Title:
Building block systems and methods of assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Building block systems are provided. An embodiment of a building block system includes a first preformed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block. Methods and other systems also are provided.



Inventors:
Neel, David P. (Stone Mountain, GA, US)
Application Number:
10/085879
Publication Date:
09/05/2002
Filing Date:
02/28/2002
Assignee:
NEEL DAVID P.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/315, 52/592.6, 52/604
International Classes:
E04C1/39; E04B2/02; (IPC1-7): E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
AMIRI, NAHID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS, KAYDEN, HORSTEMEYER & RISLEY, L.L.P. (Atlanta, GA, US)
Claims:

Therefore, having thus described the invention, at least the following is claimed:



1. A building block system for assembling a structure, said building block system comprising: a first pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising: a second block adapted to engage said first preformed, monolithic block.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein said second block defines an attachment channel formed in a lower portion thereof, and wherein said first pre-formed, monolithic block includes an attachment layer extending upwardly from an upper surface thereof, said attachment channel of said second block being sized and shaped to be received about at least a portion of said attachment layer to restrict lateral movement of said second block with respect to said first pre-formed, monolithic block when said second block is stacked on top of said first pre-formed, monolithic block.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein said second block is another pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior thereof.

5. The system of claim 2, wherein said second block is a finishing block having an outer periphery that extends beyond and overhangs at least a portion of an outer periphery of the first pre-formed, monolithic block.

6. The system of claim 2, wherein said first pre-formed, monolithic block and said second block engage each other to form a structure exhibiting an appearance of being formed of multiple separate media attached together with mortar.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein said first pre-formed, monolithic block is formed of cement.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein said indicia of media are indicia of bricks.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein said indicia of media are indicia of rocks.

10. A building block system for assembling a structure, said building block system comprising: a first foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion, said first foundation block comprising multiple layers, said layers comprising: a first media layer being disposed toward said bottom portion of said first foundation block, said first media layer defining at least a portion of a first attachment channel; a first attachment layer extending from said first media layer toward said top portion of said first foundation block, said first attachment layer being sized and shaped to enable insertion of at least a portion of said first attachment layer within said first attachment channel.

11. The system of claim 10, further comprising: a second foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion, said second foundation block comprising multiple layers, said layers comprising: a second media layer being disposed toward said bottom portion of said second foundation block, said second media layer defining at least a portion of a second attachment channel; a second attachment layer extending from said second media layer toward said top portion of said second foundation block, said second attachment layer being sized and shaped to enable insertion of at least a portion of said first attachment layer within said second attachment channel.

12. The system of claim 11, further comprising: a bonding agent for fixing said second foundation block to said first foundation block.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein said first foundation block further comprises: a first mortar layer disposed between said first media layer and said first attachment layer, said first mortar layer exhibiting an outer periphery that is inset with respect to an outer periphery of at least a portion of said first media layer.

14. The system of claim 10, further comprising: a finishing block defining an attachment channel, said attachment channel being sized and shaped to receive at least a portion of said first attachment layer of said first foundation block.

15. A method for assembling a building block system, said method comprising: providing a first foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion, said first foundation block comprising multiple layers, said layers comprising: a media layer being defined by a first set of dimensions, said media layer being disposed toward said bottom portion of said first foundation block; an attachment layer being defined by a second set of dimensions, said attachment layer extending from said media layer toward said top portion of said first foundation block, a portion of said second set of dimensions defining said attachment layer being less than a portion of said first set of dimensions defining said media layer; and an attachment channel inset in a surface of said media layer opposing a surface of said media layer from which said attachment layer extends, said attachment channel being defined by dimensions substantially corresponding to said second set of dimensions defining said attachment layer; providing a second foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion, said second foundation block comprising multiple layers, said layers comprising: a media layer being defined by a first set of dimensions, said media layer being disposed toward said bottom portion of said second foundation block; an attachment layer being defined by a second set of dimensions, said attachment layer extending from said media layer toward said top portion of said second foundation block, a portion of said second set of dimensions defining said attachment layer being less than a portion of said first set of dimensions defining said media layer; and an attachment channel inset in a surface of said media layer opposing a surface of said media layer from which said attachment layer extends, said attachment channel being defined by dimensions substantially corresponding to said second set of dimensions defining said attachment layer; engaging said attachment channel of said second foundation block with said attachment layer of said first foundation block.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising: bonding said attachment layer of said first foundation block to said attachment channel of said second foundation block.

