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Portions of the disclosure of this patent document contain material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
The present invention relates to a covering for exposed exterior rafters, or beams used in structures, wherein the rafters or beams extend beyond the exterior walls of a building. Various apparatus are known in the art for covering structural elements such as beams and rafters. Some of these devices are known for protecting structural elements in the process.
For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 6,782,666 to Condon discloses an apparatus for covering exposed rafters. While this device may be effective in providing a decorative covering or fascia to a rafter, it is incapable of protecting a rafter beyond the eave of a roof, since it doesn't protect the top of a rafter, where most damage occurs to an exterior rafter. Another disadvantage of this device is its use of multiple parts that come together without providing a water impermeable structure when assembled, while resulting in undue complexity.
For these reasons there is a need for a rafter covering or sleeve that covers all exposed sides of an exterior rafter, and which protects rafters from damage due to elemental or biological exposure.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a rafter sleeve that covers exterior rafters. Another object of the invention is to provide a rafter sleeve that provides an impenetrable barrier to the elements and other forces that can damage exposed beams. Another object of the invention is to provide a rafter sleeve that can be installed over both newly constructed exposed rafters, and weathered or damaged exposed rafters. Yet another object of the invention is to provide a rafter sleeve that can be painted so as to look like a newly installed rafter. These and other objects of the invention will become apparent from the appended summary, description and claims.
The rafter sleeve of the present invention comprises a single prefabricated unit that covers and protects rafters or similar boards on the exterior surface of a structure, including instances where a rafter is partially covered by the eave of a roof and partially exposed. The rafter sleeve comprises two side walls and a bottom designed to fit over the exposed sides and bottom of an exposed rafter. The side walls and bottom cover the rafter from where the rafter extends from the exterior wall of a structure to the terminal end of the rafter. At the end of the rafter, the sleeve has a cap that covers the end of the rafter and a top covers the portion of the rafter not covered by the eave of the roof.
Means for attaching fasteners are incorporated into the bottom and cap of the sleeve, and comprise holes for accommodating nails. In alternate embodiments the attachment means may comprise a recess for other types of fasteners.
One alternate embodiment of the invention is adapted for covering a pitched rafter, wherein the sleeve cap and opposite ends of the side walls comprise a slant with respect to the side walls, bottom and top of the sleeve. In another alternate embodiment, the sleeve is intended to cover a rafter when a fascia board partially covers the end of the rafter. In this embodiment the cap extends only partially up the edges of the side walls, and has no top portion.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a rafter sleeve for a level rafter or beam.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a rafter sleeve for a rafter of a pitched roof structure, with a fastener adjacent the attachment means.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a rafter sleeve intended for use on rafters, in which the terminal end of the rafter is covered by a fascia board.
Referring to the structural elements of the invention, the rafter sleeve of the present invention is shown and described in FIG. 1. In one preferred embodiment, the rafter sleeve 10 comprises a single prefabricated unit that covers and protects rafters or other boards on the exterior surface of a structure, typically, partially under a roof. The rafter sleeve 10 further comprises two side walls 12 and a bottom 14, designed to fit over the exposed sides and bottom of a length of exposed rafter. The side walls 12 and bottom 14 extend inward from the terminal end of the rafter, to the junction of the rafter with the exterior wall of the structure.
Still referring to FIG. 1, at the end of the rafter sleeve 10 corresponding to the terminal end of the rafter, a capping means 16 for covering the end of the rafter is connected to one common end of the side walls 12 and bottom 14 of the sleeve 10. Also connected to the capping means 16, is a top 18 which is shorter than the side walls 12 or bottom 14. The top 18 allows the rafter sleeve 10 to slide onto a rafter until the side walls 12 touch the exterior wall of a building and the top 18 reaches the junction of the rafter and roof.
Still referring to FIG. 1, means for attaching fasteners 20 are incorporated into the bottom 14 and capping means 16 of the sleeve 10. In one preferred embodiment, the attachment means 20 comprises holes for nails or other fasteners. In alternate embodiments the attachment means 20 may comprise a recess (not shown) to allow the head of a fastener to be flush with the surface of the sleeve 10.
