Title:
Stone and ceramic trim units
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A trim component system, each trim component including at least one tile adhered to a backing member. The tile may be natural stone, synthetic stone, or ceramic material. In one embodiment, three trim components are present as a fireplace surround.



Inventors:
Backowski, Marc W. (Blaine, MN, US)
Application Number:
09/883146
Publication Date:
05/02/2002
Filing Date:
06/15/2001
Assignee:
BACKOWSKI MARC W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F19/00; E04F19/04; (IPC1-7): E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, CHI Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON THUENTE PEDERSEN, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A trim component, comprising: a plurality of tiles; and a backing member attached to the plurality of tiles, the backing member sufficiently rigid to support said plurality of tiles in a substantially vertical orientation.

2. The trim component of claim 1, in which said trim component is configured as a fireplace surround component.

3. The trim component of claim 1, in which the backing member is substantially flexible.

4. The trim component of claim 1, in which the backing member has a backing member width and the plurality of tiles has a tile width, the backing member width less than the tile width.

5. The trim component of claim 1, in which the backing member has a length and the plurality of tiles has a tile length, the backing member length being longer than the tile length.

6. The trim component of claim 1, in which the backing member comprises a combustible material.

7. The trim component of claim 1, in which the backing member comprises a noncombustible material.

8. The trim component of claim 1, in which said plurality of tiles comprises a material selected from synthetic stone, natural stone, and ceramics

9. The trim component of claim 1, in which said plurality of tiles comprises natural stone.

10. The trim component of claim 1, in which said plurality of tiles comprises marble, granite, slate, limestone, or sandstone.

11. A trim system, comprising: a plurality of trim components, each trim component comprising a plurality of tiles and a backing member attached to said plurality of tiles, each said backing member sufficiently rigid to support the plurality of tiles in a substantially vertical position; and a hinge attached to one of said tiles on each of said trim components.

12. The trim system of claim 11, in which each said backing member is substantially flexible.

13. The trim system of claim 11, in which said trim system is configured as a hearth.

14. The trim system of claim 11, in which the backing member comprises a noncombustible material.

15. The trim system of claim 11, in which each said trim component comprises a plurality of tiles.

16. The trim system of claim 11, in which each of said plurality of tiles comprises a material selected from natural stone, synthetic stone, and ceramics.

17. The trim system of claim 11, in which each of said plurality of tiles comprises natural stone.

18. The trim system of claim 11, in which each of said plurality of tiles comprises a material selected from marble, granite, slate, limestone, and sandstone.

19. A fireplace surround comprising: first and second vertical components, each said first and second vertical component comprising a first tile, a second tile, and a backing member attached to said first and second tiles, each said backing member being sufficiently rigid to support each said tile in a generally vertical orientation, each said backing member comprising an extension longitudinally extending beyond one of said first and second tiles; and a horizontal component comprising a first tile, a second tile, and a backing member attached to the first and second tiles, the backing member being sufficiently rigid to support said first and second tiles in a generally vertical orientation.

20. The fireplace surround of claim 19, further comprising a silicone adhesive adhering the first and second tiles to the backing members.

21. The fireplace surround of claim 19, in which each said first and second vertical component backing member includes an extension extending past one of said first or second tiles.

22. A method of installing a fireplace surround, the fireplace surround comprising first and second vertical components and a horizontal component, each said first and second vertical component comprising a first tile, a second tile, and a backing member attached to said first and second tiles, each said backing member being sufficiently rigid to support each said tile in a generally vertical orientation, each said backing member comprising an extension longitudinally extending beyond one of said first and second tiles; the horizontal component comprising a first tile, a second tile, and a backing member attached to the first and second tiles, the backing member being sufficiently rigid to support said first and second tiles in a generally vertical orientation, the method comprising: applying an adhesive to the first and second vertical component backing members; contacting said first and second vertical components to a surface of a fireplace oppositely and laterally with respect to an opening in the fireplace; applying the adhesive to the horizontal component backing member; and positioning the horizontal component generally horizontally and above said first and second vertical components.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein each said vertical component backing member comprises an extension extending generally laterally beyond one of said first and second tiles, the method further comprising: applying the adhesive to a surface of each said backing extension; and contacting the adhesive and each said backing extension to a surface of said tiles.

24. A method of manufacturing a trim component, comprising: providing a plurality of tile members; and adhering the plurality of tile members to a substantially rigid backing member.

25. The method of claim 24, in which the backing member is dimensioned such that a backing member extension extends longitudinally beyond one of said plurality of tile members after said plurality of tile members is adhered to the backing member.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein the provided plurality of tile members comprises natural stone, synthetic stone, or a ceramic material.

27. The method of claim 24, wherein the provided plurality of tile members is adhered to the backing member with an adhesive.

28. The method of claim 24, wherein the provided plurality of tile members is adhered to the backing member with a silicone adhesive.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119 (e) to, and hereby incorporates by reference, U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/213,045, filed Jun. 21, 2000.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates to building materials and, in particular, this invention relates to stone and ceramic trim pieces.

