Title:
TILEABLE LINE DRAIN SYSTEMS AND RELATED METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tile installation comprises a plurality of surface tiles installed upon a surface, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins a drain area. An elongate drain pan is installed within the drain area and is fluidly coupled via at least one outlet to a drainage system to allow flow of liquid to the drainage system. The drain pan includes: an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face. An elongate drain tile support is removably fittable within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which one or more drain tiles are attached, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and being restable upon the support surface of the drain pan.



Inventors:
Plank, Reinhard H. (Plattsburgh, NY, US)
Application Number:
13/681156
Publication Date:
12/05/2013
Filing Date:
11/19/2012
Assignee:
Schluter Systems L.P. (Plattsburgh, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/428
International Classes:
E03F5/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Foreign References:
WO2010083568A22010-07-29
EP23331732011-06-15
Other References:
"I-Drain Installation Instructions". I-Drain. Available November 22, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20101122135445/http:/www.i-drain.net/pdf/IDRAIN_Installation_Instructions.pdf
"QuARTz by ACO Tile Grate". QuARTz by ACO. Published August 2010. http://www.quartzbyaco.com/sites/default/files/Tile_grate.pdf
"I-Drain Installation Instructions". I-Drain. Available November 22, 2010. https://web.archive.org/web/20101122135445/http:/www.i-drain.net/pdf/IDRAIN_Installation_Instructions.pdf
"QuARTz by ACO Tile Grate". QuARTz by ACO. Published August 2010. http://www.quartzbyaco.com/sites/defualt/files/Tile_grate.pdf
Primary Examiner:
ROS, NICHOLAS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THORPE NORTH & WESTERN, LLP. (P.O. Box 1219, SANDY, UT, 84091-1219, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tile installation, comprising: a plurality of surface tiles installed upon a surface, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins a drain area; an elongate drain pan, installed within the drain area and being fluidly coupled via at least one outlet to a drainage system to allow flow of liquid to the drainage system, the drain pan including: an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face; and an elongate drain tile support, removably fittable within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which one or more drain tiles are attached, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and being restable upon the support surface of the drain pan.

2. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of some of the surface tiles extend over the drain pan wall to abut or overhang a plane extending upwardly from the interior face of the drain pan wall.

3. The tile installation of claim 1, further comprising at least one support flange, extending laterally from the drain pan, the support flange configured to underlay adjacent surface tiles.

4. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein all structure supporting the drain tile is at least the distance of a thickness of the drain tile away from an upper surface of the tile installation.

5. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein the at least one support leg includes at least two support feet extending downwardly from the support leg, and further comprising at least one opening defined between the support feet to provide an area for drainage of liquid into the drain fitting.

6. The tile installation of claim 5, further comprising a pliable material attached to lower portions of the support feet, the pliable material providing a pliable interface between the support leg and the drain pan.

7. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein the upper surface of drain tile support is substantially covered by one or more drain tiles.

8. The tile installation of claim 7, wherein a plurality of drain tiles collectively substantially cover the drain tile support.

9. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein the upper surface of drain tile support includes a bondable interface attached thereto, the bondable interface providing an improved bonding interface between the drain tile and the upper surface of the drain tile support.

10. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein a measureable, vertical distance is defined between a bottom of the support leg and a top of the upper surface of the drain tile support, so as to elevate the drain tile above, or level with, an upper surface of the drain pan wall.

11. The tile installation of claim 1, wherein the drain tile is located on a lateral edge of the tile installation, and wherein the adjacent surface tiles define a single slope directed toward a gap defined between edges of the drain tile and edges of adjacent surface tiles.

