Title:
UNIVERSAL BACK BOX FOR MOUNTING IN WALL COMPONENTS AND METHOD OF USE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a universal back box that allows installation of differently sized in-wall or in-ceiling components in a finished wall or ceiling. Such a configuration allows differently-sized speakers and other in-wall or in-ceiling equipment to be easily and accurately positioned at multiple locations between wall or ceiling supports. The present invention also provides a method for mounting of an in-wall or in-ceiling component between two supports using the back box of the present invention. The method generally includes coupling the back box to two wall or ceiling supports, installing drywall over the back box, forming an aperture in the drywall, and removing at least a portion of the filler material to receive the in-wall component therein.



Inventors:
Murray, Jim Lee (Concordia, MO, US)
Application Number:
12/554226
Publication Date:
03/04/2010
Filing Date:
09/04/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.21
International Classes:
E04F19/00; E04B1/38
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ESTRADA, ANGEL R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL SANDERS LLP (4801 Main Street, Suite 1000, KANSAS CITY, MO, 64112, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A universal back box for mounting of an in-wall component between two supports comprising: a housing having four side walls and a back wall wherein said four side walls and said back wall define a cavity configured to receive a filler material therein; and a plurality of adjustable mounting tabs extending outwardly from said side walls; wherein said filler material is configured to allow placement of said in-wall components in a plurality of locations.

2. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said housing is constructed from a material selected from the group consisting of metal, plastic, and wood.

3. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein the housing further includes a length ranging from about 12 inches to about 80 inches, a width ranging from about 12 inches to about 24 inches, and a depth ranging from about 2 inches to about 24 inches.

4. The universal back box of claim 3 wherein said length is about 22¼ inches, said width is about 14¼ inches, and said depth is about 3½ inches or about 7¼ inches.

5. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said housing is substantially sealed.

6. The universal back box of claim 5 wherein the joints of said side walls and said back wall are welded.

7. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said mounting tabs are bendable about ninety degrees.

8. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said filler material is selected from the group consisting of fiberglass, foam, wood, wood products, cork, cotton, and cellulose.

9. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said filler material is a spray foam.

10. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said filler material is a vapor barrier.

11. The universal back box of claim 1 wherein said filler material is fire rated.

12. A method of mounting an in-wall component between two supports comprising the steps of: (a) coupling a back box to said supports wherein said back box includes a housing and a plurality of mounting tabs, wherein said housing includes four side walls and a back wall, and wherein said side walls and said back wall define a cavity configured to receive a filler material, and wherein said filler material is configured to receive an in-wall or in-ceiling component at a plurality of locations; (b) installing drywall over said back box; (c) forming an aperture in the drywall by removing at least a portion of the drywall installed over the back box; (d) removing at least a portion of said filler material wherein said filler material receives said in-wall component therein; and (e) inserting said in-wall component through said aperture and into said filler material.

13. The method of claim 12 further comprising installing a mounting template.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein the housing is a material selected from the group consisting of metal, plastic, and wood.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein said housing further includes a length ranging from about 12 inches to about 80 inches, a width ranging from about 12 inches to about 24 inches, and a depth ranging from about 2 inches to about 24 inches.

16. The method of claim 12 wherein said housing is substantially sealed.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein said filler material is selected from the group consisting of fiberglass, foam, wood, wood products, cork, cotton, and cellulose.

18. The method of claim 12 wherein said filler material is a spray foam.

19. The method of claim 12 wherein said filler material is a vapor barrier.

20. A universal back box for mounting of an in-wall component between two supports comprising: (a) a substantially sealed metal housing having four side walls and a back wall wherein said four side walls and said back wall define a cavity configured to receive a filler material therein and wherein said housing further includes a length of about 22¼ inches, a width of about 14¼ inches, a depth selected from a group consisting of about 3½ inches and about 7¼ inches; and (b) a plurality of adjustable mounting tabs extending outwardly from said side walls wherein said mounting tabs are bendable about ninety degrees; (c) wherein said filler material is configured to allow placement of said in-wall components in a plurality of locations; (d) wherein said filler material is spray foam and is a vapor barrier.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a nonprovisional of and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/094,112, filed Sep. 4, 2008, which document is incorporated herein by reference to the extent permitted by law.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Back boxes are often utilized for speaker installation or other in-wall or in-ceiling component installation to provide a defined and protective housing for a speaker or other in-wall or in-ceiling component. Further, many municipal or state building codes require back boxes to be utilized with any in-wall or in-ceiling components in commercial construction. Known back boxes are usually limited to use with only one size of an in-wall or in-ceiling component and are often manufacturer specific. In other words, each speaker size requires a different back box corresponding to the specific speaker size and often a different back box is required for each speaker and component manufacturer. A distributor or a custom installer must therefore stock several differently-sized back boxes from multiple manufacturers to accommodate the variously-sized speakers or components of multiple manufacturers that are typically installed in home, business and commercial environments. Further, known back boxes often require the in-wall or in-ceiling component to be installed in certain positions within the back box and between the two supports thereby making it extremely difficult to utilize one back box for precise installation of differently-sized speakers or components. Thus, there is a need in the art for a universal back box that can be used for a plurality of speaker sizes wherein the speaker can be installed at different locations within the back box and between the supports while the back box retains or improves the acoustic performance and meets all applicable building codes.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention solve the above-described problems and provide a distinct advance in the art of in-wall or in-ceiling back boxes. More particularly, certain embodiments of the invention provide back boxes that allow placement of differently-sized in-wall or in-ceiling components in a finished wall or ceiling. Further, such a configuration allows differently-sized speakers and other in-wall equipment to be easily and accurately positioned at multiple locations within the back box and between wall or ceiling supports.

