Title:
Integrated edge and corner ramp for a floor tile
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An integrated edge and corner ramp piece for a floor tile includes an elongate edge ramp section, and a corner ramp section. The edge ramp section has a high side wall, a low side, and a substantially planar edge ramp surface extending therebetween. The corner ramp section integrally extends from an end of the edge ramp section, and has an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, a low side, and a corner ramp surface extending therebetween. Connectors are disposed along the high side wall, and are configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile.



Inventors:
Jenkins, Mark L. (West Valley City, UT, US)
Shapiro, Jeremiah (West Valley City, UT, US)
Forster, Cheryl (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/644468
Publication Date:
07/19/2007
Filing Date:
12/21/2006
Assignee:
Connor Sport Court International, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F13/08
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, CHI Q
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THORPE NORTH & WESTERN, LLP. (SANDY, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece for a floor tile, comprising: an elongate edge ramp, having a high side wall, a low side, and a substantially planar edge ramp surface extending therebetween; a corner ramp section, integrally formed with the edge ramp to provide an edge and corner ramp piece, the corner ramp section having an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, a low side, and a corner ramp surface extending therebetween; and connectors, disposed along the high side wall, configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile.

2. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: an edge ramp end wall, extending between the high side wall and low side of the edge ramp section at an end of the edge ramp section opposite the corner ramp section; and a corner ramp end wall, disposed at a terminal end of the corner ramp section, and extending between the apex and the low side of corner ramp section.

3. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 2, wherein the corner ramp end wall is substantially coplanar with and extends from the high side wall, and the edge ramp end wall is oriented substantially perpendicular to the high side wall.

4. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 2, further comprising a connector associated with the edge ramp end wall.

5. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 2, further comprising a connector associated with the corner ramp end wall.

6. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 2, wherein the connectors comprise loop and pin connectors, including either a loop or a pin, integrally formed in the high side wall and in at least one of the edge ramp end wall and corner ramp end wall.

7. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the corner ramp section defines an approximate quarter cone, the corner ramp surface being a conically curved surface that is substantially coplanar with the edge ramp surface at a junction therewith.

8. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 7, wherein the edge ramp section has a length substantially equal to a length of a side of the floor tile, and the corner ramp section has a radius substantially equal to a width of the edge ramp section.

9. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the corner ramp surface comprises at least one substantially planar ramp surface disposed at an angle to the edge ramp surface.

10. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the corner ramp comprises a left hand corner.

11. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the corner ramp comprises a right hand corner.

12. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein a width of the edge ramp section is at least two times a height of the high side wall.

13. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the high side wall has a height between about 0.3 inches and 1 inch, the low side has a height between about 0.05 and 0.1 inches, and the edge and corner ramp piece has a width between about 1 and 10 inches.

14. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 1, wherein the edge ramp comprises an L-shaped configuration with first and second edge ramp portions, wherein the corner ramp section is formed at an intersection of the first and second edge ramp portions.

15. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece for a floor tile having a height, comprising: an elongate edge ramp section, having a high side wall with a height substantially equal to the height of the floor tile, a low side, a substantially planar edge ramp surface extending therebetween, and an edge ramp end wall, extending between the high side wall and low side at a first end of the edge ramp section; a corner ramp section, integrally extending from a second end of the edge ramp section, having an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, an arcuate low side, a corner ramp surface extending therebetween, and a corner ramp end wall, disposed at a terminal end of the corner ramp section, and extending between the apex and the arcuate low side; and loop and pin connectors, disposed along the high side wall, the edge ramp end wall, and the corner ramp end wall, configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile and to one or more other edge and corner ramp pieces.

16. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 15, wherein the corner ramp section defines an approximate quarter cone, the corner ramp surface being a conically curved surface that is substantially coplanar with the edge ramp surface at a junction therewith.

17. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 15, wherein the edge ramp and corner ramp surfaces are substantially solid.

18. An integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with claim 15, wherein a width of the edge ramp section is at least between about two to four times a height of the high side wall.