12. A method of providing drainage for a tile installation without the use of a visible drain grate, comprising: coupling an elongate drain pan to a drain fitting within a drain area of a tile installation, the drain pan including i) an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face; installing a plurality of surface tiles upon a surface adjacent the drain pan, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins the drain area, at least a portion of some of the surface tiles extending over the drain pan wall to abut or overhang a plane extending upwardly from the interior face of the drain pan wall; and fitting an elongate drain tile support within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which at least one drain tile can be coupled, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and restable upon the support surface of the drain pan; wherein the at least one drain tile is sized so as to create a gap between lateral edges of the drain tile and adjacent surface tiles to allow drainage of liquid through the gap and into the drain fitting.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising temporarily fitting one or more installation blocks into an opening defined by the interior face of the drain pan wall; and abutting the surface tiles against the one or more installation blocks while installing the surface tiles adjacent the drain pan.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the installation block extends upwardly substantially coplanar with a plane defined by the interior face of the drain pan wall.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising temporarily fitting a plurality of installation blocks into the opening defined by the interior face.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the installation block is slidable along a length of the drain pan.

17. The method of claim 12, wherein the drain tile is located on a lateral edge of the tile installation, and wherein the adjacent surface tiles define a single slope directed toward a gap defined between edges of the drain tile and edges of adjacent surface tiles.

18. A tileable drain assembly, comprising: a drain pan, coupleable to a drain fitting installed within a drain area, the drain pan including: i) an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face; and a drain tile support, removably fittable within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which a drain tile can be attached, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and restable upon the support surface of the drain pan; wherein the upper surface of the drain tile support is elevated at least as high as an upper surface of the drain pan wall when the drain tile support is fitted within the drain pan.

19. The assembly of claim 18, wherein the at least one support leg includes at least two support feet extending downwardly therefrom, and further comprising at least one opening defined between the support feet to provide an area for drainage of liquid into the drain fitting.

20. The assembly of claim 19, wherein the support feet include a pliable material attached thereto, the pliable material providing a pliable interface between the support feet and the drain pan.

21. The assembly of claim 18, wherein the upper surface of drain tile support is sized so as to be substantially covered by a plurality of drain tiles.

22. The assembly of claim 18, wherein the upper surface of drain tile support includes a bondable interface attached thereto, the bondable interface providing an improved bonding interface between the drain tile and the upper surface of the drain tile support.

23. The assembly of claim 18, further comprising at least one installation block, sized to fit within an opening defined by the interior face of the drain pan wall, the installation block being operable to allow surface tiles to be abutted thereagainst whilst installing the surface tiles upon the surface adjacent the drain pan.

24. The assembly of claim 23, wherein the installation block is slidable along a length of the drain pan.

25. The assembly of claim 23, further comprising a plurality of installation blocks which collectively fill a space defined by the drain pan.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/561,716, filed Nov. 18, 2011, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

RELATED CASES

This application is related to U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. ______, filed ______, titled Tileable Drain Systems and Related Methods under attorney docket number 2460-016.NP.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of drainage systems for use in flooring installations. More particularly, the present invention relates to drainage systems utilizing so-called “line drains,” or “trench drains.”

2. Related Art

Line drains have become increasingly popular, particularly where large format tiles or stones are desirable in a shower application, due to the fact that a single slope towards a line drain is easier to achieve compared to a multi-directional slope towards a typical shower drain. Thus, line drains are currently available on the market; however, they generally rely on a height-adjustment mechanism to align the level of a grate with the level of the surrounding finished floor.

Some line drains utilize a “drain tile” system, in which a decorative or functional tile is installed over the drain system instead of a conventional grate. However, in these systems, only after attaining the height adjustment can the “drain tile” be applied to the support structure used instead of the grate. Conventional tileable line drain grates typically have a U-shaped cross section, and the tile is set atop or within the valley of the “U” cross section, with the top surface of the tile matching the height of the U-shaped walls. This leaves a visible metal edge around the tile installed in the grate.

