Title:
Permanent tile spacer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tile spacer for maintaining a substantially similar space between laid tiles that is not removed and thus, remains a permanent part of a tile installation. The preferred spacers have a height of less than a height of an adjoining tile for providing a space of grouting material. The preferred spacers are made from a material that adheres to the tile adhesive or mastic, and also adheres to the grouting material thus, the preferred material is the adhesive material. The preferred spacer material also has properties to maintain the size, configuration and integrity of the spacer thus, substantially prohibiting the expansion or contraction of the material due to temperature or humidity.



Inventors:
Serros, Ron (Albuquerque, NM, US)
Milam, Edward (Albuquerque, NM, US)
Application Number:
10/850647
Publication Date:
11/24/2005
Filing Date:
05/21/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F13/14; E04F15/02; E04F15/08; E04H12/34; (IPC1-7): E04H12/34
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Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ron Serros (Albuquerque, NM, US)
Claims:
1. A permanent spacer for providing a substantially uniform space between tiles, the spacer comprising: a predetermined configuration of said spacer comprising at least two radially extending legs and a common junction wherein said at least two legs and said common junction comprise a height of less than a thickness of the tiles; and a material that adheres to an adhesive material underlaying the tiles and a grout material and said material substantially maintains its size and shape through varying thermal and moisture conditions.

2. The invention of claim 1 wherein said material comprises said adhesive material.

3. The invention of claim 1 where said material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive.

4. The invention of claim 1 wherein said thickness of said spacer comprises a thickness of one-half a thickness of the tiles.

5. A permanent spacer for providing a substantially uniform space between at least two tiles, the spacer comprising: a predetermined configuration wherein said predetermined configuration comprises a means to maintain said substantially uniform space between the at least two tiles; a height of said spacer comprising less than one half of a thickness of the at least two tiles; and a material that adheres to an adhesive material underlaying the at least two tiles, the permanent spacer and a grout material and said material substantially maintains its size and shape through varying thermal and moisture conditions.

6. The invention of claim 5 wherein said predetermined configuration comprises an I configuration.

7. The invention of claim 5 wherein said predetermined configuration comprises a V configuration.

8. The invention of claim 5 wherein said predetermined configuration comprises a T configuration.

9. The invention of claim 5 wherein said predetermined configuration comprises an X configuration.

10. The invention of claim 5 wherein said material comprises said adhesive material.

11. The invention of claim 5 where said material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive.

12. The invention of claim 5 wherein said thickness of said spacer comprises a thickness of one-half a thickness of the tiles.

13. A method of installing tiles with a permanent spacer, the method comprising the steps of: a) applying an adhesive to a surface to be tiled; b) laying first tile onto the adhesive; c) placing a spacer adjacent to a first edge of the first tile, the spacer comprising a height of less than a thickness of the tiles; d) laying a second tile with a second edged adjacent to the spacer; e) repeating steps a) through d) with a next tile and a next spacer; f) allowing the adhesive to cure; and g) grouting a space between the tiles and over the spacers.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein said surface to be tiled comprises a vertical surface.

15. The method of claim 13 further comprising the step proving the spacer made of an adhesive material.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein the adhesive material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention (Technical Field)

The invention relates to the installation of tile and more particularly to permanently mounted tile spacers used for the installation of tile.

2. Background Art

For most tile installations, the surface to be tiled is prepared and an adhesive material is applied to the prepared surface. The initial tiles are then placed on the adhesive. Prior to placing tiles adjacent to the tiles mounted on the surface most installers apply a spacer. Presently, in tile installation, plastic or rubber spacers or the like are used to keep the spacing between tiles consistent. This same process is used for tiles installed on a perpendicular surface as well as vertical surfaces. Once the entire section is tiled, the adhesive under the tiles is allowed to cure for a specified period of time. Then the installers must remove the spacers. This task is very time consuming and can be fairly difficult for most installers. Some spacers, like the ones described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,953,341, contain protrusions that provide a means for one to “kick” the spacer out, but most installers require a screwdriver, or similar removal tool as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,010,654, to pry the spacer off the adhesive for removal. One prior art method, as described in U.S. Pat. 4,862,668, calls for setting the spacers on fire or burning them to melt the spacers. Once the spacers are removed, the grouting material is introduced into the valleys between the tiles and a standard finishing process is performed. Another prior art device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,363,560. This device is for very large tiles and is designed to level the tiles to be consistent with the adjoining tiles. A similar device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,503,654. Each of these devices are very expensive compared to the present invention and would be unuseable on level floors. The present invention eliminates the step of taking out the plastic or rubber spacers, which saves time and labor. The new spacer does not require the spacer to be removed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION (DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION)

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided an apparatus and method for using permanent spacers for maintaining a substantially similar space between tiles. The preferred permanent spacer for providing a substantially uniform space between tiles comprises, a predetermined configuration of the spacer comprising at least two radially extending legs and a common junction wherein the at least two legs and the common junction comprise a height of less than a thickness of the tiles and the spacer comprises a material that adheres to an adhesive material underlaying the tiles and a grout material and the material substantially maintains its size and shape through varying thermal and moisture conditions. The preferred spacer material comprises the adhesive material. The preferred adhesive material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive. The preferred thickness of the spacer comprises a thickness of one-half of a thickness of the tiles.

