Title:
Connection for laminate flooring
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A locking connection between first, second and third adjacent flooring panels. A tongue and groove connection is used for joining the long edges of the first and second pieces. The long edge of the third piece is inserted into an engaging relationship with the long edge of the first piece with the third piece is a tilted relationship with the first piece while a male protuberance on the short edge is aligned with a female groove of the second piece. The third piece is then tilted downwardly relative to the first and second pieces until it reaches the horizontal position and the groove has accepted the male protuberance along its full length.



Inventors:
Brice, John Nigel (Surrey, CA)
Application Number:
11/136326
Publication Date:
11/23/2006
Filing Date:
05/23/2005
Assignee:
QUALITY CRAFT LTD.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B2/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KATCHEVES, BASIL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP (OTTAWA) (OTTAWA, ON, CA)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A locking connection between first, second and third adjacent pieces of flooring, said connection comprising a female and a male connection along the long sides of said first and third adjacent pieces of said flooring and a male and female connection along the short sides of said second and third adjacent pieces of flooring, said female and male connections between said long sides of said first and third adjacent pieces allowing a limited amount of relative movement between said first and third pieces and said female and male connections extending in a plane which is generally perpendicular to the plane of said flooring in said final assembled generally horizontally position.

2. Locking connection as in claim 1 wherein said flooring is laminate flooring.

3. A method of connecting first, second and third adjacent pieces of flooring, said first and said third of said adjacent pieces being connected along their long sides and two (2) of said adjacent pieces being joined along their short sides, said method comprising bringing said third adjacent piece into contact with said first adjacent piece while said third piece is tilted relative to said first piece and bringing said short side of said third piece into contact with said short side of said second piece while in said tilted position, tilting said third piece downwardly into a generally horizontal final position while said short side of said third piece enters into a compressive relationship with said short side of said second piece.

4. Method as in claim 3 wherein said flooring is laminate flooring.

Description:

This invention relates to a connection between pieces of flooring and, more particularly, to a connection between adjacent pieces of laminate flooring which connection allows an efficient and expedited joining of such adjacent pieces.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

With the introduction of laminate floor tiles which can be installed relatively easily by a non-commercial user, a number of patents have been obtained for the various techniques used in joining adjacent pieces of the tiles and which patents cover, generally, different tongue and groove attachment techniques. Some patents teach connections on the short side of the floor panels and others teach connections on the long sides. Some patents teach connections on both the short and long sides of the floor panels. However, these patents generally require the user to use a “two step” attachment process. Two adjacent pieces of laminate flooring are initially connected along the long sides of the adjacent pieces. Subsequently, a third piece is attached to one of the two adjacent pieces along their long sides in a first step and, thereafter, the third piece is attached to the short side of another of the adjacent pieces. The first step generally involves joining the edges of the long sides and the second step covers joining the edges of the short sides. Either or both steps generally utilise a “snap” connection. This “snap” connection is one where one of the floor panels has a protuberance which is deformed upon the entry into a complementary receiving groove on the adjacent floor panel. The deformed member, following assembly, “snaps” back into an undeformed position to ensure locking integrity of the tongue and groove connections between the adjacent panels. Such a procedure is disclosed, for example, in each of U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,706,621 (Pervan) and 5,860,267 (Pervan).

The two (2) step procedure, however, is disadvantageous in several respects. First, it is a two step procedure. The long sides of adjacent tiles need to be initially joined. Thereafter, the second of the initially joined flooring pieces must be moved towards a previously joined and adjacent piece relative to the initially joined piece to a degree such that the short sides come into contact. Following contact, the second piece must be forced into locking association with the first piece. In order to force the two pieces together and to deform the locking connections, significant force is required. In fact, often a rubber mallet or hammer is used to move the two adjacent pieces into locking association because of the necessity for deforming the piece which snaps into the complementary receptacle on the adjacent piece. Disassembly of the locked pieces is not easy if the assembled flooring is desired to be disassembled for purposes of moving the flooring or re-laying a poorly positioned piece.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, there is provided a locking connection between first, second and third adjacent pieces of laminate flooring, said connection comprising a female and a male connection along the long sides of said first and third adjacent pieces of said flooring and a male and female connection along the short sides of said second and third adjacent pieces of flooring, said female and male connections between said long sides of said first and third adjacent pieces allowing a limited amount of relative movement between said first and third pieces and said female and male connections extending in a plane which is generally perpendicular to the plane of said flooring in said final assembled generally horizontally position.

