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Publication numberUS20040206028 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/845,843
Publication dateOct 21, 2004
Filing dateMay 14, 2004
Priority dateAug 1, 2002
Publication number10845843, 845843, US 2004/0206028 A1, US 2004/206028 A1, US 20040206028 A1, US 20040206028A1, US 2004206028 A1, US 2004206028A1, US-A1-20040206028, US-A1-2004206028, US2004/0206028A1, US2004/206028A1, US20040206028 A1, US20040206028A1, US2004206028 A1, US2004206028A1
InventorsChristopher Terrels, Andrew Terrels
Original AssigneeTerrels Christopher J., Terrels Andrew P.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Railing system and support assembly
US 20040206028 A1
Abstract
A railing system includes a railing assembly featuring a hollow tubular railing member, and a mounting assembly for mounting the railing member to a support structure. A pair of channels are formed along the railing wall and extend inwardly into the railing member, forming longitudinal grooves on the exterior of the railing wall. An optional cap rail is mountable over the railing member in a snap-fit connection without the need for tools. Optional decorative strips are also mountable to the railing member in a snap-fit connection. The mounting assembly includes a back plate and a railing mount that extends from the back plate. A trim cover formed of one or more trim pieces is connected around the perimeter of the railing member and over the back plate when the railing member is connected with the railing mount.
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Claims(25)
I claim:
1. An assembly for mounting a hollow railing member to a support structure having a mounting surface, said mounting assembly comprising:
A. a back plate configured for attachment to the mounting surface;
B. a railing mount extending from the back plate and configured for connection with the hollow railing member to connect the railing member with the mounting surface;
C. a trim cover adapted for connection around the perimeter of the railing member and over the back plate when the railing member is connected with the railing mount, said trim cover comprising a first trim piece and a second trim piece that connects with the first trim piece over the back plate to substantially conceal the back plate.
2. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first trim piece is molded with the back plate to integrally connect the first trim piece with the back plate.
3. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first trim piece forms a bore adapted to receive a screw fastener through the first trim piece to secure the mounting assembly to the support structure.
4. The mounting assembly of claim 3 comprising a generally cylindrical cap configured for insertion into said bore, said cap having a resiliently flexible side wall and an end wall, said side wall when separated from the bore having a diameter that is slightly larger than the diameter of the bore and a track slot extending through the side wall of the cap, said side wall further being inwardly flexible to permit the cap to be inserted into the bore to enclose the fastener, said cap being inserted into the bore in a compressed condition in which the side wall is biased outwardly into frictional engagement with the interior wall of the bore.
5. The mounting assembly of claim 4, wherein the first trim piece has an exterior contour, and the end wall of the cap has an exterior face that conforms to the exterior contour of the first trim piece surrounding the bore.
6. The mounting assembly of claim 4, wherein said bore comprises an interior wall and an aperture extending through the interior wall, said cap comprising a resilient flexible spring tab having a tapered face that slidably engages the interior wall of the bore as the cap is inserted into the hole, said spring tab being configured to flex inwardly in a biased condition during insertion into the bore and snap outwardly when the spring tab is aligned with the aperture in the interior wall of the bore.
7. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the mounting surface comprises a curved section, and the trim cover comprises a curved rear edge adapted to conform with and fit flush against the curved section on the mounting surface.
8. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the first and second trim pieces are generally U-shaped, each trim piece having a pair of connector ends.
9. The mounting assembly of claim 8, wherein the connector ends on the first trim piece comprise tabs, and the connector ends on the second trim piece comprise sockets adapted to receive and engage the tabs to connect the trim pieces together.
10. The mounting assembly of claim 8, wherein the tabs comprise a first set of ratchet teeth and the sockets comprise a second set of ratchet teeth that cooperatively engage the first set of ratchet teeth.
11. The mounting assembly of claim 8, wherein the first trim piece and the second trim comprise a one-way adjustable coupling that permits one of said trim pieces to slide over the other of said trim pieces in a direction parallel to the mounting surface.
12. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the back plate comprises a recessed central section and a slot extending through the recessed central section, said slot being adapted to receive a screw fastener through the slot to secure the back plate to the support structure, said back plate further comprising a pair of side flanges extending generally vertically along the recessed central section, said side flanges projecting outwardly from the mounting surface and forming a clearance space between the flanges and the mounting surface when the central section is attached to the mounting surface.
13. The mounting assembly of claim 12, wherein the first and second trim pieces each comprise a hollow channel and a channel wall, said hollow channel adapted to slide over one of said side flanges on said back plate, and said channel wall configured to slide into the clearance space between said side flanges and said mounting surface, said trim pieces being slidably displaceable over the side flanges to connect the trim pieces over and substantially conceal the back plate.
14. The mounting assembly of claim 13, wherein the first and second trim pieces form a solid continuous enclosure to conceal the back plate and slot.
15. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the railing mount comprises a generally rectangular tubular hub that projects from the back plate, said tubular hub comprising a hub face that extends normally relative to the orientation of the back plate.
16. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the railing mount comprises a generally rectangular tubular hub that projects from the back plate, said tubular hub comprising a hub face that extends at an acute angle relative to the orientation of the back plate.
17. The mounting assembly of claim 1, wherein the railing mount forms a tubular socket adapted to receive an end of the railing member, said railing member being configured for insertion into said socket, said socket having an inner wall that frictionally engages the exterior of the railing member.
18. A railing system for mounting to a support structure, comprising:
A. a hollow tubular railing member having a railing wall and a hollow conduit extending longitudinally through the railing member;
B. a first side on the railing wall and a second side on the railing wall opposite the first side, said first and second sides each comprising a channel portion extending inwardly into the hollow conduit and forming a longitudinal groove on the exterior of the railing wall;
C. a reinforcing member extending longitudinally through the hollow conduit in the railing member in frictional engagement with an inner surface of the railing wall.
19. The railing system of claim 18 comprising a cap rail detachably connected with the railing member.
20. The railing system of claim 19, wherein said cap rail comprises a body portion forming a channel slot adapted to receive said railing member, and a pair of resilient flexible extensions extending longitudinally along said channel slot, each of said extensions comprising a detent that conforms with one of said longitudinal grooves, wherein the distance between the detents of the extensions is less than the minimum width of the railing member.
21. The railing system of claim 20, wherein the extensions are resiliently flexible and displaceable between an outward position, in which the extensions are displaced outwardly and away from the railing wall, and an inward position, in which the extensions are displaced inwardly, said extensions being biased inwardly toward the inward position, said extensions being configured to flex outwardly as the cap rail is pressed onto a top portion of the railing member, said detents on the extensions configured for slidable engagement with the first and second sides of the railing member as the cap rail is pressed onto the railing member, wherein the inward bias on the resilient flexible extensions is operable to snap the detents inwardly as the detents align with the grooves in the railing wall to connect the cap rail onto the railing member in a snap-fit arrangement.
22. The railing system of claim 18 comprising a decorative insert configured for placement in one of said grooves in the railing member.
23. The railing system of claim 22, wherein the decorative insert comprises a extruded strip of resilient flexible material.
24. The railing system of claim 22, wherein the decorative insert comprises a decorative trim applique that projects outwardly from the groove.
25. A railing system for mounting to a support structure having a mounting surface, said railing system comprising:
A. a hollow tubular railing member having a railing wall and a hollow conduit extending longitudinally through the railing member;
B. a first side on the railing wall and a second side on the railing wall opposite the first side, said first and second sides comprising channel portions extending inwardly into the hollow conduit and forming longitudinal grooves along said first and second sides;
C. a reinforcing member extending longitudinally through the hollow conduit in the railing member in frictional engagement with an inner surface of the railing wall;
D. a back plate configured for attachment to the mounting surface;
E. a railing mount extending from the back plate and configured for connection with the hollow railing member to connect the railing member with the mounting surface; and
F. a trim cover adapted for connection around the perimeter of the railing member and over the back plate when the railing member is connected with the railing mount, said trim cover comprising a first trim piece and a second trim piece that connects with the first trim piece over the back plate to substantially conceal the back plate.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/632,778 filed Aug. 1, 2003, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/400,294 filed Aug. 1, 2002. This application also claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/470,483 filed May 14, 2003. The contents of the above-identified related applications are incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is a railing system, and more specifically a hand railing and mounting assembly that are adapted for installation with a variety of decorative cap rails and accessories that require minimal use of tools or mounting hardware.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Railing systems have traditionally been constructed using a variety of timber, including pine and cedar. Although timber is a reasonably sturdy material, timber wears down over time, yielding to extreme weather conditions, prolonged rotting, termite infestation, and other factors. Even treated timber can experience rotting and warping. The development of polyvinylchloride (PVC) and other plastics has led to the use of plastics in railing assemblies. Although plastic railing materials are more durable than timber in many respects, known plastic railing systems have notable drawbacks. For example, some plastic systems include a large number of fasteners and parts that are costly and difficult to install. In addition, a large number of plastic railing systems require significant use of tools. Plastic railing systems also include fasteners that are exposed and visible to the casual observer. Exposed fasteners can be subject to excessive moisture, causing oxidation and wear. Exposed fasteners also detract from the appearance of the railing system.