In other embodiments, the present invention provides a method for mounting of an in-wall component between two supports using the back box of the present invention. The method generally includes coupling a back box to two wall or ceiling supports, installing drywall over the back box, forming an aperture in the drywall, and removing at least a portion of a filler material present in the back box to receive the in-wall or in-ceiling component therein.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

The accompanying drawing forms a part of the specification and is to be read in conjunction therewith, in which like reference numerals are employed to indicate like or similar parts in the various views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a universal back box configured in accordance with certain embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a back box housing configured in accordance with a certain embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3A is a partial top perspective view of a mounting tab configured in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the mounting tab in an unbent position;

FIG. 3B is a partial top perspective view of a mounting tab configured in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the mounting tab in a partially bent position;

FIG. 3C is a partial top perspective view of a mounting tab configured in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the mounting tab in a partially bent position;

FIG. 3D is a partial top perspective view of a mounting tab configured in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the mounting tab being bent about ninety degrees to allow the back box to be mounted in an alternate orientation;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the back box shown in FIG. 1 taken along line 4-4;

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of the back box of the present invention coupled to two supports, an in-wall component, and drywall installed over the back box; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the back box of FIG. 5 taken along the line 6-6.

The drawing figures do not limit the present invention to the specific embodiments disclosed and described herein. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of certain embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following detailed description of the invention references the accompanying drawings that illustrate specific embodiments in which the invention can be practiced. The embodiments are intended to describe aspects of the invention in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Other embodiments can be utilized and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The present invention is defined by the appended claims and the description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense and shall not limit the scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

Turning now to the drawing figures, and particularly to FIG. 1, the present invention is directed to a universal back box 10 including a housing 12 and a filler material 14. Housing 12 is generally rectangular in shape and can be constructed of metal, molded or extruded plastic, plastic composites, wood or any other material known in the art and suitable for use in the present invention. The material used may be selected based on manufacturer- or user-specific requirements such as manufacturing efficiency, building code requirements, weight or acoustic considerations, insulation properties, or environmental considerations. Further, housing 12 can be manufactured using any manufacturing technique known in the art for the material, such as casting, machining, forging, deep drawing, punching, molding, press brake forming, die forming, extruding, stamping and/or joining. If required by the manufacturing technique, coupling elements comprising housing 12 may be accomplished using any coupling means known in the art and suitable for use in the present invention including, but not limited to, welds, screws, rivets, power-actuated fasteners, pneumatic fasteners, bolts, nails, or adhesives. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the coupling means for housing 12 is a continuous weld that creates a sealed enclosure.

Turning to FIG. 2, housing 12 includes: four side walls, namely, a top side wall 16, a bottom side wall 18, a left side wall 20 and a right side wall 22; a back wall 24; a plurality of mounting tabs 26; a length L; a width W; and a depth Dh. Four side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 and back wall 24 define cavity 34 therein.

Generally, the dimensions of housing 12 (length L, width W, and depth Dh) allow back box 10 to be installed between two traditionally constructed wall or ceiling framing support members, typically, “2×” or engineered wood framing 16 or 24 inches on center. One embodiment includes a rectangular housing 12 wherein said length L will allow housing to fit between two support members spaced 24 inches on center and width W allows housing 12 to be located between two support members spaced 16 inches on center. This particular embodiment furthers one of the present invention's stated purposes of providing a universal back box for mounting in-wall or in-ceiling components that can be used for almost all commercial and residential in-wall or in-ceiling component installations. For most applications, length L may be from about 12 inches to 80 inches, width W may be from about 12 inches to 24 inches, and depth Dh may be from about 2 inches to 24 inches; however, one skilled in the art will undoubtedly appreciate that any length L, width W, or depth Dh that allows back box 10 to be placed between two wall or ceiling support members at any provided support spacing in a given project is within the scope of the present invention.