While such line drains are popular choices for a variety of applications, many consumers and designers remain dissatisfied with the appearance provided by either the grate used in the line drain or the “drain tile” used in place of a grate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a tile installation is provided, including a plurality of surface tiles installed upon a surface, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins a drain area. An elongate drain pan can be installed within the drain area and can be fluidly coupled via at least one outlet to a drainage system to allow flow of liquid to the drainage system. The drain pan can include: an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face. An elongate drain tile support can be removably fittable within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which one or more drain tiles are attached, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and being restable upon the support surface of the drain pan.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a method of providing drainage for a tile installation without the use of a visible drain grate is provided, including: coupling an elongate drain pan to a drain fitting within a drain area of a tile installation, the drain pan including i) an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face; installing a plurality of surface tiles upon a surface adjacent the drain pan, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins the drain area, at least a portion of some of the surface tiles extending over the drain pan wall to abut or overhang a plane extending upwardly from the interior face of the drain pan wall; and fitting an elongate drain tile support within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which at least one drain tile can be coupled, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and restable upon the support surface of the drain pan; wherein the at least one drain tile is sized so as to create a gap between lateral edges of the drain tile and adjacent surface tiles to allow drainage of liquid through the gap and into the drain fitting.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a tileable drain assembly is provided, including a drain pan, coupleable to a drain fitting installed within a drain area. The drain pan can include: an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face. A drain tile support can be removably fittable within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which a drain tile can be attached, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and restable upon the support surface of the drain pan. The upper surface of the drain tile support can be elevated at least as high as an upper surface of the drain pan wall when the drain tile support is fitted within the drain pan.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings illustrate exemplary embodiments for carrying out the invention. Like reference numerals refer to like parts in different views or embodiments of the present invention in the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a drain tile support in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a drain pan and a series of installation blocks in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is an end, sectioned view of a tile installation in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective, top view of the tile installation of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the drain pan of FIG. 2, with the installation blocks temporarily installed therein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

Definitions

As used herein, the singular forms “a” and “the” can include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to “a support structure” can include one or more of such structures.

As used herein, the term “substantially” refers to the complete or nearly complete extent or degree of an action, characteristic, property, state, structure, item, or result. As an arbitrary example, an object that is “substantially” enclosed is an article that is either completely enclosed or nearly completely enclosed. The exact allowable degree of deviation from absolute completeness may in some cases depend upon the specific context. However, generally speaking the nearness of completion will be so as to have the same overall result as if absolute and total completion were obtained. The use of “substantially” is equally applicable when used in a negative connotation to refer to the complete or near complete lack of an action, characteristic, property, state, structure, item, or result. As another arbitrary example, a composition that is “substantially free of” an ingredient or element may still actually contain such item so long as there is no measurable effect as a result thereof.

As used herein, the term “about” is used to provide flexibility to a numerical range endpoint by providing that a given value may be “a little above” or “a little below” the endpoint.

Relative directional terms are sometimes used herein to describe and claim various components of the drain systems of the present invention. Such terms include, without limitation, “upward,” “downward,” “horizontal,” “vertical,” etc. These terms are generally not intended to be limiting, but are used to most clearly describe and claim the various features of the invention. Where such terms must carry some limitation, they are intended to be limited to usage commonly known and understood by those of ordinary skill in the art. For example, the term “horizontal” is sometimes used to refer to various portions or elements of drain frames: as one of ordinary skill in the art would readily appreciate, this usage is not intended to be limited to a component that is absolutely horizontal, but can be extended to components that are primarily horizontal, or mostly horizontal. A horizontal component, as that term is used herein, can include a slight slope that enables drainage of liquids across the slope.

As used herein, the term “tile” is to be understood to refer to a generally planar slab-like component that can be used as a floor or wall covering. Tiles discussed herein can be formed of a variety of materials, including without limitation, ceramic, marble, stone, granite, polymers, glass, and the like.

As used herein, a plurality of items, structural elements, compositional elements, and/or materials may be presented in a common list for convenience. However, these lists should be construed as though each member of the list is individually identified as a separate and unique member. Thus, no individual member of such list should be construed as a de facto equivalent of any other member of the same list solely based on their presentation in a common group without indications to the contrary.

Numerical data may be expressed or presented herein in a range format. It is to be understood that such a range format is used merely for convenience and brevity and thus should be interpreted flexibly to include not only the numerical values explicitly recited as the limits of the range, but also to include all the individual numerical values or sub-ranges encompassed within that range as if each numerical value and sub-range is explicitly recited. As an illustration, a numerical range of “about 1 to about 5” should be interpreted to include not only the explicitly recited values of about 1 to about 5, but also include individual values and sub-ranges within the indicated range. Thus, included in this numerical range are individual values such as 2, 3, and 4 and sub-ranges such as from 1-3, from 2-4, and from 3-5, etc., as well as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, individually.