[0004] In many plastic railing systems, an end of the railing is supported by a mounting bracket that in turn is mounted to a structure with bolts or other fasteners. Cover plates have been developed to conceal the fasteners in the mounting brackets. Typically, the cover plate is a one piece ring that must be placed around the railing prior to connecting the railing end to the bracket. In this arrangement, the end of the railing member is mounted on the bracket, and the cover ring is pushed along the railing member and onto the bracket in a direction normal to the wall surface. In many instances, there is insufficient sliding clearance on the railing to permit installation of the cover ring. For example, where the railing is prefabricated with a series of panels or balusters connected beneath the railing, the end panel or baluster may limit or prevent the cover ring from sliding onto the end of the railing. The end panel or baluster may also prevent the cover plate from being pulled outwardly and removed from the bracket to permit access to the bracket or fasteners during repair or maintenance. As a result, prior art trim covers may require partial or complete disassembly of the railing in order to install or remove the trim cover.

[0005] Based on these drawbacks, it is clear that plastic railing systems in the prior art fall short of the needs of individuals who desire a railing system that is economical to install, aesthetically pleasing, and securely constructed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention provides a railing system for mounting to a support structure. In one aspect of the invention, the railing system includes a railing assembly featuring a hollow tubular railing member having a railing wall. The railing wall forms a hollow conduit extending longitudinally through the railing member. A pair of channels are formed along the railing wall and extend inwardly into the hollow conduit, forming longitudinal grooves on the exterior of the railing wall. A reinforcing member extends longitudinally through the hollow conduit in the railing member in frictional engagement with an inner surface of the railing wall. An optional cap rail may be mountable over the railing member. The cap rail may include a pair of extensions that cooperate with the grooves on the railing to connect the cap rail with the railing. The extensions may be formed of a resilient flexible material to permit the extensions to be connected over the railing in a snap-fit connection without the need for tools. As an alternative, or in addition to a cap rail, the grooves on the railing may be fitted with one or more decorative inserts.

[0007] In a second aspect of the invention, the railing system includes a mounting assembly for mounting a railing assembly, including but not limited to the railing assembly described in connection with the first aspect of the invention. The mounting assembly includes a back plate configured for attachment to a mounting surface and a railing mount extending from the back plate. The back plate connects with a hollow tubular railing member to connect the railing assembly with the mounting surface. A trim cover formed of one or more trim pieces is connected around the perimeter of the railing member and over the back plate when the railing member is connected with the railing mount. The trim cover may include a first trim piece and a second trim piece that connects with the first trim piece over the back plate to substantially conceal the back plate. In one embodiment, the first trim piece is molded with the back plate to integrally connect the first trim piece with the back plate. In another embodiment, the first trim piece is separate from the back plate. The trim pieces and back plate may include bores for receiving fasteners to secure the mounting assembly to the support structure. The bores may include caps that are inserted into the bores to cover and protect the fasteners from moisture and other elements. The caps may also be configured to visually blend with the trim facade surrounding the bores. The trim cover may have a rear edge adapted to fit flush against irregular surfaces. For example, the trim cover may have one or more trim pieces with rounded rear edges adapted for mounting flush against a cylindrical column or other rounded support structure.

