Title:
Combination pool ledges
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Pool ledges comprised of two types of material are provided. One material provides structural and rigidity requirements, while another material enhances the pool ledge or adds an additional feature to the ledge. For example, a first material may be metal while a second material is plastic or neoprene, a first material may be hard while a second material is softer (or of a lesser durometer), the first and second materials different materials may provide varying textures and/or varying color schemes, or any combination thereof.



Inventors:
Arignon, Jean Jacques (Richmond, GA, US)
Application Number:
09/897358
Publication Date:
01/02/2003
Filing Date:
07/02/2001
Assignee:
ARIGNON JEAN JACQUES
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/102, 4/506
International Classes:
E04H4/14; (IPC1-7): E02D27/00; E04H4/00; E04H12/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GREEN, CHRISTY MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - East Coast (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pool ledge comprising: (a) a supporting portion comprised of a first material, the first material having particular features; and (b) a second material disposed on the supporting portion, wherein the second material has at least one feature different from the particular features of the first material.

2. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material comprise different durometers.

3. The pool ledge of claim 2, wherein the second material has a softer durometer than the first material.

4. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material comprise different textures.

5. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material are different colors or different shades of the same color.

6. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material is selected from the group consisting of resin, metal, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, acrylic, plastic, and any combination thereof.

7. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the second material is selected from the group consisting of plastic based polymer material, neoprene, monoprene, rubber, foam, gel, copolymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, and any combination thereof.

8. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material comprise different thicknesses.

9. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material are manufactured from a method selected from the group consisting of co-extrusion, post extrusion, co-injection, post-injection, co-attachment and post-attachment, and any combination thereof.

10. The pool ledge of claim 1, wherein the first material and second material are joined by a mechanical attachment, an adhesive attachment, a heating process, pressed, co-extrusion through the same mold, and any combination thereof.

11. An above the ground swimming pool, comprising: (a) a base, (b) a wall; and (c) a ledge disposed on the wall, the ledge comprising: (i) a supporting portion comprised of a first material having particular features; and (ii) a second material disposed on the supporting portion, wherein the second material has at least one feature that is different from the features of the first material.

12. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material comprise different durometers.

13. The pool ledge of claim 12, wherein the second material has a softer durometer than the first material.

14. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material comprise different textures.

15. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material are different colors or different shades of the same color.

16. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material is selected from the group consisting of resin, metal, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, acrylic, plastic, and any combination thereof.

17. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the second material is selected from the group consisting of plastic based polymer material, neoprene, monoprene, rubber, foam, gel, copolymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, and any combination thereof.

18. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material comprise different thicknesses.

19. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material are manufactured from a method selected from the group consisting of co-extrusion, post extrusion, co-injection, post-injection, co-attachment and post-attachment, and any combination thereof.

20. The pool ledge of claim 11, wherein the first material and second material are joined by a mechanical attachment, an adhesive attachment, a heating process, pressed, co-extrusion through the same mold, and any combination thereof.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention generally relates to ledges, and more particularly, to multi-option combination ledges of above-ground swimming pools.

[0003] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0004] The popularity of swimming pools, particularly in residential areas, continues to increase. This increased popularity is based at least in part on the availability of aesthetically appealing above-ground pools, whose durability permits cost-effective purchasing by consumers. Above-ground pools additionally are particularly useful in areas where substantial excavation is either impermissible or undesirable. In densely-populated regions, for example, residential lawns may not be sufficiently large to accommodate the space required for in-ground pools. Moreover, in some cases they may be inadequate to accommodate the equipment necessary to excavate in-ground pools, even if space for such pools exists. Alternatively, above-ground pools may be preferable because of the decreased time typically needed for installation (and, if necessary, removal) or the lesser maintenance requirements and costs often associated with them.

[0005] Above-ground pools are typically constructed of steel, aluminum or molded thermoplastic and typically use the same components regardless of the materials. Ordinarily, the components making up the framework for an above-ground pool include rail sections connected to separate base plates; vertical uprights or posts set on the base plates; coping or ledge sections normally connected together or continuous over the posts; and cap members to cover the joints over the posts. A flexible side retaining wall of sheet metal or relatively thick plastic is typically provided and is held in the rail by the coping. A liner, normally of flexible vinyl plastic, covers the ground and the interior of the wall and is supported on the upper edge of the retaining wall.

