Title:
Window shutter frame with magnetic faceplate
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mounting frame for mounting structures in buildings, which has a faceplate for concealing unsightly mounting points along the mounting frame. The faceplate is attached to a base of the mounting frame by means of magnetic coupling, which may include a magnet provided in either one of the base or the faceplate, and a complementary magnet or magnetic material attached to the other one of the base or the faceplate. In one aspect of the present invention, the mounting frame is structured to support shutters for windows.



Inventors:
Ho, Andy C. H. (Long Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/389606
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
03/24/2006
Assignee:
Ta Chen International, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04C3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KENNY, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LIU & LIU (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)
Claims:
I Claim:

1. A frame for mounting a structure to a wall, comprising: a base having a rear section for mounting to a wall and a front section exposed to view after installation; and a faceplate magnetically coupled to the base, wherein the faceplate has a front surface exposed to view after installation.

2. The frame as in claim 1, wherein the faceplate comprises at least a magnet or a magnetic material, and the base comprises at least one complementary magnet or magnetic material, to form a magnetic coupling between the base and the faceplate.

3. The frame as in claim 2, wherein the base comprises a channel sized and shaped to receive the faceplate.

4. The frame as in claim 3, wherein the faceplate is held in place in the channel substantially by the magnetic coupling.

5. The frame as in claim 3, wherein the faceplate is not held in place in the channel substantially by friction between the faceplate and the channel.

6. The frame as in claim 3, wherein the channel has a floor along which the at least a magnet or a magnetic material is disposed.

7. The frame as in claim 6, wherein the faceplate comprises a concealed surface on which the at least a magnet or a magnetic material is disposed.

8. The frame as in claim 7, wherein the channel is provided with mounting points.

9. The frame as in claim 8, wherein the mounting points comprise through holes through the base from the channel.

10. The frame as in claim 1, further comprising a frame section that comprises the base and faceplate.

11. The frame as in claim 10, wherein the frame is structured to mount a shutter for a window, and wherein the frame section is structured to support shutter louvers.

12. The frame as in claim 11, wherein the frame section is structured to support a sub-frame that supports shutter louvers.

13. The frame as in claim 1, wherein the exposed faceplate and the exposed front section of the base form a desired surface profile of the frame.

14. The frame as in claim 1, wherein the structure to be mounted to the wall is a shutter for a window.

15. A window shutter, comprising: the frame as in claim 14; and a shutter supported by the frame.

16. A window shutter, comprising: a frame for mounting shutters to a wall, comprising: a base having a section for mounting to a wall and a front section exposed to view after installation, and a faceplate magnetically coupled to the base, wherein the faceplate is exposed to view after installation; and a shutter supported by the frame.

17. The window shutter as in claim 16, wherein the faceplate comprises at least a magnet or a magnetic material, and the base comprises at least one complementary magnet or magnetic material, to form a magnetic coupling between the base and the faceplate.

18. The window shutter as in claim 17, wherein the base comprises a channel sized and shaped to receive the faceplate, and wherein the faceplate is held in place in the channel substantially by the magnetic coupling.

19. The frame as in claim 18, wherein the channel has a floor along which the at least a magnet or a magnetic material is disposed.

20. The frame as in claim 19, wherein the faceplate comprises a concealed surface on which the at least a magnet or a magnetic material is disposed.

Description:

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/667,440, filed Mar. 30, 2005, which is fully incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.

All publications referenced herein are fully incorporated by reference, as if fully set forth herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to ornamental mounting frames in buildings, and particularly to window shutter frame assemblies.

2. Description of Related Art

In buildings such as private homes, aesthetics of visible building components is an important design consideration beyond functional considerations. For example, the structures for windows and doors are designed with aesthetics in mind. Modern private homes are designed with many windows on the walls of the building. More aesthetic design considerations would be necessary for the large areas occupied by the window. Some owners have chosen to install window shutters to not only provide privacy, but as an attractive alternative to blinds, shades, and drapes. Window shutters are typically provided with a frame structure that is attached to the wall around the edges of a window, and that supports the shutter panels that cover the windows.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,474,038 to Nien et al. discloses a window shutter frame for attaching window shutters to a wall, which provides an elongated rigid mounting strip that is retained by friction in a mounting channel along frame sections. The frame sections are attached by screws to the wall at mounting points along the mounting channel. The mounting strip conceals the screws after mounting the frame sections to the wall, thus providing an appealing appearance.

For wood shutter frames, the friction fit of the mounting strip may come loose with time, as the wood frame expands or contracts, bends or warps under environmental conditions, such as moisture, temperature, etc. For long frame sections, it is sometimes difficult to provide sufficient tolerance to maintain consistent friction fit at different locations along the entire longitudinal sections, and it may be difficult to insert the mounting strip into the channel because of insufficient clearance at different locations along the longitudinal sections.