This same principle applies to ranges reciting only one numerical value as a minimum or a maximum. Furthermore, such an interpretation should apply regardless of the breadth of the range or the characteristics being described.

Invention

The present invention relates generally to improved line drain assemblies. In particular, the systems of the present invention include a line drain pan with a drain tile support removably fittable therein. The drain tile support generally includes a number of legs or support feet that uniformly transfer loads experienced by tiles carried by the support to the drain pan. The length of these legs can correspond with the depth of the drain pan at the level of contact to thus align the top surface the drain tile support with the surface of the substrate. In some embodiments, spacers made of a pliable material are used to establish a friction fit between the drain tile support and the drain pan, and to provide a uniform spacing around the drain tile and adjacent surface tiles.

Turning now to the figures, in one aspect of the invention, various components of a tile installation are shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. A tileable drain assembly (shown in full in FIGS. 3 and 4) can include a drain pan (12 in FIG. 2) that can be coupleable to a drain fitting (not shown in detail) installed within a drain area. For example, the drain pan can be coupled to the drain fitting by way of port 13, shown in FIG. 2, in addition to various other mechanisms known in the art. The drain pan can include an at least partially horizontal support surface (14 in FIGS. 2 and 3) a drain pan wall (16 in FIG. 3) having an interior face (18 in FIG. 3).

A drain tile support 20 can be removably fittable within the drain pan. The drain tile support can include an upper surface 22 to which a drain tile 24 can be attached. At least one support leg 25 can extend downwardly from the upper surface. The support leg (or a component coupled to the support leg, such as feet 26) can be restable upon the support surface of the drain pan. In one aspect of the invention, the upper surface 22 of the drain tile support can be elevated at least as high as an upper surface 18 of the drain pan wall when the drain tile support is fitted within the drain pan. As shown in FIG. 1, the at least one support leg can include at least two support feet 26 that can extend downwardly from the support leg. At least one opening 34 can be defined between the support feet to provide an area for drainage of liquid into the drain fitting.

The present system thereby provides a number of advantages over conventional line drain systems. For example, the use of the drain tile 24 instead of a conventional straining grate provides a much more pleasing aesthetic to the drain system. In addition, as all of the support structure upon which the drain tile is carried is located at least a thickness of the drain tile from the upper surface of the tile installation, there are no unsightly portions of the support frame visible to the casual observer. This is contrary to many conventional systems in which metal frames which carry a drain tile or a straining grate are clearly visible to a casual observer.

Also, as the drain tile support can include a number of support feet (or a continuous support leg), the loads transferred through the drain tile to the drain tile support are distributed evenly to the underlying drain pan. This can greatly reduce the stresses experienced by the drain pan, which might otherwise lead to failure of the system. This aspect of the invention is particularly advantageous in light of the locations in which many line drains are typically installed, as line drain applications may often be subject to rolling loads from carts, wheelchairs, and the like.

The present invention also provides the advantage that the drain tile support 20 need not be adjusted in height to accomplish a flush installation of the drain tile 24 relative to adjacent surface tiles 30. This is due to the fact that the relative level of the drain pan 20 can be established by aligning at least one support flange (37 in FIG. 3) so as to be flush with the surface adjacent the line drain installation. As the upper surface 22 of the drain tile support 20 can be established to be level with the upper surface of the flange, the drain tile 24 installed upon the drain tile support is automatically level with adjacent surface drain tiles 30 (a portion of which are installed over the flange 37). In this manner, no height adjustment of the drain tile support need be undertaken in many applications.

While the present system is well suited for installation of a drain tile 24 that matches adjacent surface tiles 30, a variety of alternative combinations can also be achieved. For example, the drain tile can be selected to be of identical construction of the adjacent surface tiles, but of a different color or finish. Alternately, the drain tile can be formed of a completely different material: for example, the drain tile can be formed from glass, polymer, slate, granite, etc., while the adjacent surface tiles can be common ceramic tiles. Varying the appearance or structure of the drain tile from the adjacent tiles in no way affects the functionality of the present system.