Depth Dh of housing 12 can be configured to correspond with standard wall thicknesses or ceiling joist depths. One embodiment includes a depth of 3½ inches corresponding to a standard 2×4 stud wall. Another embodiment includes a depth of 7¼ inches to correspond to a stud wall or ceiling joist framed with 2×8 or deeper support members. A person skilled in the art will undoubtedly appreciate that any depth Dh that allows back box 10 to be placed within a desired wall thickness or ceiling framing depth is within the scope of the present invention.

Each side wall 16, 18, 20, 22 is generally rectangular in shape with ends 36 terminating at corners 38. Each side wall 16, 18, 20, 22 further includes an inner surface 40, an outer surface 42, a front edge 44, and a back edge 46. One embodiment includes at least one punch-out 48 located anywhere on at least one side wall 16, 18, 20, 22 extending through inner surface 40 and outer surface 42. Punch-out 48 is generally circular and ranges in diameter from about ½ inch to about 1 inch, but one skilled in the art will appreciate that the punch-out could be variety of shapes and sizes. In certain embodiments, punch-out 48 is removably attached to side walls 16, 18, 20, 22. In other embodiments, punch-out 48 is an aperture.

Side walls may also include a flange 50 that extends from about ⅛ inch to 1 inch inwardly toward cavity 34. Flange 50 lies generally perpendicular to inner surface 40 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 and generally proximate to front edge 44 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22. Flange 50 may extend along any length of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 up to and including being nearly continuous along the entire length of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 as shown in FIG. 2. Alternatively, given lengths of flange 50 may be intermittently spaced around inner surface 40 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22. Flange 50 is generally configured to receive an in-wall component mounting template thereon. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, flange 50 has an L-shape cross-section that is spot welded at intervals along side walls 16, 18, 20, 22. However, it will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that flange 50 may be any shape and any length suitable for use in the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 2, back wall 24 is generally rectangular in shape and includes an inner face 52 and an outer face (not shown). Back wall 24 generally lies in a plane perpendicular to side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 wherein back wall 24 is either integral with or coupled to side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 at or near back edge 46 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22.

Now turning to FIG. 3A, mounting tabs 26 are generally configured to facilitate coupling of back box 10 to at least one support member. Mounting tabs 26 generally extend outwardly from corners 38. Mounting tabs 26 generally define at least one aperture 54 therethrough that is sized to receive a fastener for fastening back box 10 to a support member. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3A, mounting tab 26 has a depth Dm that is less than depth Dh of housing 12 and extends outwardly from corner 38 along the same plane as top and bottom side walls 16 and 18 proximate front edge 44 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22. Further, FIGS. 3A-D show that mounting tabs 26 may be bent up to about ninety (90) degrees so that back box 10 can be used in an alternate orientation. One skilled in the art will readily appreciate that mounting tab 26 could vary in dimension, position, or configuration without affecting the purpose of facilitating the coupling of back box 10 to support members.

Referring now to FIG. 4, filler material 14 generally fills cavity 34 of housing 12 and can be any material suitable for receiving an in-wall component at a plurality of locations such as: fiberglass insulation, foam, wood, wood products, cork, cotton, rubber, cellulose, vermiculite, perlite, and rock or slag wool. Filler material 14 includes a front surface 58 that is generally flush with the front of flange 50. Certain embodiments of the present invention utilize foam as filler material 14 such as polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, esther, latex, neoprene, or spray foam. One embodiment of the present invention includes rigid soy-based spray foam filler material 14 that is applied to inner surface 40 and 52 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 and back wall 24, respectively, and subsequently cut flush to the front of flange 50 or flush with front edge 44 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 after the applied foam filler material 14 expands and solidifies. Another embodiment uses solid polyurethane foam block as filler material 14 that substantially fills cavity 34 of housing 12 wherein foam block filler material 14 is either scored or cut into blocks to facilitate easy removal of enough filler material 14 as is necessary to readily receive the in-wall or in-ceiling component. Foam filler material 14 can be adhered to inner face 40 and 52 of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22 and back wall 24, respectively, with any known method in the art suitable for use in the present invention such as adhesives.

Filler material 14 may be selected based on a variety of secondary considerations. One embodiment uses spray foam 14 because the spray foam 14 functions as a vapor barrier that satisfies building code requirements of jurisdictions wherein a vapor barrier is required for exterior walls. Therefore, in these jurisdictions, spray foam 14 allows back box 10 to be utilized for mounting an in-wall component in an exterior wall. Further, filler material 14 may also be selected based on its ability to generally improve acoustic performance of an in-wall or in-ceiling component including specifically dampening or eliminating vibration of side walls 16, 18, 20, 22, and back wall 24 of housing 12 or allowing an installer to customize the air space behind an in-wall or in-ceiling speaker to improve acoustic performance of the component. Other considerations when selecting filler material 14 include, but are not to be limited to, cost of material, insulative capabilities, heat resistance, and fire retardant properties.

