Title:
Decorated concrete block
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A concrete block that can be placed in a wall constructed from a plurality of concrete blocks to accent the wall face. The block has a relief formed on a depressed field on the front of the block. The depressed field is preferably surrounded by a border that projects forwardly beyond the depressed field, and a portion or all of the relief projects forwardly beyond the border. One or more of the blocks of the invention can be placed as desired in the wall to break up the uniformity of the wall face and soften the plane of the wall, tie the wall in with the surrounding landscape, or to add interest to an otherwise uniform wall face.



Inventors:
Nordstrand, Nancy L. (Bellevue, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/302564
Publication Date:
05/27/2004
Filing Date:
11/22/2002
Assignee:
Anchor Wall Systems, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D29/02; E04C1/39; (IPC1-7): E04C1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KATCHEVES, BASIL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MERCHANT & GOULD P.C. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A concrete block, comprising: a concrete block body having a front, a back, a top surface, a bottom surface that is configured and adapted to rest upon at least a portion of a top surface of a concrete block disposed beneath said block body when said block body is disposed in a structure with other concrete blocks, and first and second sides; and said front includes a depressed field at least partially surrounded by a border, said border projects forwardly beyond said depressed field, and said depressed field includes a relief formed thereon, at least a portion of said relief projecting forwardly beyond said border.

2. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein said border includes a top portion, a bottom portion, and first and second side portions interconnecting the top and bottom portions.

3. The concrete block of claim 2, wherein said top and bottom portions intersect said first and second side portions at inner corner junctions, and said inner corner junctions are radiused.

4. The concrete block of claim 2, wherein said top portion intersects said top surface, said bottom portion intersects said bottom surface, and said first and second side portions intersect said first and second sides, respectively.

5. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said relief intersects said border.

6. The concrete block of claim 5, wherein at least a portion of said relief overlaps said border.

7. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein the relief appears to be a carved design.

8. The concrete block of claim 7, wherein the carved design comprises one or more of a nature representation, a human representation, at least one alphabetic character, or at least one numeric character.

9. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein said front is outwardly convex.

10. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein portions of said depressed field do not include said relief, and said portions are smooth.

11. The concrete block of claim 1, further including one or more locator protrusions integrally formed on said top or bottom surface.

12. The concrete block of claim 11, wherein said locator protrusion comprises a flange extending below said bottom surface of the block.

13. The concrete block of claim 12, wherein said flange is formed on said bottom surface adjacent said block body back.

14. The concrete block of claim 11, wherein said first and second sides join said front and rear of said block body, and said first and second sides have rearwardly converging portions.

15. The concrete block of claim 14, wherein a portion of each of said first and second sides converges towards the other side as the sides extend toward said rear.

16. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein, when disposed in a structure with other concrete blocks, said block body comprises a depth that is less than the depth of at least some of the other concrete blocks.

17. The concrete block of claim 1, wherein said block body is configured to be inserted into a pre-existing structure formed by a plurality of concrete blocks.

18. A concrete accent block for use in a structure formed from a plurality of concrete blocks, comprising: a concrete block body having a front, a back, a top surface, a bottom surface, and first and second sides; and said front includes a depressed field surrounded by a border, said border projects forwardly beyond said depressed field, and said depressed field includes a relief formed thereon and appearing as a carved design, at least a portion of said relief projecting forwardly beyond said border.

19. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein said border includes a top portion, a bottom portion, and first and second side portions interconnecting the top and bottom portions.

20. The concrete accent block of claim 19, wherein said top and bottom portions intersect said first and second side portions at inner corner junctions, and said inner corner junctions are radiused.

22. The concrete accent block of claim 19, wherein said top portion intersects said top surface, said bottom portion intersects said bottom surface, and said first and second side portions intersect said first and second sides, respectively.

23. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein at least a portion of said relief intersects said border.

24. The concrete accent block of claim 23, wherein at least a portion of said relief overlaps said border.

25. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein the carved design comprises one or more of a nature representation, a human representation, at least one alphabetic character, or at least one numeric character.

26. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein said front is outwardly convex.

27. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein portions of said depressed field do not include said relief, and said portions are smooth.

28. The concrete accent block of claim 18, further including one or more locator protrusions integrally formed on said top or bottom surface.

29. The concrete accent block of claim 28, wherein said locator protrusion comprises a flange extending below said bottom surface of the block.

30. The concrete accent block of claim 29, wherein said flange is formed on said bottom surface adjacent said block body back.

31. The concrete accent block of claim 28, wherein said first and second sides join said front and rear of said block body, and said first and second sides have rearwardly converging portions.