According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of connecting first, second and third adjacent pieces of laminate flooring, said first and said third of said adjacent pieces being connected along their long sides and two (2) of said adjacent pieces being joined along their short sides, said method comprising bringing said third adjacent piece into contact with said first adjacent piece while said third piece is tilted relative to said first piece and bringing said short side of said third piece into contact with said short side of said second piece while in said tilted position, tilting said third piece downwardly into a generally horizontal final position while said short side of said third piece enters into a compressive relationship with said short side of said second piece.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEW OF THE DRAWINGS

Specific embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with the use of drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic plan view of three adjacent pieces of flooring which are intended to be joined together to form a connection on both the long and short sides of the three pieces;

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic side view of a connection commonly used to join the long sides of the three adjacent pieces of flooring;

FIGS. 3A and 3B are diagrammatic side views of two connections according to the invention used for joining the short sides of the three adjacent pieces of flooring;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are diagrammatic isometric views of the adjacent pieces of flooring during an assembly operation;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the three pieces of adjacent flooring following assembly; and

FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C and 6D are diagrammatic side views of alternate embodiments of the connection between the short sides of adjacent pieces of flooring according to the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, three (3) adjacent pieces of laminate flooring, namely first piece 10, second piece 11 and third piece 12 are illustrated in FIG. 1 which pieces are illustrated in their unassembled condition and which pieces 10, 11, 12 are intended to be joined together in an integral assembly on the top of a floor and which pieces illustrate the connection and the operation of the connection procedure according to the invention.

Each of the three pieces 10, 11 12 have short and long edges, the short edges of first piece 10 not being illustrated for efficacy. Third piece 12 has a short edge 13 and second piece 11 has a short edge 14. First piece 10 has a long edge 20 which is intended to be connected to long edge 21 of third piece 12 and which long edge 20 is shown already connected to second piece 11 along long edge 22.

The connection area along the long edges 20, 21 of the first and third pieces 10, 12 are illustrated in greater detail in FIG. 2 where the edge 20 is shown with a female receiving configuration adapted to receive the male configuration 21 of piece 12. A connection of this nature is illustrated and described in Terback U.S. Pat. No. 4,426,820, the contents of which are incorporated by reference.

The connection takes place by tilting the third piece 12 upwardly as also illustrated in FIG. 4A relative to first piece 10 until the male configuration 21 enters the female configuration 20. Ordinarily and according to the prior art, third piece 12 would then be tilted down to its normal horizontally assembled condition and the piece 12 would then be tapped manually by hand or with a mallet until it reached contact with the short edge 14 of second piece 11 while relative movement between first and third pieces 10, 12, respectively, occurs with third piece 12 moving towards second piece 11 while first piece 10 remains stationary. However, the connection between the two short sides 13, 14 according to the invention is illustrated in FIGS. 3A, 4A and 4B. It will be appreciated that the two sides 13, 14 are also a male and female connection with edge 14 being a female connection 15 which receives male connection 23. Male connection 23 has a rounded edge or protuberance 24 which the receptacle 30 of connection 15 is designed to squeeze while it enters the connection 15. It will be appreciated that sliding the two short edges 13, 14 towards each other will result in interference between the two edges 13, 14 and that unless the piece 12 is tilted upwardly relative to the piece 11 and then tilted downwardly to the horizontal position as illustrated in FIG. 4B, the connections on the short edges 13, 14 will not be joined.

Referring to FIG. 4A, when piece 12 is tilted upwardly and the protuberance 23 is initially positioned into receptacle 15, the subsequent tilt of piece 12 downwardly as illustrated by the arrows in FIG. 4A results in the protuberance or male connection 23 being received along the length of the female receptacle 15. While the piece 12 is being tilted downwardly to assume its generally horizontal position as shown in FIG. 4B, the protuberance 24 will press on the receptacle 30 and draw the adjacent pieces closer together so that the final connection between the two adjacent pieces 11, 12 has considerable integrity.

