Title:
Countertop fixture adapters
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided herein are adapters useful in constructing countertops for kitchens and other areas in which fixtures such as sinks and cooking range tops are desired to be installed. Through use of an adapter according to the invention, on-site cutting of holes or voids in stone countertops is eliminated and countertops may be fabricated using plain rectangular slabs of stone or other materials readily. Use of an adapter according to the invention reduces labor and costs associated with countertop fabrication and installation.



Inventors:
Osher, James T. (Alton, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/386841
Publication Date:
08/20/2009
Filing Date:
04/24/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/50.11
International Classes:
E03C1/33; A47K4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Christopher J. Whewell (Georgetown, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A unitary constructed sink, comprising: a) a substantially planar base portion comprising a first end portion, a second end portion, a front portion, a rear portion, a top surface, a bottom surface, a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension; b) a front lip portion having a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension, wherein said front lip portion is attached to said front portion of said base portion such that the length dimension of said front lip portion coincides with the length dimension of said base portion, and the width dimension of said front lip portion extends in a direction downward from the plane of said base portion, the width dimension of said front lip portion being greater than the thickness dimension of said base portion; and c) a basin attached to said base portion, wherein at least one of said first end portion and said second end portion is configured to receive and reside upon an upward-facing surface of the end portion of a section of a countertop having a width dimension that is substantially equal to said width dimension of said base portion, sufficiently to conceal the entire end portion of said section of countertop from view.

2. A sink according to claim 1 wherein said front lip portion extends downward from the plane of said base portion such that the width dimension of said front lip portion intersects the plane of said planar base portion at an angle of about 90 degrees.

3. A sink according to claim 1 wherein said substantially planar base portion is substantially rectangular in shape.

4. A sink according to claim 1 wherein said sink basin has a shape selected from the group consisting of: substantially rectangular, circular, and oval in shape.

5. A sink according to claim 1 wherein said front lip portion has a shape selected from the group consisting of: bullnose, beveled, and square.

6. A combination comprising a sink according to claim 1 and further comprising: a first section of countertop having a front edge, top surface, and an end portion, said end portion of said first section of countertop being in effective mechanical contact with said base portion and present at a location selected from the group consisting of: said first end portion and said second end portion of said sink, with a portion of the top surface of said countertop being disposed beneath said bottom surface of said base portion, sufficiently that said end portion of said first section of countertop is concealed from view.

7. A combination according to claim 6 and further comprising: a second section of countertop having a front edge, a top surface, and an end portion, said end portion of said second section of countertop being in effective mechanical contact with said base portion and present at a location selected from the group consisting of: said first end portion and said second end portion of said sink not occupied by said first section of countertop, with a portion of the top surface of said second section countertop being disposed beneath said bottom surface of said base portion, sufficiently that said end portion of said second section of countertop is concealed from view.

8. A combination according to claim 7 wherein at least one of said sections of countertop are rectangular.

9. A combination according to claim 6 wherein said front lip portion is shaped to substantially conform to the front edge of said first section.

10. A combination according to claim 6 wherein said front lip portion is shaped to be substantially different than the front edge of said first section.

11. A combination according to claim 7 wherein said front lip portion has a shape selected from the group consisting of: bullnose, beveled, and square.

12. A combination according to claim 6 wherein the width dimension of said base portion is substantially the same as the width dimension of said first section of countertop.

13. A combination according to claim 7 wherein the width dimension of said base portion is substantially the same as the width dimensions of both of said first and said second sections of countertop.

14. A combination according to claim 6 wherein the front edge of said combination as a whole comprises: a portion that comprises said first section of countertop, and a portion that comprises said sink.

15. A combination according to claim 7 wherein the front edge of said combination as a whole comprises: a portion that comprises said first section of countertop, a portion that comprises said second section of countertop, and a portion that comprises said sink.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application is a Divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/017,245 filed Dec. 20, 2004 currently still pending, the entire contents of which are herein fully incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates generally to countertops and their installation. More particularly, it relates to countertops of the type commonly installed in a work area, such as a kitchen, and to devices and methods for enabling installation of fixtures such as sinks and cooking ranges atop such counters.