19. A floor tile system comprising: a floor tile, having a top surface, a perimeter wall having a height, a plurality of releasable connectors associated with the perimeter wall, and a plurality of upstanding supports configured to support the top surface above a support surface; and an integrated edge and corner ramp piece, comprising: an edge ramp, having a high side wall configured to be adjacent the perimeter wall of the floor tile, a low side, and a substantially planar ramp surface extending therebetween; a corner ramp, integrally formed with the edge ramp, the corner ramp having an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, a low side, and a corner ramp surface extending therebetween; and connectors, disposed along the high side, configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile.

20. A floor tile system in accordance with claim 19, further comprising: an edge ramp end wall, extending between the high side wall and low side of the edge and corner ramp piece at an end of the edge ramp section opposite the corner ramp; a corner ramp end wall, disposed at a terminal end of the corner ramp of the edge and corner ramp piece, and extending between the apex and the low side; an edge ramp end connector, disposed upon the edge ramp end wall, configured to interconnect the edge ramp end wall to either an edge ramp end wall or corner ramp end wall of an adjacent edge and corner ramp piece; and a corner ramp end connector, disposed upon the corner ramp end wall, configured to interconnect the corner ramp end wall to one of an edge ramp end wall of an adjacent edge and corner ramp piece and another floor tile.

21. A floor tile system in accordance with claim 19, wherein the high side wall has a height between about 0.3 inches and 1 inch, the low side has a height between about 0.05 and 0.1 inches, and the edge and corner ramp piece has a width between about 1 and 10 inches.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/753,610 filed Dec. 22, 2005.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to floor tile systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to an edge ramp piece for use with a floor tile, and particularly a modular floor tile, wherein the edge ramp piece includes an edge ramp and an integral corner ramp portion.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND RELATED ART

In recent years, the use of modular flooring assemblies made of synthetic materials has grown in popularity. Modular flooring systems generally comprise a series of interlocking tiles that can be permanently installed over a subfloor, such as concrete or wood, or temporarily laid down upon another surface from time to time when needed. These types of synthetic floors are advantageous for several reasons. First, they are typically formed of materials that are generally inexpensive and lightweight. Additionally, if one tile becomes damaged, it can be removed and replaced quickly and easily. In addition, if the flooring needs to be temporarily removed, the individual tiles making up the floor can easily be detached and stored for subsequent use. Furthermore, these types of flooring assemblies are comprised of durable synthetic materials, such as polymers or other forms of plastics. These materials are long-lasting, even in outdoor installations.

Also, unlike some other long-lasting alternatives, such as asphalt and concrete, interlocking tiles of synthetic material can be better at absorbing impact, thus offering less risk of injury if a person falls on the plastic material, as opposed to concrete or asphalt. Moreover, the connections for modular flooring assemblies can be specially engineered to absorb lateral force. It is believed that this can reduce certain types of injuries from athletic activities. Additionally, these flooring assemblies generally require little maintenance as compared to other flooring, such as wood.

These floors and floor systems or assemblies can be used both indoors and outdoors. They can be used for athletic surfaces, convention halls, multi-purpose facilities, and the like. They are suitable for portable temporary floor surfaces for dance floors, display booths, such as at conventions, and other installations where a temporary floor surface having certain qualities different from the existing subfloor is desired. This can allow the creation of a different atmosphere and “feel” to a space, which can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

When a section of modular flooring is placed upon an existing subfloor, some sort of transition is often needed. Specifically, the modular floor system sits atop the subfloor and thus raises the floor level by some small amount—e.g. ⅜″ or ½″, creating an abrupt edge. In order to prevent or reduce the formation of a tripping hazard that an abrupt change in floor height could present, it is desirable to provide some sort of gradual transition to the height of the modular floor system. One method of doing this is to provide some sort of ramp at the edge of the modular floor system. This can be done by making special floor tile pieces with a ramp edge integrally formed therein. These types of tiles having built-in edge ramps around their perimeter edges are commonly known in the art. Alternatively, separate ramp edge pieces that interlock with the edges of standard floor tiles have also been developed. By providing a ramp edge, the transition from the subfloor to the modular floor is made easier for persons, wheeled devices, and other things that need to move up onto the modular floor surface.