[0004] 2. Background of the Invention

[0005] Stone or ceramic tile pieces are desirable and preferable as trim in many construction applications. These trim pieces are desired for their aesthetic qualities and for their low maintenance requirements. Some applications in which stone or ceramic trim pieces are used include fireplace surrounds, hearths, and trim for doors, windows, and ceiling borders.

[0006] Installing stone or ceramic trim pieces has previously required a skilled artisan or mason and has included preparing a surface, spreading an adhesive over the surface, and placing each individual trim piece in the adhesive. If ceramic tiles are being installed, grout or mortar is also usually applied between each piece. These labor requirements add considerably to the cost of trim of this nature. Moreover, the time required is often an additional burden to those in the construction industry.

[0007] There is then a need for a stone or ceramic trim which is easily and quickly installed. There is a particular need for a stone or ceramic trim which is easily and quickly installed, but which appears to have been installed piece-by-piece using traditional methods.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] This invention substantially meets the aforementioned needs of the industry by providing a stone or ceramic trim component which is easily and quickly installed, can be shipped with a minimum of breakage, and resembles units which are installed piece-by-piece using traditional methods.

[0009] In one embodiment the present trim unit includes several tiles attached to a backing member. The backing member is sufficiently rigid to support the tiles in a substantially vertical orientation when the trim unit is installed on a vertical surface such as a fireplace or wall. The tiles and backing member may be attached to an adhesive such as silicone. Adhesives of this nature provide attachment yet absorb shocks encountered during shipping and handling, thereby minimizing tile breakage. Adhesives of this nature also provide attachment when the backing member is bent or twisted during installation.

[0010] Another embodiment of the present trim unit is a fireplace surround including two vertical components and a horizontal component. Each vertical and horizontal component has one or more tiles and a backing member. One end of the backing member may extend beyond the tiles. The backing member is attached to the tiles with a flexible adhesive. The backing member may be sufficiently resilient to be bent or twisted during installation without its original shape being permanently altered. The flexible adhesive absorbs shocks encountered during shipping and handling to minimize tile breakage. The flexible adhesive further adheres the tiles to the backing member when the backing member is being bent or twisted during installation. During installation the vertical components are adhered to the fireplace by an adhesive and the horizontal component is positioned and adhered above the vertical components by adhering the vertical component backing member extensions to the horizontal component tiles and further adhering the horizontal component backing members to the fireplace.

[0011] It is an advantage of the present trim unit that it is easily and quickly installed, yet resembles trim which has been installed piece-by-piece using more traditional methods of the prior art.

[0012] It is another advantage of the present trim unit that it presents a multi-tiled exterior in certain embodiments.

[0013] It is yet another advantage of the present trim unit that it minimizes breakage sustained due to shocks encountered during shipping and handling.

[0014] It is still another advantage of the present trim unit that it minimizes breakage sustained by twisting and bending during installation.

[0015] It is still yet another advantage of the present trim unit that the tile pieces will constantly be installed in a desired respective orientation, such as being flush and aligned.

[0016] Additional objects, advantages, and features of various embodiments of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a first embodiment of three of the present trim units;

[0018] FIG. 2 is a second embodiment of the present trim units; and

[0019] FIG. 3 is a third embodiment of the present trim unit.

[0020] It is understood that the above-described figures are only illustrative of the present invention and are not contemplated to limit the scope thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0021] Any references to such relative terms as front and back, right and left, top and bottom, upper and lower, horizontal and vertical, or the like, are intended for convenience of description and are not intended to limit the present invention or its components to any one positional or spatial orientation. All dimensions of the components in the attached figures may vary with a potential design and the intended use of an embodiment of the invention without departing from the scope of the invention.

[0022] Referring to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the present trim unit is depicted generally at 100 and includes respective first and second vertical components 102 and 104 and a horizontal component 106. Each component 102, 104, and 106 further includes a backing member 108, 110, and 112, respectively. Attached to each of these backing members is at least one (e.g., four) tile 116. If the components 102, 104, and 106 are to be used as a fireplace surround or as a door or window trim, an extension 118 and 120 may be present in the vertical backing members 108 and 110. The extensions 118 and 120 extend past the tiles 116 and are used during installation as more fully explained below. As can be seen from, e.g., FIG. 1, the tile members 116 are always in a desired orientation, e.g., flush and aligned, when mounted on the present backing member. In this embodiment the backing members are longer and narrower than the combined length and width of the tiles.