BACKGROUND

Kitchens and other areas requiring a stable flat surface upon which work may be conducted have been known for some time as benefiting from having built-in countertops which line the inner perimeter of the room. In fact, it is believed that all kitchens include at least one countertop upon which foods are cut, prepared, or otherwise processed by people prior to being cooked, eaten, or stored.

Kitchen countertops have over the years been comprised of a wide variety of materials, including without limitation: wood, plastic veneered wood, polymer composites, metals, stainless steel, polymers such as CORIANĀ® polymer, epoxies, and natural stone. While each countertop material is inherently possessed of its own properties of appearance, durability, hardness, ease-of-cleaning, and longevity, there is a common bond between all countertops that prior to their installation in a given kitchen setting, the individual pieces which shall comprise the finished countertop in its final installed configuration must first be cut to a proper size, which is dictated by the dimensions of the kitchen in which the countertop is to be installed, and by the location(s) in the countertop at which fixtures such as sinks and cooking range tops are to be located.

One popular material from which countertops are fabricated are natural stone materials. These include a wide variety of marble and granite. To prepare natural stone materials to be suitable for use as countertops, the raw stone is first cut into slabs of the appropriate length, width, and thickness dimension. Then, the surface which is to be the work surface is polished to a high luster using techniques known to those skilled in the art, which also may include rounding or beveling of end and/or edge portions. After being cut into an appropriate length to fit a particular installation, the countertop slab is placed into its final position and secured in place using a conventional construction adhesive between the underside of the slab and the frame upon which it rests, which is typically a wooden cabinet. At this stage, the countertop is ready for use by persons desiring to prepare foodstuffs. However, in many installations it is necessary to provide an opening in the countertop itself, to provide for a sink or a cooking range to be located in the countertop. Provision of the opening fur such fixtures is commonly provided at the installation site by the installation personnel, because providing the opening prior to installation of the countertop in its final installed position results in a large section of the slab being removed from a position centrally disposed with respect to its width dimension, which substantially weakens the slab as a whole and would effectively render it non-transportable without a high probability of breakage.

Providing an opening for a sink or a cooking range typically requires that a rectangular hole having a dimension on the order of about 30 inches by 20 inches be cut into the stone slab, which stone slab is commonly about 1 to about 2 inches thick. Thus, the cutting of such a hole provision is not a small or trivial undertaking, and is commonly carried out by a skilled laborer using a hand-held diamond saw. In addition to generating high frequency sound of large amplitude and large volumes of dust, both of which are harmful to the workmen in the area, especially over the course of many installations over the years, the operation inherently includes the possibility that the slab will be broken, marred, defaced, blemished, or otherwise irreparably damaged during the cutting. For cases where the slab is irreparably damaged, the damaged slab must be removed and replaced by a fresh one, which may easily result in a delay taking days or even weeks, not to mention the expense of the new materials and the time required to prepare the slab for installation.

In view of the foregoing difficulties, natural stone countertops are so highly valued by their owners that the cost and tedium associated with their installation has not represented an obstacle. However, if the difficulties associated with the fabrication and installation of natural stone countertops could be overcome, then the method and devices associated with overcoming such obstacles would be well-received by the industry. This would be especially true if it were made possible to install stone countertops without generating large volumes of sonic energy and dust. Further, if a device and method were provided which greatly simplified the operations, the overall cost associated with providing natural stone countertops could be drastically reduced, which would render natural stone countertops within the financial reach of a wider variety of end users. The fulfillment of these and other objects of the present invention shall become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art after a thorough consideration of what follows in this specification.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the invention provides an adapter useful as a component in providing countertops in a work area which comprises: a) a substantially planar base portion which comprises a first end portion, a second end portion, a front portion and a rear portion, a top surface, a bottom surface, a length dimension and a width dimension; b) a front lip portion having a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension, wherein the front lip portion is attached to the front portion of the base portion such that the length dimension of the front lip portion coincides with the length dimension of the base portion and the width dimension of the front lip portion extends in a direction downward from the plane of the base portion; and c) a cutout hole disposed through the base portion, which cutout hole is adapted to receive a fixture selected from the group consisting of: cooktop ranges and sink basins.

