Title:
Masonry wall insulation system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disclosed masonry wall insulation system includes: a masonry wall; a bracket supported by the wall; a sheet of insulating material adjacent to the wall; and a sheet of wallboard. The wall is comprised of courses of blocks joined together with a settable medium. The bracket, which is partially embedded between two of the courses of blocks, supports the wallboard sheet adjacent to the insulating sheet. Consequently, the insulating sheet is sandwiched between the wall and wallboard. The bracket that supports the wallboard can support the sheet of insulating material in one or both of the following ways: (1) direct support beneath the bottom edge of the sheet, or (2) friction caused by the bracket sandwiching the sheet snugly between the supported wallboard and the supporting masonry wall. The system requires no separate brackets or fasteners to support the sheet of insulating material. Other systems and methods are also disclosed.



Inventors:
John Jr., Sucato D. (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Application Number:
10/059764
Publication Date:
07/31/2003
Filing Date:
01/28/2002
Assignee:
SUCATO JOHN D.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/747.12, 52/747.1
International Classes:
E04B1/76; E04F13/08; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00; E04G21/00; E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KATCHEVES, BASIL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOUIS J. HOFFMAN, P.C. (Scottsdale, AZ, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A masonry wall insulation system comprising: (a) a masonry wall comprised of a plurality of blocks joined together with a settable medium; (b) a bracket supported by the wall, a part of the bracket held by the settable medium joining two of the courses of blocks; (c) a sheet of insulating material adjacent to the wall; and (d) a sheet of wallboard supported adjacent to the sheet of insulating material by the bracket; wherein (e) the sheet of insulating material is sandwiched between the wall and the wallboard.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein the insulating material is comprised of rigid polystyrene foam.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein the bracket comprises a plurality of attachment portions embedded in the settable medium at a plurality of points.

4. The system of claim 3 wherein each attachment portion includes a horizontal part and a downward-extending part, wherein each horizontal part is structured to rest on a top surface of one of the blocks and each downward-extending part is structured to abut a vertical surface inside a recess of the block at the top of the block.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the bracket spans a plurality of blocks in one of the courses.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein the bracket spans substantially the length of the sheet of insulating material.

7. The system of claim 5 wherein the bracket spans at least the length of the sheet of wallboard.

8. The system of claim 5 wherein the settable medium is free of embedded bracket portions along a majority of the length of the courses of blocks.

9. The system of claim 1 wherein the bracket comprises a generally horizontal part extending from the settable medium and an upward-extending part at the end of the generally horizontal part, wherein the bracket is shaped to support a lower portion of the sheet of insulating material thereon.

10. The system of claim 9 wherein the generally horizontal part of the bracket and the sheet of insulating material have widths that are substantially uniform and equal.

11. The system of claim 9 wherein the generally horizontal part includes a vertically protruding part interposed between the horizontal and vertical parts of the bracket, wherein the vertically protruding part is shaped to engage an upper portion of another sheet of insulating material below the bracket.

12. A method for insulating a masonry wall, the method comprising: (a) laying a lower course of blocks; (b) then placing a first part of a bracket partially above the lower course of blocks such that the lower course of blocks supports a first part of the bracket and a generally horizontal second part of the bracket extends beyond an edge of the lower course of blocks; (c) then securing an upper course of blocks to the lower course of blocks and the first part of the bracket; (d) then placing a sheet of insulating material next to the upper course of blocks on the second part of the bracket, wherein a third part of the bracket extends beyond the insulating sheet; and (e) attaching a wallboard sheet to the third part of the bracket; whereby the bracket is partially embedded between the lower and upper courses of blocks, the bracket supports the wallboard sheet, and the insulating sheet is sandwiched between the blocks and the wallboard sheet.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein placing the sheet comprises placing a sheet of insulating material that is comprised of rigid polystyrene foam.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein: (a) the method further comprises placing another bracket above a course of blocks laid above the upper course of blocks; and (b) placing the sheet comprises fitting the sheet of insulating material in position between the brackets.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein securing the upper course of blocks to the lower course of blocks and the bracket comprises partially embedding the bracket in or around settable medium between the lower and upper courses of blocks.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein securing the upper course of blocks to the lower course of blocks comprises embedding portions of the bracket in settable medium at positions extending along a minority of the length of the courses of blocks.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein placing the first part of the bracket further comprises securing a horizontal part and a downward-extending edge part of the bracket to a top surface and a vertical surface, respectively, at the top of one of the blocks in the lower course.

