Title:
Panel system and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Some embodiments of the present invention include a panel system for mounting on a structure with a plurality of fasteners. In some embodiments, the panel system includes a first panel having an outwardly extending flange configured to receive a plurality of fasteners for coupling the first panel to the structure and a second panel couplable with the first panel and having a first end and a second end and a front face extending therebetween. The first end of the second panel can include a leg extending outwardly in direction substantially parallel to the front face. In some embodiments, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the leg extends across the flange and substantially covers the flange and at least one of the plurality of fasteners located in the flange.



Inventors:
Klimek, David J. (Mosinee, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/072057
Publication Date:
09/21/2006
Filing Date:
03/04/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FIGUEROA, LUZ ADRIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (Mke) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A panel system for mounting on a structure, the panel system comprising: a first panel having an outwardly extending flange configured to receive a plurality of fasteners for coupling the first panel to the structure; and a second panel couplable with the first panel and having a first end and a second end and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a leg extending outwardly in direction substantially parallel to the front face; wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the leg extends across the flange and substantially covers the flange and at least one of the plurality of fasteners located in the flange.

2. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the first panel includes a front face, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the front face of the first panel and the front face of the second panel are substantially aligned along an imaginary plane.

3. The panel system of claim 1, further comprising a second leg extending outwardly from the first end of the second panel in a direction substantially parallel to the first leg.

4. The panel system of claim 3, wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the second leg engages the flange to orient the second panel with respect to the first panel.

5. The panel system of claim 3, wherein the first leg extends outwardly a first distance from the first end of the second panel and the second leg extends outwardly a second distance from the first end of the second panel, the first distance being greater than the second distance.

6. The panel system of claim 3, wherein together the first and second legs define a recess therebetween, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the flange extends into the recess.

7. The panel system of claim 3, wherein the first panel includes a front face, wherein the flange includes a shoulder extending along the flange in a direction substantially perpendicular to the front face of the first panel, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the second leg is engageable with the shoulder to orient the second panel relative to the first panel.

8. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the first panel includes a first face plate, a second face plate, and a mounting flange extending therebetween for receiving fasteners to secure the first panel to the structure.

9. The panel system of claim 8, wherein together the first panel, the second panel, and the mounting flange define a channel for receiving a support.

10. The panel system of claim 9, wherein the support is moveable along the channel between a plurality of positions relative to the mounting flange.

11. The panel system of claim 9, wherein one of the first face plate and the second face plate includes an outwardly extending lip, the lip extending across the mounting flange for securing the support in the channel.

12. The panel system of claim 1, wherein one of the first panel and the second panel includes an outwardly extending lip, wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the lip extends outwardly from the one of the first panel and the second panel across at least a portion of the leg, and wherein the lip and the leg define a channel for receiving a support.

13. The panel system of claim 12, wherein the support is moveable along the channel between a plurality of positions relative to the mounting flange.

14. The panel system of claim 12, wherein an other of the first panel and the second panel includes a second lip, wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the second lip extends outwardly from the other of the first panel and the second panel across at least a second portion of the leg to secure the support in the channel.

15. The panel system of claim 1, wherein the flange defines a groove configured to receive the plurality of fasteners and to orient the plurality of fasteners along the flange, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the leg extends across the groove substantially covering the groove.

16. The panel system of claim 15, wherein, when at least one fastener is located in the groove, the at least one fastener is substantially recessed in the groove with respect to a forward surface of the flange.

17. A panel system for mounting on a structure, the panel system comprising: a first panel including a front face and an outwardly extending flange, the flange being configured to be secured to the structure with a plurality of fasteners and having a shoulder extending along the flange in a direction substantially perpendicular to the front face; and a second panel having a first end and a second end and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a forward leg extending outwardly in a direction substantially parallel to the front face and a rearward leg extending outwardly in a direction substantially parallel to the forward leg, together the forward leg and the rearward leg defining a recess, the flange being engageable in the recess to couple the first and second panels, the rearward leg being engageable with the shoulder to orient the second panel with respect to the first panel.

18. The panel system of claim 17, wherein the rearward leg extends outwardly a first distance from the first end of the second panel and the forward leg extends outwardly a second distance from the first end of the second panel, the second distance being different than the first distance.

