US 20030093964 A1
A floor grid system including a number of interconnectable tiles is provided. The tiles are interconnected with one another to form a floor surface through the use of locking assemblies extending between the tiles. The assemblies can be formed entirely on the tiles, or can include separate connectors engageable with the assemblies on adjacent tiles to interconnect the tiles and form the floor surface.
1. A flooring system comprising:
a) a pair of floor coverings including at least one locking key extending completely along one side of each floor covering, the at least one locking key having a base extending outwardly from the one side of the floor covering, and an upwardly extending vertical member disposed on the base opposite the floor covering that defines a channel between the upwardly extending vertical member and the floor covering, and at least one securing key extending completely along another side of each floor covering, the at least one receiving key having a cap extending outwardly from another side of the floor covering and a downwardly extending vertical member disposed on the cap opposite the floor covering that defines a slot between the downwardly extending vertical member and the floor covering, wherein the at least one locking key on one floor covering is engageable with the at least one securing key on the other floor covering.
2. The system of
3. The system of
4. The system of
a) a pair of locking keys extending along adjacent sides of the floor covering; and
b) a pair of receiving keys extending along adjacent sides of the floor covering opposite the pair of locking keys.
5. The system of
6. The system of
7. The system of
8 The system of
9. A flooring system comprising:
a) a pair of floor coverings, each floor covering including a recess disposed along at least one side of the floor covering; and
b) an elongate connection member positionable within the recess for interconnecting the pair of floor coverings.
10. The system of
11. The system of
12. The system of
13. The system of
14. The system of
15. The system of
16. The assembly of
17. A connector for connecting two adjacent flooring pieces of a floor system, the connector comprising:
c) an upper portion positionable over the flooring pieces;
d) a lower portion positionable under the flooring system pieces; and
e) a central support positionable between the flooring pieces, the central support joining the upper portion and lower portions and defining a pair of channels between the upper portion and lower portion on opposite sides of the central support that are configured to receive one side of each flooring piece.
18. The connector of
19. The connector of
20. The connector of
 This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/329,906, which was filed on Oct. 16, 2001.
 The present invention relates to flooring assemblies and more specifically to a flooring assembly including a number of flooring pieces interconnected with one another in a grid to form the assembly.
 In order to provide durable and aesthetically pleasing surfaces to a floor of a building, many different types of floor surfaces have been developed. Many of these types of floor surfaces require significant time and effort to properly install the flooring surface during the construction of the building. Due to the amount of time and effort required to install these floors, and to accommodate circumstances where it is desired to change the appearance of a floor, a number of alternative flooring assemblies have been developed which can be installed in a very short period of time as an original floor or over an existing floor while still providing the durability and aesthetic appearance desired from the flooring surface.
 With these alternative flooring assemblies, in order to speed the process of installing the flooring, most are formed of a number of individual panels, tiles, boards, etc., which are placed in succession down on the floor to be covered by the surface in a grid pattern. The tiles are put down on the floor in such a manner that the tiles are retained in a desired configuration adjacent one another to cover the entire floor in a generally seamless manner. To accomplish this, the panels forming the assembly are joined to one another using some type of interlocking mechanism that enables the panels to be properly positioned with respect to one another during installation and maintained in this position after installation. The locking mechanisms used can take the form of engaging members formed directly on each panel, or separate locking members that are engageable between adjacent pairs of panels.
 However, the types of interlocking mechanisms utilized with panels in flooring assemblies are often very difficult to properly engage in order to provide the desired appearance to the flooring assembly. For example, in assemblies having rigid panels or tiles, on many occasions the interlocking mechanisms break upon engagement, involve multiple engaging parts and are difficult to properly engage, or are misconfigured to prevent the proper interlocking of the mechanism between the panels. Further, in those flooring assemblies having relatively flexible tiles or panels, on many occasions the locking mechanism provided for the panels cannot securely hold the panels together to provide the necessary engagement between adjacent panels due to the flexibility of the panels.