While not so required, in one aspect of the invention, the support feet 26 can include a pliable material (38 in FIG. 3) attached thereto. The pliable material can aid in providing a pliable interface between the support feet and the drain pan. In addition, the support feet 26 or legs 25 can include one or more spacers 50 coupled thereto. The spacers can be formed of a pliable material that also aids in providing a compliant interface between the drain tile support 20 and the drain pan 12. The spacers 50 can also serve to establish and maintain a precise gap or opening (36 in FIGS. 3 and 4) between the drain tile 24 and the adjacent surface tiles 30. Maintaining a consistent gap importantly allows a consistent area through which liquids can flow past the drain tile 24 and to the underlying drainage system.

In one aspect of the invention, the upper surface 22 of the drain tile support 20 can include a bondable interface 23 attached thereto. The bondable interface can aid in providing an improved bonding interface between the drain tile and the upper surface of the drain tile support. The bondable interface can be formed of a variety of materials, such as a bondable fleece, or the like. As shown in FIG. 3, the bondable fleece an also be coupled to the flanges 37 to extend beneath the surface tiles 30 (and likely be coupled to additional bondable fleece applied floor-wide beyond the drainage installation).

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 5, in one aspect of the invention, the assembly can include at least one installation block 44, which can be sized to fit within an opening defined by the interior face 18 of the drain pan wall 16. The installation block can be operable to allow surface tiles to be abutted thereagainst whilst installing the surface tiles upon the surface adjacent the drain pan. In one aspect of the invention, a plurality of installation blocks can be provided, each slidable along a length of the drain pan. While not so required, the plurality of installation blocks can collectively substantially fill the entire space defined by the drain pan.

The installation blocks can ensure that the gap 36 that is intended to be created between the drain tile 24 and adjacent surface tiles 30 is as accurately controlled as possible. All a tile installer need do to ensure the gap is correct is install the installation blocks within the drain pan, and then abut the adjacent surface tiles (as well as any grout that is used) against the installation blocks while they are in place in the drain pan. Once the grout and/or mortar used to install the tiles is cured, the installation blocks can be easily removed, leaving a very clean and well-defined edge that forms one side of the gap or opening 36.

In addition to the structural components discussed above, the present invention also provides a method of providing drainage for a tile installation without the use of a visible drain grate. The method can includes coupling an elongate drain pan to a drain fitting within a drain area of a tile installation, the drain pan including i) an at least partially horizontal support surface; and ii) a drain pan wall having an interior face. A plurality of surface tiles can be installed upon a surface adjacent the drain pan, the plurality of surface tiles defining a perimeter area that adjoins the drain area. At least a portion of some of the surface tiles can extend over the drain pan wall to abut or overhang a plane extending upwardly from the interior face of the drain pan wall. An elongate drain tile support can be fitted within the drain pan, the drain tile support including an upper surface to which at least one drain tile can be coupled, and at least one support leg extending downwardly from the upper surface and restable upon the support surface of the drain pan. The at least one drain tile can be sized so as to create a gap between lateral edges of the drain tile and adjacent surface tiles to allow drainage of liquid through the gap and into the drain fitting.

The method can further include temporarily fitting one or more installation blocks into an opening defined by the interior face of the drain pan wall, and abutting the surface tiles against the one or more installation blocks while installing the surface tiles adjacent the drain pan. The installation block or blocks can extend upwardly substantially coplanar with a plane defined by the interior face of the drain pan wall. In one embodiment of the invention, a plurality of installation blocks can be fit into the opening defined by the interior face. The installation block or blocks can be slidable along a length of the drain pan.

In accordance with the method, the drain tile can be located on a lateral edge of the tile installation, and adjacent surface tiles can define a single slope directed toward a gap defined between edges of the drain tile and edges of adjacent surface tiles.

It is to be understood that the above-referenced arrangements are illustrative of the application for the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements can be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention while the present invention has been shown in the drawings and described above in connection with the exemplary embodiments(s) of the invention. It will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications can be made without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth in the examples.