19. The panel system of claim 17, wherein the second panel defines a mounting flange extending across the front face, the mounting flange being configured to be secured to the structure with fasteners.

20. The panel system of claim 19, wherein the mounting flange at least partially defines a channel for receiving a support, the support being moveable along the channel between a plurality of positions relative to the mounting flange.

21. The panel system of claim 20, wherein the front face of the second panel includes an outwardly extending lip, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the lip extends across at least a portion of the forward leg to secure the support in the channel.

22. The panel system of claim 17, wherein one of the first panel and the second panel includes an outwardly extending lip, and wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the lip extends across at least a portion of the forward leg.

23. The panel system of claim 22, wherein the lip and the forward leg define a channel for receiving a support, and wherein the support is moveable along the channel between a plurality of positions relative to the forward leg.

24. The panel system of claim 23, wherein an other of the first panel and the second panel includes a second lip, wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the second lip extends outwardly from the other of the first panel and the second panel across at least a second portion of the forward leg to secure the support in the channel.

25. The panel system of claim 17, wherein the flange includes a groove for locating the plurality of fasteners along the recess.

26. The panel system of claim 25, wherein, when at least one fastener is located in the groove, the at least one fastener is substantially recessed with respect to a forward surface of the flange.

27. The panel system of claim 17, wherein, when the flange is engaged in the recess, the forward leg extends across the flange in a direction substantially parallel to the front face of the second panel substantially covering the flange and the plurality of fasteners.

28. The panel system of claim 17, wherein the second end of the second panel includes an outwardly extending flange configured to be secured to the structure with a second plurality of fasteners, and further comprising a third panel couplable with the second panel and having an outwardly extending leg, the leg of the third panel being engageable with the flange of the second panel to secure the third panel to the second panel.

29. A method of assembling a panel system for a structure, the panel system including a first panel and a second panel, the first panel having a front face and an outwardly extending flange, the second panel having a first end, a second end, and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a leg extending outwardly in direction substantially parallel to the front face, the method comprising: inserting a fastener through the flange and into the structure to secure the first panel to the structure; positioning the second panel adjacent to the first panel and aligning the front face of the first panel with the front face of the second panel; and moving the leg across the flange and the fastener and substantially covering the flange and the fastener with the forward leg.

30. The method of claim 29, wherein the first panel includes a groove, and wherein the act of inserting a fastener through the flange and into the structure to secure the first panel to the structure includes the act of positioning the fastener along the groove.

31. The method of claim 29, further comprising the act of inserting a second fastener through the second panel and into the structure to secure the second panel to the structure.

32. The method of claim 29, wherein the first end of the second panel includes a second leg extending outwardly from the first end in a direction substantially parallel to the first leg, wherein the flange includes a shoulder extending along the flange in a direction substantially perpendicular to the front face of the first panel, and wherein the act of aligning the front face of the first panel with the front face of the second panel includes the act of engaging the shoulder with the second leg to orient the second panel with respect to the first panel.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Panel systems, such as those often used in workshops and store displays, typically include one or more interlocking panels. The interlocking panels are typically secured to a building structure to provide a location for displaying or storing items, such as store merchandise, tools, storage containers, and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Some embodiments of the present invention provide a panel system for mounting on a structure with a plurality of fasteners, wherein the panel system comprises a first panel having an outwardly extending flange configured to receive a plurality of fasteners for coupling the first panel to the structure; and a second panel couplable with the first panel and having a first end and a second end and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a leg extending outwardly in direction substantially parallel to the front face; wherein, when the second panel is coupled to the first panel, the leg extends across the flange and substantially covers the flange and at least one of the plurality of fasteners located in the flange.

In some embodiments, a panel system for mounting on a structure with a plurality of fasteners is provided and comprises a first panel including a front face and an outwardly extending flange, the flange being configured to be secured to the structure with a plurality of fasteners and having a shoulder extending along the flange in a direction substantially perpendicular to the front face; and a second panel having a first end and a second end and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a forward leg extending outwardly in a direction substantially parallel to the front face and a rearward leg extending outwardly in a direction substantially parallel to the forward leg, together the forward leg and the rearward leg defining a recess, the flange being engageable in the recess to couple the first and second panels, the rearward leg being engageable with the shoulder to orient the second panel with respect to the first panel.