Referring to FIG. 2, an alternate embodiment of the invention is shown, wherein the sleeve 10 is adapted for covering a pitched rafter. In this embodiment, the capping means 16 is disposed at a slant with respect to the side walls 12, bottom 14 and top 18 of the sleeve 10. Additionally, the ends of the side walls 22 opposite the end cap 16 are disposed at an angle corresponding to the angle of the end cap 16.
Still referring to FIG. 2, attachment means 20 for fasteners are similarly disposed on the bottom 14 and end cap 16 in the pitched-roof embodiment. In one preferred embodiment, the attachment means 20 comprises nails 24 that can be hammered through the sleeve 10 into the rafter.
Referring to FIG. 3, another preferred embodiment is shown, wherein the sleeve is intended to cover a rafter in architecture where a fascia board partially covers the terminal end of the rafter. In this embodiment, it is anticipated that the rafter may extend lower than the fascia board, exposing at least part of the lower terminal end of the rafter. In this embodiment, the sleeve 10 still comprises two side walls 12 and a bottom 14. However, the end cap 16 extends only partially up the edges of the side walls 12, and there is no top to the sleeve 10. Also, in this embodiment, the attachment means 20 are disposed only on the bottom of the sleeve 10.
In an alternate embodiments of the present invention, the sleeve for covering fascia-covered rafters can also comprise means for covering the fascia-covered rafters of a pitched roof. In this embodiment, the corresponding slanted angles to the ends of the device would remain the same as shown in FIG. 2 however the sleeve would not comprise a top or full end cap as shown in FIG. 3. In other alternate embodiments, the junctions of the side walls, bottom end cap and top comprise a watertight seal to completely enclose an exposed rafter. The sleeve may also comprise drain holes disposed on the bottom to allow water that has intruded into the interior of the sleeve to escape.
Although the preferred embodiment of the invention further comprises galvanized steel, including 28-galvanized steel, the sleeve may comprise other materials, including other metals, plastics and resins suitable for weathering exposure to the elements. Additionally, in various embodiments, the exterior surface of the sleeve is characterized by a surface that facilitates paint adhesion. Although galvanized metal typically comprises an acceptable surface for paint adhesion, if a user prefers, or in the event the device is made from a material with poor paint adherent properties, the exterior of the sleeve may be coated with a primer to facilitate painting. It is also anticipated that the sleeve will be made in sizes typical of residential construction, including a standard 24 inch length sleeve.
Now turning to the method of using the instant invention, the protective sleeve may be employed over new exterior rafters or beams to protect them against premature aging through exposure to the elements or destruction by biological activity. Additionally, the sleeve may be employed on rafters or beams that have already sustained damage in order to prevent further injury to the wood. In instances where the rafters or beams have been greatly distressed, alternative fasteners may be employed, including wood screws and adhesives.
To use the various embodiments of the sleeve, the area to be covered is first cleaned by clearing away any debris from around the rafter and adjacent area under the eave that might affect proper placement of the sleeve, or the ability to paint the sleeve after installation. After preparing the rafter, a user slides the sleeve onto the rafter from the terminal end of the rafter, until the top of the sleeve extends slightly under the roof, between the roof and rafter, to prevent run-off from reaching the interior of the sleeve. In the event a fascia-bearing rafter sleeve is used, the top edge of the end cap will slide between the face of the terminal end of the rafter and the fascia board. In a preferred embodiment, in either instance, the portion of the sleeve placed between the rafter and the structure should be no less than half an inch.
Once the sleeve is in position, fasteners are used to lock the sleeve into place using the attachment means. To prevent water or moisture from reaching the interior of the sleeve, a caulking compound, for instance aluminum caulking, may be used to seal the edges of the sleeve and the structure.
All features disclosed in this specification, including any accompanying claims, abstract, and drawings, may be replaced by alternative features serving the same, equivalent or similar purpose, unless expressly stated otherwise. Thus, unless expressly stated otherwise, each feature disclosed is one example only of a generic series of equivalent or similar features.
Any element in a claim that does not explicitly state “means for” performing a specified function, or “step for” performing a specific function, is not to be interpreted as a “means” or “step” clause as specified in 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6. In particular, the use of “step of” in the claims herein is not intended to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6.
Although preferred embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, various modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustration and not limitation.