It is therefore desirable to provide an improved window frame structure that is aesthetic and durable with respect to concealment of mounting points.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a mounting frame for mounting structures to a wall in buildings, which has a faceplate for concealing unsightly mounting points along the mounting frame. The faceplate is attached to a base of the mounting frame by means of magnetic coupling, which may comprise a magnet provided in either one of the base or the faceplate, and a complementary magnet or magnetic material attached to the other one of the base or the faceplate.

In one aspect of the present invention, the mounting frame is structured to support shutters for windows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the scope and nature of the invention, as well as the preferred mode of use, reference should be made to the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. In the following drawings, like reference numerals designate like or similar parts throughout the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front view of the basic configuration of a window shutter that incorporates a mounting frame in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an expanded front view of a section of the mounting frame shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the mounting frame taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the mounting frame taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present description is of the best presently contemplated mode of carrying out the invention. This description is made for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention and should not be taken in a limiting sense. The scope of the invention is best determined by reference to the appended claims.

For purposes of illustrating the principles of the present invention and not by limitation, the present invention is described herein below by reference to a mounting frame structure relating to a window shutter. However, it is understood that the present invention is equally applicable to window shutters of other structural designs, and other types of mounting frames for a building, such as door frames, without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.

FIG. 1 shows the front view of the general structural configuration of a window shutter 10 that incorporates the mounting frame 12 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The window shutter 10 includes the mounting frame 12 at the periphery, and a sub-frame 14 that pivotally supports a vertical row of horizontal louvers 16. The louvers are coupled to move in unison by a vertical tilt rod 18. As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1, there are two sections A and B of louvers 16 within the sub-frame 14, divided by a mid-frame section 20 of the sub-frame 14. The sub-frame 14 may be a separate structure from the mounting frame 12, which may be supported by hinges to the outer mounting frame 12, to permit the sub-frame 14 to swing open from the mounting frame 12, much like the opening of a window.

FIG. 2 is an expanded front view of a section 13 of the inventive mounting frame 12 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the mounting frame section taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 2. The sectional profile may be generally uniform along the longitudinal frame section 13. The frame sections at the four sides all around the mounting frame 12 may share the same sectional structure, or in the alternate, only two of the vertical frame sections, or two of the horizontal frame sections of the mounting frame 12, may share the same sectional structure.

In the illustrated embodiment, the frame section 13 is made up of two separate pieces, including a base 22 and a faceplate 24. The frame section 13 has an overall external surface profile 25 that is aesthetic or visually appealing. The back 26 of the frame section 13 is shaped for attachment to the periphery wall 28 of a window (shown in dotted lines). The frame section 13 has a step 30 that provides a support or stop to the sub-frame 14.

The base 22 has a slot or channel 32 that receives the faceplate 24. The depth of the channel 32 and the thickness of the faceplate 24 may be chosen to provide a smooth or flush surface transition from the base 22 to the faceplate 24 and vice versa. The particular physical configuration would depend on the desired visual profile for the frame section 13.

At least one magnetic coupling structure is provided between the faceplate 24 and the base 22. The bottom surface of the base plate 24 includes a permanent magnet or a piece of magnetic material (e.g., soft iron), and the opposing surface of the channel 32 of the base 22 includes a magnetic piece or a permanent magnet, in a complementary fashion to provide a magnetic coupling between the base 22 and the faceplate 24. The magnetic piece and the magnet may be completely embedded in the respective base 22 and faceplate 24, with or without the surface of the magnet and the magnet material exposed. The exposed surface may be flush or sunk with respect to the surrounding structure. It is noted that only one of the faceplate 24 or base 22 needs to have a magnet, and the other piece can have a complementary magnet (with the poles of the magnet aligned appropriately to provide an attractive coupling force to the magnet in the faceplate) or a complementary magnetic piece.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the base 22 is provided with a permanent magnet 34, and the faceplate 24 is provided with a magnetic piece 36. The magnetic piece can be a light weight metallic or semi-metallic material, which would not add significant weight to the faceplate. The size and/or strength of the magnet is chosen to provide the necessary magnetic coupling to securely hold the faceplate 24 in place in the channel. In the illustrated embodiment, the magnet 34 and magnetic piece 36 are disc shape and of the same size. Various other shapes and sizes may be adopted, and the complementary magnet 34 and magnetic piece 36 need not be of the same shape and size to be effective in magnetic coupling. The width of the faceplate 24 is uniform, and may be sized with respect to the width of the channel 22 with sufficient clearance and tolerance to provide a loose fit between the edges of the faceplate 24 and the edges of the channel 22 along the longitudinal frame sections 13. The tolerance would accommodate anticipated bending or warping of the base 22 and/or the faceplate 24. This would also provide room for any lateral expansion of the faceplate 24. Alternately, the width of the faceplate 24 may be sized with respect to the width of the channel 22 to provide a friction fit, to further provide a means to securely hold the faceplate 24 in the channel, although this is typically not necessary, except for relatively large size and/or heavy faceplates.

