Title:
Roll-out walkway and patio sections with flexible backing
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Flat, portable, structures constructed of boards or treads mounted on a flexible backing for use as straight or curved walkway sections or patio sections which can be rolled up like carpeting and carried by a person of medium strength. The full-size, substantially impervious, flexible backing material is prevents mud, weeds, sand and hazardous or noxious materials and insects from coming through the walkway or floor. The top surface is designed to provide beauty and sufficient stability for pedestrians, even those with some disability in walking, and for wheelchairs, scooters, strollers, etc.



Inventors:
Parelli, David J. (King Ferry, NY, US)
Beckley, Margaret K. (King Ferry, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/837985
Publication Date:
03/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/03/2004
Assignee:
PARELLI DAVID J.
BECKLEY MARGARET K.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01C5/22; E01C9/08; E04F11/00; E04F15/16; (IPC1-7): E04C1/00
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Primary Examiner:
GILBERT, WILLIAM V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID J. PARELLI (KING FERRY, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A flat structure for use as a section of portable roll-out walkway, patio or floor comprising: (a) a plurality of treads; (b) a sheet of flexible backing material; and (c) means for attaching said treads to said backing material, the treads of claim 1 wherein are formed from wood or a man-made material, the backing material of claim 1 wherein is formed from rubber or plastic, the means for attaching of claim 1 wherein comprises stainless steel staples.

2. A flat structure for use as a section of portable roll-out walkway, patio or floor, sufficiently flexible along its length to be rolled up like a carpet, comprising: (a) a plurality of elongate treads substantially rectangular in plan; (b) a sheet of flexible backing material the full size of the structure and also extending in a narrow margin beyond at least one edge of the structure for providing a friction connection with the margin on another section; the treads of claim 2 wherein are beveled or rounded along both top surface outer edges; whereby sections of said flat structure may be rolled up, and whereby sections of said flat structure may be joined in any desired configuration.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of PPA Application No. 60/467,746 Filing Date May, 2, 2003 Confirmation No. 9329

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION—FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to roll-out, portable, straight and curved walkway sections and patio flooring sections which are constructed with a full-size flexible backing material.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

People commonly need flat, stable surfaces outdoors in order to overcome inhospitable natural terrain conditions, to facilitate walking or using a wheelchair, scooter or baby stroller, and for situating outdoor furniture. Improved outdoor surfaces are also desirable aesthetically as landscape enhancements. Further, improved temporary surfaces can be required for accessing casualties and property in emergency situations where hazards are underfoot. Even in the best of circumstances natural terrain is typically dirty, wet or yielding and too uneven for furniture or wheeled conveyances. An easily portable, stable pathway which can be rolled-up and carried by a person of medium strength and which will fit in the trunk compartment of most small automobiles fills numerous needs: aesthetic, comfort-providing, and critical. Such a walkway which incorporates an impervious and full-sized flexible backing also addresses the problem of irritating or venomous plants and insects underfoot, and stops weed-growth.

Providing such a flat surface traditionally required the construction of non-portable structures such as stone, concrete, block or brick paths and patios. These are expensive and require some skill and significant heavy labor to install. They obviously can not be rolled up and transported to temporary locations. Further, they include grout seams which will grow weeds and become home to insects like ants. Over time freezing weather causes heaving and cracking resulting in an uneven, even dangerous surface. Wood boardwalks require footers dug into the ground and are beyond the scope of most homeowners, they are used primarily in public areas.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,833,386 provided modular platforms which are essentially temporary floors hinged at the sides designed to protect sub-surfaces such as grass, while dispersing the concentrated weight loads of people, equipment and vehicles and providing irrigation to grassy areas underneath. This invention does not address the need for short walkways and small patios made of sections small enough to be owned, stored and handled by one individual of medium strength, which can be rolled up the way one rolls a carpet runner and carried in a car trunk. This invention does not lend itself to permanent installation for the purpose of providing aesthetic landscape enhancement by means of the beauty of its materials, nor can it be used to create curving or winding paths as landscape enhancements. This invention requires the use of a lever for detachment of treads.