32. The concrete accent block of claim 31, wherein a portion of each of said first and second sides converges towards the other side as the sides extend toward said rear.

33. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein, when disposed in a structure with other concrete blocks, said block body comprises a depth that is less than the depth of at least some of the other concrete blocks.

34. The concrete accent block of claim 18, wherein said block body is configured to be inserted into a pre-existing structure formed by a plurality of concrete blocks.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates generally to concrete blocks. More specifically, the invention relates to concrete blocks suitable for use in landscaping applications, such as retaining walls, and other architectural applications.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] It has become common to use concrete blocks for constructing structures in a variety of applications. One example is in landscaping applications, where such blocks are used to create, for example, retaining walls, ranging from small tree ring walls and garden edging walls to comparatively large structures.

[0003] In a retaining wall, as well as in other structures constructed from concrete blocks, the front face of each block, which often has a generally similar appearance to the front faces of the other blocks, is typically visible in use. The appearance of the resulting wall face created from such blocks can tend to have a uniformity or “sameness”. While uniformity is not undesirable in many applications, in some settings, such as a garden, the wall face may appear to some to be too harsh, imposing, or out-of-place. Therefore, in some instances, it would be desirable to break up the uniformity of the wall face.

[0004] It is known to mold blocks within a mold, in which a mold surface imparts a decorative pattern to a corresponding surface of the block to enhance the visual appeal of the block. Examples include U.S. Pat. Nos. D20,287; D21,522; 451,799; 765,086; 985,353; and 1,166,312.

[0005] However, there is a continuing need for a concrete block that includes at least one decorated surface, so that when the block is used in, for example, a retaining wall constructed from a plurality of concrete blocks, the decorated surface breaks up the uniformity of the wall face and softens the expansive plane created by the wall face.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The invention relates to a concrete block that can be placed in a wall that is constructed from a plurality of concrete blocks to accent the wall face. The concrete block is preferably a retaining wall block for use in a retaining wall in landscape applications. However, the block could be used in other walls that are constructed from concrete blocks.

[0007] One or more of the blocks of the invention can be placed as desired in the wall to break up the uniformity of the wall face and soften the plane of the wall, tie the wall in with the surrounding landscape, or to add interest to an otherwise uniform wall face. The blocks can be placed randomly in the wall, or arranged in a pattern in one or more courses of the wall.

[0008] In the preferred embodiment, the block has a front face composed of one or more decorative features. The decorative feature is preferably integrally formed on the block during formation of the block. Thus, the decorative feature will have the appearance of having been carved in the face of the block.

[0009] Examples of decorative features that could be used on the inventive block includes leaves, flowers, trees, various insects and animals including butterflies and dragonflies, human faces, scenes of nature, letters, and numbers. Numerous other decorative features could be used within the scope of the invention.

[0010] In the preferred embodiment, the decorative feature comprises a relief formed on a depressed field on the front of the block. The depressed field is preferably surrounded by a border that projects forwardly beyond the depressed field, and a portion or all of the relief projects forwardly beyond the border. The border serves as a frame for the decorative relief. In addition, the border helps to protect the relief from being damaged, for example during handling and transport of the block. The relief could also be designed such that no portion thereof projects forwardly beyond the border.

[0011] The relief will appear to have been carved out of an undecorated block, and the border will appear as though it is a border of remaining stone. However, it is contemplated that the relief could overlap one or more portions of the border, thereby obscuring the border in that location. Alternatively, it is contemplated that where the relief is expected to overlap the border, the border could be removed in those areas.

[0012] In one embodiment according to the invention, the block comprises at least one locator protrusion which interacts with one or more adjacent blocks when laid up in a wall to aid in positioning and retaining the block relative to the adjacent blocks. The locator protrusion preferably comprises a flange that is integrally formed with the block adjacent the rear of the block to provide shear resistance and set-back with respect to blocks in the next lower course of blocks in the wall.

[0013] In another embodiment according to the invention, the block is configured as an insert to be inserted into an already existing wall. In this case, the block insert preferably has a depth between the front and rear thereof that is less than the depth of the other blocks in the wall. This permits the block insert to be inserted into an opening provided in the wall face, without requiring dismantling of the wall. The block insert can be secured in place using an adhesive.

[0014] These and various other advantages and features of novelty which characterize the invention are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and forming a part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, its advantages and objects obtained by its use, reference should be made to the drawings which form a further part hereof, and to the accompanying description, in which there is described a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a block according to the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a front view of the block of FIG. 1.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a side view of the block of FIG. 1.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a top view of the block of FIG. 1.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the block of FIG. 1.