17. The method of claim 15, further comprising: providing a finishing block having an attachment channel disposed therein, wherein said attachment channel of said finishing block substantially corresponds to said attachment layer of said second foundation block; engaging said attachment channel of said finishing block with said attachment layer of said second foundation block.

18. A method for forming a structure comprising: providing a first pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block; providing a second block; and dry-stacking the first pre-formed, monolithic block and the second block to form a structure exhibiting an appearance of being formed of multiple separate media attached together with mortar.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the second block is another pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior thereof.

20. The method of claim 18, wherein the second block is a finishing block having an outer periphery that extends beyond and overhangs at least a portion of an outer periphery of the first pre-formed, monolithic block.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims priority to copending U.S. provisional application entitled, “EZ-STACK BUILDING BLOCKS,” having Application Serial No. 60/273,024, filed Mar. 2, 2001, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is generally related to construction materials and methods and, more particularly, is related to a building block systems and methods of assembly.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

[0003] Various structures, such as mailboxes, planters, and walls are constructed of heavy materials, e.g., bricks or rocks, that are set in mortar. Such structures are typically constructed by stacking the media one piece at a time in the mortar, while the mortar is wet and pasty.

[0004] During this method of construction, each piece of media is positioned by hand into a desired location. Thus, each piece of media must be placed and properly aligned in the wet mortar. As is known, positioning of the media can be difficult, especially where asymmetric media, such as rocks, are used.

[0005] After media has been positioned in mortar, additional wet, pasty mortar typically is placed between adjacently positioned media and on top of the media. This tends to rigidify the structure and enables additional media to be placed. Additionally, during the process of positioning, or “laying,” the media, the mortar typically is given an opportunity to dry to prevent the structure from collapsing as a result of excessive media weight bearing on the wet mortar. Also, excess mortar typically is removed from the media and mortar structure before the mortar has an opportunity to dry completely.

[0006] As is known, the aforementioned “media and mortar” construction process is labor intensive. Additionally, waiting for the mortar to dry during the construction process, as well as the need for manual labor makes this a time consuming and relatively expensive process. The process also tends to waste materials, such as excess mortar that is removed from the structure.

[0007] Based on the foregoing, it should be appreciated that there is a need for improved systems and methods that address the aforementioned and/or other perceived deficiencies and inadequacies of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention provides building systems and methods for assembling media and mortar structures. In this regard, an embodiment of such a system includes a first pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block.

[0009] Another embodiment of the system includes a first foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion. The first foundation block has multiple layers. The multiple layers include at least a media layer and an attachment layer. The media layer is defined by a first set of dimensions and is located toward the bottom portion of the first foundation block. The attachment layer is defined by a second set of dimensions and extends from the media layer toward the top portion of the first foundation block. An attachment channel is inset in a surface of the media layer opposing a surface of the media layer from which the attachment layer extends.

[0010] The present invention can also be viewed as providing methods for assembling the building block system. In this regard, one embodiment of such a method, among others, can be broadly summarized by the following steps: providing a first pre-formed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block; providing a second block; and dry-stacking the first pre-formed, monolithic block and the second block to form a structure exhibiting an appearance of being formed of multiple separate media attached together with mortar.

[0011] Another method includes: providing a first foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion and multiple layers; and providing a second foundation block having a top portion and a bottom portion and multiple layers. The multiple layers of the first foundation block and the second foundation block are at least a media layer and an attachment layer. Each finishing block has a media layer that is defined by a first set of dimensions and is disposed toward the bottom portion the foundation block. Each finishing block also includes an attachment layer that is defined by a second set of dimensions and extends from the media layer toward the top portion of the foundation block. An attachment channel is provided in at least the second foundation block. The second foundation block is stacked on top of the first foundation block such that the attachment layer of the first foundation block is aligned and engaged with the attachment channel of the second foundation block.