In another embodiment, there is provided an adapter useful as a component in providing countertops in a work area which comprises: a) a substantially planar base portion which comprises a first end portion, a second end portion, a front portion and a rear portion, a top surface, a bottom surface, a length dimension and a width dimension; b) a front wall portion having a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension; c) a rear wall portion having a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension, wherein the front wall portion is attached to the front portion of the base portion such that the length dimension of the front wall portion coincides with the length dimension of the base portion and the width dimension of the front lip portion extends in a direction downward from the plane of the base portion; d) a first bottom portion disposed beneath the bottom surface portion of the base portion at the first end portion of the base portion, wherein the first bottom portion has a first end portion and a second end portion, wherein the first end portion of the first bottom portion is in contact with the rear wall portion and wherein the second end portion of the first bottom portion is in contact with the front wall portion such that the rear wall portion, the front wall portion, the first bottom portion and the base portion collectively define a slot at the first end portion of the adapter which is adapted to received the end of a countertop; and e) a cutout hole disposed through the base portion, which cutout hole is adapted to receive a fixture selected from the group consisting of: cooktop ranges and sink basins.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the annexed drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an adapter according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a sink according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an adapter according to an alternate embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a sink according to an alternate form of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a sink according to one form of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a side view of a sink according to an alternate form of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a sink installed in a countertop according to one form of the invention; and

FIG. 8 is an adapter installed in a countertop according to one form of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the drawings and initially to FIG. 1 there is shown an adapter 10 according to one embodiment of the invention. The adapter 10 comprises a base portion 2, which in one preferred form of the invention is substantially rectangular in configuration and is comprised of sheet stock, which may be comprised of any material of construction including without limitation polymers, woods, stone, or metal, and is preferably comprised of stainless steel in one form of the invention. The base portion 2 has a front portion labeled F and a rear portion labeled R, and further includes a substantially planar top surface 3, a first end portion E1, and a second end portion E2. There is also a front lip portion 11 shaped substantially in the form of a rectangular solid, which may be simply sheet metal, which is attached to the front portion F of the base portion 2 along the entire length of the base portion 2 in such a fashion in this embodiment that the angle which the front lip portion 11 makes at its point of attachment to the base portion 2 is about 90 degrees. The front lip portion 11 may be attached to the base portion 2 using conventional means, such as conventional fasteners including brackets, screws, welds, and adhesives. In one preferred form of the invention, the front lip portion 11 and the base portion collectively comprise the same single manufacture, such as in the case when the adapter 10 is of singular construction having been made by an injection molding process when the adapter 10 is comprised of a polymer, or from its fabrication from sheet steel or the like by means of conventional metalworking operations. The adapter 10 also includes a cutout hole 17 which is a relatively large rectangular hole or void which is cut out clear through the base portion 2.

An adapter such as that provided in FIG. 1 is particularly useful in providing a countertop made from stone in a kitchen setting which includes a sink or a cooking range, without the need for cutting out a hole for the sink or cooking range in the stone slab counter itself. An adapter 10 from FIG. 1 in one embodiment is used in conjunction with a pair of rectangular slabs of stone countertop material to provide a countertop having a sink or cooking range, by providing for one end of one piece of rectangular slab stone countertop to be contained beneath the base portion 2 at its first end portion E1 as later shown in FIG. 8, i.e., the end of the stone slab resides beneath the surface of the base portion 2 at first end portion E1 so that the end of the stone slab is hidden from view by virtue of the top surface 3 of the base portion 2. Similarly, a second slab of stone countertop may have its end portion shrouded by its being inserted into end E2 of the adapter 10, thus providing a construct which comprises two rectangularly-shaped stone countertop slabs whose ends each protrude into the ends E1 and E2 of the adapter 10 of the invention to yield a long countertop having stone slabs at each end and the adapter 10 betwixt them, wherein the adapter includes a cutout hole into which may be of standard size to enable a cooking range to be supported therein, or alternatively beneath which an undermount sink may be provided, as undermount sinks are well-known in the art. Thus, an adapter according to the present invention completely eliminates the need for on-site cutting out of a mounting hole for an undermount sink or a drop-in countertop cooking range in a stone countertop setting. The front lip portion 11 shields from view the fact that there is no stone material along the front portion of the adapter, and it is thus preferable that the height dimension H conform substantially, or be at least equal to the thickness of the countertop employed in a given installation. The cross-sectional relief of the front lip portion in this embodiment is as a rectangle; however it is entirely within the scope of the present claimed invention that its cross section may take on any shape which is either the same as or different from the contour of the front portion of the stone slabs used as the countertop surface. Further shown in FIG. 1 is the bottom surface B of the base portion 2.

In FIG. 2 is shown a perspective view of a sink provided according to one embodiment of the invention which utilizes the concept previously specified for the adapter in FIG. 1. This comprises a base portion 2, which in one preferred form of the invention is substantially rectangular in configuration and is comprised of sheet stock, which may be comprised of any material of construction including without limitation polymers, woods, stone, or metal, and is preferably comprised of stainless steel in one form of the invention. The base portion 2 has a front portion labeled F and a rear portion labeled R, and further includes a substantially planar top surface 3, a first end portion E1, and a second end portion E2. There is also a front lip portion 11 shaped substantially in the form of a rectangular solid, which may be simply sheet metal, which is attached to the front portion F of the base portion 2 along the entire length of the base portion 2 in such a fashion in this embodiment that the angle which the front lip portion 11 makes at its point of attachment to the base portion 2 is about 90 degrees. The front lip portion 11 may be attached to the base portion 2 using conventional means, such as conventional fasteners including brackets, screws, welds, and adhesives. There are fixture holes 9 which extend through the base portion 2 to allow fitment of a standard sink faucet fixture. Additionally, there is a basin 5 having a drain hole 7. The basin 5 may be part of the same construct as the front lip portion 11 and base portion 2, as in the case when this device is fabricated from a single piece of steel stock, as the manufacture of one-piece metal sinks is well known in the art. In an alternative embodiment, the basin may be an undermount sink which is affixed to the adapter 10 from the underside using fastening means known to those skilled in the art including without limitation adhesives such as epoxies or welding. Further shown in FIG. 2 is the bottom surface B of base portion 2.

In FIG. 3 is shown a perspective view of an adapter 14 according to an alternate embodiment of the invention. In this embodiment the adapter 14 comprises a base portion 21 which is preferably substantially rectangular and includes a substantially planar top surface 33. The base portion 21 has a front portion F and a rear portion R. There is also a front wall portion 16 shaped substantially in the form of a rectangular solid, which may be simply sheet metal, which is attached to the front portion F of the base portion 21 along the entire length of the base portion 21 in such a fashion in this embodiment that the angle which the front wall portion 16 makes at its point of attachment to the base portion 21 is about 90 degrees. The front wall portion 16 may be attached to the base portion 21 using conventional means, such as conventional fasteners including brackets, screws, welds, and adhesives. There is also a first end portion E1 and a second end portion E2. The adapter 14 also includes a cutout hole 17 which is a relatively large rectangular hole or void which is cut out clear through the base portion 21. Thus, along the longest length dimension of the adapter 14 there is on the top surface portion 33 a region between the perimeter of the short dimension of the cutout hole 17 and the end of the adapter 14 which is labeled W in FIG. 3. In this embodiment there is also provided a rear wall 15 which is analogous to the front wall portion 16 and extends along the entire length of the adapter 14 on its rear portion. Further, there is also a bottom portion 13 which is rectangularly shaped having a first end and a second end and is disposed such that its first end contacts the rear wall 15 and its second end contacts the front wall 16. The width of the bottom portion 13 is preferably no greater than width W of the region between the perimeter of the short dimension of the cutout hole 17 and the end of the adapter 14 to enable a sink or cooktop range to be dropped into the cutout hole 17, or in the case when it is desired to employ an undermount sink, to be mounted thereunder. The bottom portion 13, together with the rear wall 15, front wall 16, and base portion 21 define a slot S which is rectangularly shaped and is thus adapted to receive the end of a stone slab countertop. The second end portion E2 of the adapter 14 in one embodiment is identically fitted with another bottom portion analogous to bottom portion 13 and also thus includes a slot identical to slot S. Further shown in FIG. 3 is the bottom surface B of the base portion 21. In this FIG. 3 is also shown a z-axis. The adapter of FIG. 3 is in one embodiment symmetrical such that when rotated 180 degrees about the z-axis, it appears identical to the drawing in FIG. 3.