Unfortunately, modular floor systems with a ramp edge often present outside corners. At such locations, typical ramp edge pieces will leave a gap with no ramp being present. This is unsightly, and can present a hazard. Some modular floor systems have addressed this problem by providing a separate corner ramp piece that interconnects to two adjacent edge ramp pieces creating the gap. Unfortunately, this approach has some drawbacks. First, the small corner pieces cannot connect to the large floor tile (because they only contact the floor tile at a point), and tend not to securely connect to their adjacent edge ramp pieces. Consequently, such corner pieces are easily dislodged and tend to become lost, broken, etc. Additionally, the separate small corner pieces can be difficult to keep track of because of their small size. They can end up being somewhat of a nuisance. As such, the prior art has not adequately addressed these problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the problems and deficiencies inherent in the prior art, the present invention seeks to overcome these by providing a floor tile having an integrated edge ramp, wherein the edge ramp comprises an integral corner ramp portion. Alternatively, the present invention provides a separate edge ramp piece that removably couples to the floor tile and has an integral corner ramp portion formed therein.

It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a corner edge ramp piece for a modular floor tile system that is stronger and more securely connectable to the other components of the floor tile system.

It has also been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a corner ramp piece that does not present the problem of small, loose parts of which a user must keep track.

In accordance with one exemplary embodiment thereof, the present invention advantageously features an integrated edge and corner ramp piece for a floor tile. The edge and corner ramp piece includes an elongate edge ramp section, having a high side wall, a low side, and a substantially planar edge ramp surface extending therebetween. Integrally extending from an end of the edge ramp section is a corner ramp section, having an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, a low side, and a corner ramp surface extending therebetween. Connectors are disposed along the high side wall, and are configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile.

In accordance with another more detailed embodiment thereof, the invention provides an integrated edge and corner ramp piece for a floor tile having a height. The integrated edge and corner ramp piece includes an elongate edge ramp section, having a high side wall with a height substantially equal to the height of the floor tile, a low side, a substantially planar edge ramp surface extending therebetween, and an edge ramp end wall, extending between the high side wall and low side at a first end of the edge ramp section. A corner ramp section integrally extends from a second end of the edge ramp section, and has an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, an arcuate low side, a corner ramp surface extending therebetween, and a corner ramp end wall, disposed at a terminal end of the corner ramp section, and extending between the apex and the arcuate low side. Loop and pin connectors are disposed along the high side wall, the edge ramp end wall, and the corner ramp end wall, and are configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile and to one or more other edge and corner ramp pieces.

In accordance with yet another embodiment thereof, the invention provides a floor tile system including a floor tile and an integrated edge and corner ramp piece. The floor tile has a top surface, a perimeter wall having a height, a plurality of releasable connectors associated with the perimeter wall, and a plurality of upstanding supports configured to support the top surface above the ground, a floor, or other suitable support surface. The integrated edge and corner ramp piece includes an elongate edge ramp section, a corner ramp section, and connectors. The edge ramp section has a high side wall with a height substantially equal to the height of the perimeter wall, a low side, and a substantially planar ramp surface extending therebetween. The corner ramp section integrally extends from an end of the edge ramp section, and has an apex disposed adjacent the high side wall, an arcuate low side, and a partially conical ramp surface extending therebetween. The connectors are disposed along the high side, and are configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the perimeter wall of the floor tile.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings merely depict exemplary embodiments of the present invention they are, therefore, not to be considered limiting of its scope. It will be readily appreciated that the components of the present invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Nonetheless, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an integrated edge and corner ramp as attached to one side of an exemplary modular floor tile, as well as additional edge ramp pieces that are configured to attach to the corner ramp section and any adjacent floor tiles;

