Title:
Modular granite countertop
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A granite tile for forming an inside corner of a countertop is provided, comprising a first surface adapted to act as part of a counter top; a second surface for securing to a base; a front edge, said front edge sized to extend past and downward from said base; and a corner edge between said front edge and a second edge, said corner edge shaped to receive a second corner edge.



Inventors:
Fernandes, Gratian (North Vancouver, CA)
Application Number:
10/859326
Publication Date:
12/01/2005
Filing Date:
06/01/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B77/02; A47B96/18; A47F9/00; B24B7/00; B28D1/02; B28D1/30; E04B1/00; E04F19/02; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WENDELL, MARK R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Nixon Peabody LLP (San Francisco, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A first granite tile for forming an inside corner of a countertop, comprising: a first surface adapted to form part of a counter top; a second surface for securing to a base; a first edge, said first edge sized to extend past said base and below said second surface; a corner edge between said first edge and a second edge, said corner edge shaped to abut a second corner edge, said second edge shaped to abut in second tile.

2. The tile of claim 1 wherein said first edge is a full bullnose.

3. The tile of claim 1 wherein said first edge is a half bullnose.

4. The tile of claim 1 wherein said first edge is eased.

5. The tile of claim 1 wherein said corner edge of said first tile is in contact with said second corner edge of a second granite tile, said second tile comprising: a first surface adapted to form as part of a counter top; a second surface for securing to a base; a first edge of said second tile, sized to extend past said base and below from said second surface; and said corner edge of said second tile is shaped to abut said corner edge of said first tile.

6. A kit for forming a countertop on a base, said countertop having an edge extending beyond said base, said countertop having both inside and outside corners, comprising: a plurality of granite surface tiles for covering the surface of said base wherein at least two of said surface tiles comprise corner edges allowing said tiles to abut to form a corner edge; a plurality of granite splash tiles, each of said splash tiles corresponding to a surface tile, for placement on said corresponding surface tile; wherein at least a portion of said surface tiles have at least a tile edge extending beyond said base to form said edge.

7. The kit of claim 6 wherein there are 16 surface tiles, and two of said surface tiles comprise corner edges.

8. The kit of claim 7 wherein there are 10 splash tiles.

9. The kit of claim 8 wherein eight of said surface tiles have at least a surface tile edge for forming part of said edge.

10. A method of making a plurality of granite tiles for a countertop including an inside corner, comprising: cutting and polishing a slab from a granite block to a specified thickness; cutting a plurality of tiles from said slab and calibrating a rear edge of each tile to maintain said thickness; gauging each of said tiles to attain a consistent shape allowing each of said tiles to abut against one or more other tiles; micro bevelling an edge of each tile to soften its corners; bonding a granite strip to the edge of a selection of said tiles using a high pressure lamination process to provide a decorative edge; grinding and polishing said granite strip to form a consistent profile; and cutting a corner edge of a selected tile at approximately 45 degrees.

11. A method of packing a kit of generally rectangular granite tiles, comprising a plurality of surface tiles, wherein at least two of said surface tiles comprise an elongated edge extending downward from said tile, comprising: pairing said tiles comprising elongated edges, such that the top surface of a first paired tile is adjacent to the bottom surface of a second paired tile, and the elongated edge of said first paired tile is on the opposite side from said elongated edge of said second paired tile.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to modular countertop tiles for installation in homes and particularly to granite modular countertop tiles.

2. Background

Installation of new granite countertops is frequently done by contractors or homeowners, but is a messy, time consuming and difficult process. In many cases, a specialist must cut the granite to a specific size at great expense.

One means of simplifying the task of installing a new countertop is to use a pre-fabricated modular tile set. Such sets include a variety of tiles meant to be laid out in a specific manner to cover the entire surface being tiled. An example of a complete pre-fabricated tile counter in components is found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,442,905 to Weinstein. While Weinstein provides for a tile countertop that is simple to install, it lacks decorative features, particularly along the edges, and the outside and inside corners.