One embodiment of the present invention provides a method of assembling a panel system structure, wherein the panel system includes a first panel and a second panel, the first panel having a front face and an outwardly extending flange, the second panel having a first end, a second end, and a front face extending therebetween, the first end including a leg extending outwardly in direction substantially parallel to the front face, and wherein the method comprises inserting a fastener through the flange and into the structure to secure the first panel to the structure; positioning the second panel adjacent to the first panel and aligning the front face of the first panel with the front face of the second panel; and moving the forward leg across the flange and the fastener and substantially covering the fastener and the flange with the forward leg.

Further aspects of the present invention, together with the organization and operation thereof, will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like elements have like numerals throughout the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of panel system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the panel system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of the panel system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a side view of one panel of the panel system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged end view of a portion of one panel of the panel system shown in FIG. 1.

Before the various embodiments of the present invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangements of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that phraseology and terminology used herein with reference to system or element orientation (such as, for example, terms like “front”, “back”, “up”, “down”, “top”, “bottom”, and the like) are only used to simplify description of the present invention, and do not alone indicate or imply that the system or element referred to must have a particular orientation. The panel system referred to in the present invention can be installed and operated in any orientation desired. In addition, terms such as “first”, “second”, and “third” are used herein and in the appended claims for purposes of description and are not intended to indicate or imply relative importance or significance.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIGS. 1-5 illustrate a wall covering or panel system 10 mountable on a structure 12, such as temporary or permanent walls, dividing walls, ceilings, structural walls, store displays, and the like. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, the structure 12 includes a wall 16 and a number of structural supports 18 spaced along the wall 16. As used herein and in the appended claims, the term “structure” includes any structural element to which the panel system 10 can be mounted, and includes without limitation walls, floors, ceilings, joists, sub-joists, studs, I-beams or beams having other shapes, struts, rafters, headers, girders, trusses, and the like.

The panel system 10 can have any shape desired, such as a round shape, a rectangular, triangular, or other polygonal shape, an irregular shape, and the like. By way of example only, the panel system 10 of the illustrated embodiment has a generally rectangular shape, and includes a number of panels 22.

With reference to the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-5, three panels 22a, 22b, 22c are shown by way of example only. Each of the illustrated panels 22a, 22b, 22c can have a front face 24, a rear face 26, sides 28, 30, upper ends 32, and lower ends 34 (with reference to the orientation of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c shown in FIGS. 1-5). Together, the front face 24, rear face 26, sides 28, 30, upper ends 32, and lower ends 34 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c can define an interior space 38.

While reference is made herein to embodiments in which the panel system 10 includes three panels 22a, 22b, 22c, it should be understood that in other embodiments one, two, four or more panels 22 can also or alternatively be used, depending upon one or more of the intended use for the panel system 10, the space available for the panel system 10, the desired orientation of the panel system 10, and/or the dimensions of the individual panels 22a, 22b, 22c.

Each of the illustrated panels 22a, 22b, 22c can include couplers for engaging adjacent panels 22a, 22b, 22c. In the illustrated embodiment, each panel 22a, 22b, 22c includes a first coupler 42 and a second coupler 44 located on respective lower and upper ends 34, 32. The first couplers 42 can include legs 46, 48, which extend downwardly from the lower ends 34 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c in a generally parallel direction. Together, the legs 46, 48 and the lower ends 34 define channels or recesses 50.

In the illustrated embodiment, the first or forward leg 46 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c extends a first distance from the lower end 34 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c and the second or rearward leg 48 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c extends a second, shorter distance from the lower end 34 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c. In other embodiments, the legs 46, 48 can be similarly sized, or alternatively, the second leg 48 can extend a greater distance from the lower end 34 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c than the first leg 46.