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of an integrated edge and corner ramp for use with a floor tile, in accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wherein the edge and corner ramp comprises a curved corner ramp portion;

FIG. 3 illustrates a plan or top view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 illustrates a front edge view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 illustrates a bottom view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 illustrates an edge ramp end view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 illustrates a corner ramp end view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 illustrates a back side view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2, showing the high side wall and modular connectors;

FIG. 9 illustrates a transverse cross-sectional view of the exemplary integrated edge and corner ramp of FIG. 2, showing one embodiment of the upright supports disposed below the ramp surface;

FIG. 10 illustrates a perspective view of an integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wherein this embodiment comprises a planar corner ramp surface and is configured for a right hand corner; and

FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of an integrated edge and corner ramp piece in accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wherein the edge ramp comprises an I-shaped configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The following detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the invention makes reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and in which are shown, by way of illustration, exemplary embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. While these exemplary embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, it should be understood that other embodiments may be realized and that various changes to the invention may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiments of the present invention, as represented in FIGS. 1 through 11, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as claimed, but is presented for purposes of illustration only and not limitation to describe the features and characteristics of the present invention, to set forth the best mode of operation of the invention, and to sufficiently enable one skilled in the art to practice the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is to be defined solely by the appended claims.

The following detailed description and exemplary embodiments of the invention will be best understood by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein the elements and features of the invention are designated by numerals throughout.

The present invention describes a method and system for transitioning from a floor or subfloor to a floor tile system overlaid thereon using an edge ramp having an integrated corner ramp portion.

The present invention provides several significant advantages over prior related edge ramps or edge ramp pieces. First, providing an edge ramp with an integral corner ramp eliminates the need for a separate corner piece that is easily dislodged and that can get lost or broken. Second, providing an edge ramp with an integral corner ramp ensures a robust ramp segment at each of the corners of the flooring assembly. Third, unlike a separate ramp piece that fits into a gap formed in the corner by two adjacent edge ramps and that has little contact with the floor tile, the present invention corner ramp being integrally formed with the edge ramp allows the corner ramp portion to be more securely coupled to the flooring system as it is able to receive support from the edge ramp due to its integral configuration. Fourth, a ramp portion integral with the edge ramp means that there are no separate pieces to keep track of. Fifth, an integrated corner ramp portion gives a much more aesthetically pleasing appearance to the flooring assembly.

Each of the above-recited advantages will be apparent in light of the detailed description set forth below, with reference to the accompanying drawings. These advantages are not meant to be limiting in any way. Indeed, one skilled in the art will appreciate that other advantages may be realized, other than those specifically recited herein, upon practicing the present invention.

With reference to FIG. 1, illustrated is one exemplary embodiment of a modular polymeric floor tile 12 configured for use within a flooring assembly comprising a plurality of similar modular floor tiles coupled together. As shown, the floor tile 12 is approximately square in plan, with a thickness T that is substantially less than the plan dimension L. Tile dimensions and composition will depend upon the specific use to which the tile will be applied. Sport uses, for example, frequently employ tiles having a square configuration with a side dimension L of either 9.8425 inches (metric tile) or 12.00 inches. The thickness T frequently ranges from about ¼″ to ½″, though other thicknesses are possible. The tiles can be made of many suitable materials, including polyolefins such as polyurethane and polyethylene, and other polymers including nylon.

The floor tile 12 has a top surface 46, a perimeter wall 56 of some height (e.g. ½″), and includes support structure (not shown) for the top surface, such as upstanding grid structure or other supports for supporting the top surface above a support surface, such as a subfloor of concrete. A plurality of releasable connectors are disposed along the perimeter wall. As depicted herein, the floor tile 12 includes loop and pin interconnecting structure, similar to that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,930,286. This structure comprises loops 42 on two adjacent sides of the tile, and pins 44 on the two other adjacent sides of the tile, as shown. All the elements of the floor tile, including the top surface, bottom support structure, and loop and pin connectors, can be integrally formed (e.g. by injection molding) of the same material so as to be structurally strong.