In use, universal back box 10 is installed in a wall or a ceiling between two building support members 60, as shown in FIG. 5. An installer would first determine a desired location 62 of an in-wall or in-ceiling component 64. Next, the installer would place back box 10 between two supports 60 on each side of desired location 62 for in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 such that desired location 62 falls within the area of back box 10 facing the room. Back box 10 is then coupled to support members 60. Coupling is achieved by inserting a fastener 72 through aperture 54 of mounting tab 26 of housing 12 into support member 60 as seen in FIGS. 5 and 6. Fastener 72 can be any fastener known in the art, including staples, nails, screws, bolts, and/or any other suitable fasteners. As described hereinabove, one embodiment of the present invention includes mounting tabs 26 that can be bent up to ninety (90) degrees so that back box 10 can be used in an alternate orientation.

Now turning to FIG. 6, a portion of filler material 14 is removed from front surface 58 to create a void space 66 proximate desired location 62 of in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 within back box 10. Removal of filler material 14 may be accomplished manually or with the assistance of a number of mechanical tools known in the art. If in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 requires connection to electric, speaker or other wiring known in the art, an installer would then remove punch-out 48 and insert wires through the resulting aperture into filler material 14. Any wires should be fished through filler material 14 to void space 66 proximate desired location 62 of in-wall or in-ceiling component 64.

One embodiment of the present invention includes a mounting template 68 that is coupled to side wall flange 50 with the aperture of template 68 positioned to allow in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 to be mounted at desired location 62. Mounting template 68 may be a universal installation template as presented in U.S. Pat. No. 7,497,025 to Murray, hereby specifically incorporated by reference, or any other proprietary installation template provided by the manufacturer of in-wall component 64. Template 68 can be located anywhere along the length of flange 50 and coupled to flange 50 using any suitable fastener known in the art including adhesives, nails, staples, rivets, welds, nails, screws, bolts, and/or any mating connectors. Template 68 may be set such that in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 is located anywhere within the front area 58 of back box 10.

Whether or not mounting template 68 is installed, drywall 70 is installed over at least a portion of back box 10 to form a front wall and completely enclose back box 10. Drywall 70, as utilized herein, generally refers to wallboard, gypsum board, GWB, plasterboard, SHEETROCK®, Gyproc®, or any other suitable building material. As should be appreciated, certain embodiments of the present invention may employ covering or sheathing materials other than drywall. Drywall 70 is preferably installed to the same supports to which back box 10 is attached such that the front 58 of back box 10 is entirely covered by drywall 70. Drywall 70 may be affixed to the supports, or any other supports comprising the wall or ceiling in which it is desired to mount in-wall or in-ceiling component 64 utilizing fastening methods known in the art.

An aperture is formed in drywall 70 at desired location 62 of in-wall or in-ceiling component 64. If no template is used, desired location 62 of the aperture should be identified on drywall 70 and the extents of the aperture may be transcribed thereon. The aperture is be formed by removing a portion of drywall 70, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. In particular, the installer may form the aperture by inserting a cutting device through drywall 70 and into the enclosed area of template to remove at least a portion of drywall 70 covering template 68. Alternatively, the installer may form the aperture by inserting a cutting device through drywall 70 and cutting along the transcribed extents of the aperture at desired location 62.

For example, the installer may plunge a drywall knife or saw through drywall 70 covering the center portion of template 68 and into filler material 14. The installer may then saw or cut through drywall 70 and/or filler material 14 until the saw or knife reaches template 68 or the transcribed extents of the aperture. After contacting template 68, the installer may cut along the guide and remove the cut drywall 70 to form the aperture with dimensions corresponding to in-wall or in-ceiling component 64. Alternatively, the installer may cut through drywall 70 along the transcribed line defining the extents of the required aperture for in-wall or in-ceiling component 64.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that the aperture may be formed by utilizing other cutting devices or cutting methods instead of, or in addition to, the drywall knife and saw discussed above. For example, the aperture may be formed by breaking portions of drywall 70 covering template 68 or back box 10 and removing broken drywall 70 to form the aperture. An additional portion of filler material 14 may be removed as necessary for void space 66 to match the extents of the aperture and to provide sufficient void space 66 required for filler material 14 to receive in-wall or in-ceiling component 64. In-wall or in-ceiling component 64 is mounted, installed or otherwise positioned within the aperture. In-wall or in-ceiling component 64 may be installed within the aperture utilizing conventional installation equipment and methods. In some embodiments, mounting and electrical hardware may first be installed on front surface 58 or within filler material 14 or behind drywall 70 to enable equipment to be properly configured and secured. In-wall or in-ceiling component 64 may be a speaker or speaker bracket, as discussed above, or any other component 64 that may be mounted within a wall or ceiling such as televisions, computing devices, electronic equipment, lighting fixtures, windows, frames, combinations thereof, and the like.