A difficulty with prior art granite modular tile countertops is that they fail to provide for decorative features, such as a “bull nosed” edge, the curved downward sloping edge popular among homeowners. In the prior art the bull nosing of an outward edge of a tile requires the shaping of a tile specifically for that purpose at significant cost and man-hours.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A first granite tile for forming an inside corner of a countertop is provided, comprising a first surface adapted to act as part of a counter top; a second surface for securing to a base; a front edge, said front edge sized to extend past and downward from said base; and a corner edge between said front edge and a second edge, said corner edge shaped to abut a second corner edge. The front edge of the tile can be a full bullnose, a half bullnose, an ogee, a dupont, penciled, bevelled, or eased. The corner edge of the first tile may be abutting a corner edge of a second tile, said second tile comprising a surface adapted to act as part of a counter top; a surface for securing to a base; a front edge sized to extend past and downward from said base; and the corner edge of the second tile shaped to abut said corner edge of said first tile.

A kit for forming a granite countertop on a base is provided, said countertop having an edge extending beyond said base, said countertop having both inside and outside corners, comprising a plurality of granite surface tiles for covering the surface of said base wherein at least two of said surface tiles comprise corner edges allowing said tiles to meet to form a corner edge; and a plurality of splash tiles, each of said splash tiles corresponding to a surface tile, for placement on said corresponding surface tile; wherein at least a portion of said surface tiles have at least a surface tile edge extending beyond said base to form the edge.

A method of manufacturing a granite tile is provided, comprising: cutting and polishing a slab from a granite block to a specified thickness; cutting a plurality of tiles from the slab and calibrating each of the tiles to maintain said thickness; gauging each tile to attain a consistent squareness for each tile allowing at least an edge of said tile to abut against an edge of one or more other tiles; micro bevelling each tile's edges to soften its corners; bonding an appropriate granite strip to the edge of selected tiles using a high pressure lamination process to provide a decorative edge; grinding and polishing the laminated edges to form a consistent profile; cutting a corner edge of a selected tile at 45 degrees to form an inside corner with another tile with a corner edge. Such a process of cutting the corner edge uses a clamping device for lamination of the tile, and a jig capable of measuring a 90 degree inside corner joint. Following these steps, the back splash tiles are cut and polished and the top and exposed sides of all tiles are bevelled and polished, and finally, selected splash tiles are bevelled to create a 90 degree inside corner.

A method of packing a kit of generally rectangular granite tiles is provided, comprising a plurality of surface tiles, wherein at least two of said surface tiles comprise an elongated edge extending downward from said tile, and pairing said tiles with elongated edges, such that the top surface of a first paired tile abuts the bottom surface of a second paired tile, and the elongated edge of said first paired tile is on the opposite side from said elongated edge of said second paired tile.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a top cutaway view of a countertop according to the invention;

FIG. 1B is a partial side view thereof;

FIG. 2A is a top view of a front left corner tile according to the invention;

FIG. 2B is a side view thereof, taken along side B;

FIG. 2C is a side view thereof, taken along side A;

FIG. 2D is a perspective view thereof;

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a front right corner tile according to the invention;

FIG. 3B is a front view thereof, taken along side A;

FIG. 3C is side view thereof, taken along side B;

FIG. 3D is a top view thereof;

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of a front end tile according to the invention;

FIG. 4B is a side view thereof taken along side A or B;

FIG. 4C is a side view thereof taken along side C;

FIG. 4D is a top view thereof;

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of a front tile according to the invention;

FIG. 5B is a front view thereof, taken along side A;

FIG. 5C is a side view thereof, taken along side C;

FIG. 5D is a top view thereof;

FIG. 6A shows a side view of a left end back splash tile according to the invention;

FIG. 6B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 6C shows an alternative side view thereof;

FIG. 7A shows a side view of a back splash tile according to the invention;

FIG. 7B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 7C shows an alternative side view thereof;

FIG. 8A shows a side view of a left corner back splash tile according to the invention;

FIG. 8B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 8C shows an alternative side view thereof;

FIG. 9A shows a side view of a right corner back splash tile according to the invention;

FIG. 9B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 9C shows an alternative side view thereof;

FIG. 9D shows a top view thereof;

FIG. 10A shows a side view of a right end back splash tile according to the invention;

FIG. 10B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 10C shows an alternative side view thereof;

FIG. 10D shows a bottom view thereof;

FIG. 11A shows a top view of an assembled countertop according to the invention;

FIG. 11B shows a cut away side view of a portion thereof;

FIG. 11C shows a side view thereof;

FIG. 12A shows a top view of a packing assembly according to the invention;

FIG. 12B shows a side view thereof;

FIG. 12C shows a cutaway alternate side view thereof;

FIG. 12D shows a perspective view thereof;

FIG. 13 shows a perspective view of an assembled countertop according to the invention;