18. The method of claim 12 wherein: (a) placing the bracket further comprises using a bracket that includes a vertically protruding part interposed partway across the width of the generally horizontal part; and (b) the method further comprises securing an upper portion of another sheet of insulating material below the bracket and below the upper course of blocks, wherein the vertically protruding part keeps the insulating sheet below the bracket from tilting outward.

19. A masonry wall insulation system comprising: (a) a masonry wall; (b) a sheet of rigid polystyrene foam; (c) a sheet of wallboard; and (d) means for supporting the wallboard from the wall such that the foam sheet is sandwiched between the wall and the wallboard; whereby the foam sheet provides thermal insulation between the wallboard and the wall.

20. A bracket structured to be supported by a plurality of standard-sized cement blocks having interior voids and exterior walls, the bracket comprising: (a) a generally horizontal part extending substantially the length of the bracket; (b) a plurality of attachment portions disposed substantially equidistant from each other along the length of the generally horizontal part at a first edge thereof, each of the attachment portions including: (1) a horizontal section matching the width of an exterior wall of a block; and (2) a downward-extending flange at the end of the horizontal part away from a first edge of a generally horizontal part; and (c) an upward-extending ledge extending substantially the length of the bracket at a second edge of the horizontal part opposite the first edge.

21. The bracket of claim 20 further comprising a vertically protruding part extending substantially the length of the horizontal part and interposed partway across the width of the generally horizontal part.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Masonry wall construction has many benefits including durability and aesthetic appeal. Unfortunately, masonry walls have relatively poor thermal insulating properties.

[0002] Conventional systems are available for insulating masonry walls, but they suffer various drawbacks. For example, an article in the March/April 1999 issue of “Home Energy Magazine Online” (www.homeenergy.org) discloses a “semifinished concrete wall system” that adds insulation and drywall to the interior of an uninsulated concrete wall system. In the disclosed system, a 2×4 wood frame “false wall” is built onto the inside of the block wall. Fiberglass batt insulation resides between the block wall and the false wall. A major disadvantage is that two walls must be built (one masonry, one frame) for the separate functions of structural support and insulation, resulting in increased material and labor cost and construction time. In addition, construction of the separate walls requires the skills of two separate trades, namely masonry and frame construction.

[0003] Another conventional approach, disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,191,001, involves reinsulating a concrete block home by (1) applying high-density polystyrene board on the home's exterior walls and (2) applying a polymerically bonded concrete or stucco finish to the polystyrene board. While that technique avoids the need for construction of a second wall, it has its own disadvantages. Masonry walls offer durable and aesthetically appealing exterior surfaces, and the '001 Patent's technique covers those surfaces with another material that may well be less durable and less attractive.

[0004] What is still needed, in view of the shortcomings of conventional techniques, is a system for insulating masonry walls on the inside of a structure to preserve the beauty and durability of the masonry's exterior surface, without adding significant time and cost to the construction of the wall itself.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] A masonry wall insulation system according to various aspects of the present invention includes: a masonry wall; a bracket supported by the wall; a sheet of insulating material adjacent to the wall; and a sheet of wallboard. The masonry wall is comprised of courses of blocks joined together with a settable medium. The bracket is partially embedded between two of the courses of blocks in or around settable medium medium joining the blocks. This arrangement permits the wall to provide firm and strong support to the bracket.

