Title:
Solid-appearing fence system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fencing system that has the appearance of having solid columns and panels made of concrete, brick, rock, or stucco, yet is substantially less expensive to construct. The system includes a plurality of hollow columns and hollow wall members, both with interior cages covered with thin, relatively inexpensive panels. The panels may be easily attached to the exposed surfaces of the interior cages. In one embodiment, the panels are made of concrete, which may be exposed or are sufficiently durable to be covered with soil-based materials, such as brick, rock, or stucco thereby creating the appearance that the entire fence is made of these materials. In another embodiment, the panels are made of lightweight foam with an aluminum sheet packing. The interior cage of the column includes a plurality of vertical legs, which during construction, are embedded into a concrete footing. The interior cage of the wall member is disposed and connected in an end-to-end manner to the interior cages of the two adjacent columns. A decorative cap or lighting fixture may be attached to the top of each column, and moldings may be attached to the sides and bottom edges to provide a more finished, attractive appearance. Also, decorative molding or bars may be added to the panels.



Inventors:
Hazan, Avshalom (Kirkland, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/046002
Publication Date:
05/16/2002
Filing Date:
10/27/2001
Assignee:
HAZAN AVSHALOM
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/16; (IPC1-7): E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARCIA, ERNESTO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BDR Construction (Kirland, WA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



17. A fencing system, comprising: a. at least one hollow column including a vertically aligned interior cage made of at least four longitudinally aligned legs and a plurality of cross-members, said legs having distal ends and being sufficiently spaced apart to create an longitudinally aligned unobstructed space inside said column; b. at least one wall member including an interior cage perpendicularly aligned and attached to said interior cage located inside said column, said interior cage formed in said wall member including at least four longitudinal members sufficiently spaced apart to form an unobstructed space inside said wall member; c. an attachment means to securely attach interior cage located inside said wall member to said interior cage located inside said columns, and; d. a plurality of thin panels made of weather resistant material attached to said interior cage of said column and said interior cage of said wall member, each said panel having a realistic outer surface;

18. The fencing system, as recited in claim 17, wherein said distal ends are embedded in the supporting soil to hold said column in an upright position.

19. The fencing system, as recited in claim 18, wherein said panels are made of concrete.

20. The fencing system, as recited in claim 18, wherein said legs have uncovered distal ends that are embedded into the soil when the column is oriented into an upright position.

21. The fencing system as recited in claim 18, wherein said panels are made of lightweight aerated concrete.

22. The fencing system, as recited in claim 18, wherein said panels are made of foam filled concrete.

23. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, further including an outer brick layer placed over said outer surface of said panels.

24. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, further including a rock layer placed over said outer surface of said panels.

25. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, further including a stucco layer placed over the outer surface of said panels.

26. The fencing system as recited in claim 18, wherein said panels are made of foam material.

27. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, wherein said concrete is aerated.

28. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, wherein said concrete is partially filled with foam particles.

29. The fencing system as recited in claim 19, further including a plurality of clips extending from the surface of said panel used to engage said interior cages of said column and said wall member.

30. A fencing system, comprising: a. a column including an interior cage made of a plurality of longitudinally aligned legs partially covered with thin concrete panels, said legs being spaced apart to create an unobstructed longitudinally aligned space inside said column and said legs extending downward below said panels to be embedded into the soil to hold the column in an upright position; b. a concrete layer formed inside said interior cage and adjacent to the soil and between said legs to hold said column in an upright position, and; c. at least one wall member attached at one end to said column, said wall member including an interior cage connected to said columns, and a plurality of thin concrete panels formed over said interior cage to form a hollow structure; and,

31. The fencing system, as recited in claim 30, further include a leg member attached to said wall member to attach said wall member to the soil.

32. The fencing system as recited in claim 31, further including a layer of concrete disposed around said leg member to hold said leg member in a vertical position in the soil.

33. The fencing system as recited in claim 31, further including a removable cap attached to said column.

34. The fencing system as recited in claim 31, further including a brick layer placed over the outer surface of said panels.

35. The fencing system as recited in claim 31, further including a rock layer placed over the outer surface of said panels.