To install a floor, a tile 12 is placed with its top 46 facing up, and its bottom on any suitable subfloor, such as concrete. A second tile is then placed parallel to and alongside the first tile, oriented such that the pins 44 of one side of the second tile are adjacent the loops 42 of a corresponding side of the first tile. The pins of the second tile are then snapped into the loops of the first tile, such that the sides of the two tiles are fitted snugly together. This process is continued to enable a plurality of tiles to be joined together in a single floor assembly.

Shown in FIGS. 2-9 are various views of one embodiment of an integrated edge and corner ramp piece 10. This piece is configured for connection to a floor tile (see floor tile 12 in FIG. 1) as part of a modular floor tile system. Modular interlocking floor tiles come in a variety of configurations. As such, the present invention edge and integral corner ramp is not limited to the specific floor tile shown and described herein. Instead, it is contemplated that the present invention edge and integral corner ramp may be configured for use with any floor tile design commonly known in the art, or obvious to those skilled in the art.

In essence, the present invention edge and corner ramp piece 10 is configured to attached to any exposed edge of a floor tile as part of a flooring system. With reference to FIGS. 2-9, the edge and corner ramp piece 10 generally comprises an elongate edge ramp section 14, and a corner ramp section 16. The elongate edge ramp section has a high side wall 18, a low side 20a with a lip 22a, and a substantially planar edge ramp surface 24 extending therebetween. The corner ramp section 16 integrally extends from the end of the edge ramp section, the corner ramp thus forming a part of an integral structure, rather than being a separate piece. The corner ramp section 16 includes a low side 20b with a lip 22b, and has an apex 26 disposed adjacent the high side wall. The corner ramp surface 28, shown as a curved or non planar surface, extends between the low side and the apex.

The edge and corner ramp piece 10 is designed to sit upon a support surface 30, such as a concrete or other floor surface. As shown in the bottom view of FIG. 5 and the cross-sectional view of FIG. 9, the ramp surface 24 is supported upon upstanding supports, such as an upstanding grid of intersecting walls 32 or other support structure, which integrally interconnects the high side wall 18, the ramp surface, and other portions of the edge and corner ramp piece. For example, the upstanding support configuration shown in FIGS. 5 and 9 provides a plurality of upright support walls 32 that intersect each other to form a series of triangular cells 34. This configuration helps to improve load distribution and can enhance tile performance.

It will be apparent that a variety of other configurations can be adopted for the upstanding supports 32, the configuration of which may depend upon factors such as the type of support surface 30, the magnitude of anticipated loads to be borne by the edge ramp, etc. For example, one alternative design provides a repeating pattern of hexagon units or cells. A series of cross ribs extending between the vertices of the sidewalls of each hexagon can be disposed against the underside of the top surface of the tile within each hexagon unit for additional strength. Such ribs can act as beams that help distribute loads from the center of each hexagon to the sidewalls thereof.

The high side wall 18 can have a height (see height H in FIG. 6) substantially equal to the thickness of the floor tile 12 (see floor tile 12 having thickness T in FIG. 1), so as to provide a ramp that rises to the full height of the floor tile. The edge ramp section 14 can include an edge ramp end wall 36, extending between the high side wall and low side 20a of the edge ramp section. This edge ramp end wall is disposed at the end of the edge ramp section that is opposite the corner ramp section 16. In the embodiment shown in the figures, the edge ramp end wall is oriented substantially perpendicular to the high side wall. In order to provide a gentle ramp surface, the edge ramp section has a width (see width W in FIG. 6) that is preferably, although not necessarily, at least two times the height of the high side wall. Of course, the edge ramp section may comprise a width that is over this, such as between about two and ten times the height of the high side wall. For example, in one exemplary embodiment configured for use with a ½″ thick floor tile, the high side wall may comprise a height H of about ½″, the low side may comprise a lip with a height of between about 0.05 -0.1 inches, and the edge ramp section of the edge and corner ramp piece may comprise a width W of between about 1 and 3 inches, depending upon the desired incline of the ramp surface 24. It will be apparent that other ramp dimensions, whether steeper or more gradual, can also be employed in accordance with the invention.

