Title:
FLOOR COVERING CORNER PIECES FOR SALIENT CORNERS WHERE FLOORS AND WALLS MEET, APPLIANCE AND METHOD FOR FITTING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An appliance is provided for fitting a corner piece in the form of a module for a floor and wall covering. The appliance comprises a floor base comprising a rear part to support the operative's knees and forwardly having a fixed shaped bracket. An upper part of the bracket accommodates a support yoke which can be angularly oriented relative to the bracket. The support yoke is designed to receive a first structure for centering the appliance against the corner of the wall which receives the module, a second structure for gripping by the operative and a third structure for actuating and transmission and pressing against the module in order to obtain final shaping of the module. The third structure contributes to creep deformation of certain parts of the module to be fitted.



Inventors:
Mossot, Yves (Tarare, FR)
Application Number:
11/931253
Publication Date:
09/18/2008
Filing Date:
10/31/2007
Assignee:
GERFLOR (Villeurbanne, FR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.19, 52/745.2
International Classes:
E04F21/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROGERS, MARTIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HESLIN ROTHENBERG FARLEY & MESITI PC (ALBANY, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A module which constitutes a salient floor or wall covering corner piece comprising a flat cut out piece of plastic material capable of being deformed by heating and being cooled in order to be fitted on part of a corner and then sized in situ to match a final shape to be obtained, wherein the corner piece comprises, in an initial state, a flat cut out piece having a specific configuration relative to a template based on floor covering surrounding the corner piece, said corner piece comprising a base, a tip of triangular configuration, an intermediate connecting part connecting the base to the tip, each side of the connecting part having a specific curved indent, and the tip comprising two sloping walls which intersect at an apex of the corner piece, and wherein said corner piece, in a final state, has, at pressed areas, a reduced thickness and straight outer connecting shapes to match configurations of parts of the floor covering that are adjacent to the salient corner piece of the module.

2. An appliance for fitting the module as claimed in claim 1 to a corner, the appliance comprising a floor base articulately supporting an orientable telescopic arm controlled by an operating lever, an end of said telescopic arm having a means of pressing the module against the corner, said pressing means having a central V-shape portion which angularly matches the corner, wherein the floor base comprises a rear part to support knees of an operator and a forward fixed shaped bracket, an upper part of the bracket accommodating a support yoke which can be angularly oriented relative to the bracket, and wherein the support yoke includes a first means for centering the appliance against a corner part of a wall which receives the module and prepositioning the corner piece, a second means of gripping by the operator and a third means of transmission actuation and pressing the pressing means against the module allowing final shaping of the module, said third means, in a plane underneath the first means, contributing to creep deformation of certain parts of the module to be fitted and final shaping of the module, said third means being recessed from the first means before actuation and being movable in order to allow partial pressing and cause, by pressure, material creep of the certain parts of the module in order to obtain final shapes of the module, said module having variations in structural thickness.

3. An appliance, as claimed in claim 2, further comprising, on a front of the floor base, a fixed bracket arranged vertically and having two shaped arms, upper ends of the arms being parallel with a big enough gap between them to allow positioning of, the support yoke, the support yoke being articulated relative to said bracket.

4. An appliance, as claimed in claim 3, wherein the support yoke has a U-shaped configuration with two parallel wings that are longitudinally perpendicular to a plane of the bracket and protrude towards the front of the appliance, the support yoke forming a closed frame which encloses, the third means, and wherein the support yoke is articulated relative to the bracket and has openings in the wings through which fastening means passes, and wherein, near a front end of the yoke, the support yoke has a support spacer accommodating a knob which can be gripped in one hand by the operator and constitutes the second means, and wherein, at the front end, the support yoke has the first means.

5. An appliance as claimed in claim 4, wherein the first means comprises two parallel L-shaped sections connected to each other by fastening means and extending as two curved pieces which allow centering and pressing the module against either side of the corner part of the wall.

6. An appliance, as claimed in claim 4, wherein the third means comprises a first component for gripping and controlling movement, a second component for pressing the module to shape the module, and a third component linking between the first component and the second component, to enable operational use of the appliance.

7. An appliance as claimed in claim 6, wherein the first component comprises a grip, a base of the grip being articulately mounted on a support section mounted relative to the support yoke, and in that the grip forms a handle for gripping and controlling other mechanisms, and the base of said grip has wings which are recessed relative to an articulation part and accommodate, between the wings, a support for a push rod.

8. An appliance, as claimed in claim 7, wherein the third means which is located inside the frame of the support yoke comprises a receiving bearing surface fixedly and articulately mounted between the wings of the support yoke and the bracket by a hinge pin which links the support yoke to the bracket, said bearing surface having a bore through which the push rod passes.