[0006] The bracket in turn supports the wallboard sheet adjacent to the sheet of insulating material. Consequently, the sheet of insulating material is sandwiched between the wall and the wallboard, where it helps insulate the masonry wall and wallboard from each other. Advantageously, the bracket that supports the wallboard can support the sheet of insulating material in one or both of the following ways: (1) direct support beneath the bottom edge of the sheet, or (2) friction caused by the bracket sandwiching the sheet snugly between the supported wallboard and the supporting masonry wall. The system requires no separate brackets or fasteners to support the sheet of insulating material.

[0007] A masonry wall insulation system can be structured according to one or several further aspects of the invention to realize particular advantages. For example, the insulating material can be comprised of rigid polystyrene foam, which is a common, inexpensive material with good insulating properties.

[0008] In addition, the bracket can include a plurality of attachment portions that are embedded between adjacent courses of blocks at a plurality of points. A majority of the settable medium joining the courses of blocks thus can remain free of embedded bracket portions. In such a configuration, the attachment portions can include a downward-extending edge part, wherein each horizontal part can rest on a top surface of one of the blocks and each downward-extending edge part can abut an interior vertical surface at the top of the block. (A conventional concrete block has two interior voids, bounded by interior vertical surfaces.) Thus, the bracket can more securely rest on the top surface before application of a settable medium and another course of blocks.

[0009] Further, the bracket can span a plurality of blocks in at least one of the courses of blocks. Preferably, the bracket also spans substantially the length of the sheet of insulating material, ensuring adequate support for the sheet.

[0010] Advantageously, the structural configuration of a bracket according to various aspects of the invention permits wallboard to be fastened to the bracket at any suitable points along a horizontal continuum rather than requiring fasteners to be secured to the bracket at a specific, hidden horizontal location along a course of masonry blocks. The advantageous configuration also permits wallboard sheets to have different widths and positioning along the masonry wall than the width and position of the insulating sheets, if desired.

[0011] In addition, each support part of the bracket can include an upward-extending edge part. With such a configuration, the bracket can support a lower portion of the sheet of insulating material. Each support part can further include a vertically protruding part, e.g., interposed between the horizontal part and the upward-extending edge part, which permits the bracket to secure an upper portion of another sheet of insulating material below it.

[0012] In sum, a masonry wall insulation system constructed according to all the above aspects of the invention (as is preferred but not required) permits convenient installation of inexpensive insulating material in a secure configuration behind protective and aesthetic wallboard.

[0013] In a method for insulating a masonry wall according to various aspects of the invention, one or more workers, suitable machinery, or a combination thereof lay a lower course of blocks. They place a bracket on top of the lower course of blocks such that a generally horizontal support portion of the bracket extends from the lower course of blocks. The workers, machinery, or combination thereof then lay an upper course of blocks on top of the lower course of blocks and the bracket. They place a sheet of insulating material on the support portion of the bracket, abutting the upper course of blocks. They attach to the bracket a wallboard sheet abutting the sheet of insulating material. Advantageously, the sheet of insulating material becomes sandwiched (either snugly or with a looser, gapped fit) between the blocks and the wallboard sheet where it helps insulate the masonry wall and wallboard from each other.

[0014] Further methods of the invention include one or more additional acts to realize particular advantages of the various further aspects of the invention discussed above.

[0015] The above summary does not include an exhaustive list of all aspects of the present invention. Indeed, the inventor contemplates that the invention includes all systems and methods that can be practiced from all suitable combinations of the various aspects summarized above, as well as those disclosed in the detailed description below and particularly pointed out in the claims filed with the application. Such combinations have particular advantages not specifically recited in the above summary.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] Various embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to the drawings, wherein like designations denote like elements.

[0017] FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a masonry wall having embedded brackets and undergoing installation of a sheet of insulating material according to various aspects of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 is a partial perspective view of the masonry wall of FIG. 1 with lower and upper brackets and two sheets of insulating material installed according to various aspects of the invention.

[0019] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the masonry wall of FIG. 2 with a sheet of wallboard secured to the lower bracket.