The corner ramp section 16 can include a corner ramp end wall 38, disposed at a terminal end of the corner ramp section. Like the edge ramp end wall 36, the corner ramp end wall 38 extends between the apex 26 of the corner ramp section and the low side 20b. In the embodiment of FIG. 3, the corner ramp end wall 38 is substantially coplanar with and essentially comprises an extension of the high side wall 18. This configuration is suitable for a 90° corner. Nevertheless, it will be apparent that the edge and corner ramp piece disclosed herein is not limited to right angle corners nor floor tiles with formed to comprise right angles. Indeed, integral ramp and corner edge pieces configured for other angles are also contemplated by the present invention.

With reference again to FIGS. 1 and 2-5, disposed along the high side wall 18, the corner ramp end wall 38, and the edge ramp end wall 36, are a plurality of connectors 40, configured to releasably interconnect the edge and corner ramp piece to the floor tile 12 and to one or more other edge and corner ramp pieces. These connectors include loop connectors 40a, and pin connectors 40b. The loops and pins are integrally formed in the side or end walls of the piece, so as to provide a strong connection. Each loop or pin interconnects with a corresponding pin or loop, respectively, of an adjacent floor tile or edge ramp or corner ramp piece. In the embodiment of the edge and corner ramp piece 10 shown in FIGS. 2-9, the loop connectors are disposed along the high side wall and the corner ramp end wall (thus designed to interconnect with corresponding pin connectors 44 in the floor tile 12 and an adjacent edge ramp piece 54), and a single pin connector 40b is disposed on the edge ramp end wall (thus designed to interconnect with a single loop connector 42 of another floor tile 12, or another adjacent edge ramp piece 54). It will be apparent that this configuration is just one possible arrangement of the connectors. Edge and corner ramp pieces can be configured with the pins and loops reversed from the arrangement shown, or in other configurations and combinations. Naturally, the arrangement of the loops and pins must correspond for adjacent floor tiles and ramp pieces to interconnect to each other.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-9, the low side 20b of the corner ramp section 16 comprises a lip 22b having an arcuate shape (e.g. a circular arc of constant radius centered at the apex 26), such that the corner ramp section defines an approximate quarter cone. In this embodiment, the corner ramp section will have a radius (see radius R in FIG. 3) substantially equal to the width W of the edge ramp section 14. The corner ramp surface 28 thus defines a conically curved surface that is substantially coplanar with the edge ramp surface 24 at a junction therewith (see 48 in FIG. 1, 2), and extends along a curve to the corner ramp end wall 38, at the end of the corner ramp section.

While a conical corner or curved ramp surface is depicted in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 2-9, the corner ramp portion can alternatively comprise a substantially planar ramp surface. Such an exemplary configuration is shown in FIG. 10. In this particular embodiment, the edge and corner ramp piece 110 includes a corner ramp section 116 and a substantially planar corner surface or facet 128 that integrally extends from the edge ramp surface 124 of the edge ramp section 114. This configuration provides a substantially planar corner facet that is disposed at an angle to the edge ramp surface, rather than a curved conical surface. Such a configuration can be simpler and less expensive to fabricate, or may be desirable for other reasons. Additionally, while a single facet corner surface is shown, the corner surface could include multiple planar surfaces. As with the embodiment discussed above, the corner ramp section includes an end wall 138 that is configured to interconnect to a subsequent edge ramp piece 54. In essence, the present invention contemplates, generally a corner ramp portion that is integrally formed with an edge ramp. The particular geometric configuration of the corner edge ramp is not critical, and the present invention contemplates all configurations.