The second coupler 44 of each panel 22a, 22b, 22c can include an outwardly extending mounting flange 52. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 3-5, upper ends 54 of the mounting flanges 52 include shoulders 56, which extend along the mounting flanges 52 in a direction substantially parallel to the upper end 32 of each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. The mounting flanges 52 can also define grooves 60 which extend along a front surface of each of the mounting flanges 52 in a direction substantially parallel to the upper end 32 of each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. As explained in greater detail below, the mounting flanges 52 are sized to receive fasteners 72 for securing the panels 22a, 22b, 22c (and therefore, the panel system 10) to a building structure 12. In embodiments in which the mounting flanges 52 provide grooves 60, the grooves 60 are configured to receive fasteners 72 so that the fasteners 72 or portions of the fasteners 72 (e.g., the heads of the fasteners 72) can be at least partially recessed within the mounting flanges 52. In addition, and as explained below, in embodiments having legs 46, 48, the legs 46 of adjacent panels 22a, 22b, 22c can be sized to extend across and substantially cover the fasteners 72 or portions of the fasteners 72 (e.g., the heads of the fasteners 72) located on the grooves 60.

As shown in the illustrated embodiment, each panel 22a, 22b, 22c can include first and second couplers 42, 44. However, in other embodiments (not shown), one or more of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c can have only one coupler. In these embodiments, panels 22 having only one coupler can be arranged at opposite ends of the panel system 10 so that each coupler is interconnected with another coupler and so that the panel system 10 has a uniform outer surface. For example, a lower-most panel 22a can include a single upwardly extending coupler 44, which is engageable with one of the couplers of an intermediate panel 22b. Alternatively or in addition, an upper-most panel 22c can include a single downwardly extending coupler 42, which is engageable with a second coupler of the intermediate panel 22b.

In other embodiments, one or more of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c can include three or more outwardly extending couplers. For example, in some embodiments, third and fourth couplers can extend laterally outwardly from one or both sides 28, 30 of one or more of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. In these embodiments, the third and fourth couplers can be engageable with corresponding couplers on adjacent panels to form an interconnected wall. Alternatively or in addition, the third and fourth couplers can provide hangers for supporting tools, shelves, and like elements on the panel system 10.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-5, each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c also includes a first face plate 64 and a second face plate 66. As shown in FIGS. 2-4, the first and second face plates 64, 66 extend between the sides 28, 30 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c and define mounting flanges 68 extending therebetween. As explained in greater detail below, the mounting flanges 68 are sized to receive fasteners 72 for securing the panels 22a, 22b, 22c (and therefore, the panel system 10) to the structure 12. Lips 76, 78 extend outwardly from the first and second face plates 64, 66 respectively and extend across at least a portion of the mounting flanges 68. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 2-5, lips 80, 82 extend outwardly from the first and second face plates 64, 66 across portions of the first and second couplers 42, 44 of each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, in some embodiments of the present invention, the panels 22a, 22b, 22c can include one or more interior supports 88 for reinforcing and supporting the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 3-5, a number of interior supports 88 extend through at least a portion of the interior space 38 of each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c and are connected to interior sides of one or more of the front face 24, the rear face 26, the upper end 32, and the lower end 34 of each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. As also shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 3-5, the interior supports 88 can be located in a number of locations throughout the interior spaces 38 and can be oriented in a number of orientations.

For example, one or more interior supports 88 can extend through the interior space 38 of one or more of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c between an interior side of the front face 24 and the interior side of the rear face 26 and in a direction substantially parallel to the upper end 32. Other interior supports 88 can extend through the interior space 38 at an angle with respect to one or both of the upper and lower ends 32, 34. In other embodiments, two or more interior supports 88 can intersect and/or be interconnected.

Each of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c can also include insulation 90. For example, in some embodiments, the interior space 38, and/or portions of the interior space 38 can be at least partially filled with sound-absorbing material and/or thermal insulation. In other embodiments, at least a portion of the interior space 38 can define vacuum cavities having little or no air. Such vacuum cavities can prevent and/or reduce the transmission of sound and/or thermal energy through the panel system 10.