[0008] The mounting assembly may have a variety of railing mounts for supporting the open end of a hollow railing member. In one embodiment, the railing mount includes a tubular hub that projects from the back plate on the base. The tubular hub is configured for insertion into the open end of the railing member to connect the railing member with the support structure. In another embodiment, the railing mount forms a tubular socket adapted to receive and extend over the end of the railing member. The socket may have an inner wall with one or more spring tabs that engage the exterior of the railing member.

[0009] The trim covers of the present railing system may be assembled using a variety of connector arrangements. For example, the trim cover may include first and second trim pieces that are generally U-shaped, with each trim piece having a pair of connector ends. The connector ends on the first trim piece cooperatively engage the connector ends on the second trim piece to connect the trim pieces over the back plate. In one embodiment, the trim pieces are connected by a ratcheting connection which secures the trim pieces around the base. In another embodiment, the trim pieces slidably engage flanges that project outwardly from the back plate.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The foregoing summary as well as the following description will be better understood when read in conjunction with the drawing figures in which:

[0011]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first railing system in accordance with the present invention, with a railing member broken away;

[0012]FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the railing system of FIG. 1;

[0013]FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the reverse side of a base used in the railing system of FIG. 1;

[0014]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the reverse side of a trim piece of the railing system of FIG. 1.

[0015]FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view of a button cap used with the railing system of FIG. 1.

[0016]FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a mounting base and trim cover used in a second railing system in accordance with the present invention.

[0017]FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of a third railing system in accordance with the present invention, with the railing member and a decorative cap rail broken away, and with a pair of rectangular reinforcement members in the railing member.

[0018]FIG. 8 is a cross sectional view of a railing member and cap rail engaging the railing member in a first position, with a C-shaped reinforcement member in the railing member.

[0019]FIG. 9 is a cross sectional view of the railing member and cap rail of FIG. 8, with the cap rail engaging the railing member in a second position

[0020]FIG. 10 is a cross sectional view of an alternate reinforcement member for use with the railing member of FIG. 8.

[0021]FIG. 11 is a cross sectional view of a railing member in accordance with the present invention with a pair of decorative strips connected on the exterior of the railing member.

[0022]FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a fourth railing system in accordance with the present invention.

[0023]FIG. 13 is an alternate trim cover in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0024] Referring to the drawing figures generally, and to FIGS. 1 and 2 specifically, a railing system 10 is shown with a mounting assembly 20. The mounting assembly 20 is configured for mounting a section of railing 12 to a support structure in an indoor or outdoor environment. The railing section 12 may be installed along a staircase, ramp, deck, balcony, porch or other structure in a variety of railing arrangements, including but not limited to hand railings, guard railings and decorative railings. The components of the railing system 10 are formed of a weather resistant material, such as vinyl, which can endure long term exposure to moisture, sun, and other outdoor elements.

[0025] The railing system of the present invention includes a number of accessories that are installed with minimal use of tools or fasteners to improve the appearance of the railing system. In FIG. 1, the mounting assembly 20 includes a base 30 that forms a first trim piece 32. The first trim piece 32 extends around three sides of the base 30. A second trim piece 34 is slidable over the top of the first trim piece 32 to cover the fourth side of the base 30. In this arrangement, the first and second trim pieces 32, 34 provide a decorative trim ring around the end of the mounted railing member. The first and second trim pieces 32, 34 also conceal mounting components and protect mounting hardware from exposure to moisture and other harmful elements, as will be described in more detail herein.

[0026] The railing 12 may have a variety of shapes and configurations, and the specific shape and configuration is not a critical aspect of the invention. In FIG. 1, the railing 12 has a tubular railing wall with a rectangular cross section. The railing wall has open ends and forms a hollow interior inside the railing 12. The railing 12 may be installed with a variety of components beneath the railing. For example, the railing 12 may be installed over a series balusters or stiles to form a traditional railing. Alternatively, the railing 12 may be installed over one or more panels, including but not limited to transparent panels formed of glass or thermoplastic material.