[0012] Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present invention will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the present invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] Many aspects of the invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. Moreover, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

[0014] FIG. 1 is a partially-exploded side view of a building block system of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 2A is a side view of a foundation block of the building block system illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0016] FIG. 2B is a bottom view of the foundation block illustrated in FIG. 2A.

[0017] FIG. 2C is a top view of the foundation block illustrated in FIG. 2A.

[0018] FIG. 3 is a side view of another embodiment of a foundation block of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a structure constructed using an embodiment of the building block system of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0020] Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates exemplar components of an embodiment of a building block system 10 of the present invention. The building block system 10 of FIG. 1 includes foundation blocks, e.g., blocks 12, 12′, 12″, that are configured to be stackable with each other in an interlocking manner. By way of example, block 12′ is adapted to be stacked between block 12 and block 12″. An optional finishing block also is depicted, which is adapted to be stacked on an uppermost one of the foundation blocks. In this case, the finishing block engages foundation block 12″.

[0021] Foundation blocks of the invention can be provided in various shapes and sizes, so that structures of various shapes and sizes can be formed. For example, the foundation blocks can be generally rectangular, as viewed from above (shown in FIGS. 2B-2C), triangular, circular, asymmetric, or any desired shape. Although rectangularly-shaped foundation blocks will be described herein for ease of description, it should be understood that the principles of the invention set forth herein can be applied to embodiments of other shapes as would be readily apparent to one of skill in the art.

[0022] Referring now to FIGS. 2A-2C, an embodiment of a foundation block 12 of the present invention is illustrated in further detail. As shown in FIG. 2A, foundation block 12 is a multi-level, pre-cast structure that can be formed of cement or other suitable material. Depending upon the particular application, a suitable material may exhibit considerable weigh so that the structure formed can resist tipping over during windy conditions, for example.

[0023] In some embodiments, the entire foundation block is cast using a relatively homogenous material to form each of the levels or layers into a monolithic structure. Alternatively, one or more of the layers could be separately formed and then fixed or bonded together.

[0024] Foundation block 12 is defined by a top portion 16 and a bottom portion 18.

[0025] A media layer 20 is disposed toward the bottom portion 18 of the foundation block 12. The media layer 20 is defined by a first set of dimensions having a length (L), a width (W) and a height (H). The media layer 20 preferably exhibits a decorative appearance. For example, the media layer 20 can exhibit the appearance of a plurality of bricks 21 with mortar 23 arranged between adjacent bricks. It should be understood that the media layer 20 can exhibit virtually any desired appearance, such as rock and mortar (FIG. 3), for example.

[0026] The foundation block of FIGS. 2A-2C also includes a mortar layer 22, which is not included in all embodiments, that is disposed above the media layer 20.

[0027] The mortar layer 22 is defined by a third set of dimensions having a length (Lm), a width (Wm) and a height (Hm). It is the dimensions of the mortar layer 22 are different than the dimensions of the media layer 20, so that the mortar layer may appear inset with respect to an outer periphery of the media layer.

[0028] An attachment layer 24 is disposed above mortar layer 22 toward the top portion 16 of the foundation block 12. Where no mortar layer 22 is included, the attachment layer 24 extends directly from the media layer 20 (see FIG. 3). The attachment layer 24 is defined by a second set of dimensions having a length (La), a width (Wa) and a height (Ha). It is preferable that the length (La) and width (Wa) of the attachment layer 24 are smaller than the length (Lm) and width (Wm) of the mortar layer 22. The height (Ha) of the attachment layer 24 may optionally differ from or be substantially equal to the height (Hm) of the mortar layer 22.

[0029] The foundation block 12 also includes an attachment channel 26 disposed in the media layer 20 toward the bottom portion 18 of the foundation block 12. The attachment channel 26 is defined by a length (Lc), a width (Wc) and a height (Hc). It is preferable that the dimensions of the attachment channel 26 substantially correspond to the first set of dimensions defining the attachment layer 24. So configured, the attachment channel 26 can be engaged by an attachment layer 24 of another foundation block 12. In particular, a top portion 16 of one foundation block 12 can be received by the attachment channel arranged at the bottom portion 18 of another foundation block 12 as the two foundation blocks 12 are stacked.