The idea of a roll-out, portable garden path is addressed by The Arthur Wilbur Company, Inc. (outdoordecor.com) with their product comprised of numerous 1.91 cm (0.75 in.) thin slats of cypress wood strung together with nylon ropes: basically a thin, ladder-like object to be laid on the ground and walked upon. It has no backing material and thus the spaces between the slats are thoroughly open. On wet or sandy terrain it begins immediately to sink. Without a backing the Wilbur Company's product offers no protection against noxious plants or insects underfoot, and sharp objects like broken glass or hot elements from a fire can extend upwards through the slats making the product unsuitable for use at an emergency scene. Nor is the product suitable for permanent mounting in the landscape as weeds very soon come through the thin slats and overtake the structure altogether. Moreover, the thinness of the slats and ropes makes this product quickly subject to deterioration by sun and weather.

Background of Invention—Objects and Advantages

Accordingly, several objects and advantages of my invention are:

(a) to provide a flat structure for use as a portable walkway, patio or floor which can be rolled up and rolled out in a manner similar to that a person uses to roll a carpet, of a size and weight that can be transported in most small car trunk compartments and lifted by an individual of medium strength;

(b) to provide the walkways, patios and floors in sections which can be joined together without hardware or tools in order to form larger configurations in various sizes and shapes;

(c) to provide walkway sections with a solid, flexible backing material which prevents weeds, mud, sand and many hazardous materials from coming through the treads, and which prevents insects from building nests between the treads;

(d) to provide walkway sections which, though portable, are sturdy and stable enough for use with wheelchairs, scooters, baby strollers, and by people with walking aids such as crutches, walkers, etc.;

(e) to provide walkway sections which, though portable, are comprised of tough and weather-resistant materials such that they can be installed permanently in the landscape if desired and will remain free of decay and weed growth for many years;

(f) to provide walkway sections using materials with aesthetic appeal so the structures may be used as landscape enhancements;

(g) to provide curved walkway sections which add a potential for creative design by creating 45 degree or right-angle turns when incorporated in a walkway;

(h) to provide patio block sections which are square in shape and can be joined to form patios, dance floors, platforms, etc.

SUMMARY

In accordance with these and other objectives, provided is a portable straight walkway section, a portable curved walkway section, and a portable patio section, suitable for use as flooring, comprising substantially weather-resistant treads sound enough to bear foot- or wheelchair- traffic, affixed to a full-size, substantially impervious and weather-resistant flexible backing material by means of substantially weather-resistant fasteners, with sufficient spacing allowed between each tread such that the finished section can be rolled up like a carpet for easy transporting by hand.

DRAWINGS—FIGURES

FIGS. 1A and 1B show a top and a bottom view of a straight section of walkway comprised of treads attached to a flexible backing.

FIGS. 2A and 2B show a top and bottom view of a curved section of walkway comprised of treads attached to a flexible backing.

FIGS. 3A and 3B show a top and bottom view of a patio block section comprised of treads attached to a flexible backing.

FIG. 4 shows an end view of the treads and backing comprising the straight walkway, curved walkway and patio block sections.

FIG. 5 shows the method of joining the sections.

FIG. 6 shows a random configuration in which a straight walkway section is joined to a curved walkway section.

FIG. 7 shows a random configuration in which four patio block sections are joined to form a square patio.

DRAWINGS—REFERENCE NUMERALS

11 tread

12 backing

13 fasteners

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The straight walkway section of the present invention is illustrated from above in FIG. 1A. The boards or treads 11 are of cypress wood, each tread being 76.2 cm (30 in.) long by 9.68 cm (3.81 in.) wide and 2.22 cm (0.88 in.) in thickness There are spaces of 1.43 cm (0.56 in.) between each tread. Twenty-two such treads are attached (from below) with stainless steel staples 13 to a piece of 45 mil EPDM pond liner rubber as backing 12 which is 76.20 cm (30 in.) wide and 2.51 m (8 ft. 3 in.) long. The resulting walkway is 76.20 cm (30 in.) wide and 2.44 m (8 ft.) long, with an additional 3.81 cm (1.50 in) of backing extending from each of the two narrow ends of the section to provide a friction connection for joining with another straight or curved section.