[0027] The mounting assembly 20 includes a railing mount configured for insertion into one of the open ends of the railing 12. A variety of configurations may be used for the railing mount. In FIG. 2, a pair of tubular rectangular hubs 44 extend outwardly from the base 30 and are configured for insertion into an end of the railing 12 to support the end of the railing. The hubs 44 may be molded with the first trim piece 32 as one piece, or assembled from separate parts to form the base 30.

[0028] Preferably, the railing 12 has an inner reinforcement to add rigidity and weight to the railing. Referring to FIG. 2, the hollow interior of the railing 12 is adapted to receive an H-shaped channel 13. The channel 13 is configured to fit around the hubs 44 in the base 30 when the end of the railing 12 is mounted over the hubs. The inner wall surfaces in the railing 12 and the walls of the channel 13 frictionally engage the sides of the hubs 44 to secure the railing to the base 30. If desired, the railing 12 and channel 13 can be further secured to the base 44 by driving a long bolt, screw, pin or other fastener orthogonally through the railing, hubs and channel. The additional fastener is entirely optional, however, since the frictional engagement between the railing 12, channel 13 and hubs 44 is configured to secure the railing to the base and withstand most forces that are ordinarily applied to the railing during use. If a fastener is used, the fastener is preferably driven through the top of the railing 12 at a location to be covered by the second trim piece 34. Once the fastener is installed, the second trim piece 34 is placed over the fastener and connected to the first trim piece 32.

[0029] The base 30 may be secured to the supporting structure using a variety of hardware and fasteners, such as screws. In FIG. 2, the first trim piece 32 has a plurality of cut outs or bores 56 adapted to receive screws or other fasteners (not shown) which are inserted through the bores and driven into the supporting structure. The second trim piece 34 is configured to mate with the first trim piece 32 on the base 30 to form a continuous trim ring around the base and railing 12 when the railing is connected over the hubs 44. The second trim piece 34 is configured to slide over the end sections of the first trim piece 32 on the base and cover the side of the base not bordered by the first trim piece.

[0030] The trim components of the present invention may have a variety of interconnecting arrangements. Preferably, the trim pieces allow the trim to be assembled or removed without disassembling the other components in the railing system. Referring to FIG. 2, the first and second trim pieces 32, 34 are configured to slidably connect in a plane parallel to the wall or support surface on which the base is mounted. In most installations, the base is mounted on a vertical wall, and the trim pieces 32, 34 connect in a vertical plane. Since the trim pieces 32, 34 are connected to one another in a vertical direction, the trim pieces do not require significant horizontal or lateral clearance. As a result, balusters, stiles, panels or other railing components installed in close proximity to the wall do not interfere with installation of the trim pieces.

[0031] The first and second trim pieces 32, 34 preferably include connectors that engage one another in a sliding arrangement. A variety of sliding connectors may be used to assemble the trim pieces. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the first trim piece 32 and second trim piece 34 are connected by a ratcheting connection. The reverse side of the first trim piece 32 on base 30 has a pair of sockets 51 lined with ratchet teeth, and the reverse side of the second trim piece 34 has a pair of tabs 53 lined with ratchet teeth. The tabs 53 on the second trim piece 34 are configured for insertion into the sockets 51 on the first trim piece 32 as the end sections of the trim piece are connected over the end sections of the trim section. The ratchet teeth provide a one-way engagement or connection between the first trim piece 32 and second trim piece 34. That is, the ratchet teeth permit the end sections of the second trim piece 34 to slide onto the end sections of the first trim piece 32, but limit relative sliding motion of the trim pieces in the reverse direction once the tabs 53 engage the sockets 51. In this arrangement, the second trim piece 34 can be secured over the first trim piece 32 without the need for separate fasteners.

[0032] As stated earlier, the first trim piece 32 of the base 30 may be secured to the supporting structure using screw fasteners that are inserted into bores 56 extending through the trim section. The bores 56 and fasteners are preferably concealed or covered so that the fasteners and bores do not visibly detract from the appearance of the mounting assembly. In FIG. 5, a button cap 60 is configured for insertion into a bore 56 in the first trim piece 32 and over each fastener. The button cap 60 is cylindrical and has a diameter generally equal to the diameter of the bores 56 in the first trim piece 32. The button cap 60 has a contoured face 62 that conforms to the exterior shape and contour of the first trim piece 32, forming a more continuous surface appearance over the bores. When the button cap 60 is inserted into a bore in the first trim piece 32, the contoured face 62 is substantially flush with the exterior of the trim section so as to blend visually with the front of the base 30. The button cap 60 has a pair of resilient tabs 64 formed on two sides of the button cap. Each tab has a lip or ridge 66 that extends radially outwardly from the button cap 60. As the button cap 60 is inserted into a bore in the first trim piece 32, the ridges 66 engage the wall in the bore, causing the resilient tabs 64 to deflect radially inwardly. The wall of each bore has one or more recesses. The recess or recesses are positioned in the bore so that the ridges 66 on the cap 60 align with the recesses when the contoured face 62 of the cap is flush with the exterior of the trim piece. When the ridges 66 align with the recesses, the wall of the bore no longer deflects the ridges and tabs 64 inwardly, allowing the resilient tabs to snap outwardly so that the ridges 66 engage the recesses. The engagement between the ridges 66 and recesses limits sliding movement of the caps 60 in the bores 56, so that the button caps are retained in the bores.

[0033] Thus far, the mounting assembly of the present invention has been shown and described for use in supporting a railing in a generally horizontal orientation. The present invention is not limited to horizontal railing installations, however, and components may be used for other kinds of railing configurations. Referring now to FIG. 6, an alternate embodiment of a railing assembly 110 is shown. The railing assembly 110 comprises a railing 112 and a mounting assembly 120 configured for supporting the railing in an inclined position to conform with the incline of a ramp or a staircase. The mounting assembly 120 comprises a base 130 that is mountable to a supporting structure, and a trim ring 140 that can be secured around the railing 112 and over the base to conceal the base from view. The trim ring 140 has two trim pieces that are mated for attachment around the railing 112.

[0034] The base 130 comprises a generally flat back plate 142 and a railing mount 141 that projects outwardly from the back plate. The railing mount 141 is configured to connect an end of the railing 112 to the base 130, and may have a variety of configurations to support the railing. In FIG. 6, the railing mount 141 comprises a pair of hubs 144 that extend outwardly from the back plate 142. The hubs 144 are configured for insertion into an end of the railing 112 to support the railing member in inclined orientations. The railing 112 is preferably reinforced with a channel or other reinforcement member, such as the H-shaped reinforcement member shown and described in FIG. 2.

[0035] The base 130 is configured to support either the upper end of an inclined railing, or the lower end. In connecting the base 130 to a supporting structure, the base is attached so that the hubs 144 are oriented in the direction corresponding to the axis of the railing. That is, if the base 130 is being installed to support the upper end of the railing, with the railing extending at a downward angle from the base, the base is mounted with the hubs 144 oriented at a downward angle, as shown in FIG. 6. If the base 130 is being installed to support the lower end of the railing, with the railing extending at an upward angle from the base, the base is mounted with the hubs 144 oriented at an upward angle. The angled faces of the hubs 144 are configured to provide angular clearance between the hubs and the interior walls of the railing when the railing is connected over the hubs. This clearance allows a railing end to be mounted at different angles over the hubs 144 and permit the opposite railing end to be adjusted and positioned at a variety of angles to its respective mounting base.

[0036] The base 130 may be secured to the supporting structure in a number of ways. For example, the base 130 may include one or more slots adapted to receive one or more fasteners. A single H-shaped slot may be used to mount several fasteners between and around the hubs. In FIG. 6, the back plate 142 has a plurality of elongated slots 143 extending along the sides of the back plate. The slots 143 are adapted to receive fasteners to mount the base 130 to the support structure. A variety of fasteners, including but not limited to screws or bolts, may be inserted through the slots 143 to mount the base 130 to the support structure. Once the base 130 is secured to the support structure, the railing 112 may be aligned with the hubs 144 and pressed over the hubs to connect the railing to the base. After the railing 112 is connected over the hubs 144 on the base 130, the outer or peripheral portion of the back plate 142 remains exposed and visible behind the railing.