[0006] Various materials have been used to manufacture the components of above-ground pools. For example, for pool walls, U.S. Pat. No. 5,815,853 discloses a pool wall material made of a laminate of woven polypropylene mesh fabric and polypropylene sheets. This material is intended to improve upon plastic walls that may break and dump water. Instead of bursting if the pool wall fails, strands of the mesh will break and the water will slowly seep from the wall. The material is also intended to reduce the weight of the pool wall. A flexible U-shaped coping is used to secure the liner to the upper edges of the pool wall.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,135 to Dallaire et al. is directed to an above-ground swimming pool with a specific coping configuration that extends along the top of pool posts. The coping has a shoulder, reinforcing ribs, and a groove to connect with a locking strip. The reference does not, however, discuss or suggest any possible materials or options for the coping, such as the concept that the coping could comprise different durometers, colors, textures, and the like as disclosed herein.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 3,874,132 to Mendelow et al. is directed to a swimming pool ledge structure that is intended to permit accurate assembly and eliminate “numerous unnecessary parts,” as opposed to the precise alignment needed for the numerous parts required by the prior art. The ledge consists of a plurality of individual one-piece, single ledge members. Each ledge member has two legs, one of which faces the inside of the pool and provides a bumper on the interior of the pool to prevent inadvertent contact with the top edge of the side wall. The ledge is made from plastic, without suggestion that the ledge can be made from different types of materials. There is no implication that the “bumper” function of the ledge is being provided by a different material than that making up the remainder of the ledge. The “bumper” actually refers to the protection of the side wall, not protection from a harder portion of the ledge itself.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 3,302,825 to Schleeweiss illustrates a swimming pool that has a metal side wall permanently united to a plastic bottom. At its top, the metal side wall has metal strips that are folded upon themselves and interposed between edges of a channel. The channel is preferably made of the same metal. A coping tube, which can be of a light metal, synthetic or natural rubber, or a suitable plastic, is split and forced over the folded-down channel. This reference does not disclose or suggest a ledge that has different types of materials. Nor does it suggest the benefits obtained by having a softer durometer portion comprising a portion of the ledge.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 3,193,847 to Mashura describes a collapsible swimming pool that is mounted to a groove in a cement patio or similar structure. The reference particularly describes the way that the base of the pool is water sealed, etc., and does not discuss the upper portion of the pool in any detail at all. The reference does state that between the wall halves and at a joint, “there is placed a gasket which can be made of rubber, cork or the like.” This does not, however, suggest any possible configurations or materials, etc. for the upper portion of the pool, nor the concept that such an upper portion or ledge can be different durometers, colors, textures, and the like.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 3,045,254 to Cook et al. describes the combination of a bathtub with a compressible liner. The liner is attached to the tub by a series of flanges. The liner is composed of an outer layer of semi-flexible water impervious sheet material and an inner layer of compressible material, such as foam rubber. The compressible layer provides cushioning for occupants of the tub without undue collapse. The surface of the plastic outer layer has inherent anti-slip characteristics which prevent sliding and slipping by occupants of the tub. The outer layer of the liner can also be colored and/or embossed with designs.

[0012] Although this reference describes two types of materials in combination, it seeks to provide a bathtub liner for comfort, decorative, and anti-slip purposes. It does not suggest that the two-material combination would be useful or beneficial for use in conjunction with pool ledges. Furthermore, the liner is attached to the tub via a set of flanges and is not securely or even semi-permanently attached to the tub. Additionally, the outer harder layer completely covers the inner softer layer. In other words, the softer material is located beneath the harder layer for cushioning support of the harder layer.

[0013] There is a need in the art to provide innovative and advanced materials for pool ledges. Such pool ledges will allow the user increased options. Pool ledges provided for above-ground pools comprise only one type of material. Most pool ledges are currently manufactured from steel, aluminum or very hard plastic, without providing any additional material features or options. If there are any other features associated with the ledge, they are typically connecting mechanisms, such as bolts or fasteners and the like, and not additional enhanced features, such as varying materials, durometers, textures, colors, and the like.

[0014] Thus, there is need in the art to provide pool ledges comprised of multiple materials. For example, some materials may be more resistant to water and rust problems, but may not necessarily be the most desirable material to make up the entire pool ledge. On the other hand, other materials may provide strength and stability, but may be slippery, rust-prone, or otherwise dangerous to the user. For example, a split or broken metal or aluminum ledge can cause injury to swimmers or other users having contact with the pool, whereas split rubber or neoprene is much less likely to cause injury.

[0015] Additionally, there is a need to provide pool ledges that have materials of varying durometer or density. Pool ledges that are manufactured from only the inflexible materials currently used may cause injuries to those entering and exiting the pool. To the contrary, a pool having only a flexible ledge would not provide the support needed for entering and exiting the pool, as well as the support needed to maintain the positioning of the entire structure. Moreover, if flexible material were located beneath a harder layer rather than disposed over the harder layer, the benefits sought to be achieved by this invention would be somewhat lessened. Thus, there is a need to combine both features of hardness and relative softness in combination ledges to provide pool ledges that are sturdy, yet pliable to some degree.

[0016] Furthermore, there is a need to provide pool ledges that comprise multiple textures. Current pool ledges typically have a consistent texture throughout. Providing a varied texture, such as a textured grabbing surface on the ledge, can reduce the occurrence of slipping on the ledge, while enhancing the swimmer's ability to exit the pool.

[0017] There is also a need in the art for pool ledges that have multiple materials and multiple color schemes. Traditionally, the entire ledge is of the same color, without purposeful variation. Providing ledges having two or more materials that are two or more different colors or different shades of the same color is desirable for aesthetic purposes.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0018] The present invention relates to the concept of using two types of material on an above-ground swimming pool ledge. In one embodiment, one material is softer than the other, to enhance safety and aesthetic appearance. The harder material provides the structural and rigidity requirements of the design, and the softer material is positioned to cover the ledge and provide a spongy or otherwise pliable surface. In another embodiment, the differing materials provide varying textures and/or varying color schemes.