The straight walkway section is illustrated from below in FIG. 1B. The 45 mil EPDM pond liner rubber 2 is attached to the bottom of the treads by means of 2.54 cm (1 in.) crown by 1.91 cm (0.75 in.) leg stainless steel staples 3. The staples 13 are inserted through the rubber 12 and into the treads 11 using a pneumatic stapler. For convenience and precision during construction the treads are held in a jig which has been designed for the purpose and marked to indicate the position of the rows of staples. The backing is positioned and stapled. Each tread receives 4 staples, approximately 22.86 cm (9 in.) apart, beginning and ending approximately 3.81 cm (1.50 in) in from the outside end of each tread.

The curved walkway section of the present invention is illustrated from above in FIG. 2A. The treads 11 are of the same material, width and thickness as those used in the straight walkway and are fastened and spaced just as they are in the straight walkway. The treads are arranged in a design which, when joined to another section, will yield a 45 degree turning. There are seven parallel treads, graduating in length. The consecutive lengths of the seven treads are listed here, from longest to shortest: 135.26 cm (53.25 in.), 130.33 cm (51.31 in.), 121.13 cm (47.69 in.), 111.91 cm (44.06 in.), 102.72 cm (40.44 in.), 93.50 cm (36.81 in.), 84.30 cm (33.19 in.).

The resulting curved walkway section is 76.20 cm (30 in.) wide on three sides and 135.26 cm (53.25 in.) on one side.

The curved walkway section is illustrated from below in FIG. 2B. The backing 12 is attached to the bottom of the treads by means of staples 13. The two shortest treads receive four staples each, the three middle treads receive five staples each, and the two longest treads receive six staples each, so that the distance of approximately 22.86 cm (9 in.) between staples is maintained.

The patio section of the present invention is illustrated from above in FIG. 3A. The treads 11 are of the same material, width and thickness as those used in the walkways and are fastened and spaced just as they are in the walkways. Nine treads, each 99.06 cm (39 in.) in length are attached (from below) to the backing 12 which is 102.87 cm (40.5 in.) square. The finished patio section is 99.06 cm (39 in.) square, with an additional 3.81 cm (1.5 in) of backing extending from two adjacent sides to provide a friction connection for joining with additional patio sections.

Operation

Because of the 1.43 cm spacing between each tread, the sections roll up like a carpet, with the treads on the outside of the roll. In this manner they are shipped, stored and transported. One person can unroll and position the walkway, pulling it across the ground for precise positioning. In order to join two sections together a person simply places the second section in position, being sure to overlap the extending rubber backing margins and pull the walkways close enough to create a space between the end boards of each walkway similar in width to the spaces between all other boards. The straight walkway sections each weigh approximately 45 pounds and engage the ground without slipping even when used on slight grades or slopes.

Primary Advantage

From the description above, a primary advantage of our invention becomes evident: the use of a substantially impervious backing dramatically improves the sturdiness and functionality of the portable walkway by eliminating weeds, unstable terrain and hazardous materials from overcoming the path.

Ramifications and Scope

Accordingly, it is clear that the roll-out walkway, pathway, and patio flooring sections of this invention can be used to improve natural surfaces outdoors conveniently, quickly, and affordably and will enable even people with certain physical limitations to move about with relative ease. Our invention can be used for simple ease of walking or in emergencies where broken glass, hot surfaces, live wires or other perils lie underfoot. The walkways can be used to beautify parks and public buildings by creating designs with curves such as octagons to define floral beds around trees, or large ovals to encircle ponds, lakes and water gardens, etc. In addition, the water-resistant materials comprising this invention make the walkways ideally suited for use indoors in spas, gyms, saunas, behind bars in restaurants, and around pools and hot tubs. Wet indoor areas such as these need sturdy stable flooring which can be removed for the purpose of cleaning and disinfecting the area underneath. And with our invention it is feasible to create a large permanent wood patio outside almost instantly.

Although the description above contains much specificity, this should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some embodiments of this invention. For example, the treads can be of cypress, cedar, redwood or other woods, or plastic and plastic/wood composites and other man-made materials. Similarly, the backing material can be of rubber, plastic cloth or any flexible material suitable for the purpose. Fasteners can be stainless steel staples or any other such products suitable for the purpose. Other configurations of the basic structures detailed here can be added as adaptations to the size and shape of the flooring sections, and custom configurations on the same basic lines can be commissioned.