[0020] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a block according to a second embodiment of the invention.

[0021] FIG. 7 is a view of a portion of a retaining wall that depicts how blocks according to the invention can be used to accent the wall.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0022] A concrete block 10 according to the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. The block 10 is illustrated as being a retaining wall block for use in a retaining wall. It is to be realized, however, that the concepts disclosed herein are applicable to other types of concrete blocks.

[0023] The block 10 comprises a block body having a front 12, a back 14, a top surface 16, a bottom surface 18, a first side 20, and an opposed second side 22. The block 10 is formed from a cured, dry cast, no slump masonry concrete. Dry cast, no slump masonry concrete is well known in the art of retaining wall blocks.

[0024] The front 12 of the block 10, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, is provided with a pre-determined three-dimensional relief or pattern 24 on a depressed field 26, which is surrounded at least partially by a border 28. In the preferred embodiment, the border 28 includes a top portion 30, a bottom portion 32, and first and second side portions 34, 36, so that the border 28 entirely surrounds the depressed field 26 and the relief 24. However, the border 28 could surround only portions of the field 26 and relief 24 if desired. Moreover, the relief 24 is illustrated as intersecting the border 28 at several locations, for example locations A, B and C. At several locations, for example locations A and B, the relief 24 overlaps the border 28. However, the relief 24 could be entirely within the border 28 if desired.

[0025] In the illustrated embodiment, the top and bottom portions 30, 32 of the border 28 intersect the side portions 34, 36 at inner corner junctions 38a, b, c, d that are radiused. In addition, the top portion 30 of the border 28 is adjacent and intersects the top surface 16, the bottom portion 32 is adjacent and intersects the bottom surface 18, the side portion 34 is adjacent and intersects the side 20, and the side portion 36 is adjacent and intersects the side 22. Other configurations of the border 28 are possible within the scope of the invention. For example, one or more of the border portions 30, 32, 34, 36 could be arranged in a non-contiguous relationship with its respective block surface.

[0026] With reference to FIG. 2, the depressed field 26 includes surface portions 40 that are not provided with the relief 24. It is preferred that these surface portions 40 be generally smooth and without ornamentation, which helps make the relief 24 “stand-out” from the surrounding block structure. However, it is contemplated that the surface portions 40 could be textured.

[0027] As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the border 28 projects forwardly beyond the surface portions 40 of the depressed field 26. In addition, it is preferred that at least a portion of the relief 24 projects forwardly beyond the border and, at certain locations as discussed above, the relief 24 overlaps portions of the border, as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3-5. With this construction, the border 28 helps to frame the relief 24, while the relief 24 on the smooth, depressed field 26 helps the relief “stand-out” and make it readily discernible. If desired, the entire relief 24 could project forwardly beyond the border 28. Moreover, the depressed field 26 could extend into the block from the border 28 toward the back 14 a greater or lesser extent than shown in FIGS. 1-5, depending upon the look one seeks to achieve.

[0028] In the illustrated embodiment, the front 12 is curved outwardly into a convex shape between the sides 20, 22. However, the front 12 can have other shapes between the sides 20, 22, including multi-faceted or a single plane as are frequently seen in retaining wall blocks.

[0029] The relief 24, depressed field 26 and border 28 are preferably imparted to the front 12 during molding of the block 10 by a mold surface having a pattern that is the mirror image of the relief 24, depressed field 26 and border 28 to be formed. The use of a mold surface to impart a pattern to a block surface is well known in the art of retaining wall blocks. An example of a process that could be used to produce the relief 24, depressed field 26 and border 28 is disclosed in application Ser. No. 10/038,639, filed on Jan. 4, 2002, and entitled MASONRY BLOCK AND METHOD OF MAKING SAME.

[0030] The relief 24, depressed field 26, and border 28 that are imparted to the front 12 can vary depending upon the desired appearance of the block front. The particular relief that is used will be selected based on what is thought to be visually pleasing to users of the blocks. By way of example, the relief 24 illustrated in FIGS. 1-5 simulates oak leaves and acorns. Other examples of patterns include leaves, flowers, trees, various insects and animals including butterflies and dragonflies, human faces, scenes of nature, letters, numbers, and combinations thereof. Endless possibilities are available. By providing a plurality of mold surfaces with a variety of different patterns, the resulting relief on blocks can be varied by changing mold surfaces.

[0031] The back 14, top and bottom surfaces 16, 18, and the sides 20, 22 of the block 10 can have numerous configurations. In the block 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, the back 14, top and bottom surfaces 16, 18, and the sides 20, 22 are of a known construction. The back 14 of the block 10 is generally planar between the sides 20, 22 and generally perpendicular to the top and bottom surfaces 16, 18. However, it is contemplated that the back 14 could deviate from planar, such as by being provided with one or more notches or provided with one or more concavities, while still being within the scope of the invention.