9. An appliance, as claimed in claim 8, wherein the push rod is long and protrudes forwardly as an underlying extension of the support yoke in a plane which is not parallel to the support yoke, a forward end of the push rod is attached to a connecting ring, a forward part of the ring, which is an extension of the push rod, accommodates a support yoke of the pressing means, the pressing means comprising a shoe for pressing against the module.

10. An appliance as claimed in claim 9, wherein the shoe comprises two identical paddles oriented at an acute angle in order to press up against the module, each of the two paddles has a cylindrical paddle configuration opening at an angle of the order of 90°, each paddle is connected to a flat arm which is attached to the support yoke of the pressing means, and blades of the two paddles of the shoe are parallel and are connected to each other by fastening and securing pin on which a compensating spring is mounted, the spring providing a certain degree of flexibility in positioning and spreading the two paddles apart.

11. A method for fitting the module to a corner area of the wall and floor using the appliance of claim 2, comprising: a) applying contact adhesive to a back of the module and to the area of the wall and floor that are to receive the module and allowing the adhesive to dry; b) using a heat gun to uniformly heat the module until physical state of the module changes, allowing the module to be shaped; c) pressing the module against the corner of the wall by hand; d) moving the appliance close to the corner and positioning the first means against a sharp edge of the corner of the wall. e) immobilizing the appliance by kneeling on the floor base and using the second means and the third means to transmit movements and actuates the pressing means; f) pressing the module with the pressing means onto a skirting board, action of the pressing means causing the material to deform in corresponding contact areas of the module, and producing straight outer connecting shapes to match configurations of parts of the floor covering that are adjacent to the module. g) fixing an upper edge of the module to the wall; h) using a freezer spray to rapidly cool and stabilize configuration of the module; and i) having completed fitting the module, moving the appliance away from the corner.

12. An appliance as claimed in claim 10, wherein each paddle has a plurality of openings.

Description:

The invention relates to the technical field of floor and wall coverings that use polyvinyl chloride or similar materials. Fitting floor coverings in corner areas where floors and walls meet is extremely awkward and involves many problems in terms of the laying technique itself, the more or less satisfactory visual appearance obtained and upkeep. These difficulties are encountered when laying floor coverings in both reentrant and salient corner areas. The Applicant has devised and designed a device and a method for fitting floor coverings in reentrant corners which is the subject of French patent application 05 51607 and which is highly satisfactory in respect of reliable operation and the results it produces.

In contrast, the problems of fitting such floor coverings on salient corners remain entirely unresolved. Such corners are, moreover, more visually apparent to the observer and this is problematic. In practice, the fitter generally has to add material in certain locations in an attempt to make a more or less homogeneous joint between the two adjacent walls to be connected and part of the underlying floor by using a special method involving making a weld which is more or less difficult to execute.

The aesthetic effect obtained is therefore very mediocre; it depends on the fitter's experience and the fitter's skill in positioning parts of the floor covering in an attempt to conceal the appearance of joint areas as much as possible. In practice, the operative makes one or more laser welds or other welds on the corner and along the edges of two separately added pieces of floor covering.

Another technique involves making a V-shaped cut in a separately fitted piece which is welded onto the existing floor covering, but the results obtained are not very impressive.

Fitting a prefabricated thermoformed piece on such corner areas is also known, but here one is faced with constraints imposed by the possibility of adapting the piece to the location where it is to be fitted, the industrially preordained geometric shapes and lines of the thermoformed piece often do not match the in situ corner area in the building at all. In other words, fitting the thermoformed piece often involves additional fitting operations because walls, and therefore corners, are often uneven and out of plumb.

All the above-mentioned operations which are part of the prior art therefore mean that the floor covering pieces used for salient corners or thermoformed pieces have a constant structure, volume, dimension and thickness and that the final laid floor covering corresponds to the characteristics of the floor covering or initial piece of floor covering.

Another problem associated with the prior art is that existing methods of laying floor coverings in salient corner areas generally require two operatives, one to hold the corner covering and another to fix it to the walls during welding. It is therefore readily apparent that these procedures are relatively impractical, produce results of mediocre or even poor quality but demand a certain level of skill on the part of the operative or operatives.

Patent WO 91/10554 discloses a method of fitting a module on salient corners which involves producing a sheet having dimensions specific to the final shape to be obtained, heating it and shaping it in the salient corner area and then re-cooling and cutting it to its final shape. This method is more practical in use but produces considerable waste material and involves a finishing cutting operation which leaves a finish of very variable quality, depending on the operative's dexterity.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,855,361 discloses an appliance which makes it possible to press and position a salient corner piece against a wall. However, this appliance has no effect on the actual characteristics of the modules that are to be fitted.