[0020] FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of another type of bracket according to various aspects of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 5 is a partial perspective view of a base bracket according to various aspects of the invention installed onto a foundation surface for the masonry wall of FIG. 1.

[0022] FIG. 6 is an edge-on view of one of the sheets of insulating material of FIG. 2.

[0023] FIG. 7 is an edge-on view of the other one of the sheets of insulating material of FIG. 2.

[0024] FIG. 8 is a partial perspective view of the masonry wall of FIG. 1 during embedding of the upper bracket.

[0025] FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view of the masonry wall of FIG. 1 after embedding of the upper bracket.

[0026] FIG. 10 is a process flow diagram of a method of the invention for insulating the masonry wall of FIG. 1 using the bracket of FIG. 4.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0027] A masonry wall insulation system according to various aspects of the present invention permits convenient installation of inexpensive insulating material in a secure configuration behind protective and aesthetic wallboard. As may be better understood with reference to FIGS. 1-3, for example, one such masonry wall insulation system 300 includes: a masonry wall 110; a bracket 130 supported by wall 110; sheets 120 and 210 of polystyrene foam insulating material adjacent to wall 110; and a sheet 310 of wallboard. (FIGS. 1-2 illustrate system 300 partially completed.) Exemplary system 300 also includes another bracket 140 (FIG. 1, not shown in FIG. 3) supported by wall 110 above bracket 130. Wallboard 310 is preferably a paper-covered gypsum slab, of ½ or ⅝ inch thickness, which is a very popular product commonly referred to as “sheet rock” or “drywall.” However, any suitable type of wallboard can be suitably employed, including wood paneling, sheets of polymer or laminate material, etc.

[0028] A masonry wall according to various aspects of the invention includes any structure formed from blocks of earthen material (clay brick, concrete block, stone, etc.) that forms a boundary. Examples of walls that can be of masonry construction include border and perimeter fences, sides of buildings, and soil retaining walls. As may be better understood with reference to FIGS. 1-2, exemplary masonry wall 110 is comprised of courses of blocks joined together with a settable medium. A settable medium includes any compound that can be placed between blocks of a masonry wall to secure the blocks together, including grout or mortar comprised of a mixture of cement and water.

[0029] Bracket 130 of system 300 is partially embedded between two courses 160, 170 of blocks in wall 110 in or around settable medium joining the blocks. Such an arrangement permits wall 110 to provide firm and strong support to bracket 130.

[0030] Bracket 130 supports wallboard sheet 310 adjacent to sheets 120, 210 of insulating material. Consequently, sheets 120, 210 are sandwiched between masonry wall 110 and wallboard 310, where they help insulate wall 110 and wallboard 310 from each other. Advantageously, the sheet of insulating material can be supported by the bracket that supports the wallboard, by friction between the supported wallboard and supporting masonry wall, or both. No separate brackets or fasteners are required to support the sheet of insulating material.

[0031] A bracket according to various aspects of the invention can be structured from any materials (heavy plastics or lightweight metals such as aluminum are two possibilities) and in any configuration suitable for being supported by a masonry wall and supporting one or more wallboard sheets. A particularly advantageous type of bracket partially embeds between courses of blocks in a masonry wall, in or around settable medium joining the blocks, for firm and strong support by the wall. As may be better understood with reference to FIG. 3, for example, bracket 130 includes: an attachment portion 360 (in addition to others not shown in FIG. 3); a generally horizontal support part 330; and an upward-extending edge part 340 at the edge of horizontal support part 330. Structure of another exemplary bracket 400 (FIG. 4), which can substitute for bracket 130 in system 100, includes: attachment portions 410, 420; a horizontal support part 430; and an upward-extending edge part 440 at the edge of horizontal support part 430. Attachment portions 410, 420 include respective horizontal attachment parts 412, 422 and downward-extending edge parts 414, 424.