 Therefore, it is desirable to develop a floor grid system or assembly that provides interlocking tiles for use in forming a floor surface which can be easily and reliably connected to one another using a locking mechanism which does not exhibit the problems found in prior art flooring assemblies.
 It is an object of the present invention to provide a floor system including a number of relatively flexible tiles or panels that can be readily and securely interlocked with one another to form a floor surface.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a floor system in which the interlocking parts of the respective tiles can be engaged with one another directly, or through the use of a separate locking member to ensure the proper positioning of the tiles with respect to one another.
 It is still another object of the present invention to provide a floor system in which the tiles can be formed from a variety of different flexible materials which enable the floor surface to have the desired appearance while also enabling the tiles to be securely interlocked with one another.
 The present invention is a floor system or assembly that is formed from a number of interlocking panels or tiles positioned in a grid-like pattern. The tiles are formed of any suitable flexible material and include an upper surface which provides the desired appearance for the floor constructed using the system. Each tile includes a number of interlocking members positioned on each of the sides of the tile. Each interlocking member allows an individual tile to be fixed to tiles positioned adjacent the tile in a simple and quick manner in order to form a seamless floor surface. Alternatively, the individual tiles forming the system can be joined to one another utilizing connecting or locking members that are quickly and easily engaged with each pair of adjacent tiles to maintain the tiles in a desired configuration.
 Various other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description taken together with the drawings.
 The drawings furnished herewith illustrate a preferred construction of the present invention in which the above advantages and features are clearly disclosed as well as others which will be readily understood from the following description of the illustrated embodiment.
 In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a floor grid system in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a panel for use in the floor grid system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the floor grid system of the present invention taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a second embodiment of a panel for the floor grid system of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 3, showing the floor grid system of the present invention incorporating the panel of FIG. 4;
FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 6, showing a third embodiment of the floor grid system of the present invention;
FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the third embodiment of the floor grid system of the present invention;
FIG. 9 is a bottom plan view of a fourth embodiment of the floor grid system of the present invention;
FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 9; and
FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view, similar to FIG. 10, showing the floor grid system of the present invention utilized with carpet panels.
 Referring now to the drawing figures in which like reference numerals designate like parts throughout the disclosure, a floor grid system constructed in accordance with the present invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 10 in FIGS. 1-3. Floor grid system 10 includes a plurality of interlocking panels or tiles 12 that are formed of any suitable material, such as wood, metal, plastic, rubber, or ______________ , among others, that is sufficiently flexible for use in forming the tiles 12. Each tile 12 can have any desired polygonal shape, but is preferably generally square in shape, including first and second sides 14 and 16, respectively, having corresponding outwardly directed locking elements 18 projecting therefrom. Each locking element 18 includes a base 19 projecting outwardly from the tile 12 and an upwardly extending vertical member 20 having an inner surface 22 spaced from a corresponding side 14 and 16 oftile 12 so as to define a wall receiving channel 23 therebetween. Third and fourth sides 24 and 26 of the tile 12 include corresponding locking elements 28 projecting therefrom. Each locking element 28 includes a cap 29 extending outwardly from the tile 12 and a downwardly extending vertical member 30 having an inner surface 32 spaced from a corresponding side 24 and 26 of tile 12 so as to define a wall receiving channel 33 therebetween. In a preferred embodiment, the vertical members 20 and 30 on the corresponding locking elements 18 and 28, respectively, have a generally half-dovetailed-shaped cross-section, for reasons hereinafter described. However, the vertical members 20 and 30 may also have inner surfaces 22 and 32, respectively, that are vertical, if desired.
