Title:
Flexible under sink liner
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible under sink liner having a bottom, sides, and an extension from at least one of the sides is disclosed. The liner forms a fluid retaining vessel to collect fluids or other substances preventing damage to nearby structures or chemical or biological health hazards. The liner's side extension contacts the surface against which it is installed and guides fluids flowing down the surface into the liner's vessel. Various embodiments of the liner may include various combinations of raised textures on the liner's bottom to allow for better fluid evaporation. In addition, the liner's side extension may include fluid guides to prevent fluids from escaping the liner by flowing off the ends of the side extension. The liner may be reinforced in various ways such as by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of the flexible material where reinforcement is desired or by incorporating less flexible materials into the liner.



Inventors:
Merrell, Tim (Henderson, NV, US)
Gusick, Chris (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
12/009343
Publication Date:
07/23/2009
Filing Date:
01/17/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D1/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEIDE & MILLER, LTD. (LAS VEGAS, NV, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flexible under sink liner comprising: a flexible bottom comprising a top surface and a bottom surface; at least two flexible sides extending upward from the bottom surface, the at least two sides forming a fluid retaining vessel; at least one side extension extending from at least one of the at least two sides, the side extension comprising: at least two ends; and a contact edge.

2. The liner of claim 1 further comprising a raised texture on the top surface, the bottom surface, or both.

3. The liner of claim 2 wherein the raised texture comprises a plurality of evenly spaced protrusions.

4. The liner of claim 2 wherein the raised texture on the top surface is mirrored in the raised texture on the bottom surface.

5. The liner of claim 1 wherein the liner is reinforced by incorporating less flexible material into at least a portion of the liner.

6. The liner of claim 1 wherein the liner is reinforced by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of the liner.

7. The liner of claim 1 wherein the at least two sides is reinforced by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of the at least two sides.

8. The liner of claim 7 wherein the reinforcement of the at least two sides is at the intersection of the at least two sides and the bottom, at the top of the at least two sides, between the intersection of the at least two sides and the bottom and the top of the at least two sides, or any combination thereof.

9. The liner of claim 1 wherein the bottom of the liner is sized to match the size of a structure, the structure being one that a user desires to protect with the liner.

10. A flexible under sink liner comprising: a flexible bottom comprising a top surface and a bottom surface; at least two flexible sides extending upward from the bottom surface, the at least two sides forming a fluid retaining vessel; a side extension extending from on of the at least two sides, the side extension comprising: at least two ends; a contact edge; at least one seal engaging the contact edge;

11. The liner of claim 10 wherein one or more of the at least one seal removably engages the contact edge of one or more of the at least one side extension.

12. The liner of claim 10 wherein the side extension further comprises fluid guides adjacent to each of the at least two ends of the side extension.

13. The liner of claim 12 wherein the fluid guides extend upward from the at least one side extension.

14. The liner of claim 12 wherein the fluid guides are grooves in the at least one side extension.

15. The liner of claim 10 wherein the side extension further comprises one or more adjustment lines.

16. The liner of claim 10 wherein the bottom of the liner is sized to match the size of a structure, the structure being one that a user desires to protect with the liner.

17. A flexible under sink liner comprising: a bottom comprising a top surface and a bottom surface, the bottom having a raised texture on the top surface, the bottom surface, or both. four sides extending upward from the bottom surface, the four sides forming a fluid retaining vessel; at least one side extension extending from at least one of the four sides, the side extension comprising: at least two ends; a contact edge; and fluid guides adjacent to each of the at least two ends wherein the bottom and at least two of the four sides are flexible.

18. The liner of claim 17 wherein the liner is reinforced by incorporating less flexible material into at least a portion of the liner.

19. The liner of claim 17 wherein the liner is reinforced by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of the liner.

20. The liner of claim 17 wherein the bottom of the liner is sized to match the size of a structure, the structure being one that a user desires to protect with the liner.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure relates to under sink liners.