[0032] A support part of a bracket according to various aspects of the invention can be any structural part of the bracket suitable for supporting the bottom edge of a sheet of insulating material above it. A support part extends partway across the width of a bracket, from the point where it begins to embed in a supporting masonry wall (e.g., at the border between the support part and the bracket's attachment portion) to the point where a sheet of wallboard can attach to it (e.g., an upward-extending edge part). For example, horizontal support part 430 of bracket 130 spans length 496, from attachment portions 710, 722 to upward-extending edge part 740.

[0033] While all suitable brackets need not include all of the various structural components of brackets 130 and 430, each component provides particular advantages. For example, parts 412, 422 and 414, 424 of attachment portions 410, 420 advantageously hold bracket 400 in position on top of a lower course of blocks during installation and secure bracket 400 between the lower course of blocks and an upper course of blocks above the lower course after installation. As discussed below with reference to FIGS. 3, 8, and 9, horizontal support part 330 of bracket 130 provides a support surface for a sheet of insulating material, e.g., foam sheet 210 of FIGS. 2 and 3. Upper-facing edge part 440 retains the lower edge of the supported sheet in bracket 130, as depicted in FIGS. 2-3. An upward-extending edge part also provides an attachment point for fasteners (e.g., screws or nails) that secure wallboard to the bracket. For example, FIG. 3 illustrates a self-tapping drywall screw 312 with suitable threads for fastening gypsum of wallboard 312 to upward-extending edge part 340.

[0034] A bracket according to various aspects of the invention can employ types of attachment portions, horizontal support parts, and upward-extending edge parts different from those of exemplary bracket 400 and still realize advantages of those structural components. For example, an attachment portion can include a shorter or longer downward-extending edge part than part 414 of attachment portion 410. A horizontal support part can be completely horizontal (overall, from edge to edge), as in part 430 of bracket 400, or it can be substantially horizontal but with a slight upward tilt. (A horizontal support part may also tilt upward prior to installation of an insulating sheet and then conform to a horizontal bottom edge of the sheet afterward.) An upward-extending edge part can have any suitable height, not just the heights of exemplary edge parts 340 and 440. In addition, an upward-extending edge part can include or support additional material (e.g., a strip that can form threaded holes) to strengthen its grip on a received fastener (e.g., a self-tapping screw).

[0035] Advantageously, bracket 400 of FIG. 4 further includes a vertically protruding part 450 midway along support part 430, between attachment portions 410, 420 and upward-extending edge part 440. A vertically protruding part of a bracket according to various aspects of the invention includes any suitable structure, such as a vertically-oriented surface or a ridge having a rounded or triangular cross-section, that can secure a sheet of insulating material below the bracket by preventing the upper portion of the sheet from tilting away from the bracket's supporting wall. Thus a vertically protruding part helps keep a sheet of insulating material in place until a sheet of wallboard fastens to the bracket and encloses the sheet of insulating material.

[0036] Vertically protruding part 450 is formed from a midpoint portion of horizontal support part 430 by bends 452, 454 in material of horizontal support part 430. Bracket 130 of FIG. 3 includes a vertically protruding part 350 formed from a 90° bend in the bracket's horizontal support part 330, which is fully horizontal over a small portion of its length and tilted slightly upward for the remainder. Other suitable types of vertically protruding parts can be employed, for example one or more downward-pointing tabs of sheet material attached to or bent from a bracket's horizontal support part.

[0037] Insulating sheets above and below a bracket having a vertically protruding part according to various aspects of the invention should be shaped to accommodate and engage the vertically protruding part. As illustrated in FIG. 3, for example, sheet 120 below bracket 130 has part of its upper edge cut out to accommodate vertically (downward) protruding part 350. Sheet 210 above bracket 130 includes material protruding from its lower edge to engage the “backside” of protruding part 350.