While the floor tile 12 shown in FIG. 1 is square in shape, the present invention is not limited to use with square floor tiles. Additionally, while the top 46 of the tile is depicted as being a smooth solid surface, neither the floor tile nor the edge and corner ramp piece are limited to a smooth, solid top surface. Tiles having a grid or lattice-type top surface of various configurations have been produced, and the edge ramp and corner ramp surfaces 24 and 28 can be substantially solid, as depicted in the figures, or they can likewise have perforated, grid, or lattice-type surfaces. Such a configuration can be desirable for outdoor installations, where through-drainage is desirable, or for other reasons, such as to provide better traction, reduce weight, etc.

It will be apparent that the integral edge and corner ramp piece 10 described herein can be configured as either a left hand corner piece, as in the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 2-8, or a right hand corner piece, as in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 10. Likewise, given that the edge and corner ramp pieces can be configured for connection to any side of a floor tile 12, the connectors can be configured as loop connectors or pin connectors. Naturally, the spacing of the connectors must correspond between the edge ramp piece and the floor tiles.

As shown in FIG. 3, the edge ramp section 14 can have a length L substantially equal to the length of a side of the floor tile 12 (see floor tile 12 and length L in FIG. 1), such that the edge ramp extends entirely along one side of a single floor tile, and the corner ramp section 16 extends beyond the outside corner of the floor tile when the edge ramp and floor tile are interconnected. In this way, as shown in FIG. 1, the corner ramp end wall 38 will be properly positioned to interconnect to an edge ramp end wall of an edge ramp piece 54 connected to the adjacent floor tile side wall 56.

However, the length of the edge and corner ramp piece 10 need not necessarily correspond to the length of a side of a floor tile. For example, edge ramp pieces 54 that are longer than the sides of individual tiles 12 can be used so that at least some individual edge ramp pieces will straddle or overlap floor tile joints. Alternatively, the edge ramp pieces can be of a length corresponding to the length L of a side of the floor tiles, but placed in staggered relationship to floor tile joints. In such a case, the edge and corner ramp piece 10 can have a shorter length specifically chosen to make up the difference at the end of a series of floor tiles. Other configurations are also possible.

With reference to FIG. 11, illustrated is another integrated edge and corner ramp 210 according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this particular embodiment, the edge and corner ramp piece 210 generally comprises an elongate edge ramp section 214 having an L-shaped configuration, and a corner ramp section 216. The elongate edge ramp section 214 has a high side wall 218, a low side 220a with a lip 222a, and a substantially planar edge ramp surface 224 extending therebetween. The corner ramp section 216 integrally extends between the ends of the L-shaped edge ramp section 214, the corner ramp 216 thus forming a part of an integral structure, rather than being a separate piece. In other words, the corner ramp section is contained or formed at the intersection of first and second perpendicular edge ramp portions forming the L-shaped configuration. The corner ramp section 216 includes a low side 220b with a lip 222b, and has an apex 226 disposed adjacent the high side wall. The corner ramp surface 228, shown as a curved or non planar surface, extends between the low side and the apex in a similar manner as discussed above.

The foregoing detailed description describes the invention with reference to specific exemplary embodiments. However, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims. The detailed description and accompanying drawings are to be regarded as merely illustrative, rather than as restrictive, and all such modifications or changes, if any, are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention as described and set forth herein.

More specifically, while illustrative exemplary embodiments of the invention have been described herein, the present invention is not limited to these embodiments, but includes any and all embodiments having modifications, omissions, combinations (e.g., of aspects across various embodiments), adaptations and/or alterations as would be appreciated by those in the art based on the foregoing detailed description. The limitations in the claims are to be interpreted broadly based on the language employed in the claims and not limited to examples described in the foregoing detailed description or during the prosecution of the application, which examples are to be construed as non-exclusive. For example, in the present disclosure, the term “preferably” is non-exclusive where it is intended to mean “preferably, but not limited to.” Any steps recited in any method or process claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the order presented in the claims. Means-plus-function or step-plus-function limitations will only be employed where for a specific claim limitation all of the following conditions are present in that limitation: a) “means for” or “step for” is expressly recited; b) a corresponding function is expressly recited; and c) structure, material or acts that support that structure are expressly recited. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined solely by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the descriptions and examples given above.