RELATED ART

Inside a building, moisture can cause damage and create health hazards wherever water collects or flows outside of the building's plumbing system. This uncontained water is commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and the like. In these areas, where there is a concentration of water and plumbing connections, seals, and fixtures, there is an increased likelihood of damage and health hazards caused by uncontained water.

Moisture can cause damage to surfaces and materials, and particularly those not designed to be moisture resistant. This is especially true for natural products such as wood cabinets, wooden building structures, and paper-backed sheet rock. Wood products, such as furnishings, as well as wooden structures are quickly damaged by moisture which may cause swelling, warping, and eventually rot. Moisture can also create health hazards such as mold, mildew, and bacterial growth.

Over time, water can weaken and eventually destroy wooden cabinetry. In addition, moisture encourages mold and bacterial growth which is a serious health hazard. Often, this damage can only be repaired at great expense or by replacing the cabinet. In addition, nearby sheet rock or structural elements in the building may be damaged by moisture and require further repairs. Mold and bacterial growth is also difficult to remedy, typically requiring replacement of the affected structures at great expense.

The area under a sink is an area that is prone to damage and health hazards caused by water leaks from the sink above. Traditional solutions to this problem involve protecting the area under the sink, which is commonly a wood or particle board cabinet, by covering the surfaces under the sink with a water resistant film to prevent the water from reaching the structure itself.

Generally, this protection is implemented through use of a water resistant sheet or film which is placed where a leak is expected. With regard sheet-type devices, little more than a small puddle can be contained on its surface. Furthermore, the sheet must be installed on a perfectly horizontal surface to prevent water from simply running off of it.

One proposed solution is a rigid pan-type device such as set forth in U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,638. Though this provides the benefit of containing more water such prior art devices are difficult to install and do not provide complete protection. For example, the area under a sink, especially within a cabinet, is typically small and filled with a plethora of plumbing connections and cabinet supports. Prior art devices are difficult to install in a cabinet because they are made of a rigid material that does not allow the device to fit within the cabinet, particularly if the cabinet has a center stile.

The cabinets can be built around a pan, but if this occurs, the pan-type device is then difficult to remove making cleaning, replacement, or other maintenance difficult. Thus, these existing devices must generally be cleaned or drained while installed under the sink which is not only inconvenient, but also time consuming.

As a result there is need in the art for a flexible under sink liner which prevents water damage and health hazards while being easy to install and maintain. Various embodiments are disclosed herein for overcoming the drawbacks in the prior art and for providing additional advantages and benefits for under sink liners.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A flexible liner tray that may be used to protect structures vulnerable to moisture damage from such damage and to contain liquid or spills of other substances is disclosed herein. The liner may also be used to prevent biological health hazards such as mold, mildew, and bacteria caused by a build up of moisture. In addition, the liner may be used to prevent other health hazards such as a leak or spill of hazardous chemicals. The liner is made of flexible material to allow easy installation, removal, reinstallation, and maintenance. The liner may be sized to match the structure it is protecting or may be sized as desired to prevent damage or health hazards.

In one or more embodiments, the flexible under sink liner disclosed herein comprises a bottom with a top surface and a bottom surface and at least two sides extending upward from the bottom surface to form a fluid retaining vessel. Also part of this embodiment is at least one side extension extending upward from at least one of the sides. Generally, the fluid retaining vessel forms a barrier to protect surrounding structures from moisture, and collects and contains moisture so that it may harmlessly evaporate or be removed before any harm is done.

In one or more embodiments, the liner's side extension has at least two ends and a contact edge, and some embodiments may further include a fluid guide adjacent to each of the two ends of the side extension, adjustment lines, or both. Generally, the side extension's contact edge contacts or engages a vertical surface to collect any fluid that may flow down the surface. The side extension then channels this fluid into the liner's vessel preventing it from causing damage or health hazards. As stated, some embodiments may include fluid guides to prevent any fluid from flowing off the ends of the side extension. These fluid guides may vary in form. For example, the fluid guides may extend upward from the side extension to form a barrier or may comprise grooves, channels, or depressions in one or more side extension to direct fluid into the liner's vessel.

In one or more embodiments, the contact edge may be attached to a surface by one or more seals. These seals assist in preventing any fluid that flows down a surface, such as a back or side wall, from reaching any vulnerable structures. In addition, the seals may removably engage the contact edge to the surface in some embodiments to allow convenient removal and reinstallation of the liner.

The bottom of the liner may have a raised texture on its top surface, bottom surface, or both. The raised texture generally prevents the liner from moving once it is installed, and also helps with evaporation of moisture. The texture may be an arbitrary pattern or may be evenly spaced protrusions of varying shapes and sizes. In one embodiment the textures of the top and bottom surface may be matched to provide additional thickness in order to better support mechanical fasteners.

Various parts of the liner may be reinforced by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of at least one of its elements or inserting support structure of a different material. Thus, the liner's sides may be reinforced by increasing the thickness of at least a portion of the sides. For example, the sides may be reinforced at the intersection of the at least two sides and the bottom, at the top of the sides, between the intersection of the sides and the bottom and the top of the sides, or any combination thereof. The liner may also be reinforced by using thicker materials in one or more of its elements or by incorporating materials of lesser flexibility into its elements.

Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the invention will be or will become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a cross sectional view of a side of an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2B is a perspective view of a corner of an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3A is a cross sectional view of a side of an example embodiment of the present invention with a raised texture.

FIG. 3B is a cross sectional view of a side of an example embodiment of the present invention with a raised texture.

FIG. 4A cross sectional view of a side of an example embodiment of the present invention with a side extension.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of an example embodiment of the present invention with a side extension installed against a surface.

FIG. 4C is a cross sectional view of a fluid guide of an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4D is a cross sectional view of a fluid guide of an example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an example embodiment of the present invention showing its flexibility.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an example embodiment of the present invention installed in a cabinet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough description of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.

Moisture can come from a variety of sources such as water leaks and liquid spills or splashes. Around a sink, such as a kitchen sink, water can escape a plumbing system in a number of ways. Water can leak out of the plumbing system itself such as from the facet or sink plumbing connections. In addition, water can spill or splash outside the sink and find its way under the sink through cracked or improperly installed caulking around the sink.

Even careful use of a properly installed sink and faucet will not prevent moisture from causing damage and health hazards. In faucets with a pull-out spray, water easily collects on the pull-out spray hose, runs down the hose, and drips from the hose at a point under the sink. Water and other liquids can collect on the hose if the hose is submersed or dragged through liquid in pots or in the sink itself during use. These liquids can also collect on the hose indirectly by splashing onto the hose. Water can also run down the spray hose from the pull-out spray nozzle itself if, whether by orientation or defect, some of the water spray leaks or lands on the body of the spray nozzle itself.

The area under a sink is also a common place for other liquids such as cleaning solutions, automotive fluids, plant fertilizers, and pesticides. Some of these liquids pose a health risk if spilled, and also can cause damage or stain to the cabinet or floor if leaks or spills occur. Thus, it should be noted that, though water may be a focus herein, the present invention is designed to address damage and health hazards caused by other fluids and materials (powders, gels, granules, solids) in addition to water.

Trash is also commonly stored under sinks. Trash will typically be stored in its own container, such as a trash bin; however, it is possible for such a container to have a leak through which liquids or other substances can escape. In addition, items of trash are not always carefully placed into the trash bin and thus liquids or food waste can miss or splash out of the trash bin onto the surrounding cabinet or furnishing.

Over time, most materials will be damaged by repeated contact with water or chemicals. Some materials are resistant to moisture damage, however, these resistant materials are not always used under a sink. Indeed, perhaps a majority of sinks, are installed in a cabinet constructed of wood or wood products. In addition, the building structure to which such a cabinet is attached is typically constructed from wood or steel framing covered by paper-backed sheet rock. These materials are not resistant to water and thus are easily damaged.

Wood will swell as it gains moisture until it has become saturated. This swelling causes wood to warp, split, and bow. Swelling can also cause delamination in engineered wood products such plywood or delamination of a decorative laminate attached to a wooden substrate. Particle or fiber based boards, which are formed from small particles of wood adhered together, readily absorb moisture and thus are particularly prone to swelling. In addition, the adhesives used in these wood products may lose their strength in the presence of water. Over time, excessive moisture will cause wood to rot as well.

Sheet rock will also readily absorb water causing it to swell, warp, and eventually buckle. Sheet rock that has been damaged by water can generally only be repaired by removing damaged portions and replacing them with new material. Steel does not readily absorb water; however, repeated contact with water will cause steel to rust which weakens its structure.

As stated, health hazards can be caused where a dangerous liquid has leaked. However, water can also cause health hazards by creating an environment for biological hazards such as mold, mildew, and bacteria to take root. These biological hazards can cause respiratory illness, chronic fatigue, allergic reactions, rashes, and even death. Generally, these hazards require an organic food source such as wood, paper backings, certain adhesives, or other organic matter. For this reason, moisture in contact with the wood, paper-backed sheet rock, or carpeting commonly found around a sink or as part of under sink cabinetry is particularly hazardous.

The method and apparatus disclosed herein has the advantage of preventing moisture from water or other liquids from reaching materials or surfaces that would be damaged by such moisture. Biological health hazards are thus prevented as well, and health hazards from dangerous liquids are contained within the present invention for easy removal. Other advantages of the present invention, which will become apparent from the discussion below, include that it is easy to install, remove, and maintain, is designed for a precise fit in existing or newly constructed cabinetry, and can capture water from the back of a cabinet which traditional designs do not.

Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a flexible under sink liner 100 having a bottom 104, four sides 108, and a side extension 112. In one or more embodiments, the sides 108 extend upward from the bottom 104 and form a closed path around the perimeter of the bottom 104 to create a fluid retaining vessel. In one or more embodiments, the sides 108 may be straight or may include angles, curves, or both. In some embodiments, the sides 108 may extend perpendicularly or nearly perpendicularly to the bottom 104. Generally, each of the sides 108 will have a similar height, but in some embodiments, the height of each side 108 may vary as discussed further below.

In one or more embodiments, the side extension 112 has a contact edge 116 and two ends 124 with a fluid guide 120 located adjacent to each of the two ends. In some embodiments, the side extension 112 may be shortened by an installer or user to fit a particular application. Generally, shortening will occur by cutting the side extension near the contact edge 116, but other ways of adjusting the side extension are contemplated. In one embodiment, adjustment lines 128 may be printed in ink or other pigment on the side extension 112 to guide cutting. In other embodiments, the adjustment lines 128 may be indented or depressed into the side extension to allow sections of the side extension to be torn or cut away. The indented or depressed adjustment lines 128 should be such that the side extension is not punctured in any way that would allow fluid to pass through the adjustment lines 128. Finally, it is contemplated that the adjustment lines 128 do not have to be straight lines and thus the adjustment lines may include various curves, angles, comers, or any combination thereof.

In one or more embodiments, the flexible under sink liner 100 operates by forming a barrier and vessel which collects moisture to prevent it from contacting other material which will cause damage or health hazards. Generally, this barrier is the liner's 100 fluid retention vessel formed by the bottom 104 and the sides 108. This vessel collects any fluid that leaks, falls, or flows into it, regardless of the source. Once captured, the fluid cannot damage vulnerable surfaces or provide an environment for health hazards to form. By capturing the fluid in its vessel, the liner 100 stores the fluid allowing it to harmlessly evaporate or allowing a user to subsequently remove or drain it before any harm is done.

In one or more embodiments, the sides 108 are formed to a height which will create a vessel of sufficient capacity for its expected use. It is contemplated however that by increasing or decreasing the height of the sides 108 vessels of larger or smaller capacity may be created as desired. Also, in one or more embodiments, the bottom 104 and sides 108, and thus the liner 100 itself, may be sized to cover the area requiring protection. For example, in the case of a cabinet, the liner 100 may be sized to cover the entire bottom of the cabinet as shown in FIG. 6, or the liner may be sized to cover portions of the cabinet where moisture is most likely.

FIG. 2A shows a cross sectional view of the flexible under sink liner 100 to better illustrate the construction of the liner 100. FIG. 2B shows a perspective view of a corner 204 of the liner 100. The liner 100 may be made from a plastic type material, rubber, or from other flexible materials such as but not limited to silicone rubber.

The flexibility of the liner's material may require some embodiments to be reinforced, and as such, it is contemplated that the liner 100 may have reinforced portions 200. For example, portions of the sides 108 may be thickened to allow the liner 100 to better hold its shape. This has the advantage of reinforcing the liner 100 while minimizing the amount of material used in forming the liner 100. In addition, the liner 100 may be reinforced by forming its sides 108 out of thicker material. Further, the liner 100 may be reinforced by utilizing or incorporating materials of lesser flexibility in various portions of the liner. It is contemplated that, other elements of the liner 100, such as its side extension 112, bottom 104, or fluid guides 120 may also be reinforced in these ways, and that reinforcement may be accomplished by various combinations of thicker portions, thicker materials, and different materials of varying flexibility, such as but not limited to plastic, metal, and cords.

The areas of the liner 100 that may require reinforcement will generally be the liner's comers 204 and sides 108 because its fluid retaining function is performed by these elements. Too much flexibility in the sides 108 or at comers 204 may allow fluid to escape the liner in certain situations and thus reinforcement may be added to these areas. For example, the corner 204 where two sides 108 of the liner 100 meet may be reinforced by reinforcing the meeting sides 108 as shown in FIG. 2B or by reinforcing the vertical edge of the corner itself. The sides 108 may also be further reinforced to prevent collapse if the side is not supported by a wall or vertical edge of a cabinet. It is also contemplated that an adjustable structural shell may be used to support the liner 100.

It is contemplated that, in addition to the above, any portion of the liner 100 may be reinforced for structural, aesthetic, usability, or durability purposes. For example, the bottom 104 may be reinforced to better support the sides 108, or may be reinforced to allow repeated cleanings without wearing out. One or more embodiments may include thicker portions to provide areas that are more easily grasped by a user during installation, maintenance, or other use. Other embodiments may use thicker portions for aesthetic reasons such as to attract consumers to the liner 100 or where the liner will be seen while in use.

In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2A, the sides 108 may have a reinforced portion 200 that runs along the perimeter of the bottom 104 where the sides 108 extend from the bottom 104. This embodiment may additionally include one or more reinforced portions 200 formed at top of the sides 108 or, as shown in FIG. 2B, anywhere along the height of the sides 108 or at the liner's corners 204. As stated, in other embodiments, these areas and others such as the liner's bottom 104 or side extension 112 may be reinforced in a similar manner.

FIG. 3A shows a cross sectional view of an embodiment of the flexible under sink liner 100 having a raised texture 308 on the top surface 300 and bottom surface 304 of the liner's bottom 104. In one or more embodiments the raised texture may be only on the top surface 300 or the bottom surface 304. The raised texture 308 has several advantages however it is contemplated that some embodiments of the liner 100 may not have a raised texture 308 at all.

The raised texture 308 on the top surface 300 has the advantage of creating an elevated platform to keep containers or other items placed in the liner 100 above moisture, such as water leaks or spills, retained within the liner. This has the further advantage of allowing such moisture to quickly evaporate as the moisture is not trapped under containers or other items placed in the liner 100.

The raised texture 308 on the bottom surface 304 has the advantage of providing a grip on the surface upon which the liner 100 is placed which prevents movement of the liner while still allowing the liner to be easily removed and reinstalled for maintenance. In addition, this raised texture 308 on the bottom surface 304 will provide air flow below the liner. This in turn allows any moisture that may make its way under the liner 100 to evaporate such as where the liner has been removed for cleaning and residual moisture is not completely removed from its bottom surface before reinstallation.

In one or more embodiments, the raised texture 308 may comprise an arbitrary pattern. The raised texture 308 may also comprise a plurality of evenly spaced protrusions on the top surface 300, the bottom surface 304, or both. These protrusions may be of various shapes and sizes such as but not limited to squares, rectangles, and circles. In addition, the shapes may be complex forms such as a corporate logo or other symbol. The cross section of the raised texture 308 may vary as well. For example, FIG. 3A shows a raised texture 308 with a rounded cross section while FIG. 3B shows a raised texture having a square cross section. Other cross sections such as but not limited to a rectangular cross section with rounded corners are contemplated.

Where the raised texture 308 is on both the top surface 300 and the bottom surface 304, one of the raised textures may be mirrored in the other raised texture such that at least some of the high points of the top texture match at least some of the high points of the bottom texture or vice versa. Alternatively, the raised textures 308 could be mirrored such that all their high points match such as shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B. This mirroring has the advantage of creating areas of additional thickness to support any fasteners used to secure the liner 100 during installation as further described below.

FIG. 4A is a cross sectional view of an embodiment of the flexible under sink liner 100 with a side extension 112. In one or more embodiments, the side extension 112 extends from at least one of sides 108. The side extension 112 may extend in various ways, such as but not limited to parallel to the side 108 from which it extends or at an angle. In one or more embodiments, the side extension 112 may be integrally formed with one or more of the sides 108 such as by forming the particular side 108 so that it is taller than the other sides 108. In other embodiments the side extension 112 may be separately formed and subsequently attached to the desired side 108.

As described with regard to FIG. 1, in one or more embodiments, the side extension 112 itself has a contact edge 116 and two ends 124 with a fluid guide 120 located adjacent to each of the two ends 124. The contact edge 116 contacts or engages the wall, cabinet, or other surface against which it is installed providing a path for fluid flow into the flexible under sink liner 100. This is advantageous in the fact that even leaks, drips, or splashes that collect on the vertical surface of a wall or cabinet are diverted into the liner 100 by flowing onto the side extension 112 and into the liner. The fluid guides 120 may also comprise depressions or channels in the extension 112 or ridges.

Moisture on the back wall of a cabinet or the back wall under a sink is perhaps the most damaging and hazardous. Moisture can reach these surfaces through failed or leaking caulking around the sink above the cabinet. In addition, plumbing valves or other plumbing fixtures extending out of the back wall may leak. Often, the water escaping from these leaks does not drip, but rather flows along the bottom of the fixture or valve until it reaches the back wall. Thus, as stated, the side extension 112 is particularly advantageous in that the moisture from these sources is also collected and contained.

Referring to the embodiment of FIG. 4B, the contact edge 116 may be secured against a surface 404 by one or more seals 400. The seal 400 has the advantage of further preventing any fluid from flowing around or beneath the flexible under sink liner 100 by ensuring that any water which flows down the surface 404 is captured by the side extension 112.

In one embodiment the seal 400 is adhesive tape, such as but not limited to waterproof tape, installed over the contact edge 116 sealing the contact edge to the surface 404. In another embodiment the seal 400 may be sealant, such as but not limited to silicone sealant or acrylic caulk, installed between the contact edge 116 and the surface 404, where the contact edge meets the surface, or both. It is contemplated that other seals 400 may be used with the present invention, that various seals or fasteners may be used in combination, and that the seals may allow the contact edge 116 to be removed and later resealed. For example, the seal 400 may be a channel attached to the surface 404 which removeably engages the contact edge 116.

FIGS. 4C and 4D show cross sectional views of embodiments of side extensions 112 having fluid guides 120. FIG. 1 shows an embodiment with fluid guides formed adjacent to the ends 124 of a side extension 112. The fluid guides 120 prevent fluid from escaping the side extension 112 by preventing fluid from flowing off the ends 124 of the extension thus forcing the fluid to flow into the liner 100 where it may be safely contained. The fluid guides 120 may be oriented parallel to the ends 124 of the side extension 112 to which they are attached, or the fluid guides may be angled towards the center of the side extension 112 to ensure fluid is guided into the liner 100 without escaping. It is noted that fluid guides are not required and may not be present in some embodiments.

The fluid guides may be formed in various ways. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4C, the fluid guide 120 extends upwardly from the side extension 112 forming a physical barrier or ridge which guides fluid flow into the flexible under sink liner 100. In other embodiments, as shown in FIG. 4D, the fluid guide 120 may be one or more grooves formed in the side extension 112 adjacent to its ends 124. In these groove-type embodiments fluid is guided into the liner 100 and prevented from escaping by channeling it along the fluid guide 120 and into the liner 100. In one or more embodiments the fluid guide 120 may be integrally formed into the side extension 112 such as by increasing the thickness of the side extension adjacent to its ends 124 or by incorporating one or more grooves. Alternatively, the fluid guides 120 may be separately formed and subsequently attached during manufacture.

The flexible under sink liner 100 may have more than one side extension 112 so as to capture fluid flows that may occur near other sides 108 of the liner. In this way, the cabinet or other structure is protected from other fluid flows such as where a sink has multiple faucets or where the caulking that seals the sides of a sink has failed.

The flexibility of the under sink liner 100 allows it to be installed in areas where it would be impossible or extremely difficult to install rigid trays. For example, some cabinets may be so small that at least partial disassembly of the cabinet would be required to install these trays. In contrast, the liner 100 is flexible and thus may be rolled, folded, or otherwise collapsed during installation or any other time.

FIG. 5 shows an under sink liner 100 that has been rolled. It can be seen from this figure that a rolled liner 100 is much easier to manipulate, especially within a cabinet, because its dimension parallel to the direction of rolling has decreased. As stated, because the liner 100 is flexible it may be rolled, folded, collapsed, or a combination thereof as the particular situation dictates.

FIG. 6 shows a typical cabinet 600 with the liner 100 installed therein. The cabinet 600 shown is of a common design that has a vertical stile 612 to support two cabinet doors. This vertical stile 612 is commonly found in cabinets and makes installation of rigid trays difficult or impossible because the tray must be maneuvered around the stile. In smaller cabinets or short cabinets a rigid tray is impossible to install or may have to be made so small so as to allow large portions of the cabinet bottom to be exposed to water damage. The same difficulties in maneuvering a rigid tray are present in removing and subsequently reinstalling the tray which may be required when emptying or cleaning the tray.

In contrast, installation of the flexible under sink liner 100 is easy even in small cabinets with vertical stiles. The liner 100 may be rolled, folded, or otherwise collapsed and then allowed to return to its original shape once inside the cabinet. In this way, the liner 100 may be rotated or even flipped while inside the cabinet. Thus, unlike traditional rigid liners, the flexible under sink liner 100 may be constructed for a precise fit within any cabinet no matter how small, and be installed with minimal effort. This is advantageous during installation as well as during maintenance as the liner 100 may be collapsed for easy removal and reinstallation. In addition, the liner 100 may be bent or slightly folded so as to remove it while it is retaining fluid.

In the embodiment of FIG. 6, the flexible under sink liner 100 is sized to precisely fit the cabinet 600. Thus, each side 108 of the liner 100 is adjacent to a cabinet wall 608 thereby preventing any moisture from reaching the cabinet bottom 604 or any surrounding structures. This is advantageous as protection is provided for the entire cabinet bottom 604, rather than just a portion of the cabinet bottom. This embodiment has a side extension 112 along the back cabinet wall 608 to catch fluid flowing down this cabinet wall. As mentioned, other embodiments may include additional side extensions 112 installed against additional cabinet walls 608 to catch fluids flowing down these cabinet walls.

It can also be seen from FIG. 6 that installation, removal for maintenance, and reinstallation of a similarly sized rigid tray would be difficult if not impossible due to the difficulty of maneuvering a rigid tray into the cabinet. In fact, a rigid tray would have to be of smaller size to permit installation without removing the vertical stile 612. This smaller size would then expose substantial portions of the cabinet 600 to damage. In contrast, the flexible under sink liner 100 may be rolled such as in FIG. 5, folded, or otherwise collapsed and thus easily installed even where the liner's 100 size precisely matches the interior size of the cabinet.

Once the flexible under sink liner 100 has been placed properly so as to protect portions of the cabinet or other structure from moisture, it may be secured to the cabinet or structure if desired. As stated the liner 100 may have a raised texture on its bottom surface to prevent movement while allowing the liner to be removed. However, in some applications such as a hotel room or other public accommodation, the liner 100 may be secured by fastening it to an underlying structure, such as but not limited to a cabinet. The liner 100, in these situations, may be secured by mechanical fasteners or adhesive such as but not limited to screws or caulking, respectively. For example, screws may be inserted through the bottom 104 of the liner 100. The flexible material of the liner 100 will expand around the screw or other fastener forming a watertight seal, however, caulk or other sealant may be used to seal any perforations of the liner if desired.

It is contemplated that in one or more embodiments, these fasteners may allow the liner 100 to be removeably attached if desired such as to allow easy cleaning or other maintenance. For example, the fasteners in one or more embodiments may be clips which engage the sides 108 or other parts of the liner 100 to hold the liner in place. These fasteners may allow the liner 100 to be disengaged (i.e. removed) without the use of tools such as would be required in the case of screws.

As stated above, any side extension 112 of the flexible under sink liner 100 may also be secured to the surface against which it is installed. During installation, the contact edge 116 of one or more side extensions 112 may be secured by one or more seals 400. Securing the contact edge 116 provides the advantage of helping to ensure that any water that flows down the surface does not flow behind the contact edge 116 to unprotected structures. However, it is not required that the contact edge 116 be secured and thus in one or more embodiments the contact edge may not be secured.

Once installed, the flexible under sink liner 100 is generally maintained by cleaning it and removing any fluids that may collect within. The liner is designed to allow some amounts of fluid to collect and evaporate naturally. Where this is the case, very little maintenance is required other than occasional cleaning if desired. In fact, some embodiments include a raised texture, as discussed above, to promote quick evaporation of fluids. Thus, for example, small leaks or drips from a pull-out spray hose can be captured and evaporated with little or no maintenance by the user. In addition to being waterproof, the material chosen to form the liner 100 in one or more embodiments may be resistant to damage from various chemicals and compounds.

Larger amounts of fluid may require intervention by a user to drain the flexible under sink liner 100. The flexibility of the liner 100 allows it to be bent or folded while retaining fluid so that the liner and fluid may be removed together and the fluid may be poured away all at once. Some embodiments of the liner 100 allow the contact edge 116, the liner's bottom 104 or sides 108, or all three to be removeably secured. In these embodiments, elements of the liner 100 must be disengaged from their respective fasteners or seals before the liner may be removed. In either case however, the liner 100 is easily drained, cleaned, or otherwise maintained. In one embodiment, a drain plug or spout may be built into or attached to the liner to drain fluid from the tray. The plug or spout may be selectively opened and closed to allow for fluid flow out of the vessel created by the liner.

Though the above descriptions and embodiments generally illustrate the present invention as used in a cabinet, under a sink, or both, other uses are contemplated. Generally speaking, the present invention, in one or more embodiments, provides a moisture resistant barrier to protect against the above described damage and health hazards caused by moisture. Thus, it is contemplated that the present invention may be used in any area where there is a potential for moisture damage, health hazards, or both.

For example, the present invention may be used to store oil, cleaning solutions, or other potentially damaging or hazardous chemicals or substances outside of a cabinet such as in a drawer or a shelf. Also, it is contemplated that the present invention may be used in any cabinet, shelving, or other furnishing regardless of whether there is a sink or other plumbing fixture nearby. Finally, liquid cleaning solutions, chemicals, or other substances may be stored in the present invention to take advantage of its protection against leaks and subsequent hazards of any such substances. For example, oil or solvents may be stored in the liner in a garage or work shop to prevent spill that could cause environmental damage.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of this invention. In addition, the various features, elements, and embodiments described herein may be claimed or combined in any combination or arrangement.