A small cutaway portion 31 on the edge 14 (FIGS. 4A and 5) allows the initial entry of the male protuberance 23 without interference with the edge 14. Thus, piece 12 can be positioned with male protuberance 23 within the groove 15 of edge 14.

OPERATION

In operation, it will be assumed that the first and second pieces 10, 11 illustrated in FIG. 1 have already been joined together and are existing horizontally on the floor on which they are laid. It is now desired to connect a third piece 12 to both of the previously laid pieces 10, 11.

The long edge 21 of third piece 12 will be brought into proximity with the long edge 20 of first piece 10. Third piece 12 will be tilted upwardly to the position generally illustrated in FIG. 4A and the male connection 21 will be inserted into the female connection 20 (FIG. 2). At the same time, the third piece 12 will be moved relative to first piece 10 until male protuberance 23 passes by the outside of edge 14 due to the cutaway area 31 (FIGS. 4A and 5) and is positioned directly above the female receiving area or groove 15 of edge 14 (FIG. 4A).

Third piece 12 will then be tilted downwardly to the horizontal position with the male connection 21 rotating relative to the female connection 20 and the male protuberance 23 being acted upon by the edge 30 of groove 15 (FIG. 3A) as the third piece 12 moves downwardly as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 4A until a position resembling that illustrated in FIG. 4B is reached with the male protuberance being entirely received by female groove 15. Third piece 12 is then moved into the horizontal position and the connection is complete.

Various embodiments of the tongue and groove connections on the short edges of third piece 12 and second piece 11 are readily contemplated. Referring initially to FIG. 3B, it will be seen that the rounded edge shown at 24 in FIG. 3A may instead appear as a rounded edge 33 on the female groove 15 as illustrated in FIG. 3B. This rounded edge 33 will serve the same function as rounded edge 24, namely creating a force between the male and female connections 23, 15 which will ensure integrity of the final connection between third piece 12 and second piece 11.

A further embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 6A. Rather than a single female groove 40 in second piece 11, there is a second female groove 41 in third piece 12. As the second piece 12 is tilted downwardly relative to first piece 10 and second piece 11, protuberance 42 will enter into female groove 40 in second piece 11 and protuberance 43 will enter into female groove 41 in third piece 12. An interaction will occur between the rounded edge 44 of protuberance 43 and the inside of female groove 41 in third piece 12. Indeed, as the rounded edge 44 proceeds into groove 41, an interaction will occur between rounded edge 44 and rounded edge 50 of second piece 12 thus, again, ensuring joint integrity when the connection process is complete.

Yet a further embodiment of the connection between the short edges of second and third pieces 11, 12 is illustrated in FIG. 6B. In this embodiment, a series of serrated edges 51, 52, 53, 54 are appropriately formed in the male and female connections. Such serrations 51, 52, 53, 54 may be formed between only one pair of surfaces such as those surfaces 60, 61 or, alternatively, on surfaces 62, 63 or, alternatively, on both sets of surfaces as illustrated. The serrated surfaces allow the entry of the male protuberance into the female groove but resist separation and thereby increase joint integrity.

Yet a further embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 6C. In this embodiment, a pair of serrated edges 71, 72 act against each other during assembly while, simultaneously, a rounded edge 73 acts on the inside of the female groove 74. Again, the function of the interference between the serrated edges 71, 72 and the rounded edge 73 with groove 74 is intended to tighten the joint during assembly and ensure joint integrity.

Yet a further embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 6D. In this embodiment, the two rounded edges 80, 81 act against each other during assembly and when assembled, provide an interference and, therefore a locking integrity to maintain the boards in their assembled position.

It will also be appreciated that while the female groove is generally described as being formed in the short edge of the second piece of flooring with the male protuberance extending from the short edge of the third piece of flooring, the positions could, of course, be reversed with the female connection being formed in the third piece and the male protuberance being formed in the edge of the second piece.

Although the invention has been described as being particularly useful in association with laminate flooring, it is apparent that it would also have value for connecting solid wood flooring and engineering wood flooring as well as virtually any flooring made from wood based materials.

Many further embodiments will readily occur to those skilled in the art to which the invention relates and the specific embodiments described should be considered as illustrative of the invention only and not as limiting its scope as defined in accordance with the accompanying claims.