The Applicant's approach was therefore to consider how to devise a new concept for fitting floor coverings on salient corners which would be easier to use, could be executed more quickly by one person and which would produce better quality results.

To achieve this, the Applicant sought a solution which would make it possible to do away with classic corner welding operations which are difficult to execute when performed using ad hoc appliances manipulated by a one person while a second person holds the floor covering to be welded in place, it being possible for these persons to get in each other's way in a cramped space.

These ambitious objectives and goals were to be achieved on the basis of knowledge and use of floor coverings having uniform structural and dimensional characteristics, and this was far from obvious.

The inventive approach adopted by the Applicant was to look at the possibility of possibly modifying the structural and dimensional characteristics of floor coverings for salient corners in order to allow a different method of laying.

The solution devised by the Applicant involves a method which is completely different from the prior art and has effects on the actual corner floor covering itself and the method of laying the floor covering by a single operative and also involves designing special equipment to assist the operative. The solution represents major technical progress in simplifying the fitting procedure, does not require a highly qualified specialist operative and produces a quite remarkable finish on salient corners where walls and floors meet.

These objects and others will become apparent from the following description.

According to a first aspect of the invention, the module which constitutes the salient floor or wall covering corner piece of the type comprising a flat cut out piece of plastic material capable of being deformed by heating and being cooled in order to be fitted on part of a corner and then sized in situ to match the final shape to be obtained is characterised in that it comprises, in its initial state, a flat cut out piece having a specific configuration relative to a template based on the floor covering surrounding the corner piece, said corner piece comprising a base which extends towards a tip with a triangular configuration shaped like a hat with an intermediate connecting part and, on either side of this connecting part, a specific curved indent, with the tip comprising two sloping walls which intersect at the apex of the corner piece and in that said corner piece, in its final state, has, in the location of its pressed areas, a reduced thickness and straight outer connecting shapes to match the configurations of the parts of the floor covering that are adjacent to the salient corner part of the module.

According to another characteristic, the appliance for fitting the module consisting of a salient corner piece for floor and wall coverings comprising a floor base articulately accommodating an orientable telescopic arm controlled by an operating lever, the end of said telescopic arm accommodating a means of pressing the module against the salient corner part, said pressing means having a V-shape in its centre which angularly matches the salient corner part, is characterised in that it comprises a floor base comprising a rear part to support the operative's knees and a forward fixed shaped bracket, the upper part of which is capable of accommodating a support yoke which can be angularly oriented relative to the bracket and in that the support yoke is designed to accommodate a first means of centering the appliance against the salient corner part of the wall which receives the module and prepositioning the corner piece, a second means of gripping by the operative and a third actuable means of transmission, and pressing against the module allowing final shaping of the latter, said third means, in a plane underneath the first means, contributing to creep deformation of certain parts of the module to be fitted and final shaping of the module, said third means being set back from the first centering and prepositioning means before actuation and being movable in order to allow partial pressing and cause, by pressure, material creep at the location of certain parts of the module in order to obtain the final shapes of the module, said module having variations in its structural thickness.

These aspects and others will become apparent from the following description.

The object of the present invention is described, merely by way of example, in the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the appliance according to the invention which is used to fit a salient corner floor covering.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a floor covering module cut out according to the invention and to be applied to a salient corner where two consecutive walls or partitions meet.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of the first operating phase to fit the salient corner floor coating after heating the module and then initially placing the module in position.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of the second operating phase to fit the salient corner floor coating using the appliance according to the invention before the module is fixed in position against part of the corner of the wall.

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the third operating phase to fit the salient corner floor coating using the appliance when the module is fixed by operations to press certain parts of the module in order to obtain creep deformation.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view showing the deformed corner floor coating after use of the tool and when joined in the location where it is fitted.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the appliance before it is put into use.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the appliance when it is in use.

FIG. 9 is a front view of the appliance.

In order that the object of the invention may more readily be understood, the following description is given, merely by way of example, reference being made to the accompanying drawings.

According to the invention, salient corner floor coating modules (1) are fitted using a very particular operating procedure using an appliance (A) which makes it possible to shape the module and offer it up to the walls prior to fixing.

Module (1) capable of constituting the salient corner piece is shown in FIG. 2, before any intervention and fitting, as a flat piece obtained from the floor coating intended to be laid in a place having been cut out with a specific configuration relative to a previously established template. It comprises a base (1a) which extends forwards to tip (1b) having a triangular configuration shaped like a hat with an intermediate connecting part (1c), either side of which has a symmetrical, curved indent (1d). Tip (1b) thus comprises two sloping walls (1e) which intersect at the apex (1f) of said part. The piece is made of a polyvinyl chloride type plastic material which constitutes this type of floor covering in a manner which is similar to and matches the nature of the surrounding floor covering. The thickness of the piece is uniform. The module thus defined will be capable of being applied to the salient corner as a covering. In its initial form, this piece is therefore not designed or adapted to actually constitute, in its present state, a piece for connection to other parts of floor coverings located either side of it and fixed to the wall. It will only be possible to fit it in its intended location on a salient corner once it has assumed its final shape after geometrical modification thanks to a specific deformation process using a special appliance.

The appliance used to achieve this, referred to in its entirety as (A) and designed to position and then shape module 1, is shown in FIG. 1. It comprises a flat floor base (2) with a rectangular configuration, for example, this floor base enabling the operative to kneel on its rear part and its front part accommodating the device which is used to place and shape the above-mentioned initial module. The rear part of the floor base has a central cut-out (2a), essentially to reduce the weight of the floor base, and two areas either side (2b) on which the operative's knees rest so that said floor base does not move when the operative is working because the operative's weight presses down and immobilises it. On the front of the floor base there is a fixed bracket (3) arranged vertically and consisting of two shaped arms (3a-3b), the upper ends (3a1-3b1) of which are parallel with a big enough gap between them to allow the positioning of additional means which are described later on below. The base of the bracket (3c) is fixed to floor base (2) by bolts or other attachment means. The upper part of the floor base includes a connecting spacer (3d). Said arms (3a-3b) have fixing holes (3e). Between its arms (3a-3b), said bracket (3) makes it possible to fit an adjustably orientable support yoke (4) which is itself articulated relative to the said bracket and on which there is provided first means (5) of centering the appliance against the salient corner part of the walls that receives the module, second means of gripping and holding (7) and third means of actuation and transmission and pressing against the installed module in order to obtain final shaping of the module.

More especially, support yoke (4) has a U-shaped configuration with two parallel wings (4a-4b) which are perpendicular to the plane of the bracket and protrude towards the front of the appliance and protrude partially towards the rear. This support yoke (4) is thus produced by forming a closed frame which encloses, in particular, some of the three above-mentioned means. Support yoke (4) is articulated relative to the bracket and has openings (4c) in its wings through which fastening means (8) of the connecting bolt type passes. Near its front end, the support yoke has a support spacer (14) capable of accommodating a pressure knob (7) which can be gripped in one hand by the operative and constitutes the second means. This knob thus enables the operative to grasp the appliance securely while carrying out the work. At the front, the support yoke has a first means consisting of an angle (5) for positioning against the corner of the wall to which the module will be applied. This acute angle consists of, on the end of the support yoke, two parallel L-shaped sections (5a-5b) connected to each other by fastening means (10) and extending as two curved parts (5a1-5b1) which allow centering and pressing either side of the salient corner part of the wall. This acute angle makes it possible to centre and support appliance (A) in position as will be explained below.

Support yoke (4) internally accommodates, inside its frame, said third means used to press and shape the module in situ. In practice, said third means comprises three main components, namely means of gripping and controlling (11) movement, means of pushing and pressing (12) the module which is used to shape it and means of linking and transmission (13) between the preceding components which enables operational use of the appliance. The first means (11) or component is a grip, the base of which is articulately mounted on support section (14) which is itself mounted relative to above-mentioned support yoke (4). The grip forms a handle for gripping and controlling other mechanisms. The base of said grip is designed with wings (11a) which are recessed relative to the articulation part and accommodate, between them, a support for a push rod (15).

The third means located inside the frame of the support yoke thus comprises a receiving bearing surface (9) fixedly and articulately mounted between the wings of support yoke (4) and bracket (3) by means of hinge pin (8) which links the support yoke to the bracket. The receiving bearing surface has a bore through which push rod (15) associated with operating lever (11) passes. The push rod is long and protrudes forwardly as an underlying extension of the support yoke in a plane which is not parallel to the support yoke. The forward end of the push rod is attached to connecting ring (16) which is fixed by any appropriate means. The forward part of the ring which is an extension of the push rod accommodates support yoke (17) of pressure means (12) consisting of a shoe for pushing and pressing the module. The push rod can receive a fixed radial crown (19) against which compression spring (20) mounted on the push rod and restrained by the bearing surface can act. The pressure shoe thus consists of two identical parts (12a-12b) oriented at an acute angle in order to press against the module which is to be applied to a corner. The shoe thus comprises two parts in a cylindrical paddle configuration opening at an angle of the order of 90° and advantageously has a plurality of openings (12c). Each paddle is thus connected to a flat blade (12d) which is attached to support yoke (17) of shoe (12). The two blades (12d) of the two paddles of the shoe are thus parallel and are connected to each other by fastening and securing pin (21) on which elastic means (22) of the compensating spring type is mounted, this spring provides a certain degree of flexibility in positioning and spreading the two paddles apart.

