snap-lock tab 158. The bottom of each snap-lock tab 158 is connected to its respective side, and normally projects upwards and slightly away from top bracket 142 at its top side. Each snap-lock tab 158 is adapted to flex inward towards top bracket 142 when pressure applied to an outside surface of the tab.

As depicted in the embodiment of FIG. 9, channel 160 is formed from a U-shaped center structure 168 projecting upwards from bottom side 157 of bottom bracket 142, providing structural support.

Referring again to FIG. 8, bottom bracket 144 includes left side 170, right side 172, inner side 174, and holes 184. Left side 170 and right sided 172 include left-side opening 176 and right-side opening 178. In one embodiment, inner side 174 is substantially square and includes holes 180. As depicted, left side 170 and right side 172 each form a right angle with inner side 174. In one embodiment, openings 176 and 178 are rectangularly shaped and adapted to receive snap-lock tabs 158 of top bracket 142. Bottom bracket 144 may be attached to any side of a post 32 using fasteners inserted through holes 180.

Referring now to FIG. 10, top bracket 142 fits into bottom bracket 144 to form snap-lock mounting bracket 140. Sliding top bracket 142 downwards into bottom bracket 144 initially causes snap-lock tabs 158 to flex inwards. When snap-lock tabs 158 fully align with openings 176 and 178, the forces against tabs 158 are removed, and tabs 158 spring back to their at-rest position, thereby locking top bracket 142 into bottom bracket 144.

Referring now to FIGS. 11 and 12, snap lock mounting brackets 140 may support a countertop 104 and be attached to either a support post 32 or intermediate posts 36. As depicted in FIG. 12, one snap-lock mounting bracket 140 is secured directly to a rear side of a support post 32. Also depicted is a second snap-lock mounting bracket 140 attached to a pair of intermediate posts 36. In this embodiment, an intermediate post bracket 182 is secured to the intermediate posts 36, and the second snap-lock mounting bracket 140 is secured to the intermediate post bracket 182. In other embodiments, all snap-lock mounting brackets may be attached directly to support posts 32, or may all be attached to intermediate posts 36.

In further embodiments, the invention may include component kits generally including one or more brackets and a countertop supplied with instructions for installing the brackets and 6 countertop on a new or existing deck. The components may be pre-packaged or may be separately displayed so as to enable a user to select the desired type and number of components needed. The instructions may detail steps of installing the brackets and countertop to form a deck railing countertop as described above in exemplary embodiments. The instructions may be embodied in paper form or in other media such as computer readable media (CD, DVD, or internet delivered e-file), video, or audio.

In further embodiments, the invention may include methods of delivering components and installation instructions. For example, components may be provided in pre-packaged form, and instructions as described above may be provided along with the package of components. In another example, the instructions may be made available separately from the components and the user may be instructed as to how to obtain the instructions from a separate source such as from an internet website.

The embodiments above are intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Additional embodiments are encompassed within the scope of the claims. Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For purposes of interpreting the claims for the present invention, it is expressly intended that the provisions of Section 112, sixth paragraph of 35 U.S.C. are not to be invoked unless the specific terms “means for” or “step for” are recited in a claim.