FIG. 14A shows a perspective view of a alternative embodiment of a front tile according to the invention;

FIG. 14B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 14C shows a top view thereof;

FIG. 15A shows a perspective view of yet another alternative embodiment of a front tile according to the invention;

FIG. 15B shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 15C shows a top view thereof;

FIG. 16A shows a rear view of a portion of an assembled countertop using a variety of front tiles according to the invention;

FIG. 16B shows a top view thereof;

FIG. 16C shows a front view thereof;

FIG. 16D shows a side view thereof; and

FIG. 16E shows an alternative side view thereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Definitions

In this document, the following terms have the following meanings: “inside corner” means a concave corner formed by two tiles, often, but not necessarily at about 90°; “outside corner” means a convex corner formed by one or more tiles; “base” means a surface, usually relatively flat, on which a countertop is placed; “corner edge” means, in a generally rectangular tile, a relatively shortened edge between one side of the rectangular tile to an adjacent side; “surface tile” means a generally flat tile for securing to a base; and “splash tile” means a tile designed to rest on another tile and rest against a wall or other vertical surface.

As seen in FIGS. 1a and 1b, the components of the modular counter top 100 are shaped to fit together in a certain pattern and are preferably sold as a kit to allow users to make countertop 100. In a preferred embodiment, the kit contains the following tiles:

TileQuantityReference
Front End Tile (“FET”)231
Rear End Tile (“RET”)232
Front Tile (“FT”)233
Rear Tile (“RT”)834
Front Left Corner Tile (“FLCT”)135
Front Right Corner Tile (“FRCT”)136
Left End Back Splash Tile (“LEBST”)137
Back Splash Tile (“BST”)638
Left Corner Back Splash Tile (“LCBST”)139
Right Corner Back Splash Tile (“RCBST”)140
Right End Back Splash Tile (“REBST”)141

Throughout this document, particular tiles will be referred to by their abbreviated names as indicated above. For example Left End Back Splash Tile 37 will be referred to as LEBST 37.

The inclusion of the tile set listed above allows for flexible sizing of a countertop 100 according to the invention. By adding smaller tiles sets comprising of FT 33, RT 34 and BST 38, the length of countertop 100 can be extended as necessary and the kit can be used to form L shaped, U shaped, or other rectangular countertops. In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the tile set may come with the additional front tiles shown in FIGS. 14A through 14C and 15A through 15C, as described below, and rear tiles and splash tiles sized accordingly to correspond to the front tiles. The different sizes of these tiles allow the length of countertop 100 to be adjusted without the need to cut tiles.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention each surface tile (FET 31; RET 32; FT 33; RT 34; FLCT 35; and FRCT 36) is made of granite and is approximately 12″×12″. Edge 170 extends a further 1″ from each adjacent surface tile, so tiles forming part of edge 170 have larger dimensions such as 12″×13″ or 13″×13″. The height of each surface tile is preferably 1½″, excepts for those portions of surface tiles forming edge 170 which are preferably 1¼″ thick. Each surface tile has at least two edges that are generally straight and shaped to align with and abut edges of adjacent tiles.

As seen in FIG. 1B, countertop 100 is shaped to fit on a base 22, preferably made of a substance such as plywood. Edge 170 is shaped to fit over and extend downwardly from the edge of base 22. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, edge 170 is “bullnosed”, i.e. it has a curved shape. In other embodiments, edge 170 may have a “half bullnose” (i.e. a quarter circle) or it may be “eased” i.e. square, as seen in FIG. 1B.

As seen in FIGS. 2A through 2D, FLCT 35 has a generally flattened top surface 110 and bottom surface 120. On each surface tile according to the invention, top surface 110 may include decorative features, or may be a simple flat tile. Extended edge 12 of FLCT 35 is “bull nosed” meaning it is a rounded edge. In a preferred embodiment lower portion 13 of extended edge 12 extends below bottom surface 120.

Corner edge 11 of FLCT 35 is shaped to abut opposite corner edge 140 of FRCT 36. Preferably corner edge 11 extends outwardly from edge 115 towards extended edge 12 at approximately angle F (preferably at 45 degrees) until meeting extended edge 12.

FRCT 36, as seen in FIGS. 3A through 3D, is preferably a mirror image to FLCT 35, so that when corner edge 11 of FLCT 35 is placed adjacent to and aligned with corner edge 140 of FRCT 36, the inside corner 200 of modular countertop 100 is formed.