The preferred permanent spacer for providing a substantially uniform space between at least two tiles comprises a predetermined configuration wherein the predetermined configuration comprises a means to maintain the substantially uniform space between the at least two tiles, a height of the spacer comprising less than one half of a thickness of the at least two tiles and a material that adheres to an adhesive material underlaying the at least two tiles, the permanent spacer and a grout material, and the material substantially maintains its size and shape through varying thermal and moisture conditions. The predetermined configuration can comprise an I configuration, a V configuration, a T configuration or an X configuration. The preferred spacer material comprises the adhesive material. The preferred spacer material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive. The preferred thickness of the spacer comprises a thickness of one-half a thickness of the tiles.

The preferred method of installing tiles with a permanent spacer comprises the steps of applying an adhesive to a surface to be tiled, laying first tile onto the adhesive, placing a spacer adjacent to a first edge of the first tile, the spacer comprising a height of less than a thickness of the tiles, laying a second tile with a second edged adjacent to the spacer, repeating the above steps with a next tile and a next spacer, allowing the adhesive to cure and grouting a space between the tiles and over the spacers. The preferred method of installing tiles using the permanent spacer comprises installing tiles on a vertical surface. The preferred method further comprises the step proving the spacer made of an adhesive material. The preferred adhesive material comprises a member from the group consisting of thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar and a ceramic tile adhesive.

A primary object of the present invention is provide a tile spacer that does not have to be removed.

Another object of the invention is to provide a tile spacer that does not expand or contract due to temperature or moisture.

A primary advantage of the present invention is that by using the new tile spacer it saves the installer and consumer time, cost, and labor, because the spacer is not removed.

Another advantage of the present invention is that the new spacer maintains accurate spacing between tiles mounted on vertical surfaces, such as walls.

Other objects, advantages and novel features, and further scope of applicability of the present invention will be set forth in part in the detailed description to follow, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated into and form a part of the specification, illustrate several embodiments of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. The drawings are only for the purpose of illustrating a preferred embodiment of the invention and are not to be construed as limiting the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred new tile spacer.

FIG. 2 is a shows the new spacer installed between tiles.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an installation of tiles using the preferred spacer prior to grouting.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a completed installation of tiles using the preferred spacer.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS (BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION)

FIG. 1 shows the preferred configuration of the new spacer 10. This configuration is similar to the prior art rubber spacers, a cross configuration or at least two radially extending legs 12 and a common junction 14. In addition to the cross configuration, the spacers can be configured in an “I”, “T” or “V” configuration, depending on the particular style of tile or installation (not shown). However, the new spacers are constructed from a material that adheres to the mastic or adhesive that is spread onto the surface prior to setting the tile. The preferred material also preferably has the properties of not expanding or contracting or expanding and contracting similarly to the adhesive or grout material. Additionally, the preferred material does not absorb moisture or expand, contract or degrade when exposed to moisture. Thus, the preferred material for constructing the spacers is the adhesive or mastic material. These include thin set mortar, bonding mortar, flexible bonding mortar, fortified thin-set mortar, and ceramic tile adhesives. By using one of the aforementioned materials, the new spacer bonds to the adhesive material and the grout. In addition, the spacer can be made of baked clay, concrete, mortar, underlayment material with or without hardeners or any other similar material that readily adheres to the adhesive material.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, spacer 10 is placed on adhesive material 18 in between tiles 16, a method well known in the art. Thus the tiles 16 and the spacer 10 are glued or adhered to the adhesive material 18. The spacer 10, having uniform width radially extending legs 12 provides for uniform spaces between the tiles 16 for an aesthetic appearance. The main feature of the inventive spacer 10, is that they do not need to be removed like prior art spacers. The removal of the prior art spacers is especially difficult for smaller tile installations, such as using spacers for providing one-eighth (⅛) inch. Spacer 10 has a preferable height 20 that is less than a height of the tile 22 for providing space for grout 24. The preferred height 20 of the spacer 10 is approximately one-half (½) the height of the tile 22. The new spacers are especially useful for laying tile on vertical surfaces such as wall. When installed on a vertical surface, gravity tends to pull the tile down. This new advanced spacer keeps the tile stable. Other spacers need to be removed, and when removed the tile tends to sag down.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a final tile installation using the new spacer 10. The tiles are installed as set forth above. The final step of the process is the placement of grout material 24 in the spaces between the tiles 26 and over the spacer 10 as shown. Due to the properties of the spacers 10, the grouting material adheres to the spacer.

The spacers are preferably manufactured in mass quantities. The preferred manufacturing process could include a mold where by one or more spacers could be made by pouring or injecting the spacer material onto the mold and letting the spacer material to cure or harden. Variations would be different sizes, such as ⅛, ¼, ½ or 1 inch. The spacers could be of different colors to compliment the chosen grout color. For instance, for darker grout, the spacers could be a gray color, and for lighter color grout the spacers could be white.

Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these preferred embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications and equivalents. The entire disclosures of all references, applications, patents, and publications cited above, are hereby incorporated by reference.