Title:
WOODEN TILE FLOORING SYSTEM, KIT AND METHOD OF INSTALLING THE SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A wooden tile flooring system, kit and method of installing the same. In one embodiment, the invention is a wooden tile flooring system comprising: a plurality of wooden tiles having an edge defining a major surface, the wooden tiles positioned atop a floor surface in spaced relation to one another so that a grout line exists between the edges of adjacent wooden tiles; and a resilient grout at least partially filling the grout lines. The resilient grout provides a gasket seal about the wooden tiles that affords flexibility, allowing for natural expansion and contraction of the wooden tiles as needed without breaking the gasket seal. A cushion layer can be used underneath the wooden tiles if desired.



Inventors:
Starke, John M. (Easton, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/947568
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
11/29/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/747.11
International Classes:
E04F15/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AKBASLI, ALP A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cozen O'Connor (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A wooden tile flooring system: a plurality of wooden tiles having an edge defining a major surface, the wooden tiles positioned atop a floor surface in spaced relation to one another so that a grout line exists between the edges of adjacent wooden tiles; and a resilient grout at least partially filling the grout lines.

2. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein, the resilient grout forms a gasket-like seal about the edges of the wooden tiles.

3. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 2, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the resilient grout comprises a room temperature vulcanizing rubber.

4. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the plurality of wooden tiles are secured to the floor surface by an adhesive.

5. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further comprising: a cushion layer disposed between a subfloor and the plurality of wooden tiles, the cushion layer comprising the floor surface.

6. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 5, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the cushion layer is a foam material.

7. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the wooden tiles are end-grain wooden tiles.

8. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the plurality of wooden tiles comprises a plurality of sets of the wooden tiles connected by a mesh backing.

9. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the resilient grout is applied to the grout lines in a liquid form.

10. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 9, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the liquid form of the resilient grout is formed at a work site by mixing liquid components.

11. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the wooden tiles are mosaic-style tiles.

12. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the major surfaces of the wooden tiles have an area less than approximately 15 inches squared.

13. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the major surfaces of the plurality of wooden tiles have at least two different geometric shapes.

14. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 1, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further comprising: a foam layer disposed between a subfloor and the plurality of wooden tiles, the cushion layer comprising the floor surface; the resilient grout being a room temperature vulcanizing rubber that is applied to the grout lines in a liquid form created at a work site by mixing more than one liquid component; and the wooden tiles being end-grain wooden tiles, the wooden tiles comprising a plurality of sets of the wooden tiles connected by a mesh backing.

15. A wooden tile flooring system: a cushion layer positioned atop a subfloor; a plurality of wooden tiles adheres atop the cushion layer in spaced relation so that a grout line exists between adjacent wooden tiles; and a grout at least partially filling the grout lines.

16. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 15, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the grout is a resilient grout that forms a gasket-like seal about the wooden tiles.

17. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 16, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the resilient grout comprises a room temperature vulcanizing rubber.

18. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 15, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the wooden tiles are end-grain wooden tiles.

19. The wooden tile flooring system of claim 15, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the plurality of wooden tiles comprises a plurality of sets of the wooden tiles connected by a mesh backing.

20. A wooden tile flooring kit comprising: a plurality of mosaic wooden tiles having an edge defining a major end-grain surface; and a grout in liquid form for filling grout lines between the mosaic wooden tiles, the grout being a resilient grout when cured that forms a gasket-like seal about the wooden tiles.

21. The wooden tile flooring kit of claim 20, all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further comprising: one or more cushion panels; and wherein the grout in liquid form comprises two separate containers of liquid components that are mixed to form the grout in liquid form.

22. A method of installing a wooden tile flooring system at a work site comprising: a) applying an adhesive to a floor surface; b) positioning a plurality of wooden tiles atop the floor surface in spaced relation so that a grout line exists between adjacent wooden tiles; and c) applying a grout in liquid form so as to at least partially fill the grout lines, the grout being a resilient grout when cured that forms a gasket-like seal about the wooden tiles.

23. The method of claim 22 all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further comprising applying a cushion layer atop a subfloor prior to step a), the floor surface being formed by the cushion layer.

24. The method of claim 22 all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further comprises prior to step b), mixing at least two components at the work site to form the grout in liquid form, the grout comprising a liquid room temperature vulcanizing rubber.

25. The method of claim 22 all of the limitations of which are incorporated by reference, further wherein the wooden tiles are end-grain tiles and the grout lines are at least one-eight of an inch wide.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

The present invention claims the benefit of the U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/983,839, filed Oct. 30, 2007, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to wooden tile floor systems, and specifically to mosaic wooden tile floor systems, kits and method of installing the same that utilize a resilient grout and/or an under-layer cushion.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Hardwood flooring and tile flooring are two very common types of floors installed in both residential and commercial environments. Existing hardwood flooring system typically utilize elongated planks of wood as the primary flooring material. In a typical hardwood floor installation process, the elongated wooden planks mechanically fastened to a subfloor, such as plywood, through the use of staples and/or nails. The elongated wooden planks are generally interconnected to one another through a tongue and groove interlock mechanism. Such tongue and grove interlock systems are well known in the art. These hardwood planks are long-grain, meaning that they are cut generally parallel to the direct in which a tree grows. The main attraction to hardwood floors is generally their natural beauty and ease of cleaning. Stated simply, many people prefer the look of wood as compared to carpet and/or tile.

In existing tile floors, the individual tiles are typically constructed of glass, ceramic, stone or another brittle material. Tile floors are typically installed by gluing individual tiles (or sheets of tiles on a mesh backing) to a subfloor, such as cement board. The individuals tiles are usually spaced from one another by grout lines (i.e., channels located between the edges of adjacent individual tiles). Once the adhesive dries and the tiles are firmly secured to the subfloor, a cementitious grout is applied to the grout lines so as to partially fill the grout lines. Once dried, the cementitious grout is brittle. One or more water sealing layers may then be applied atop the grout and tiles to waterproof the floor. The main advantage of tiles is that they come in wide variety of shapes and colors and can be combined to form an infinitum of detailed patterns. This is especially of true of the smaller mosaic tiles.

There is believed to be a considerable market of people who generally prefer the look of natural wood floors but also like the detail and/or patterns of file floors. To date a number of manufacturers have commercialized wooden tile flooring systems. In existing wooden tile flooring systems, the tiles are formed from wood. Both long-grain and end-grain tiles have been created in the past. End-grain tiles are tiles where the major tile surface is cut generally perpendicular to the direction in which a tree grows. As with ceramic tile floors, the wooden tiles are glued to a subfloor in spaced relation to form traditional grout lines. These grout lines are then filled with a cementitious grout.

While existing wooden tile floors achieve the general desirability of a natural wood appearance in a detailed pattern, these wooden tile floors suffer from a number are drawbacks and are less than optimal for many settings. For example, existing wood tile floors are susceptible to moisture and temperature fluctuations which causes the wood to expand and contract, thereby cracking the grout and/or warping so as to create undesirable voids. Existing wood tile flooring systems are also deficient in that they provide a very hard walking surface, creating sound and joint shock to the homeowner during usage. Existing wood tile floors can not placed over sources of heat and/or near sources of moisture without eventual degradation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a novel wooden tile flooring system, kit and installation method that reduces and/or eliminates the deficiencies discussed above.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a wooden tile flooring system and/or kit that is flexible, moisture resistant, soil resistant and/or resistant to temperature fluctuations.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a wooden tile flooring system and/or kit that is cushioned and/or softer to walk on than existing wooden tile floors.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a wooden tile flooring system and/or kit that is sound absorbent and/or provides improved heat insulation.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a wooden tile flooring system and/or kit that can be provided atop radiant floor heating systems.

A yet further object of the present invention is to provide a wooden tile flooring system and/or kit that gasket seals the edges of the wooden tiles.

These and other objects are met by the present invention which in one aspect can be a wooden tile flooring system: a plurality of wooden tiles having an edge defining a major surface, the wooden tiles positioned atop a floor surface in spaced relation to one another so that a grout line exists between the edges of adjacent wooden tiles; and a resilient grout at least partially filling the grout lines.

The resilient grout preferably forms a gasket-like seal about the edges of the wooden tiles. The utilization of a resilient grout allows the wood tile floor to be sufficiently flexible so that a cushion layer can be disposed between a subfloor and the plurality of wooden tiles if desired.

In another aspect, the invention can be a wooden tile flooring system: a cushion layer positioned atop a subfloor; a plurality of wooden tiles adheres atop the cushion layer in spaced relation so that a grout line exists between adjacent wooden tiles; and a grout at least partially filling the grout lines.

In yet another aspect, the invention can be a wooden tile flooring kit comprising: a plurality of mosaic wooden tiles having an edge defining a major end-grain surface; and a grout in liquid form for filling grout lines between the mosaic wooden tiles, the grout being a resilient grout when cured that forms a gasket-like seal about the wooden tiles.

In still another aspect, the invention can be a method of installing a wooden tile flooring system at a work site comprising: a) applying an adhesive to a floor surface; b) positioning a plurality of wooden tiles atop the floor surface in spaced relation so that a grout line exists between adjacent wooden tiles; and c) applying a grout in liquid form so as to at least partially fill the grout lines, the grout being a resilient grout when cured that forms a gasket-like seal about the wooden tiles.

In a further aspect, the inventions set forth above and described herein may not be limited to tiles constructed of wood but may be practiced with tiles constructed of other materials, including without limitation ceramic, glass, plastics, etc.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a rectangular end-grain tile according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of an octagonal end-grain tile according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top view of a set of files consisting of the end-grain tiles of FIGS. 1A-1B arranged in a spaced pattern and connected to a mesh backing according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the tile set of FIG. 2 along perspective III-III.

FIG. 4 is a side schematic view of a wood tile flooring system according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a side schematic view of a wood file flooring system according to a second embodiment of the present invention wherein a cushion layer is incorporated below the wooden tiles.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring first to FIGS. 1A and 1B concurrently, two wooden tiles 10A, 10B are illustrated according to one embodiment of the present invention. The wooden tile 10A is a rectangular shaped tile while the wooden tile 10B is an octagonal shaped tile. However, the invention is not limited to any specific shape for the wooden tiles. In other embodiments, the wooden files 10A, 10B can be without limitation triangular, square, circular, oval, irregular and/or any polygon. The exact shape of the wooden files will be dictated by the desired pattern to be created when the wood flooring system of the present invention is installed.

Each of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B respectively comprise a major surface 11A, 11B and an edge 12A, 12B. The edges 12A, 12B form the perimeter of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B. While the edges 12A, 12B are illustrated as planar surfaces, the edges can be rounded, tapered, angled or irregular in shape. The edges 12A, 12B are free of the traditional “tongue-and-groove” structures of traditional hardwood floor.

The wooden files 10A, 10B are end-grain tiles, which means that they are cut generally perpendicular to the direction in which a tree grows. Stated another way, the major surfaces 11A, 11B of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B form a plane that would have been generally perpendicular to the axis of the tree trunk and/or branch it came from. While end-grain tiles are preferred, in some embodiments of the invention the wooden tiles 10A, 10B may of course be long-grain tiles or any variation thereof. In fact, in some embodiments of the inventive wood flooring system where a multitude of wooden tiles are used to create a desired pattern and/or look, both end-grain and long-grain tiles can be used concurrently.

The wooden tiles 10A, 10B are mosaic-style tiles that are cut to precise shapes on equipment designed to replicate pattern shapes. The major surfaces 11A, 11B of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B preferably have an area of 15 inches squares or less. It is envisioned that the wooden tiles should be sufficiently small so that detailed patters can be created on floors within standard room sizes. The wooden tiles 10A, 10B preferably have a thickness within a range of ⅜ inch to 2 inches. The invention, however, is not so limited and the size of the wooden tiles can vary greatly. The exact size will be dictated by the desired pattern, appearance and/or size of the room in which the wooden tiles are to be installed.

The specific size and shape of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B were selected so that the wooden tiles 10A, 10B could be arranged in a side-by-side spaced relationship to create a uniform geometric pattern, shown in FIG. 2.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3 concurrently, a wooden tile sheet 100 is illustrated according to one embodiment of the present invention. The wooden tile sheet 100 is a set of wooden tiles consisting of both a plurality of rectangular wooden tiles 10A and a plurality of octagonal wooden tiles 10B arranged in a geometric pattern. The wooden tiles 10A, 10B of the wooden tile sheet 100 are arranged so that the edges 12,A, 12B of adjacent wooden tiles 10, 10B are spaced from one another, thereby forming grout lines 50 (only a portion of the grout lines 50 are numerically identified in FIG. 2 to avoid clutter). The grout lines 50 surround the perimeter of each wooden tile 10A, 10B.

As can best be seen in FIG. 3, the grout lines 50 are a network of spatially connected channels formed between the edges 12A, 12B of the adjacent wooden tiles 10A, 10B. The grout lines 50 are preferably between ⅛ inch to ¼ inch in width. The invention, however, is not so limited and the grout lines can have any width so long as a sufficient amount of grout can be applied therein.

Referring back to FIGS. 2 and 3 concurrently, the wooden tile sheet 100 also comprises a mesh backing 200. The mesh backing 200 can be constructed a variety of materials including without limitation wire, nylon and plastic. The wooden tiles 10A, 10B can be connected to the mesh backing by an adhesive or other means. The wooden tiles 10A, 10B are connected to the top surface of the mesh backing 200 in the desired geometric pattern and spaced arrangement. Utilizing the mesh backing 200 to create the wooden tile sheet 100 allows the a floor of the wooden files to be laid in a faster manner with a reduced risk of having grout lines 50 of an unequal width.

The arrangement of the wooden tiles 10A, 10B on the wooden tile sheet 100 is selected so that a plurality of the wooden tile sheets 100 can be arranged in an adjacent manner so that the geometric pattern is repeated.

While utilizing the mesh backing 200 will be preferred in some embodiments of the invention, it is not necessary in all applications and/or embodiments. Thus, in some embodiments, the wooden tile flooring system of the present invention will not utilize a mesh backing 200.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a wooden tile flooring system 1000 according to an embodiment of the present invention applied to a floor at a work site. The wooden tile flooring system 1000 comprises a plurality of the wooden tiles 10 (such as wooden tiles 10A, 10B) positioned atop and connected to a top surface 301 of a subfloor 300. Thus, in this embodiment, the top surface 301 of the subfloor 300 acts as a floor surface. The subfloor 300 can be a wide variety of materials, including but not limited to plywood, backer-board, cement board, sheet rock or an old hardwood floor or other surface. A glue or other chemical adhesive, such as polyurethane, can be used to connect the wooden tiles 10 to the top surface 301. of the subfloor 300. Of course, in alternative embodiments, different connection means can be used to connect the wooden tiles 10 to the floor surface 301. Furthermore, while the mesh backing 200 is used, it may be omitted if desired.

The wooden tiles 10 are arranged atop the floor surface 301 in a spaced relationship so that grout lines 50 are formed between the edges 12 of the adjacent wooden tiles 10. The grout lines 50 are at least partially filled with a resilient grout 60. In some embodiment, the grout lines 50 may be entirely filled to create a non-skid surface. The resilient grout 60 is flexible and forms a gasket-like seal about the edges 12 of the wooden tiles 10. Preferably, the resilient grout 60 will have a Shore A scale between 25-35. In one suitable embodiment, the resilient grout 60 is a resilient polyurethane rubber. In one embodiment, the resilient grout 60 can be a room temperature vulcanizing rubber.

The resilient grout 60 is applied to the grout lines 50 in liquid form. Over time, the liquid form resilient grout 60 cures, thereby forming highly adhesive bond between the wooden tiles 10 that acts as a rubber gasket-like seal about the edges 12 of the wooden tiles 10. In a specific embodiment, the liquid form of the resilient grout 60 is formed by mixing two components together at the job site. In the preferred embodiment, equal amounts of a polyurethane prepolymer and a mixture of a polyol and a plasticizer are combined. The resilient grout 60 can be white or colored by adding a coloring agent.

The resilient grout 60 provides flexibility to the wooden tile flooring system 1000, allowing the wooden tiles 10 to expand and contract with minimal resistance as needed without breaking the gasket-like seal. Thus, the wooden tile flooring system 100 can be used over radiant heating systems and in more moist and temperature diverse environments. The flexibility of the resilient grout 60 also allows another novel feature, the addition of a cushion layer beneath the wooden tiles 10. This will be discussed below.

Referring now to FIG. 5, an alternative embodiment of the wooden tile flooring system 2000 is illustrated. The wooden tile flooring system 2000 is identical to the system 1000 of FIG. 4 except that a cushion layer 400 is provided between the wooden tiles 10 and the subfloor 300. The cushion layer 400 is provided atop the top surface 301 of the subfloor 300. The wooden tiles 10 are positioned atop and adhered to the top surface 401 of the cushion layer 400. Thus, in this embodiment, the top surface 401 of the cushion layer 400 acts as the floor surface for the wooden tiles 10.

The cushion layer 400 is preferably a foam material, such as styrene butadiene rubber. However, the invention is not so limited and other padding materials can be used, including without limitation latex. The cushion layer is preferably between ¼ inch to ¾ inch in thickness.

The cushion layer 400 provides a soft feel to the finished wooden tile floor system 2000 for the user. The cushion layer 400 also provides as an added layer of insulation for both sound and heat. In embodiments where the wooden tile flooring system 2000 is to be placed over a heated floor, the cushion layer 400 may be formed of non-insulating material.

An installation process for the wooden tile flooring systems described above will now be described. First, the subfloor 300 to be covered is cleaned of all dust and debris. If the subfloor 300 is concrete, it must be ensured that the concrete is cured and completely dry. All cracks and holes in the subfloor 300 are to be filled with caulking or another filler. This prevents the liquid resilient grout 60 from leaking through the subfloor 300 when initially applied. If a cushion layer 400 is to be used, panels of the cushion layer 400 are then glued atop the subfloor 300. All seams of the cushion panel 400 are then sealed with caulking.

The layout gridwork for the wooden tiles 10 are then mapped out and chalked. Glue is then applied to the top surface of the cushion layer 400 (or the subfloor 300) with a trowel. The wooden tile sheets 100 are then placed on the glued surface in accordance with the gridwork (in some embodiments, individual wooden tiles 10 will be placed atop the glued surface rather than the wooden tile sheets 100). Either way, the wooden tiles 10 are placed so as to maintain the proper spacing and network of the grout lines 50 and to achieve the desired geometric pattern. Once all of the wooden tiles 10 are in position, the glue is allowed to dry so as to secure the wooden tiles 10 in place.

The resilient grout 60 must now be created and applied. First, equal parts of a liquid room temperature vulcanizing rubber and a liquid mixture of a polyol and a plasticizer are poured into a container and mixed to form the liquid resilient grout 60. A mixer can be used to adequately mix the components if desired. Once mixing is complete, the liquid form resilient grout 60 is then poured onto the tiled surface so as to flow into and at least partially fill all of the grout lines 50. A squeegee can be used to spread the liquid form grout 50 as needed. Preferably, the liquid form resilient grout 60 fills at least ⅔ of the depth of the grout lines 50. The liquid form resilient grout 60 is allowed to cure over night, thereby forming a gasket-like seal surrounding each wooden tiles 10.

The entire floor is then sanded and cleaned. A finish such as Dluraseal or Waterlox Original Formula is then applied to the tiled and grouted floor surface. A coating of wax may then be applied. The method of the invention can comprise any combination of the steps mentioned above. All of the steps are not necessary to practice the invention.

While the invention has been described and illustrated in detail, various alternatives and modifications will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Specifically, the invention can take on a wide variety of embodiments that omit one or more of the components illustrated above. Moreover, in other embodiments, the tiles may not be constructed of wood but rather may be constructed of a wide variety of materials, including without limitation ceramic, stone, plastic and/or glass. This would allow the resilient and cushioned characteristics of the invention described above to be incorporated into tile floors made of traditional materials.