The panel system 10 can be mounted in any orientation, such as in a vertical orientation (i.e., with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 substantially perpendicular to a floor or a ceiling 92), a horizontal orientation (i.e., with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 substantially parallel to a floor or a ceiling 92), or in any other orientation desired (i.e., with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 at an angle between about 90 degrees and about 0 degrees with respect to a floor or a ceiling 92). The panel system 10 of the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1-5 is oriented substantially horizontally, with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c substantially perpendicular to the structural supports 18 and substantially parallel to the floor 92. In alternate embodiments, the panel system 10 can have other orientations with respect to the building structure and its structural support(s) 18, typically determined at least in part by space constraints, the orientation of the structural support(s) 18, and/or the spacing between structural supports 18.

One or more fasteners 72 can be employed to secure the panels 22a, 22b, 22c (and therefore, the panel system 10) to a building structure 12. In such cases, fasteners 72 can connect any part, such as the front face 24, the rear face 26, either end 28, 30, the upper end 32, or the lower end 34 of any one of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c to the building structure 12, and can extend through attachment holes 96 in the panels 22a, 22b, 22c for this purpose. Any conventional fastener can be employed to secure the panels 22 as just described, such as screws, nails, rivets, pins, posts, clips, clamps, inter-engaging elements, and combinations of such fasteners.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, fasteners 72 pass through attachment holes 96 in mounting flange 52, 68 thereby securing the panels 22a, 22b, 22c to the structural supports 18. In some embodiments, the attachment holes 96 are preformed to simplify installation of the panel system 10. In other embodiments, the mounting flanges 52, 68 can include one or more grooves 100 for locating the fasteners 72. In these embodiments, the grooves 100 can extend between the sides 28, 30 and can assist an installer in selecting a location for drilling the attachment holes 96.

In some embodiments, the panels 22a, 22b, 22c are secured to the structural supports 18 in two or more locations in order to provide a more secure attachment to the structure 12 and/or to distribute weight of the panel system 10 and the weight of items supported by the panel system 10 along the structure 12. For example, in the illustrated construction of FIG. 1, each panel 22a, 22b, 22c is secured to the structure 12 with fasteners 72 extending through attachment holes 96 in the mounting flanges 52, 68 to secure the panels 22 to four individual structural supports 18.

To mount the panel system 10 on a structure 12 according to the present invention, an installer first selects a desired mounting location for the panel system 10. If the desired mounting location or intended use of the panel system 10 necessitates or suggests the desirability of mounting the panel system 10 on a structural support 18, the installer then locates one or more structural supports 18 and orients the first panel 22a in the desired location with respect to the structural support(s) 18 (i.e., with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 substantially perpendicular to the structural support(s) 18 as shown in FIG. 1, or alternatively, with the upper and lower ends 32, 34 substantially parallel to the structural support(s) 18).

After the installer selects an appropriate location and orientation for the panel system 10, the installer secures the first panel 22a to the structure 12 with one or more fasteners 72. As mentioned above, in some embodiments, fasteners 72 can be inserted into preformed attachment holes 96 located along the mounting flanges 52, 68, or alternatively, the installer can drill attachment holes 96 anywhere along one or both of the mounting flanges 52, 68. In embodiments of the present invention having grooves 100, the installer can use the grooves 100 to locate a drill bit for drilling attachment holes 96.

As mentioned above, in some embodiments of the present invention, such as the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 3-5, the panels 22a, 22b, 22c are secured to the structure 12 with fasteners 72 extending through mounting flange 52 and mounting flange 68. In other embodiments, the panels 22a, 22b, 22c can be secured to the structure 12 with fasteners 72 extending through only one of the mounting flanges 52, 68. In still other embodiments, one or more fasteners 72 can be inserted through another location (e.g., the first face plate 64 and/or the second face plate 66) on the panels 22a, 22b, 22c to secure the panels 22a, 22b, 22c to the structure 12.

After the first panel 22a is secured to the structure 12, the installer moves the second panel 22b toward the first panel 22a, aligning the first coupler 42 of the second panel with the second coupler 44 of the first panel 22a. As shown in FIG. 3, the installer then moves the first and second legs 46, 48 of the second panel 22b into engagement with the mounting flange 52 of the first panel 22a. In some embodiments of the present invention, the first leg 46 of the second panel 22b extends across the groove 60a of the first panel 22a, substantially covering any fasteners 72 located along the mounting flange 52 to secure the first panel 22a to the structure 12 and giving the panel system a “finished” appearance.