36. The fencing system as recited in claim 31, further including a stucco layer placed over the outer surface of said panels.

37. A method for constructing a fence, comprising the following steps: a. constructing at least one column that includes an interior cage covered with a plurality of panels, said cage including an unobstructed space formed therein with a plurality of longitudinally aligned legs with distal ends to be embedded into the soil to hold the column in an upright position over the soil; b. pour a thin layer of concrete into the column to sufficiently cover the soil and a lower portion of said interior cage, c. attaching a cap to said column, and; d. attaching a wall member to said column.

Description:

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part application based upon utility patent application (Ser. No. 09/499,935) filed on Feb. 8, 2000, which was based on provisional patent application (Ser. No. 60/153,311) filed on Sep. 10, 1999.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention pertains to wall or fence systems and more particularly, to wall or fence systems that have an overall appearance of being made of durable, weather-resistant, and soil-based material, such as rock, concrete, brick, or stucco.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] It is common to construct fences around residences for privacy and security reasons. Typically, such fences are set along a boundary line of a residence, and are comprised of a plurality of vertically aligned, spaced-apart, wooden posts set in holes partially filled with concrete. Two horizontally aligned, wooden rails are disposed between the posts, and a plurality of vertically aligned boards is attached between the two rails to form the fence structure. Such fences are relatively quick, easy, and simple to construct for most homeowners.

[0006] Many homeowners find solid fences made entirely of durable, weather-resistant, soil-based materials, such as concrete, brick, rock or stucco more appealing and durable. Unfortunately, with current fence or wall designs using these materials, the costs for labor and the soil-based materials is prohibiting. While, many “do-it-yourself” homeowners build wood fences, most homeowners will not build fences made of soil-based materials because they do not possess the required masonry skills.

[0007] What is needed is an alternative fencing system that has the appearance of a fence made entirely of soil-based materials, such as concrete, brick, rock, or stucco, and is substantially less expensive than a typical fence made of these materials. What is also needed is such a fencing system that can be easily constructed by ordinarily skilled homeowners.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] It is an object of the present invention to provide a fencing system that has the appearance of being made entirely of soil-based materials, such as concrete, brick, rock, or stucco.

[0009] It is another object of the present invention to provide such a fencing system that is less expensive to construct than typical fencing systems made entirely of soil-based materials.

[0010] It is a further object of the invention to provide such a fencing system that can be easily constructed by ordinarily skilled homeowners.

[0011] These and other objects of the invention which will become apparent are met by the fencing system disclosed herein comprising a plurality of easy to construct hollow columns and hollow wall members connected together to form a fence structure having an appearance of being made entirely of soil-based materials, such as concrete, brick, rock, or stucco. The columns and wall members have an outer surface that gives the overall impression of a solid fence made entirely of these materials. The cost and labor requirements for constructing the the solid fence system, however, are substantially lower than the costs and labor requirements for typical fences made entirely of these materials.

[0012] Each column and wall member includes an interior cage covered with a plurality of thin panels. The interior cage of each column includes a plurality of longitudinally aligned legs and a plurality of transversely aligned cross-members spaced apart and connected together to form a lightweight, supporting skeleton framework square or rectangular in cross-section. When panels are attached to the interior cage, an unobstructed, longitudinally aligned space is formed inside the column in which wiring, electrical conduit, plumbing pipes, light fixtures, mail boxes, etc. may be inserted. During assembly, the distal ends of the legs are uncovered. Because the column is lightweight, it may be easily lifted and forced downward into the soil, thereby embedded the distal ends of the legs directly into the soil. An optional small layer of concrete may be poured into the column covering the soil and the lower section of the cage to add a counterweight.

[0013] The interior cage in each wall member includes a plurality of longitudinal members and a plurality of cross-members. During construction, the interior cage is oriented so that the longitudinal members are horizontally aligned and perpendicularly aligned to the longitudinally aligned legs of the adjacent column. The end of the interior cage of the wall member is then connected at one side of the interior cage on an adjacent column. The cross-members are connected to the opposite ends and evenly spaced apart over the longitudinal members to form a square or rectangular-shaped framework with an unobstructed center space.