[0019] One feature of the invention is to provide a pool having a ledge with a supporting portion comprised of a first material having particular features and a second material disposed on the supporting portion, with the second material having at least one feature that is different from the particular features of the first material.

[0020] Other features of this invention provide pool ledges having varying durometers, textures, and colors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] FIG. 1 is a side plan view of a pool ledge according to the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the pool ledge of FIG. 1.

[0023] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pool ledge of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS

[0024] Above-ground swimming pool ledges are traditionally formed from the same material throughout. To the contrary, the present invention relates to the concept of using two types of material on an above-ground swimming pool ledge. This invention generally provides a way to add an additional feature to ledge 10. The two materials 20 and 30 exist together on a single ledge.

[0025] FIGS. 1-3 show generally pool ledges 10 being formed from two varying materials. Generally, a first material 20 provides the structure of the ledge 10 and a second material 30 (shown cross-hatched) is disposed on, attached to, or otherwise related to the first material 20. Second material 30 and first material 20 may be joined in a number of ways, including but not limited to mechanically attachment, adhesive attachment, attachment through a heating or melting process, co-injection, or co-extrusion.

[0026] As shown by FIG. 1, the first material 20 may provide the structural and rigidity requirements of the design, and a second material 30 may provide an alternate feature, such as being a different material, a different durometer, a different texture, or a different color, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, second material 30 may include, but is not limited to a plastic-based polymer material, monoprene, neoprene, rubber, foam, gel, copolymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, or any combination thereof, while first material 20 may include, but is not limited to a metal-based material, aluminum, steel, resin, fiberglass, or any combination thereof, or any other material that may be used to form above-ground pool ledges. Providing both materials 20 and 30 on the same ledge 10 allows the consumer to benefit from features of both materials.

[0027] For example, varying the materials that comprise ledge 10 allows the manufacturer to account for the fact that some materials exhibit greater wear, water resistance, and rust resistance than other materials. For example, plastic or polymers are less likely to rust than metal, less likely to retain heat during hot months, and less likely to become jagged and cause a serious injury if split, but in some instances may not be as sturdy as a metal-based material. Thus, by forming a portion of ledge 10 out of a first material 20, and by forming an additional component of ledge 10 out of a second material 30, the benefits of both materials are combined.

[0028] In another embodiment of the present invention, second material 30 is of a different durometer, and is preferably softer than the first material 20, to provide possible enhanced safety and an aesthetic appearance. In this embodiment, the second material 30 is positioned to cover at least a portion of the ledge 10. Preferably, the second material 30 extends toward the inside 12 of the pool ledge, i.e., the side of the pool ledge that corresponds to the inside of the pool, as shown in FIG. 1. The softer material 30 could be a variety of materials such as monoprene-like substances (rubber-like), neoprene, foam, rubber, plastic, styrofoam, gel, co-polymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, or any other material that provides a soft, cushiony feel.

[0029] This embodiment can conceivably help prevent or minimize injuries that may occur if the user collides with ledge 10. It also provides a more comfortable surface on which the user may rest. Although not shown, it is also possible for second material 30 to extend the length of ledge 10 and substantially or completely cover first material 20.

[0030] Additionally, in this and other embodiments, second material 30 may be a different thickness from first material 20 or may have varying thickness throughout, as shown in FIG. 1. Reference numeral 22 indicates a thickness of first material 20, and reference number 32 indicates a varying thickness of second material 30 at or about the same location on ledge 10. Furthermore, second material 30 itself may have a plurality of thicknesses at various points, as shown by exemplary reference numeral 34, indicating a greater thickness of second material 30 at top 14 of ledge than at inside 12 of ledge 10.

[0031] In a further embodiment, second material 30 may provide a textured surface 36. Textured surface 36 provides a number of advantages. For example, among other functions, textured surface 36 helps provide slip resistance, so that a user entering or exiting the pool or sitting on ledge 10 would have added traction with respect to ledge 10. Textured surface 36 has undulations or indentations 38 that may retain water and draw it away from top surface 14 of ledge. Additionally, textured surface 36 can provide a grabbing surface on the ledge, so that if a user is attempting to grasp the ledge 10 to exit the pool, the ledge 10 provides some added resistance.

[0032] Additionally, second material 30 may have a contrasting color from that of the first material 20. This color contrast adds aesthetic value to the ledge 10. For example, if second material 30 extends to the inside 12 of the ledge 10, it may provide a brighter color for the inside of the pool, whereas first material 20 provides a more subdued color for the outside of the pool. There is, of course, a myriad of color combinations that would be apparent to one skilled in the art.

[0033] Although suitable materials have been described for the elements of the invention, it is anticipated that future research will produce alternatives to the materials described herein. The future existence of such materials which may be used in conjunction with the present invention shall not limit the breadth thereof. The spirit of the invention is the concept that the first and second materials differ in some way from one another.

[0034] The particular embodiments of the invention having been described above are not limiting of the present invention, and those of skill in the art can readily determine that additional embodiments and features of the invention are within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereto.