Title:
Attachment system for a modular flooring assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular flooring assembly, includes at least two floor members, each including top and bottom portions, and edge portions configured for operative engagement with the edge portion of an adjacent floor member to form a common joint, wherein the engaged edge portions are further configured for facilitating radial movement of the juxtaposed floor members about the common joint, a resilient, elastic material supporting the bottom portion of the floor members in contact with the ground, and an attachment system including clip with a cross-piece member having first and second ends, a pair of opposed legs, each extending from the corresponding first and second ends inwardly toward one another, and the legs each configured for operatively engaging the top portions of corresponding one of adjacent floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition and prevent lateral separation, while permitting radial movement of the adjacent floor members about their common joint.



Inventors:
Dagger, Robert K. (Shipbourne, GB)
Application Number:
11/809683
Publication Date:
12/04/2008
Filing Date:
05/30/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050166525Combination handrail/crash railAugust, 2005Moulton
20060137271Sealing gaps between floor boards etcJune, 2006Plummer
20060174566Process of making decorative flooring materials and decorative flooring material made by the processAugust, 2006Tsukada
20090056257FOAMING OF SIMULATED STONE STRUCTURESMarch, 2009Mollinger et al.
20100088985Connection Of Prestressing Sheath Sections Of A Structure Having A Series Of Precast ElementsApril, 2010Mellier et al.
20030051418Prefabricated structure and method of constructionMarch, 2003Crowder
20050126104Construction framing system and track thereforJune, 2005Erickson et al.
20030154665Above ground pool with reinforcing memberAugust, 2003Song et al.
20090000226SYSTEM FOR STORING WATERJanuary, 2009Woods et al.
20090100785INTERIOR WINDOW TRIM KITApril, 2009Tanner
20060201101Floor guard for cook lineSeptember, 2006Hutto Jr.



Primary Examiner:
AKBASLI, ALP A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Allen R. Kipnes. Esq. (Princeton Junction, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An attachment system an attachment system for a modular flooring assembly to secure floor members in operable engagement to one another, comprising: a flat, elongate member having first and second opposing ends; a pair of legs operatively engaged to the first and second opposing ends of the flat, elongate member and each extending away from said first and second opposing ends of the elongate member towards one another at an angle from the flat elongate member and terminating at a distal end, said legs each having a length of less than half the length of the elongate member; a pair of inwardly directed protrusions each located at the distal end of the corresponding leg, said protrusions being spaced apart from one another at a distance of at least slightly less than the length of the elongate member; and said pair of legs each further configured for operative engagement with the top portions of corresponding one of adjacently adjoined floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition, while permitting radial movement of the adjoined floor members about their common joint.

2. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the legs and the elongate member are integral with one another.

3. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the angle is in the range of from about 10° to 80°.

4. The attachment system of claim 3 wherein the angle is about 70°.

5. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the ratio of the length of the flat, elongate member and the length of the leg is from about 1.0 to 2.0:1.

6. The attachment system of claim 5 wherein the length ratio is from about 1.2 to 1.4:1.

7. The attachment system of claim 6 wherein the length ratio is about 1.3:1.

8. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the flat, elongate member has a longitudinal length of from about 55 to 75 mm.

9. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the longitudinal length of the flat, elongate member is about 65 mm.

10. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the flat, elongate member has a width of from about 15 to 35 mm.

11. The attachment system of claim 10 wherein the width of the flat, elongate member is about 25 mm.

12. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the distance between the protrusions is in the range of from about 40 to 60 mm.

13. The attachment system of claim 12 wherein the distance between the protrusions is about 50 mm.

14. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the legs are adapted to resist a laterally directed load.

15. The attachment system of claim 14 wherein the legs are adapted to resist: a first load at a first displacement as measured by the distance the distal ends of the legs are moved relative to one another from a rest position; a second load at a second displacement greater than the first displacement; and a third load at a third displacement greater than the second displacement.

16. The attachment system of claim 15 wherein: the first load is in the range of from about 2000 to 2500 grams at the first displacement of about 2 mm; the second load is in the range of from about 4500 to 5750 grams at the second displacement of about 4 mm; and the third load is in the range of from about 5850 to 7500 grams at the third displacement of about 6 mm.

17. The attachment system of claim 1 exhibits a hardness value of at least 480 Vickers.

18. The attachment system of claim 17 wherein the hardness value is in the range of from about 480 to 520 Vickers.

19. The attachment system of claim 1 wherein the protrusions extend laterally inward.

20. The attachment system of claim 1 further comprising means for gripping the elongate member.

21. The attachment system of claim 20 wherein the gripping means comprises at least one aperture extending through the elongate member.

22. A modular flooring assembly, comprising: at least two floor members, each including top and bottom portions, and edge portions configured for operative engagement with the edge portion of an adjacent floor member to form a common joint, said engaged edge portions further configured for facilitating radial movement of the juxtaposed floor members about the common joint; a resilient, elastic material supporting the bottom portion of the floor members in contact with the ground; and an attachment system in the form of a clip comprising: a flat, elongate member having first and second opposing ends; a pair of legs operatively engaged to the first and second opposing ends of the flat, elongate member and each extending away from said first and second opposing ends of the elongate member towards one another at an angle from the flat elongate member and terminating at a distal end, said legs each having a length of less than half the length of the elongate member; a pair of inwardly directed protrusions each located at the distal end of the corresponding leg, said protrusions being spaced apart from one another at a distance of at least slightly less than the length of the elongate member; and said pair of legs each further configured for operative engagement with the top portions of corresponding one of adjacently adjoined floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition, while permitting radial movement of the adjoined floor members about their common joint.

23. The modular flooring assembly of claim 22, wherein the edge portions of adjacent juxtaposed floor members forming a common joint are coupled in an edge to edge configuration through a tongue and groove engagement.

24. The modular flooring assembly of claim 22 further comprising: a cylindrical ridge extending along the edge portion of a floor member; a groove complementary to the cylindrical ridge extending along the edge portion of a corresponding adjoining floor member; wherein the cylindrical ridge occupies the groove to form a tongue and groove engagement therebetween.

25. The modular flooring assembly of claim 24, wherein the length of the cylindrical ridge extending from the edge portion of one floor member is at least the depth of the groove of an adjoining floor member.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to flooring assemblies, and more particularly, an attachment system for a modular flooring assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Modular flooring assemblies are constructed from substantially flat floor sections or members extending over an area of the subfloor in an interlocking arrangement. Typically, the assembled floor members remain detached from the subfloor to provide a floating floor construction. A base floor material comprising a resilient friction-producing material such as, for example, cardboard, felt, cork or foam plastic is placed between the floor members and the subfloor to match the contour of the subfloor, and smooth out any irregularities in the surface of the subfloor. This keeps the modular flooring assembly relatively level, while maintaining the floor assembly in place on the subfloor. The modular flooring assembly provides enhanced portability and ease of disassembly for transport or storage, where it can be re-assembled and reused at a later time or at a different location.

Modular flooring assemblies providing specialized floorings are especially useful in places where the existing floor is unable to accommodate a specific planned function, event or activity. Such specialized flooring may include, but is not limited to, sporting event floors, orchestral floors, theatrical or stage performance floors, convention/trade show floors, or the like. Modular flooring assemblies are used at many locations including, for example, banquet halls, recreation centers, public arenas, sports stadiums, amphitheaters, state fairgrounds, home living rooms, and the like. Modular flooring assemblies can readily transform existing floors in a convenient and cost effective manner for different functions, events, and activities.

Modular flooring assemblies are often used to construct dance floors, which provide users with recreation, exercise, and personal enjoyment. A preferred dance floor surface is hard, smooth, and wood-like with a certain amount of spring. Although almost any surface may be danced upon, the action, feel and appearance of a surface tailored for dancing are appreciated by both professional and novice dancer alike. However, despite their convenience, modular flooring assemblies designed especially for dancing, present a unique set of challenges.

Such modular flooring assemblies should install quickly and easily, provide a secure and smooth surface, and be able to withstand wear and forces associated with people walking and dancing upon it. Furthermore, the modular flooring assembly should be constructed without any open joints or seams, holes, or raised surfaces or objects from which a dancer or performer might trip or stumble upon. The modular flooring assembly should also employ an attachment system for securing the floor members together in a manner that prevents the floor members from separating under lateral forces generated by users, while facilitating easy and rapid assembly and disassembly.

A common form of attachment systems for modular flooring assemblies employs reversible tongue and groove construction. In such systems, the tongue of one floor member fits within the groove of an adjoining floor member, and the connection is secured with a removable screw or bolt fastener set through the tongue and groove.

There are several disadvantages in attachment systems employing tongue and groove engagement. First, such systems require the use of tools and hardware (i.e., screw or bolt fasteners) for securing the flooring members together. The practicality of modular flooring assemblies is frustrated, if the tools and/or hardware are lost or misplaced causing either delays or improper assembly, which may be unsafe and may greatly reduce enjoyment of the floor. Second, assembly and disassembly is slow and tedious with such systems, since each screw or bolt fastener must be individually introduced and tightened during assembly, or loosened for removal during disassembly. Third, a screw or bolt head, which is not entirely flush with the surface of the dance floor, creates a potential hazard for the user. Fourth, when the floor is not in use, the tools and hardware must be stored such that they are readily located for the nest use.

Accordingly, there is a need for an attachment system, and a modular flooring assembly using the same, which provides a floor having a hard, smooth surface with a certain amount of spring that is especially desirable in dance and theatrics. There is a further need for an attachment system, and a modular flooring assembly using the same, which provides a locking mechanism that effectively resists lateral forces encountered during use to prevent separation of floor members, while permitting the floor members to react dynamically to vertically directed forces, thereby further enhancing the action, feel and appearance of a surface desirable for dancing. There is a further need for an attachment system, and a modular flooring assembly using the same, which is simple to assemble and disassemble, and requires minimal tools, hardware and labor to implement.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to an attachment system, and a modular flooring assembly using the same, to provide a secure and smooth floor surface. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention can be readily disassembled and transported for re-assembly at a different location for enhanced portability. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention includes a plurality of floor members adapted for adjoining edge-to-edge engagement to form a corresponding joint therebetween, a resilient, elastic material supporting the bottom portion of the floor members to impart a spring action to the floor members, and an attachment system comprising a clip configured to operatively engage adjoining floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition and prevent lateral separation to form a floor surface without any open joints or seams, holes, raised surfaces or objects that may obstruct the user.

The modular flooring assembly of the present invention is further designed to impart a force absorbing spring to the floor surface to enhance the action, feel and appearance of the floor that is especially desirable for dancing and theatrical performances. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention is adapted to withstand forces of wear and tear associated with user activity thereon. The arrangement of the floor members and the attachment system comprising one or more clips in accordance with the present invention greatly enhances ease of maintenance and care of the floor surface. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention is simple to assemble and disassemble using minimal tools, hardware and labor to implement.

The attachment system of the present invention comprises a clip including a cross-piece member having first and second ends with a pair of legs each extending from the corresponding first and second ends inwardly toward one another. The legs are adapted to dynamically resist loads applied thereto relative to the distance the legs are moved apart. The clip of the present invention operates to securely retain adjoined floor members together, while permitting radial movement about the common joint.

In one aspect of the present invention, there is provided an attachment system for a modular flooring assembly to secure floor members in operable engagement to one another, comprising:

a flat, elongate member having first and second opposing ends;

a pair of legs operatively engaged to the first and second opposing ends of the flat, elongate member and each extending away from the first and second opposing ends of the elongate member towards one another at an angle from the flat elongate member and terminating at a distal end, the legs each having a length of less than half the length of the elongate member;

a pair of inwardly directed protrusions each located at the distal end of the corresponding leg, the protrusions being spaced apart from one another at a distance of at least slightly less than the length of the elongate member; and

the pair of legs each further configured for operative engagement with the top portions of corresponding one of adjacently adjoined floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition, while permitting radial movement of the adjoined floor members about their common joint.

In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided modular flooring assembly, comprising:

at least two floor members, each including top and bottom portions, and edge portions configured for operative engagement with the edge portion of an adjacent floor member to form a common joint, the engaged edge portions further configured for facilitating radial movement of the juxtaposed floor members about the common joint;

a resilient, elastic material supporting the bottom portion of the floor members in contact with the ground; and

an attachment system in the form of a clip comprising:

    • a flat, elongate member having first and second opposing ends;
    • a pair of legs operatively engaged to the first and second opposing ends of the flat, elongate member and each extending away from the first and second opposing ends of the elongate member towards one another at an angle from the flat elongate member and terminating at a distal end, the legs each having a length of less than half the length of the elongate member;
    • a pair of inwardly directed protrusions each located at the distal end of the corresponding leg, the protrusions being spaced apart from one another at a distance of at least slightly less than the length of the elongate member; and
    • the pair of legs each further configured for operative engagement with the top portions of corresponding one of adjacently adjoined floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition, while permitting radial movement of the adjoined floor members about their common joint.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following drawings are illustrative of embodiments of the present invention and are not intended to limit the invention as encompassed by the claims forming part of the application.

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a modular flooring assembly utilizing an attachment system comprising a clip for one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the modular flooring assembly shown with two assembled floor members in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an attachment system comprising a clip for one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of the clip of FIG. 3 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the clip of FIG. 3 in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an exploded, side elevational view of the portions of the modular flooring assembly within the circled area of FIG. 2 denoted by “FIG. 6” showing the floor members moved apart from one another in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is fragmentary, top plan view of the portions of the modular flooring assembly within the circled area of FIG. 2 denoted by “FIG. 7” showing a clip-receiving clip receiving area in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a partial cross sectional assembly view of the modular flooring assembly along lines 8-8 of FIG. 2 in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a modular flooring assembly and an attachment system for the modular flooring assembly comprises a clip to provide a secure and smooth floor surface. The modular flooring assembly may be readily disassembled and transported for re-assembly at a different location for enhanced portability. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention includes a plurality of floor members adapted for adjoining edge-to-edge engagement to form a corresponding joint therebetween, a resilient, elastic material supporting the bottom portion of the floor members to impart a spring action to the floor members, and an attachment system comprising a clip configured to operatively engage adjoining floor members to securely retain the engaged floor members in juxtaposition and prevent lateral separation to form a floor surface without any open joints or seams, holes, raised surfaces or objects.

The attachment system of the present invention comprises a clip including a cross-piece member having first and second ends with a pair of legs each extending from the corresponding first and second ends inwardly toward one another. The legs are adapted to dynamically resist loads applied thereto relative to the distance the legs are moved apart. The clip of the present invention operates to securely retain adjoined floor members together, while permitting radial movement about the common joint.

The modular flooring assembly of the present invention is adapted to withstand forces of wear and tear associated with user activity thereon. The arrangement of the floor members and the attachment system comprising one or more clips in accordance with the present invention greatly enhances ease of maintenance and care of the floor surface. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention is simple to assemble and disassemble using minimal tools, hardware and labor for implementation.

The modular flooring assembly can be installed in a number of configurations including, but not limited, to a floating floor construction. Preferably, the modular flooring assembly includes a floating floor construction to enhance quick installation and portability. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention further is designed to impart a force absorbing spring to the floor surface. This is achieved by providing a base floor material placed between the floor member and the subfloor for force absorption. The modular flooring assembly of the present invention enhances the action, feel and appearance of the floor that is especially desirable for dancing and theatrical performances.

Referring to FIG. 1, a modular flooring assembly generally by reference numeral 10 is shown for one embodiment of the present invention. The modular flooring assembly 10 comprises a plurality of floor sections or members 12 each adjoined edge to edge to one another along corresponding edge portions 14 to form a floor surface 16. The edge portions 14 of the floor members 12 are adapted to come together and form a joint 22 therebetween. The floor members 12 of the flooring assembly 10 are each adapted to absorb and respond in a spring-like manner to vertically directed forces typically encountered on the floor surface 16 during dancing, and further adapted to permit radial movement about the joint 22 therebetween to enhance transfer of the forces away from the floor surface 16 as will be described hereinafter.

Preferably, the floor members 12 are installed on a stable, level base surface or subfloor. However, it will be understood that the modular flooring assembly 10 may be installed to accommodate a range of base surfaces or subfloors under different conditions. Moreover, the floor members 12 may be in the form of boards, parquets, tiles, panels, veneers, laminates, and the like. The floor members 12 are preferably composed of a hard material capable of being manufactured into a substantially planar form, such as, for example, wood, plastic polymer, metal, and the like. As will be understood, the floor members may be fabricated from any flooring material and forms as known in the art depending on the desired application and appearance of the resulting floor.

The flooring assembly 10 includes an attachment system 18 referred to hereinafter as a “clip” adapted to operatively engage the top portion of adjacently adjoined floor members 12. The clip 18 performs a dual function of retaining the adjacently adjoined floor members 12 together to prevent lateral separation, while controlling the radial movement of the adjacent floor members 12 about their common joint 22 as will be described hereinafter. The floor members 12 each include clip receiving areas 20 located in the top portion proximate the edge portions 14 thereof. The clip receiving area 20 of one floor member 12 is positioned thereon to align with the clip receiving area 20 of an adjacent floor member 12. The combination of adjacent clip receiving areas 20 is adapted to accommodate and receive therebetween a single clip 18 via a clip bore 24 located in the clip receiving area 20 as will be hereinafter described.

Referring to FIG. 2, the flooring assembly 10 includes a plurality of base floor pads 26 comprising an resilient, elastic material underlying at least the edge portions 14 of the floor members 12 opposite from the floor surface 16. Each of the base floor pads 26 is sandwiched between the bottom portion of the floor members 12 and the corresponding ground or a base support such as the subfloor. The resilient, elastic material of the base floor pad 26 is selected, for example, from cardboard, felt, cork, foam plastic, natural and synthetic elastomers, rubbers, and the like. Preferably, the resilient, elastic material of the base floor pad 26 is neoprene rubber. The base floor pad 26 frictionally grips the ground or subfloor to prevent lateral sliding of the floor assembly 10, match the contours of the ground or subfloor and keep the flooring assembly 10 relatively level, and absorb vertically directed forces produced by users and generate a spring-like action.

The floor assembly 10 further includes a groove 28 extending along a corresponding edge portion 14 of the floor member 12. Each groove 28 is configured to receive and retain a corresponding cylindrical ridge 44 (see FIG. 6) extending along the edge portion 14 of another floor member 12. The groove 28 and the corresponding cylindrical ridge 44 are configured form a tongue and groove engagement between the adjoining floor members 12. The groove 28 is adapted to allow limited radial movement of the cylindrical ridge 44 therein in a floating manner, while substantially maintaining horizontal alignment therebetween. The shape and configuration of the groove 28 and the cylindrical ridge 44 allows the floor member 12 to slightly move radially thereabout, while preventing any lateral movement therebetween as will be further described hereinafter.

Referring to FIGS. 3-5, the clip 18 for a modular flooring assembly to secure floor members in operable engagement to one another is shown for one embodiment of the present invention. The clip 18 includes a flat, elongate member 30 having first and second opposing ends 32 and 34, a pair of legs 36 extending from the respective first and second opposing ends 32 and 34 towards one another at an angle, α, and terminating at a respective distal ends 38.

The legs 36 of the clip 18 are adapted to dynamically resist loads, specifically laterally directed loads, applied thereto relative to the distance the legs 36 are moved apart. The laterally directed loads are generated in combination by the user and by the radial movement of the floor members 12 about the joint 22. The legs 36 are adapted to resist loads progressively as the legs 36 move apart from one another in incremental amounts. This dynamic load resistance feature enables the flooring assembly 10 to be more responsive to the actions of the user.

In the present embodiment, and by way of example, the clip 18 is adapted to resist a first load of from about 2000 to 2500 grams at a first displacement of about 2 mm as measured by the distance the distal ends 38 of the legs 36 are moved relative to one another from a rest position, a second load of from about 4500 to 5750 grams at a second displacement of about 4 mm, and a third load of from about 5850 to 7500 grams at a third displacement of about 6 mm. It is understood that the dynamic load resistance values is not limited to those disclosed herein, and can be modified according to the desired response characteristics of the flooring assembly 10 based on user preferences, dance styles, floor configurations, flooring materials used, and the like.

The clip 18 is composed of a flexible, elastic material including a metal such as hardened steel, annealed steel, phosphor bronze, beryllium copper and the like. Preferably, the clip 18 is composed of annealed spring steel that has been heat treated to achieve a hardness value of at least 480 Vickers (48 Rockwell ‘C’ scale), and more preferably a hardness value of from about 480 to 520 Vickers (48-50 Rockwell ‘C’ scale).

The legs 36 of the clip 18, which are integral with the elongate member 30, are adapted to operatively engage the top portion of the adjoining floor members 12. The legs 36 of the clip 18 are inwardly angled toward one another at an angle, α, relative to the elongate member 30. The angle, α, is preferably in the range of from about 10° to 800, and more preferably at about 70°.

The length of the legs 36 of the clip 18 is each up to half the length of the elongate member 30. The ratio of the length of the flat, elongate member 30 and the length of each leg 36 of the clip 18 is from about 1 to 2:1, preferably from about 1.2 to 1.4:1, and more preferably about 1.3:1.

In the present embodiment, the elongate member 30 of the clip 18 has a longitudinal length of from about 55 to 75 mm, and preferably about 65 mm, and a width of from about 15 to 35 mm, and preferably 25 mm. It will be understood that the size of the clip is not limited to the dimensions disclosed herein, and may encompass any suitable dimension necessary for the implementing the attachment system of the present invention in a corresponding modular flooring system.

The clip 18 further includes a pair of protrusions 40 each located at the distal end 38 of the corresponding leg 36, and extending laterally inward toward one another. The protrusions 40 are spaced apart from one another at a distance of at least slightly less than the length of the elongate member 30. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the protrusions 40 of the clip 18 are spaced apart from one another at a distance of from about 40 to 60 mm, and more preferably at about 50 mm.

The clip 18 includes a pair of apertures 42 located in the elongate member 30. The apertures 42 provide a means for the user to grip the clip 18 during removal from adjoining floor members 12 as will be described hereinafter.

Referring to FIG. 6, the floor members 12 are coupled to one another edge to edge through a tongue and groove engagement. The groove 28 extending along the edge portion 14 of one floor member 12 receives and retains the cylindrical ridge 44 of the adjoining floor member 12 to form a common joint 22 (see FIGS. 1 and 2). This arrangement allows the floor members 12 to be fitted together without gaps or spacing, and ensures a level floor surface 16 therebetween.

The shape of the cylindrical ridge 44 and the corresponding groove 28 provides a limited freedom of radial movement about the joint 22 between the adjoined floor members 12, which enhances vertical transfer of force generated by the user to the corresponding base floor pad 26. This greatly improves force absorption in the flooring assembly 10, while maintaining a tight fit between the adjoined floor members 12 and minimizing any gaps or spacing, which may create a hazard. It is preferred that the length of the cylindrical ridge 44 extending from the edge portion 14 of the floor member 12 matches or slightly exceeds the depth of the corresponding groove 28.

Referring to FIG. 7, the clip receiving area 20 is located in the floor surface 16 at the edge portion 14 of the floor member 12, and functions in combination with a corresponding clip receiving area 20 of an adjoining floor member 12. The clip receiving area 20 is adapted to accommodate the elongate member 30 of the clip 18. The clip receiving area 20 is recessed at a depth sufficient to maintain the top surface of the elongate member 30 at least substantially flush with the surface 16 of the floor member 12. This eliminates any raised surfaces from which a dancer or performer might trip or stumble upon.

The clip bore 24 of the clip receiving area 20 includes a first portion 46 and optionally a second portion 48. The first portion 46 is configured to receive and retain the corresponding leg 36 of a clip 18. The second portion 48 of the clip bore 24 is positioned to be in communication with the corresponding aperture 42 of the clip 18. The second portion 48 of the clip bore 24 allows a user to position a suitable tool through the clip aperture 42 and underneath the clip 18 in order to grip and remove the clip 18 from the clip receiving area 20. It is preferred that the size of the second portion 48 of the clip 24 is at least the size of the clip aperture 42.

Referring to FIG. 8, the floor members 12 are assembled through insertion of the cylindrical ridge 44 of one into the groove 28 of the other. The adjoined floor members 12 form the joint 22 therebetween. A clip 18 is introduced into the corresponding clip receiving areas 20 of the adjoined floor members 12. Each leg 36 of the clip 18 is inserted through the corresponding first portion 46 of the clip bore 24 until the top surface of the elongate member 30 of the clip 18 is flush with the floor surface 16. The distal ends 38 of the clip 18 each extend beyond the corresponding bottom portions of the adjoined floor members 12. The protrusions 40 of the clip 18 is set inwardly biased against the corresponding bottom edge portions of the clip bores 24, thus securely anchoring the clip 18 firmly in place.

During use, the floor members 12 may be subjected to a vertically directed force produced by a user such as through jumping on the floor surface 16. The pivot action of the cylindrical ridge 44 within the groove 28 transfers a portion of the vertically directed force to the inside portions of the clip legs 36 in the form of a lateral load. The clip legs 36 move slightly apart, thereby conveying the vertically directed force to the base floor pads 26. The clip legs 36 are configured to dynamically resist loads, where greater lateral loads are required to move the legs 36 further apart. This feature limits the range of radial movement of the floor members 12 about the joint 22, and prevents lateral separation of the floor members 12 which could produce undesirable gaps or spacing at the joint 22.

The combination of the shape, configuration and physical properties of the clip of the present invention, including the angle, α, the relative length ratios of the legs and elongate member, hardness values, dynamic load resistance, and the like as disclosed herein, have been determined to effectively provide flooring characteristics especially desirable in dance floors. In particular, the clip of the present invention enables the adjoined floor members to move radially about the common joint to produce a spring-like action in the floor surface responsive to the user's actions, while at the same time, actively maintaining a tight level joint therebetween, thus avoiding any open joints or seams, holes, or raised surfaces or objects that may pose a hazard to the user.

The apertures 42 of the clip 18 are in communication with the corresponding second portions 48 of the clip bores 24. As described previously, the clip apertures 42 provide the user with a means to grip the clip 18 for facilitating removal during disassembly. This may be accomplished by simply inserting a hook through at least one of the clip apertures 42 and applying a strong upward force against the bottom side of the clip 18 to dislodge the clip legs 36 from the clip bores 24. The clip legs 36 are forced outwardly away from one another as the protrusions 40 clear the bottom edge portions of the clip bores 24, thereby overcoming the anchoring effect of the protrusions 40.

The foregoing discussion discloses and describes merely exemplary embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from such discussion, and from the accompanying drawings and claims, that various changes, modifications and variations can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.