[0038] In a variation, the bracket secures to blocks of the wall (by any suitable type of fastener) rather than being partially embedded between blocks of the wall. Advantageously, a non-embedded bracket can be installed onto blocks of a completed masonry wall. For example, an attachment portion of a non-embedded bracket according to various alternative aspects of the invention includes an upward-extending edge part that abuts one or more blocks of the wall, suitable for receiving one or more concrete or masonry nails driven through the edge part and into the block(s). Such an edge part can have any suitable dimensions, for example approximately the same height as a downward-extending edge part of an embedded bracket's attachment portion.

[0039] A bracket according to various aspects of the present invention can be fabricated by any suitable technique, and from any suitable materials. For example, exemplary brackets 130 and 400 can be fabricated from a single bent piece of sheet material, preferably 24 gauge galvanized sheet steel. Prior to bending, such a piece of sheet material can be cut or stamped from a larger sheet of stock material. Brackets having a uniform cross-section along their entire length (i.e., having a single continuous attachment portion) can be extruded from a stock of suitable metal, plastic, or other suitable material. In variations where the simplicity of uniform material fabrication (e.g., by sheet metal bending or extrusion) is not required, a bracket's structural components can vary in material and thickness. For example, upward-extending edge portions 340 and 440 can be of thicker material than other portions of brackets 130 and 400 to facilitate threading by a screw employed as a wallboard fastener. In a variation, an upward-extending can be bent back onto itself to effectively thicken it.

[0040] An exemplary method 1000 of the invention for insulating a masonry wall may be better understood with reference to the process flow diagram of FIG. 10 and the structural views of FIGS. 1, 5, 8, and 9. Method 1000 employs components depicted in FIGS. 8, 9, which differ from FIG. 1 in the stages of wall construction they depict and their substitution of bracket 400 (FIG. 4) for bracket 130 of FIG. 1.

[0041] Method 1000 begins with act 1010, in which a worker 150 (who can be human or robot and can be assisted by suitable tools, machinery, or other workers not shown) places a base bracket 500 onto a building slab 520 (both depicted in FIG. 5) or other suitable foundation surface for masonry wall 110. Base bracket 500 includes a horizontal support part 530 and attachment flanges 540, 550 (as well as others not shown in FIG. 5). Because no insulating sheet must be secured under base bracket 500, it does not include any vertically protruding part.

[0042] In act 1020 (FIG. 10), worker 150 lays a quantity of settable medium, then a bottom course of blocks 155 (FIGS. 1, 8-9) on slab 520 (FIG. 5), sandwiching attachment flanges 540 and 550 in or around settable medium between slab 520 and the bottom of one side of the blocks. Dashed outline 560 represents the location of the first block of bottom course 155. Once laid, the bottom course of blocks secures base bracket 500 to foundation 520 adjacent to the blocks. Method 1000 then continues with act 1030 (FIG. 10), in which worker 150 lays additional courses of blocks up to and including course of blocks 160 (FIG. 8).

[0043] In act 1040, after laying course of blocks 160, worker 150 places bracket 400 on top of the blocks of course 160 such that horizontal support part 430 extends from course 160, as illustrated in FIG. 8. Advantageously, horizontal attachment parts 412, 422 of bracket 400 rest on top surfaces of blocks in course 160 while downward-extending edge parts 414, 424 (not shown in FIG. 8) abut vertical surfaces at the top of the blocks. (FIG. 3 depicts an example of such a surface 362 of block 162, directly beneath a downward-extending edge part of attachment portion 360 of bracket 130.)

[0044] When horizontal attachment parts 412, 422 have a length substantially equal to thickness of the walls of blocks in course 160, as is preferred, downward-extending edge parts 414, 424 exert a frictional grip on the blocks. Thus, preferred attachment portions 410, 420 keep bracket 400 from falling off the blocks in course 160 before act 1050, in which upper course 170 is laid above bracket 400, embedding bracket 400 between courses 160, 170, in or around settable medium joining blocks of courses 160, 170.