An adapter 14 such as that provided in FIG. 3 is particularly useful in providing a countertop made from stone in a kitchen setting which includes a sink or a cooking range, without the need for cutting out a hole for the sink or cooking range in the stone slab counter itself. An adapter 14 from FIG. 3 in one embodiment is used in conjunction with a pair of rectangular slabs of stone countertop material to provide a countertop having a sink by providing for one end of one piece of rectangular slab stone countertop to be inserted into the slot S at its first end portion E1 as later shown in FIG. 7, i.e., the end of the stone slab resides beneath the surface of the base portion 21 at first end portion E1 so that the end of the stone slab is hidden from view by virtue of the top surface 33 of the base portion 21 and the front wall portion 16. Similarly, a second slab of stone countertop may have its end portion shrouded by its being inserted into an analogous slot at end E2 of the adapter 14, thus providing a construct which comprises two rectangularly-shaped stone countertop slabs whose ends each protrude into the slots S at ends E1 and E2 of the adapter 14 of this embodiment of the invention to yield a long countertop having a stone slab at each end and the adapter 14 between them. The adapter 14 further includes a cutout hole 17 which may be of standard size to enable a cooking range to be supported therein, or alternatively beneath which an undermount sink may be provided. Thus, an adapter according to this embodiment of the present invention completely eliminates the need for on-site cutting out of a mounting hole for an undermount sink or a drop-in countertop cooking range in a stone countertop setting. The front wall portion 16 shields from view the fact that there is no stone material along the front portion of the adapter, and it is thus preferable that the height dimension H conform substantially, or be at least equal to the thickness of the countertop employed in a given installation. The cross-sectional relief of the front wall portion in this embodiment is as a rectangle; however it is entirely within the scope of the present claimed invention that its cross section may take on any shape which is either the same as or different from the contour of the front portion of the stone slabs used as the countertop surface, i.e., it may be convexly rounded or beveled, etc. Further, the front wall portion or front lip as elsewhere described herein can be fastened, stamped, moulded, machined or cast to the base portion. The front wall or lip can be shaped to conform to the front edge of the countertop sections with which it is used in conjunction with, including bullnose, beveled, or simply square. The front lip or wall can be wrapped under the counter as well.

In FIG. 4 is shown a perspective view of a sink provided according to an alternate embodiment of the invention which utilizes the concept previously specified for the adapter 14 in FIG. 3. This comprises a base portion 21, which in one preferred form of the invention is substantially rectangular in configuration and is comprised of sheet stock, which may be comprised of any material of construction including without limitation polymers, woods, stone, or metal, and is preferably comprised of stainless steel in one form of the invention. The base portion 21 has a front portion labeled F and a rear portion labeled R, and further includes a substantially planar top surface 33, a first end portion E1, and a second end portion E2. There is also a front wall portion 16 shaped substantially in the form of a rectangular solid, which may be simply sheet metal, which is attached to the front portion F of the base portion 21 along the entire length of the base portion 21 in such a fashion in this embodiment that the angle which the front wall portion 16 makes at its point of attachment to the base portion 21 is about 90 degrees. The front wall portion 16 may be attached to the base portion 21 using conventional means, such as conventional fasteners including brackets, screws, welds, and adhesives. There are fixture holes 9 which extend through the base portion 21 to allow fitment of a standard sink faucet fixture. Additionally, there is a basin 51 having a drain hole 71. The basin 51 may be part of the same construct as the front wall portion 16 and base portion 21, as in the case when this device is fabricated from a single piece of steel stock, as the manufacture of one-piece metal sinks is well known in the art. In an alternative embodiment, the basin 51 may be an undermount sink which is affixed to the adapter 14 from the underside using fastening means known to those skilled in the art including without limitation adhesives such as epoxies or welding. There is also a bottom portion 13 and a rear wall portion 15 as previously described, which together with the base portion 21 and the front wall portion 16 collectively define a slot S into which the end of a stone slab countertop may be inserted.