 In order to interlock the tile 12 with an adjacent tile 12 a, tiles 12 and 12 a are positioned adjacent each other. The upwardly extending vertical member 20 of one of the locking elements 18 of tile 12 is inserted into wall receiving channel 27 defined by one of the locking elements 18 of adjacent tile 12 a. Downwardly extending vertical member 30 of the selected locking element 28 of tile 12 a is inserted into corresponding wall receiving channel 23 of the selected locking element 18 of tile 12. The half-dovetail configuration of vertical members 20 and 30 maintain the connection between tiles 12 and 12 a. Further, because each of the tiles 12 and 12 a is formed of a material that has a certain amount of flexibility, the locking elements 18 and 28 can deform when engaged with one another to prevent breakage.
 Referring to FIGS. 4-6, an alternate embodiment of a tile for use in the floor grid system of the present invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 34. Tile 34 includes first and second sides 36 and 38, respectively, having a plurality of keys 40 projecting from lower portions 42 thereof. Third and fourth sides 44 and 46 include recesses 48 formed in lower portions 50 thereof. It can be appreciated that keys projecting from sides 36 and 38 of tile 34 are adapted to form a mating relationship with corresponding recesses 48 in sides 44 and 46 of tile 34 so as to interlock tile 34 to an adjacent tile 34 a, FIG. 6.
 Referring now to FIGS. 7-8, a still further embodiment of a tile for use in connection with the floor grid system 10 of the present invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 52. Tile 52 can have any polygonal shape, but is preferably generally square and includes a lower surface 54 having recesses 55 formed therein. Each recess 55 includes a vertical channel 56 that extends into the tile 52 generally parallel to a corresponding side 58 of tile 52. The channel 56 includes a notch 57 opposite the recess 55.
 To interlock adjacent tiles 52 and 52 a, the tiles 52 and 52 a are positioned next to each other with sides 58 abutting one another. Each leg 60 a and 60 b of a generally U-shaped connection member 60 formed of a generally rigid material, such as a metal or hard plastic, is positioned within the recesses 55 such that the legs 60 a and 60 b are inserted into the corresponding channels 56 of adjacent tiles 52 and 52 a, respectively. Each leg 60 a and 60 b includes a ridge 61 that, when the member 60 is properly positioned within the recesses 55, seats in the notches 57 in each channel 56 so as to interlock the adjacent tiles 52 and 52 a. The legs 60 a and 60 b can also be formed separately from the connection member 60 and adapted to be inserted through openings (not shown) in the member 60 into the channels 56. In this configuration, the legs 60 a and 60 b can take the form of nails, screws, carpet tacks, or any other suitable fasteners.
 Referring to FIGS. 9-11, a further embodiment of a floor grid system in accordance with the present invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 62. Floor grid system 62 includes generally H-shaped connectors 63 used to interconnect polygonal, but preferably generally square tiles 64, shown in FIG. 10, or polygonal, but preferably generally square pieces of carpeting 66, shown in FIG. 11. Each connector 63 is formed of a generally rigid material, similar to connection member 60, and includes a vertical central support 68 having vertically spaced upper leg 70 and lower leg 72, respectively, projecting from a first side 68 a thereof. Inner surfaces 70 a and 72 a of legs 70 and 72, respectively, define a channel 73 therebetween for receiving and compressing slightly a side of tile 64 or carpet 66. Projections 70 b and 72 b project from corresponding inner surfaces 70 a and 72 a, respectively, into the channel 73 so as to retain the side of tile 64 therein.
 Vertically spaced upper leg 74 and lower leg 76 also project from second side 68 b of vertical central support 68. Legs 74 and 76 have inner surfaces 74 a and 76 a, respectively, which define a channel 77 for receiving a corresponding side of an adjacent tile 64 a therein. Projections 74 b and 76 b project from corresponding inner surfaces 74 a and 76 a, respectively, of legs 74 and 76, respectively, so as to retain the side of tile 64 a within the channel 77.
 Alternatively, the central support 68 can be formed of upper and lower separable pieces (not shown) that can be releasably engaged with one another to secure the tiles 64 or panels 66 within the connectors 63.
 Various alternatives are contemplated as being within the following claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter regarded as the invention.