[0030] As shown in FIG. 1, the building block system 10 can optionally include a finishing block 14. The finishing block 14 is preferably shaped to substantially correspond to the shape of the foundation blocks 12. For example, where the foundation block 12 is rectangular, the finishing block 14 is preferably rectangular. It should be noted, however, that the finishing block 14 can be formed in any shape and need not substantially correspond to a shape of the foundation block(s) 12 with which the finishing block 14 is used.

[0031] The finishing block 14 is defined by a fourth set of dimensions including a length (Lf), a width (Wf) and a height (Hf). The fourth set of dimensions defining the finishing block 14 are preferably at least slightly larger than the first set of dimensions defining the media layer 20 of the foundation block 12. This enables the finishing block to overhang the foundation blocks when stacked.

[0032] In order to promote secure engagement of a finishing block with a foundation block during stacking, the finishing block 14 typically includes an attachment channel 30. The attachment channel 30 can be substantially similar to the attachment channel 26 disposed in the media layer 20. The attachment channel of the finishing block 14 is arranged and configured to engage an attachment layer 24 of a foundation block 12.

[0033] The present invention also provides methods for assembling media and mortar structures. By way of example, one such method includes: providing a preformed, monolithic block exhibiting indicia of media and mortar about at least a portion of the exterior of the monolithic block; providing a second block; and dry-stacking the pre-formed, monolithic block and the second block to form a structure exhibiting an appearance of being formed of multiple separate media attached together with mortar.

[0034] Another method, which involves assembling a media and mortar structure with blocks, such as those depicted in FIG. 1, will now be described in greater detail. In this regard, a first foundation block 12, a second foundation block 12′, a third foundation block 12″, and a finishing block 14 are provided. The first foundation block 12 is placed with the bottom portion 18 of the first foundation block 12 on the surface on which the finished structure is desired to be constructed, such as the ground. The mortar layer 22 and the attachment layer 24 of the first foundation block 12 extend away from a surface of the media layer 22 opposing the surface on which the first foundation block 12 is placed.

[0035] A second foundation block 12′ is aligned with the first foundation block 12 such that the attachment channel 26 disposed in the bottom portion 18 of the second foundation block 12′ engages the attachment layer 24 of the first foundation block 12. The first foundation block 12 and the second foundation block 12′ can, optionally, be bonded together with any acceptable bonding agent. The third foundation block 12″ is aligned with the second foundation block 12′ such that the attachment channel 26 of the third foundation block 12″ engages and receives the attachment layer 24 of the second foundation block 12′. Although three foundation blocks 12, 12′, 12″ are disclosed herein, it should be understood that any number of foundation blocks 12 can be included in the system 10 and assembled in a manner substantially similar to the method disclosed herein. After assembling the desired number of foundation blocks 12 an optional finishing block 14 is aligned over the stack of foundation blocks 12. The attachment channel 30 of the finishing block 14 engages and receives the attachment layer 24 of the upper most foundation block 12 (in the illustrated example, the third foundation block 12″). The finishing block 14 can optionally be bonded to the upper most foundation block 12″ with any suitable bonding agent.

[0036] Where the media layer 20 has an appearance other than the multiple brick configuration, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-2C, the mortar layer 22 may not be necessary. FIG. 3 illustrates one such example. As shown in FIG. 3, a rock and mortar configuration does not require a distinct inset mortar layer above the media layer for aesthetic accuracy. As such, the foundation block 12 may not need a separate mortar layer 22.

[0037] FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplar finished product constructed in the manner described above implementing the building block system 10 of the present invention. The foundation blocks 12, 12′, 12″, and finishing block 14 exhibit a substantially square shape. Note, the foundation blocks 12, 12′, 12″ can include a hollow space in the center, that may be suitable for accommodating the placement of plants, for example, or can be solid, for example. Similarly, the finishing block 14 can either include a hollow space in the center or can be solid.

[0038] It should be emphasized that the above-described embodiments of the present invention are merely possible examples of implementations merely set forth for a clear understanding of the principles of the invention. Many variations and modifications may be made to the above-described embodiment(s) of the invention without departing substantially from the spirit and principles of the invention. All such modifications and variations are intended to be included herein within the scope of this disclosure and the present invention and protected by the following claims.