In FIG. 5 is shown a side view of a sink according to the embodiment described in relation to FIG. 4. In this FIG. 5 are shown the respective positions of the base portion 21, front wall portion 16, bottom portion 13, rear wall 15, basin 51, and slot S. Further shown in FIG. 5 is the bottom surface B of the base portion 21.

In FIG. 6 is shown a side view of a sink according to the embodiment previously specified in relation to FIG. 2, showing the base portion 2, front lip portion 11, and basin 5. Further shown in FIG. 6 is the bottom surface B of the base portion 2.

In FIG. 7 is shown a sink installed in a countertop according to one form of the invention using the adapter 14 from FIG. 4. This countertop comprises a first counter C1 and a second counter C2, wherein the ends of the counter are inserted into the slot S of the adapter 14 (FIG. 4) to a distance no greater than W, thus providing a countertop having an adapter according to the invention between two stone slabs and thus eliminating the need for on-site cutting of stone. The slab counters C1 and C2 each have a top surface 101.

In FIG. 8 is shown an adapter installed in a countertop according to one form of the invention using the adapter 10 from FIG. 1. This countertop comprises a first stone slab counter C1 and a second stone slab counter C2, wherein the ends of the counter are disposed beneath the top surface 3 of the base portion 2 sufficiently to hide the end of the stone slab beneath the top surface 3, thus providing a countertop having an adapter according to the invention between two stone slabs and thus eliminating the need for on-site cutting of stone. The cutout hole 17 may be provided with a drop in cooktop, a drop in sink, an undermount sink, or other fixture. The slab counters C1 and C2 each have a top surface 101.

Although the adapters of the present invention have been described as being useful in combination with stone slab countertops, they are not limited exclusively to countertops made from such materials but are rather useful with countertops made from all known materials from which countertops may be fabricated, including without limitation, wood, ceramics, metal, composites, resins, etc.

The cutout holes and sink basins which are to be used in conjunction therewith may comprise many different shapes and contours, as such are known in the art including ovals, etc. In addition, the present invention contemplates the use of cutout holes for housing other appliances, and when used in conjunction with a sink basin, the sink basin may or may not include faucet holes. A sink or adapter according to the present invention may be stamped from sheetstock, moulded, cast, machined from steel, polymers, stone etc. In certain embodiments, the sink or adapter will extend from the front edge of the counter to the rear, thus eliminating the need for as much granite, where 2 pieces join on each side, which simultaneously makes installation much easier and less time-intensive.

Consideration must be given to the fact that although this invention has been described and disclosed in relation to certain preferred embodiments, obvious equivalent modifications and alterations thereof will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in this art upon reading and understanding this specification and the claims appended hereto. This includes subject matter defined by any combination of any one of the various claims appended hereto with any one or more of the remaining claims, including the incorporation of the features and/or limitations of any dependent claim, singly or in combination with features and/or limitations of any one or more of the other dependent claims, with features and/or limitations of any one or more of the independent claims, with the remaining dependent claims in their original text being read and applied to any independent claims so modified. This also includes combination of the features and/or limitations of one or more of the independent claims with features and/or limitations of another independent claims to arrive at a modified independent claim, with the remaining dependent claims in their original text being read and applied to any independent claim so modified. Accordingly, the presently disclosed invention is intended to cover all such modifications and alterations, and is limited only by the scope of the claims which follow.





 
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