[0045] In addition to laying courses in act 1050, and consequently securing bracket 400 in a joint region between courses 160 and 170, worker 150 also lays successive courses of blocks on top of course 170, up to course 180. Then worker 150 places bracket 140 on top of course 180 (in act 1052) and installs remaining courses of wall 110 in act 1054. FIGS. 8-9 illustrate bracket 400 after completion of act 1052. At the beginning of act 1060, masonry wall 110 is complete, as illustrated in FIG. 1, or at least sufficiently complete for installation of sheets 120, 210 of insulating material and wallboard 310.

[0046] Worker 150 performs act 1060 (FIG. 10) by placing sheet 120 of insulating material onto horizontal support part 530 of bracket 500 and securing sheet 120 under bracket 400. (FIG. 1 provides an illustration of act 1060 with the exception that bracket 400 of FIG. 4 substitutes for bracket 130.) Vertically protruding part 454 of bracket 400 (FIG. 4) keeps sheet 120 from tilting outward and away from wall 110 during the remainder of method 1000 through act 1080, after which wallboard 310 encloses and supports sheet 120.

[0047] In act 1070, worker 150 places sheet 210 of insulating material onto horizontal support portion 430 of bracket 400 and secures sheet 210 under bracket 140. (Brackets 140 and 400 are somewhat flexible, permitting them to bend upward enough to allow a sheet of insulating material to slip in place underneath.) Then, in act 1080, worker 150 attaches wallboard sheet 310 to upward-extending edge portions of brackets 400 and 140 with self-tapping drywall screws, e.g., screw 312 of FIG. 3.

[0048] Advantageously, worker 150 performs three main tasks in the course of method 1000 that conventionally would be performed separately: (1) masonry construction of wall 110; (2) installation of insulation; and (3) installation of wallboard.

[0049] Exemplary method 1000 employs brackets 400 and 140 of two different types, illustrating that a masonry wall insulation system according to various aspects of the invention need not employ only identical brackets. In an advantageous variation of method 1000, however, a structural copy of bracket 400 is installed instead of bracket 140, providing uniformity that avoids the need for manufacturing multiple types of brackets in addition to an optional base bracket, e.g., bracket 500. (In variations where the benefits of a base bracket are not required, it can be omitted and the lower sheet of insulating material can simply rest on the wall foundation.) Such uniformity also reduces the number of types of insulating sheets required to just two. (In a further variation, insulating sheets of a single type can be employed.)

[0050] Exemplary system 300, which FIG. 3 illustrates in cross section and FIGS. 1-2 illustrate in part, includes brackets 130 and 140 that are of the same type. The resulting uniformity permits the use of just two types of insulating sheets in system 300, of which sheets 120 and 210 are examples. Structural features of sheets 120 and 210, and differences between them, may be better understood with reference to the edge-on views of FIGS. 6-7.

[0051] Sheet 120 (FIG. 6) includes a bottom edge 610 and a top edge 640. Bottom edge 610 (which is flat) rests on support part 530. The shape of top edge 640 conforms with the underside of bracket 130, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, and engages vertically protruding part 350.

[0052] Sheet 210 (FIG. 7) includes a bottom edge 710 that is shaped to conform with and rest on support part 330 (FIG. 3) of bracket 130. Sheet 210 also includes a top edge 740 that is substantially identical to top edge 640 of sheet 120.

[0053] Structural components of a masonry wall insulation system according to various aspects of the invention can each have any dimensions suitable for a particular installation and for cooperation with other available components. TABLE I below lists preferred dimensions of exemplary components discussed above. These preferred dimensions do not in any way limit the scope of any claim that does not specifically recite such dimensions. 1

TABLE I
FIG.Reference NumberPreferred Dimension (inches)
44911
44920.75
44931.5
44941.5
44950.75
44963
44971.5
44988-9
55918
669123.25
66921
66933
77910.75
779224
77931
77943

Public Notice Regarding the Scope of the Invention and Claims

[0054] The inventor considers various elements of the aspects and methods recited in the claims filed with the application as advantageous, perhaps even critical to certain implementations of the invention. However, the inventor regards no particular element as being “essential,” except as set forth expressly in any particular claim.