[0014] The thin panels are made of lightweight, weather resistant material are easily attached to the sides of the interior cages visible to an outside viewer. In one embodiment, the panels are made of thin slabs of concrete commonly known as concrete board with finished or unfinished outer surfaces. In another embodiment, an outer layer of brick, rock or stucco is applied over the outer surface of the concrete board. In a third embodiment, the panels are made of foam with an outer surface having three-dimensional features and texture that simulate concrete, brick, rock or stucco and a full length, inner sheet of aluminum. In a fourth embodiment, the panels are made of lightweight foam or aerated concrete with a plurality of integrally attached clips extended from the inside surface. The clips are sufficiently spaced apart and designed to easily engage the horizontal members on either the column or wall member by slightly lifting the panel and allowing it to fall so that the clips engage the horizontal members.

[0015] The columns and wall members are designed to be easily constructed on-site or offsite. When fully constructed, the columns may be easily lifted and moved to its desired position by one or two individuals. The columns are designed to be easily attached to the soil by forcing the distal ends of the legs downward into the soil. Depending on the amount of wind or lateral forces to be exerted to the column, an optional layer of concrete may then be poured into the bottom end of the column covering the exposed soil and lower end of the interior cage to be provided weight. If the column needs to be moved, the layer of concrete can be easily chipped away so that it may be easily lifted by hand while fully assembled to its new location.

[0016] Because each the column and wall members are hollow electrical boxes, light fixtures, electrical and plumbing conduit, and mail boxes may be easily installed. Optional removable caps may also be used on the columns and wall members that provide greater access to their center spaces. Also, because the panels are made of thin concrete they are very durable, weather resistant, capable of being painted or covered with other layers (i.e brick, rock, stucco, paint), easily cut-to-size, and easily replaced or repaired with concrete patching material, retrofit construction is possible. Optional light fixtures and moldings may be attached to the top, sides and bottom surfaces of the columns and wall members to provide a more finished, attractive appearance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0017] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the modular fence system disclosed herein.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a section of the interior cages used to construct an adjoining column and panel.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a perspective view with moldings and cap removed and optional brick or stucco layers partially applied over the outer surface.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a wall member with the moldings and elongated cap removed and optional stucco and rock layers partially applied thereto.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of a concrete panel partially covered with an outer layer of bricks.

[0022] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the wall member covered with foam panels.

[0023] FIG. 7 is a sectional side elevational view of a snap connector used to attach a foam panel to the interior cage.

[0024] FIG. 8 is a partial, side elevational view of the invention showing the columns placed in the footing.

[0025] FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the invention showing the wall member connected to the column.

[0026] FIG. 10 is a side elevational view showing the support leg attached to the wall member.

[0027] FIG. 11 is a partial rear elevational view of a column with a third embodiment of the panel with clips extending from its inside surface, shown attached to the horizontal cross-members on the column.

[0028] FIG. 12 is a partial side elevational view of the column shown in FIG. 11.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

[0029] Referring to the accompanying FIGS. 1-12, there is shown and described a fencing system 10 comprised of a plurality of hollow columns 12, 12′ (only two shown) and a hollow wall member 32 (only one shown) between them to form a solid-appearing fence structure that is easy and inexpensive to construct and durable.

[0030] The fencing system 10 uses a plurality of columns 12 and wall members 32 each comprising an interior cage 22, 34, respectively, with a plurality of thin panels 29, 60 respectively, made of standard, foam-filled or aerated concrete or foam. Standard concrete panels 29, 60 are sold under the trademark WONDER-BOARD, by Modulars, Inc. of Fairfield, Ohio in {fraction (1/4)} to {fraction (1/2)} inch thickness and are available in various sizes, (24 to 48 inches in width and 24 to 96 inches in height). Such panels typically weight 30 to 60 lbs. Foam-filled or aerated concrete panels measuring {fraction (1/2)} to 1 inch in thickness are widely available in different widths and heights from concrete component manufacturers. Such panels 84 (shown in FIGS. 1 and 12) typically weigh 30 to 50 percent less than standard concrete panels.