[0023] In this embodiment, the backing members 108, 110, and 112 are made from materials sufficiently rigid to provide the necessary degree of support, yet which are somewhat flexible. Suitable materials for the backing members include steel, aluminum, wood, and synthetic resins. Steel and aluminum (or other noncombustible materials) are preferred in situations where the present invention is to be installed as a surround in a fireplace in which wood or other combustible materials will be burned. Wood (or other combustible materials) and synthetic resins might be suitable for backing members when the fireplace is ornamental or generates minimum amounts of heat. In one embodiment, the present backing members are sufficiently rigid to support the present tiles when mounted in a substantially vertical orientation, e.g., on a fireplace or wall. The flexibility of one embodiment of the present backing member enables the present tile units to be shipped by standard providers with eliminated or greatly reduced breakage. This flexibility also assists builders during installation when some degree of bending, twisting, or other torsional forces are applied. During installation, this flexibility allows these forces to be applied to the present trim unit without cracking the tiles, dislodging the tiles from the backing members, or permanently contorting (bending or twisting) the backing members. In the present embodiment, the tiles 116 are affixed to the backing members with a nonrigid, somewhat flexible adhesive, such as silicone. Adhesives such as silicones are desirable because they can accommodate the bending and twisting during installation and the shocks encountered during shipment, yet still adhere the backing member to the tiles, and prevent the tiles from being dislodged from the backing members, and from being cracked or broken. While silicones are disclosed as a suitable adhesive, a person of ordinary skill in the art will readily comprehend other suitable adhesives and methods of attachment.

[0024] The first embodiment 100 may be installed as a fireplace surround by applying an adhesive such as silicone to the exposed rear surfaces 132 and 134 of the backing members 108 and 110 and to an opposite surface 136 and 138 of each longitudinal extension 118 and 120. The components 102 and 104 are positioned at desired locations, e.g. proximate lateral margins of the fireplace opening, and held in place until the adhesive sets up sufficiently. The horizontal component 106 is then mounted above the vertical components 104 and 106, wherein the adhesive on the extensions 118 and 120 is pressed against the rear surfaces 142 of the tiles 116 and wherein the bottom surface 144 of the backing member 112 rests against top surfaces 146 and 148 of backing members 108 and 110. In some cases the positioned components are secured in place, e.g, with clamps, until the adhesive sets up sufficiently. Because the tiles 116 are prepositioned on the backing members, the tiles are always in a desired orientation, e.g., flush and aligned. Moreover, because the backing members may have uniform thicknesses, the tiles on each component will be flush as well.

[0025] Referring to FIG. 2, a second embodiment of the present trim unit is shown generally at 150 and includes a bracket 152 and a backing member, such as an insert 156. At least one tile 116 is secured to the insert 156, e.g., with silicone adhesive. To avoid exposing the bracket and insert after installation, the tile 116 may laterally extend past the insert 156 as indicated in phantom. During installation, the bracket 152 is secured in place by using fasteners such as screws, nails, or suitable adhesives known to the art. An excess of adhesive is then applied in each cavity 158 and 160 of the insert 156. The tile 116 is then pressed against the insert 156 and held in place until the adhesive sets up. The insert 156 is then slidably mated within the bracket 152 by slidably contacting surfaces 160 and 162. A gap may be present between the bracket 152 and the insert 156 after the bracket 152 and insert 156 are mated. If present, the gap may be filled with an adhesive to further secure the insert 156 in place. The bracket 152 and insert 156 may be constructed from aluminum, steel, suitable synthetic resins, wood or the like. The choice of materials is determined by such considerations as price, weight, and whether the fireplace will be used to burn wood or will be ornamental.

[0026] A third embodiment of the present invention is depicted in FIG. 3 as a trim system 200 and includes trim components 202 and 204. Each component 202 and 204 has at least one (e.g., four) tile 116 affixed to a backing member 206 by methods and materials described above. The components 202 are pivotally connected by one or more hinges 210, which may be attached to the tiles 116 by a silicone adhesive. The hinges 210 may have substantially the same thickness as the backing members 206 to provide further support to the tiles 116 when the trim system has been installed. The hinges 210 allow the embodiment 200 to be shipped in a folded position. The embodiment 200 can then be pivoted to an unfolded position as depicted in FIG. 3 for installation. The hinges 210 can be made from metal, synthetic resins, or from flexible materials such as leather or suitable polymers. One suitable use of the trim system is a predimensioned, prefabricated fireplace hearth. Such a hearth can be easily and economically shipped in the folded position, perhaps with a shock absorbing member, such as foam runner, between the otherwise contacting tiles. During installation, the hearth is unfolded, positioned in front of the fireplace, and secured in position with an adhesive as described above.

[0027] By way of illustration and not limitation, suitable materials for the tiles 116 of the present invention include natural stone, synthetic stone, and ceramics. Natural stone materials include limestone, marble, slate, sandstone, and granite. Synthetic stone materials suitable for some embodiments include Granerex™ and Silestone™. Granerex™ can be obtained from DuPont. Silestone™ can be obtained from Cosenlino, U.S.A.

[0028] Various indicia (not shown) may be formed on the surface of the present tiles, e.g., by acid etching. These indicia may include reproductions of works of art, the builder's or owner's logo, floral patterns, or the like. These indicia could further enhance the esthetic appeal of the present trim units and/or make the present trim units more harmonious with anticipated surroundings.

[0029] Because numerous modifications of this invention may be made without departing from the spirit thereof, the scope of the invention is not to be limited to the embodiments illustrated and described. Rather, the scope of the invention is to be determined by the appended claims and their equivalents.