As shown in FIG. 3, the first leg 46 of the second panel 22b engages the upper end 32 of the first panel 22a and the second leg 48 of the second panel 22b engages the shoulder 56 of the second panel 22b to maintain a predetermined spacing between the first and second panels 22a, 22b. As also shown in FIG. 3, in some embodiments, the engagement between the legs 46, 48 and the flange 52 orients the second panel 22b in a desired orientation with respect to the first panel 22a (e.g., with the front face 24 of the second panel 22b and the front face 24 of the first panel 22a substantially aligned along an imaginary plane (not shown)) and the structure 12.

Once the second panel 22b is coupled to the first panel 22a, fasteners 72 can be inserted through attachment holes 96 in one or both of the mounting flanges 52, 68 of the second panel 22b to secure the second panel 22b to the structure 12.

After the first and second panels 22a, 22b are coupled together and are secured to the structure 12, the installer moves the third panel 22c toward the second panel 22b, aligning the first coupler 42 of the third panel 22c with the second coupler 44 of the second panel 22b. As shown in FIG. 3, the installer then moves the first and second legs 46, 48 of the third panel 22c into engagement with the mounting flange 52 of the second panel 22b. In some embodiments of the present invention, fasteners 72 can be inserted through attachment holes 96 in one or both of the mounting flanges 52, 68 of the third panel 22c to secure the third panel 22c to the structure 12. This process can be repeated as necessary to form a panel system 10 having the desired number of panels 22.

After the panels 22a, 22b, 22c are coupled together and are secured to the structure 12, trim pieces 106 can be secured to one or both sides 28, 30 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c to provide a “finished” appearance and to substantially enclose the interior spaces 38, hiding the interior supports 88 and/or the insulation 90. In some embodiments, trim pieces 106 can also or alternatively be secured to the upper and lower ends 32, 34 or to the first and second couplers 42, 44 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c.

As shown in FIG. 2, in some embodiments, hooks, shelves, brackets, and other supports 108 can be secured to the panel system 10. In some embodiments, the panels 22a, 22b, 22c define channels 110 between the mounting flanges 68 and the first and second face plates 64, 66. In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 2-4, lips 76, 78 extend across at least a portion of the channels 110 to maintain supports 108 in the channels 110 and to prevent the supports 108 from moving outwardly away from the front face 24 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c. In these embodiments, the supports 108 can be inserted into the channels 110, and in some cases, can be moved along the length of the channels 110 to a desired location. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, hooks and shelf brackets can be inserted into the channels 110 of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c and can be moved along the channels 110 to desired locations. To install the supports, an operator can remove one of the trim pieces 106 and can slide one or more supports 108 along the channel 110 toward a desired location. The operator can then replace the trim piece 106 to maintain the support 108 in the channel 110.

In other embodiments, the supports 108 can be positioned between two panels 22a, 22b or 22b, 22c. In these embodiments, two panels (e.g., panels 22a, 22b) can define channels 112. For example, in the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 2, the upper end 32 and the lip 82 of the first panel 22a together with the lower end 34, lip 80, and leg 46 of the second panel 22b define a channel 112. Alternatively or in addition, the upper end 32 and the 82 lip of the second panel 22b together with the lower end 34, lip 80, and leg 46 of the third panel 22c define a channel 112. In these embodiments, the supports 108 can be inserted into the channels 112, and in some cases, can be moved along the length of the channels 112 to a desired location. To install the supports, an operator can remove one of the trim pieces 106 and can slide one or more supports 108 along the channel 112 toward a desired location. The operator can then replace the trim piece 106 to maintain the support 108 in the channel 112.

In embodiments having channels 110 located between the first and second face plates 64, 66 and having channels 112 located between the panels 22a, 22b or 22b, 22c, the channels 110, 112 can be similarly sized to receive similarly sized and similarly configured supports 108, or alternatively, the channels 110, 112 can be differently sized to receive differently sized and/or differently configured supports 108.

In other embodiments, supports 108 can be secured to other portions of the panels 22a, 22b, 22c (and therefore, the panel system 10), such as the first face plate 64 or the second face plate 66, using conventional fasteners.

Various alternatives and embodiments are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.