[0031] The interior cage 22 of each column 12 includes four longitudinally aligned members 23 which are vertically aligned with their distal ends 23A designed to be embedded directly into the soil as shown in FIG. 8. The interior cage 34 of the wall member 32 is perpendicularly aligned and connected to the column's interior cage 22. The opposite surfaces of the interior cage 34 is connected at one side surface on the interior cage 22. The opposite end of the interior cage 34 may be attached to a second adjacent column 12′, to another structure (not shown) or covered with a panel 60. Panels 29, 60 are securely attached to the sides of the interior cages 22, 34 visible to a view observing the column and wall member with suitable threaded connectors 35.

[0032] In the first embodiment, panels 29, 60 are made of thin concrete with are exposed outer surfaces, thereby making the columns 12 and wall members 32 appear to be a solid structures made of concrete. In other embodiments, an optional layer of brick 65, rock 67, or stucco 69 may be constructed over the outer surfaces of panels 29, 60, as shown in FIGS. 3-4. Removable caps 21 or 42 or lighting fixture (not shown) may be attached to the top of each column 12, or wall member 32, respectively, to create fully enclosed structures. Wood moldings 16, 18, 20, and 38, 40, 44 may also be attached to the sides of the columns 12 and wall members 32, respectively, to provide a more finished, attractive appearance.

[0033] The column's interior cage 22 includes four longitudinal legs 23 and a plurality of transversely aligned cross-members 25. The longitudinal legs 23 and cross-members form a skeleton framework 24, square or rectangular in cross-section with an unobstructed longitudinally aligned space 13 formed therein. A set of four cross-members 25 are perpendicularly aligned and attached to top edge of the legs 23, at the mid-axis of the legs 23 and six to twelve inches from the distal ends 23A of the legs 23. The legs 23 and cross-members 25 are sufficiently spaced apart to create possible side openings 26 into column 12. Suitable connectors (not shown) are used to connect the cross-members 25 to the legs 23 together. In the preferred embodiment, the column 12 measures 12 to 24 inches in width and length, and 24 to 96 inches in height. Also, the distal ends 23A of the legs 23 extend 6 to 18 inches beyond the lower set of four cross-members 25′. During assembly, the column 12 is vertically aligned so the distal ends 23A are embedded into the soil 90 and the lower set of four cross-members 25′ is positioned adjacent to the top surface of the soil 90.

[0034] The interior cage 34 in the wall member 32 includes four longitudinal members 48. At least two sets of four cross-members 50 are perpendicularly aligned and attached to the longitudinal members 48 thereby creating a skeleton framework 49, square and rectangular in cross-section and with an unobstructed longitudinally aligned space 33. In the preferred embodiment, two sets of four cross-members 50 are attached to the ends of the longitudinal members 48 while two additional sets of four cross-members 50 are evenly spaced apart between the two opposite ends.

[0035] Attached to each middle set of cross-members 50 is an optional centrally aligned support leg 53 used to more securely attach the wall member 32 to the soil 90. The support leg 53 includes a horizontally aligned member 56 attached at its opposite ends to the adjacent cross-members 50, as shown in FIG. 10. Aligned vertically and centrally on each member 56 is a vertically aligned member 54, which extends downward from the interior cage 34. Suitable connectors (not shown) are used to connect the cross-members 50 to the longitudinal members 48, to connect the member 56 to the cross-members 50, and to connect the vertically aligned member 54 to the horizontally aligned member 56 and cross-member 50. During construction, the support leg 53 is forced into the soil 90. Optional thin layer of concrete 51 may then be poured into the wall member 32 to add weight. In the preferred embodiment, each wall member 32 measures 4 to 12 inches in width, 12 to 96 inches in height, and 24 to 96 inches in length.