It is apparent that actuating the operating handle will position the shoe. When not in use, the operating handle is raised so that the push rod and hence the pressure shoe are in their set back position. When in use, actuating the operating handle and swiveling it downwards exerts a toggle joint effect which causes displacement of the push rod which is guided and maintained by the bearing surface and causes placement of the pressure shoe and presses it against the module. It is therefore apparent that actuating gripping and operating handle (11) causes displacement of the entire mechanism described above. Initially, operating and gripping handle (11) is raised and this means that the push rod is not actuated and is in its rear set back position and the pressure shoe is thus in its set back position. When the operative places module (1) on the salient corner in question, the operative must position the appliance facing said salient corner and, in particular, move positioning acute angle (5) onto the salient corner to be treated, but at a height which is well above the area where module (1) is placed. Because the position of said acute angle is fixed relative to support yoke (4), appliance (A) is thus properly centred. The operative can then kneel on the floor base using his or her own weight to immobilise the appliance, grasp pressure knob (7) in one hand and use the other hand to actuate above-mentioned operating and gripping means (11). This action makes it possible to move the pressure shoe against the module thanks to transmission of the downward movement of means (11) and via the push rod which moves forward.

Obviously, the transmission mechanisms described between operating means (11) and pressure shoe (12) are not limitative and are merely a typical embodiment.

The method of producing salient corners by fitting and attaching a module (1) having the above-mentioned configuration is described below.

Having defined a template, for cutting out the corner floor covering, which determines the geometry of the floor covering piece that covers the salient corner, the salient corner piece or module (1) that is to be fitted is then cut out. One then marks out the layout of the module and fits the skirting board profiles. The method of fitting module (1) is then as follows:

a) Apply contact adhesive to the back of the module or corner piece and to the area of the wall and floor that are to receive the module and allow the adhesive to dry.

b) Use a heat gun to uniformly heat the module or corner piece until its physical state changes, allowing the module to be shaped.

c) Press module (1) or the corner piece against the salient corner of the wall by hand.

d) Move appliance (A) closer and position acute angle (5) against the sharp edge of the corner of the wall.

e) Immobilise the appliance by kneeling on the floor base and using gripping and operating means (11) which transmits movements and actuates the pressure shoe.

f) Press the module or corner piece onto the skirting board, the action of the pressure shoe allows the material to deform in the corresponding contact areas of the module. This allows deformation of the thickness of the module in the pressure areas in question and produces straight outer connecting shapes to match the configurations of those parts of the floor covering that are adjacent to the salient corner piece of the module (1).

g) Fix the upper edge of the module to the wall.

h) Use a freezer spray to rapidly cool the shaped part, this stabilises the configuration of the module or corner piece.

i) Having completed fitting the module, move the appliance away.

The appliance and the method, according to the invention, for fitting modules on salient corners have many advantages.

Firstly, the operation can be carried out by a single person working simply, quickly and safely without the need for any of the in situ welding operations that were previously required.

The module or corner piece is shaped in position and is cut out from the floor covering delivered on site by performing a simple cutting operation using the configuration of an initial template as a pattern. The salient corner piece is therefore made of the same material as the floor covering laid in the room, thus ensuring a uniform decorative appearance. When it is fitted, the final geometrical shape of the module or corner piece according to the invention is modified compared with its initial state, as is its thickness, because those parts that the pressure shoe presses against allow material creep in order to obtain the desired final shape. Both the shape and the thickness of the module are therefore modified and its thickness is no longer constant throughout. This poses no problem whatsoever because any residual stresses in the locations in question after fitting are extremely small.

The mechanical strength properties of the corner piece or module are better than those obtained using the prior art. The operative does not have to have the same skills and know-how as previously because fitting the module or corner piece is straightforward.

Using a heat gun and a freezer spray does not pose any particular handling difficulty.

Fixing quality is markedly improved.

If it is necessary to make a peripheral weld between the corner piece and other adjacent parts of the floor covering, this becomes much easier for the operative to do.