FET 31, as seen in FIGS. 4A through 4D, forms an outside corner 14 of countertop 100 and therefore has extended edge 12 along two adjacent edges. FT 33, as seen in FIGS. 5A through 5D, is similar in fashion to FET 31 but has extended edge 12 only along one edge of FT 33. RET 32 has the same shape as FT 33.

There are other sizes of front tiles that may be included in the kit, as seen in FIGS. 14A through 14C and 15A through 15C. Front tile 140 is preferably 3″×13″; and front tile 150 is preferably 6″×13″. These tiles 140, 150 can be combined to make a space 9″×13″. Front tiles 140 and 150 can be used to adjust the size of countertop 100 by making each arm of the “L” shaped countertop longer or shorter. Front tiles 140 and 150 can be used in addition to, or substituted for FT 33 as necessary.

RT 34 is a standard square granite tile as known in the art. Preferably other surface tiles having similar properties but sized to correspond to front tiles 140 and 150 will be included, as seen in FIGS. 16A through 16E. For example rear tile 143 is preferably 3″×12″, and rear tile 153 is 6″×12″.

The splash tiles (LEBST 37; BST 38; LCBST 39; RCBST 40; and REBST 41) are designed to fit at the back of countertop 100 and provide a gently sloped top surface 200 as seen in FIGS. 6 through 10. The splash tiles are sized for placement on corresponding surface tiles and serve to protect the wall against which countertop 100 will be placed. Alternatively, if space permits on base 22, the splash tiles may be placed behind the corresponding surface tile.

LEBST 37, as seen in FIGS. 6A through 6C has top surface 200, back side 210 and front side 220. LEBST 37 corresponds with surface tile RET 32 and the bottom side 240 of LEBST 37 is shaped to rest on the back portion of the top surface of RET 32. Back edge 210 should rest against the wall or other surface forming the back of the counter. Corner edge 230 adds a decorative element to LEBST 37 and can be polished, bevelled, eased, or have a full or half bullnose. In the embodiment shown, corner edge 230 is at angle G, preferably 45° between front edge 230 and top edge 200.

BST 38, as seen in FIGS. 7A through 7C is similar in shape to LEBST 37, except corner edge 230 is on the top of BST 38, rather than the top and a side of LEBST 37. BST 38 corresponds with surface tile RT 34. Likewise, as seen in FIGS. 8A through 8C, LCBST 41 is the mirror image of LEBST 37, as corner edge 230 is the top 200 of LCBST 41 and right side of LCBST 41 rather than the left side as with LEBST 37. LCBST 41 corresponds with surface tile RET 32.

Preferably other splash tiles having similar properties but sized to correspond to rear tiles 143 and 153 will be included. For example back splash tile 147 is preferably 3″ long and back splash tile 157 is 6″ long, as seen in FIGS. 16A through 16E.

As seen in FIGS. 9A through 9D and 10A through 10D, respectively, LCBST 39 and RCBST 40 are generally similar to REBST 41 and LEBST 37, respectively, but each has edge 16 to allow LCBST 39 and RCBST 40 to abut at a wall corner. The respective edges 16 abut with each other to form inside corner 250. Edges 16 extend from front 220 at angle G (about 45°) until reaching rear side 210. LCBST 39 and RCBST 40 both correspond with a single RT 34.

In a preferred embodiment, when countertop 100 has been assembled as seen in FIGS. 11A, 11B and 11C, backsplash 20 extends above the top surface of countertop 100 by about 4″. Bull nose edge 18 extends along the outer edge 170 of countertop 100. A bonding material 21 is used to secure each tile in countertop 100 to base 22. Base 22 is preferably made of plywood or cement backer board.

Installation

The granite tiles are installed using means known in the art. The following example is provided although many other alternatives are available. To install the tiles, base 22 is prepared first. Base 22 is preferably made of plywood with a depth of ½″ or ¾″. The preferable depth of base 22 depends on the bonding material used in the installation process. Base 22 should be levelled and secured with screws or other securing means to the frame on which base 22 rests.

If mortar (i.e. cement) is used as a bonding material, then a layer of thin-set mortar (preferably mixed with latex additive) is applied to base 22 and then set down in approximately a ½″ layer on a cement backer-board (which is moisture resistant) and secured by screws to the mortar layer. If countertop 100 is to be used frequently and is expected to receive water, a waterproofing membrane should be applied (for example by sheet or trowel) to protect countertop 100 from water damage. Finally, the granite tiles are set in the mortar bed (preferably a mix for use with granite or marble) and left to set.