[0036] Shown in FIG. 6 is an alternate wall member 70 in which the interior cage 34 is covered with pre-formed, sculptured panels 72 made of lightweight, thermoplastic foam material. The panels 72 have a sculptured front surface 74 to give the appearance of cement, brick, rock or stucco surfaces as desired. The front surface 74 of the panel 72 may be pigmented or covered with paint. An optional aluminum plate 85 is attached to the back surface of the panels 72 to provide additional support. The panels 72 may also include vertical and horizontal elements 76, 78 intended to represent trim members made of wood (shown), brick, or rock (not shown). In the preferred embodiment, the panels 72 are approximately 1-3 inches thick. The aluminum plate 85 is approximately {fraction (1/8)} to {fraction (1/4)} inch thick and extends the entire length of the panels 72. It should be understood that the panels 72 may also be used to construct the columns 12.

[0037] As shown in FIG. 7, snap connectors 80 may be used to connect the panels 72 to the interior cage 34. Holes 82 also may be pre-drilled into the panels 72 and interior cages 34 to facilitate assembly.

[0038] To construct the fence system 10, the shape, style and location of the fence are first determined. All vegetation is then cleared from the fence line and the soil 90 is approximately leveled. The interior cages 22 and 34 for the column 12 and wall members 32, respectively, are then assembled. The panels 29, 60, or 72 are then attached to the interior cages 22, 34. Next, the columns 12 are lifted and positioned vertically over their desired locations. The columns 12 are then pressed downward so that the distal ends 23A on the legs 23 are embedded into the soil 90. A thin layer of concrete 51 approximately two to four inches think is then poured into the unobstructed space 13 and covers the soil 90 and the lower set of cross-members 25′.

[0039] After the column 12 is assembled and positioned, the end set of four cross members 50 on the wall member 32 is then attached to the interior cage 22 on the column 12. In most situations, the wall member 32 is positioned so that the wall member's longitudinally axis is aligned horizontally. The vertical location of the wall member 32 on he column 12 may be adjusted depending on the style of fence and the terrain. Suitable connectors 80 are used to connect the two interior cages 22, 34 together. If the optional support legs 53, a thin layer of concrete 51 may be poured inside the wall member 32.

[0040] If thin concrete panels 29 and 60 are used, no additional treatment may be required. Alternatively, a brick, rock, or stucco outer layer, 65, 67, and 69, respectively, may be applied as desired directly over the outer surface of the concrete panels 29, 60. If foam panels 72 are used, a stucco layer or paint may be applied over the outer surface 74 thereof.

[0041] As shown in FIG. 1, vertical and horizontal top and bottom molding, 16, 18, and 20, respectively, may be attached to each column 12. The wall member 32 may also include vertical molding 38, top molding 40 and bottom molding 44 that matches or complements the molding 16, 18 and 20 used on the column 12.

[0042] Next, the desired electrical boxes, electrical conduit, light fixtures, plumbing and mail boxes are installed in the column or wall member 32. When installation is completed, removable caps 21, 42, are installed over the column 12 and wall members 32.

[0043] In FIGS. 11 and 12, a third embodiment of a panel 84 is shown which includes a plurality of clips 87 that extend inward from the inside surface 85 to engage a vertical or horizontal member on the column or wall. The clips 87 are spaced apart approximately the same distance (12 to 24 inches) as the longitudinally legs and members, and cross-members. In the preferred embodiment, the clips 87 are leg extensions formed on a wire mesh 88 material commonly used to construct concrete slabs. During assembly, the panel 84 is lifted and positioned in a vertical orientation adjacent to the surface of the column 12 or wall member 32 to be covered. The panel 84 is then lifted and pressed inward so that some or all of the clips 87 may engage the adjacent member. The clips 87 are L-shaped so that gravitational forces hold the panel in place on the horizontal member. Suitable connectors similar to the connectors used with panels 29, 60, 72, may then be used to more securely attach the panels 87 to the column 12 or wall member 32. In the preferred embodiment, panel 87 made of foam-filled or aerated concrete thereby making them 30 to 50 percent lighter in weight and capable of being supported in a vertical position with the clips 87.

[0044] In compliance with the statute, the invention has been described herein in language more or less specific as to structural features. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the specific features shown, since the means and construction shown comprise only some of the preferred embodiments for putting the invention into effect. The invention is therefore claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the legitimate and valid scope of the amended claims, appropriately interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.