[0055] For example, one element is a bracket partially embedded between courses of blocks in or around a settable medium joining the blocks. Supporting a bracket from a masonry wall by embedding it between blocks of the wall provides firm and strong support to the bracket, as discussed above. However, the inventor contemplates that embedding the bracket can be omitted. Instead, the bracket can be secured to blocks of the wall with any suitable type of fastener.

[0056] Another example of a bracket contemplated by the inventor that omits numerous advantageous but non-essential elements includes only (1) structure to be embedded between courses of blocks of a masonry wall in or around a settable medium joining the blocks, (2) an upward-extending edge portion for attachment of wallboard to the bracket, and (3) minimal structure for establishing a rigid connection between the embedded structure and the upward-extending edge portion. While such a bracket may not itself adequately support a sheet of insulating material between the wallboard and masonry wall, friction between the sheet and the surrounding wallboard and masonry wall can perform that function.

[0057] While the invention has been described in terms of preferred embodiments and generally associated methods, the inventor contemplates that alterations and permutations of the preferred embodiments and methods will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the specification and a study of the drawings. As a case in point, the sheets of insulating material (alternatively called “insulating sheets”) discussed above are preferred but not required to be fabricated from polystyrene (extruded “XPS or “blueboard” or expanded THERMAX, “EPS,” or “beadboard”) except in claims specifying such. Alternative foam materials include polyisocyanurate and rigid polyurethane. Indeed, sheets of any suitable insulating material can be employed, including non-foam materials that do not possess significant inherent rigidity. For example, composite insulating sheets can be fabricated from a core of insulating material (e.g., fiberglass, rock wool, cellulose, etc.) surrounded by a stiffening shell (e.g., of aluminum foil, plastic, fiberglass laminate, cardboard, etc.). The stiffening shell can itself contain the insulating material (e.g., by surrounding it with substantially continuous walls). Alternatively, the insulating material can be contained within one or more bags or nets that are housed within the stiffening shell.

[0058] Additional structure can be included, or additional processes performed, while still practicing various aspects of the invention. For example, insulating sheets can be modified during installation with (1) cutouts to accommodate structures conventionally mounted in a frame wall, such as electrical junction or outlet boxes, and (2) surface trenches to accommodate wiring or tubing. In one exemplary installation process, e.g., performed immediately after act 1060 of FIG. 10, worker 150 (FIG. 1) cuts out a 12″ by 12″ region of insulating sheet 120 and places an electrical junction box in the resulting void. The cutout region is larger then the junction box to provide working room. Upon installation of the box, worker 150 sprays polyurethane foam into the void around it to fill any gaps. To install wiring connected to the junction box, worker 150 creates one or more trench lines in the exposed surface of sheet 120 using a ¾″ dovetail drill bit (e.g., with a 1½″ long shank). To facilitate this process, brackets 130, 140 can include holes of suitable diameter placed periodically along their lengths, e.g., on 8″ centers.

[0059] Accordingly, neither the above description of preferred exemplary embodiments nor the abstract defines or constrains the invention. Rather, the issued claims variously define the invention. Each variation of the invention is limited only by the recited limitations of its respective claim, and equivalents thereof, without limitation by other terms not present in the claim. For example, a claim that does not call for a bracket to include a vertically protruding part reads on variations that include, and exclude, such advantageous but optional structure of a bracket.

[0060] In addition, aspects of the invention are particularly pointed out in the claims using terminology that the inventor regards as having its broadest reasonable interpretation; the more specific interpretations of 35 U.S.C. § 112(6) are only intended in those instances where the terms “means” or “steps” are actually recited. The words “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are intended as open-ended terminology, with the same meaning as if the phrase “at least” were appended after each instance thereof. A clause using the term “whereby” merely states the result of the limitations in any claim in which it may appear and does not set forth an additional limitation therein. Both in the claims and in the description above, the conjunction “or” between alternative elements means “and/or,” and thus does not imply that the elements are mutually exclusive unless context or a specific statement indicates otherwise.