There may be multiple magnet/magnetic piece pairs distributed along the longitudinal frame section 13 (e.g., at uniform spacing or concentrated at certain sections such as the ends of the longitudinal frame section and/or the mid section), to provide the necessary magnetic coupling between the faceplate 24 and the base 22 to securely hold the faceplate 24 in the channel 32 after installation. The magnets and magnetic pieces may be located and aligned along the median axis of the channel 32, or off such axis. In the alternate, the magnets and/or the magnetic pieces may be in the shape of a continuous strip covering part of or the entire longitudinal frame section, or short sections of strips that may be evenly distributed along the longitudinal frame section 13.

Referring also to FIG. 4, attachment points in the form of through holes 38 may be preformed (e.g., by drilling) on the base 22, along the longitudinal median axis of the channel 32, or off axis, for insertion of fasteners such as nails and screws for attachment of the base 22 to the wall 28. Instead of through holes 38, starter holes (e.g., drilled only to half of the depth of the base 22) may be provided. The holes 38 may be located between adjacent magnets/magnetic pieces along the longitudinal axis of the frame section 13 (see FIG. 2), or off axis. The holes 38 may be provided with a countersink, to receive the head of the nail or screw. Alternatively, no holes are preformed, and holes may be made by a screw or nail at the time of installation. The number of attachment points along a section 13 may be different than the number of magnet/magnetic piece pairs, but sufficient in number to provide secure attachment of the frame sections 13 of the mounting frame 12 to the wall 28, to hold the mounting frame 12 securely against the wall 28.

To install the mounting frame 12 to the wall 28, the base 22 is mounted against the wall 28 by nails or screws 40. The faceplate 24 is inserted into the channel 32 in the base 22 and held in place substantially by magnetic coupling, thus covering the unsightly screw or nail heads. Because the nails or screws are driven into the channel 32 of the base 22 that has a relatively thinner cross section compared to its overall thickness, the screws and nails used could be shorter, and thinner. After installation, a desired surface profile is formed by the faceplate 24 and the section of the base 22 which is exposed to view, thereby concealing the underlying mounting points. The faceplate 24 is not held in place in the channel 22 substantially by friction between the faceplate 24 and the channel 22.

The base 22 and the faceplate 24 may have uniform or non-uniform cross-sections different from the embodiment shown in the drawings. The base 22 and faceplate 24 may be made of the same or different material, including synthetic (e.g., plastic), metal, wood (solid or compressed wood), or a composite of two or more different materials. The base 22 and/or faceplate 24 may be flexible or rigid. The faceplate and the complementary channel in the frame base may be sized and shaped in any manner, such as a curved or wavy longitudinal profile, and/or of varying width along the longitudinal frame section.

Alternative embodiments may include a base that is entirely or partially made of a magnetic material or magnet, and the faceplate that is entirely or partially made of a complementary magnet or magnetic material.

Further, while FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate an embodiment in which the back surface of the faceplate 24 rests flat against the bottom surface or floor of the channel 32, the faceplate and/or the channel may be structured to provide a spacing between the back surface of the faceplate and the floor of the channel. This structure is particularly useful for overall thicker frames, so to reduce the amount of materials needed to form the frame base and/or faceplate. For example, the faceplate may have an overall thick section, which may be provided with an inverted U-shaped channel sectional profile, and the channel in the frame base may be made deeper to receive the thick faceplate. When the inverted U-shaped channel faceplate is inserted into the base channel, a space is defined between the faceplate and the base to result in a hollow sectional structure. Mounting screws and nails may be used without having to provide countersinks in the base channel. This structure (not illustrated) is similar to the structure illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 6,474,038 to Nien et al. (which has been fully incorporated by reference herein), except that instead of a friction fit, magnetic coupling is provided between the faceplate and the base of the frame section, across the opening therebetween. In this embodiment, relatively stronger magnets would be required as the distance between adjacent surfaces to be magnetically coupled is further apart. The magnets may protrude from the floor of the base channel.

The frame base and/or faceplate may include a surface finish, including, for example, textured, matte, polished, finishing layer such as coating, chroming, plating, paint, or other surface finishes or finishing layers. In the alternative or in addition, structural features may be provided on the faceplate, such as studs, carving, attachments, and/or other decorative ornamental features.

While the invention has been described with respect to the described embodiments in accordance therewith, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and improvements may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. For example, the shutter louvers may be a horizontal row of vertical louvers, which may be movable or fixed in relation to the mounting frame.

Accordingly, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited by the specific illustrated embodiments, but only by the scope of the appended claims.