[0032] The top surface 16 has at least a contact portion that is generally horizontal and generally planar which, in use, is contacted by a bottom surface of at least one block in an upper course of blocks. In the illustrated embodiment, the top surface 16 is generally horizontal and generally planar over its entire extent, and free of cores intersecting the upper face 16. When the block 10 is disposed in a wall, the top surface 16 is in a generally parallel relationship to the top surfaces of the other blocks in the wall.

[0033] The bottom surface 18 of the block 10 is formed so as to be suitable for engaging the top surface of a block(s) in the course below to maintain the generally parallel relationship between the top surfaces of the blocks when the blocks are stacked into courses. The bottom surface 18 has at least a contact portion that is generally horizontal and generally planar that is configured so that, in use, the contact portion rests upon at least a portion of a top surface of a block disposed in a course below the block.

[0034] In the illustrated embodiment, the bottom surface 18 includes a pair of recesses 42a, 42b, but is otherwise generally planar and horizontal so that it is generally parallel to the top surface 16. However, other bottom surfaces can be used, including a bottom surface that is entirely horizontal and planar, or that includes one or more concave portions over portions of the bottom surface 18.

[0035] The sides 20, 22 of the block 10 are generally vertical and join the top and bottom surfaces 16, 18 and join the front and back 12, 14, as seen in FIGS. 1-5. At least a portion of each side 20, 22 converges toward the opposite side as the sides extend toward the back 14. Preferably the entire length of each side 20, 22 converges starting from adjacent the front 12, with the sides 20, 22 being generally planar between the front 12 and back 14. However, it is possible that the sides 20, 22 could start converging from a location spaced from the front 12, in which case the sides 20, 22 would comprise a combination of straight, non-converging sections extending from the front 12 and converging sections leading from the straight sections to the back 14.

[0036] Alternatively, the block 10 can be provided with only one converging side or side portion, with the other side being substantially perpendicular to the front and back 12, 14. A block with at least one converging side permits serpentine retaining walls to be constructed.

[0037] The block 10 can include one or more locator protrusions integrally formed on the top or bottom surface 16, 18. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-5, the locator protrusion comprises a flange 44 that extends below the bottom surface 18 of the block adjacent to the back 14, as seen in FIGS. 1-3 and 5. The flange 44 includes a rear surface that is continuous with the back 14 of the block. The flange 44 is designed to abut against the rear face of a block(s) in the course below the block 10 to provide a predetermined set-back from the course below and to provide course-to-course shear strength.

[0038] A second embodiment of a block 100 according to the invention is illustrated in FIG. 6. The block 100 is designed as an insert that can be inserted into a suitable space provided in a pre-existing wall, without requiring dismantling of the wall. The block 100 can be secured within the wall using a suitable adhesive.

[0039] The block 100 comprises a block body having a front 102, a back 104, a top surface 106, a bottom surface 108, a first side 110, and an opposed second side 112. The block 100, like the block 10, is formed from a cured, dry cast, no slump concrete.

[0040] Moreover, like the block 10, the front 102 of the block 100 is provided with a pre-determined three-dimensional relief or pattern 114 on a depressed field 116, which is surrounded at least partially by a border 118. The front 102 of the block 100 is identical to the front 12 of the block 10 and is, therefore, not further described.

[0041] In this embodiment, the depth X of the block 100 along a straight line between the forwardmost point on the border 118 and the rear 104 is less than the depth of most of the other blocks in the wall into which it is to be inserted. The block 100 preferably has a height and a width that is approximately equal to the height and width of the pre-existing blocks in the wall. This permits the block 100 to be inserted into the wall in an opening formed in the wall. Such an opening can be formed, for example, by unstacking a portion of an existing wall, inserting one or more blocks 100 where desired, and then restacking the wall. An opening could also be formed by, for example, removing the front portion of one of the pre-existing blocks in a wall using, for example, a hammer and chisel.

[0042] FIG. 7 is a view of a portion of a retaining wall 50 that depicts blocks according to the invention placed in the wall. The blocks can either be a full size block like the block 10, or a block insert like the block 100, or a combination of both blocks. The blocks depicted in FIG. 7 are illustrated with an alternative embodiment of a decorative relief that can be provided on the front of the block.

[0043] The above specification and examples provide a complete description of the manufacture and use of the invention. Since many embodiments of the invention can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, the invention resides in the claims hereinafter appended.