If an adhesive is used as the bonding material, a thin coat of epoxy and a lay waterproofing membrane is applied to base 22 and let set. The epoxy is then applied on the membrane to bond the tiles and a thin layer of epoxy is applied to the back and mating sides (i.e. a side that abuts another tile) of each tile. The front corner tiles (FLCT 35 and FRCT 36) are laid out first, followed by the front and end tiles (FET 31 and FT 33), the rear tiles (RET 32 and RT 34) and finally the back splash tiles (LEBST 33, BST 38, LCBST 39, RCBST 40 and REBST 41). The area between the tiles are filled with epoxy and then let set. Clear epoxy or a blend with color is preferred to suit the tile color.

If a sink is to be used with countertop 100, once countertop 100 is set and cured, it should be marked according to a template corresponding to the appropriate sink. The cut out is done using an appropriate tool and coolant. Base 22 should be supported from below during the cutting process. Once countertop 100 and base 22 are dry the cut out area should be sealed with epoxy where the tiles meet base 22.

After the tiles are placed on base 22 they should be sealed with a sealer. The sealer is applied on the top surface of each tile and along the grout lines between tiles and left to dry. After the first application has dried, a second coat of sealer is applied to protect against bacteria growth. Sealer should then be applied every one to two years (depending on the usage on of countertop 100) for preventative maintenance.

A preferred sealer is a water-based sealer that resists water, oil and acid-based contaminants. Such a sealer simplifies maintenance and maintains the appearance of countertop 100. The frequency of application of the sealer to countertop 100 will vary depending on hardness and texture of tiles, the type of area, the surface wear, and the frequency and type of maintenance products used.

Manufacture

When manufacturing the tiles, a granite slab of a selected thickness is cut from a granite block and polished. Tiles are then cut from the slab and calibrated to maintain the selected thickness. Each tile is then gauged so that the tiles will align with each other. The corner of each tile is then micro bevelled to soften the tile corners.

For surface tiles that are intended to form the counter edge, a granite strip is bonded to the appropriate edge(s) of the tile using a high pressure lamination process to provide the selected decorative edge. The laminated edge is then ground and polished to form a uniform edge profile.

For the inside corner tiles, each corner edge is cut at approximately 45 degrees to form a 90 degree inside corner when abutting the other tile's corner edge. Cutting at this angle requires a clamping device for lamination, and a configured jig to measure the angle for cutting to obtain the 90 degree inside corner joint. The inside corner backsplash tiles should then be bevelled to form an approximately 90 degree corner splash. Finally all exposed surfaces of the tiles are bevelled and polished.

Packing

A difficulty with the prior art modular countertops is that it is difficult to pack tiles that are not cube or box shaped, (i.e. that have edges extending upwardly or downwardly). This makes packing and shipping such tiles quite expensive, as frequently each tile with an unusual edge must be individually wrapped or sheltered in Styrofoam™ or the like.

As seen in FIGS. 12A through 12D, the surface tiles according to the invention can be packed efficiently. FIG. 12A shows the top surface of packing crate 23. FIG. 12B shows a side view of packing crate 23 which may include labels to provide information about the contents thereof. Packing crate 23 is divided into a top portion 25 and a bottom portion 26. FIG. 12D shows a perspective view of packing crate 1.

FIG. 12D shows a cut away side view of packing crate 1 within which surface tiles 24 are visible. Each surface tile having an edge can be placed adjacent to its corresponding tile (e.g. RET 32 can be paired with another RET 32 or FT 33; likewise FET 31 should be paired with another FET 31; and FLCT 35 should be paired with FRCT 36) such that the top surface of one of each pair rests against the bottom surface of its corresponding tile.

The non edged tiles (and the splash tiles) are placed in a dedicated compartment (not shown) of packing crate 23.

A packing crate for holding the tiles is preferably a high density Styrofoam compartmentalized moulded box in half sections. Non edged tiles and back splashes tiles are arranged in a way that they occupy the least amount of space and so that finished top surfaces of each tile does not come into do not come into contact with other tiles. The packing crate is sized for easy handling by individuals without requiring the use of a lifting or handling device.

Although the particular preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in detail for illustrative purposes, it will be recognized that variations or modifications of the disclosed apparatus lie within the scope of the present invention.