[0037] The trim ring 140 is configured to cover the exposed portion of the back plate 142 that remains visible after the railing 112 is connected over the base. The trim ring includes a first trim piece 150 and a second trim piece 152 that connect around the railing 112 once the railing is secured to the base 130. Each of the trim pieces 150, 152 is generally U-shaped, forming a pair of end sections. The end sections of the first trim piece 150 are cooperable with the end sections of the second trim piece 152 to form a generally rectangular frame that fits around the railing 112. The trim pieces 150, 152 are configured to connect around the railing member 112 and cover the exposed outer portion of the back plate 142 on the base 130 so that the back plate is concealed from view.

[0038] The first trim piece 150 has connecting means to secure the first trim piece to the exposed portion of the back plate 142. The back plate 142 and first trim piece 150 may be connected in a number of ways. For example, the first trim piece 150 may be connected to the back plate 142 with fasteners. In FIG. 6, the first trim piece 150 has a plurality of cut outs or bores 156 that align with the slots 143 in the back plate 142. The bores 156 are adapted to receive screw fasteners which are inserted through the bores and screwed into the supporting structure through the slots 143 in the back plate 142.

[0039] The second trim piece 152 is configured to connect with the first trim piece 150 to form a continuous trim ring that extends around the railing 112 and covers the exposed portion of the back plate 142. The end sections of the second trim piece 152 are configured to slide over the end sections of the first trim piece 150. The trim pieces 150, 152 may be interconnected using a variety of connectors formed on the trim pieces. In FIG. 6, the first trim piece 150 has a pair of male ends 151, and the second trim piece 152 has a pair of female ends 153 adapted to receive the male ends of the first trim piece. As an alternative, the trim pieces 150, 152 may include ratcheting connectors, such as the ratcheting components shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

[0040] When the first and second trim pieces 150, 152 are secured around the inclined railing 112, the amount of overlap required between the trim pieces depends on the vertical dimension of the railing. The vertical dimension of the railing 112 may vary significantly based on the angle of incline relative to horizontal. That is, the cross section of the railing 112 will generally have a larger vertical dimension when the railing is installed on a steep incline, and a smaller vertical dimension when the railing in installed on a smaller incline. Therefore, the male and female ends 151, 153 on the trim pieces are configured to permit the amount of overlap to be adjusted over a wide range to accommodate different angles of incline. The wide range of overlap permits the distance between the inner edge of the first trim piece 150 and the inner edge of the second trim piece 152 to be slidably adjusted to match the vertical dimension of the installed railing. The end sections of the first trim piece 150 may be trimmed and shortened where necessary so that the trim pieces fit around the railing exterior with minimal gaps between the sides of the railing and the trim pieces.

[0041] Thus far, the trim components have been shown and described without regard to the mounting surface and its configuration. For support structures with generally flat surfaces, the rear edge of the trim pieces will be flat to enable the trim pieces to be mounted flush against the support structure. In some locations, however, the mounting surface will not be flat, and trim pieces with flat rear edges will not mount flush against the support structure. Therefore, the trim pieces of the present invention are preferably manufactured with a variety of rear contours configured to conform with different mounting surfaces, including corner surfaces, curved surfaces and other irregular surfaces. Referring to FIG. 13, an alternate trim cover 540 is shown. The trim cover 540 has a rounded rear edge 542 adapted to fit flush against a rounded support surface, such as the rounded circumference of a cylindrical support column.

[0042] Referring now to FIG. 7, an alternate railing system 210 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The railing system 210 includes a generally rectangular railing member 212 and a mounting assembly 220 for supporting an end of the railing member. The mounting assembly 220 includes a base 230 that connects with an end of the railing 212 to connect the railing with a post or other supporting structure. A decorative trim ring 240 extends over the base and around the sides of the railing 212 to conceal exposed portions of the base 230. Unlike the embodiments described above, the trim ring 240 has a solid continuous facade with no bores or apertures.

[0043] The railing 212 may be mounted over a variety of railing inserts, including but not limited to balusters, stiles or panels. Referring to FIG. 8, the railing 212 has a tubular rectangular railing wall 213 that forms a hollow interior. The railing wall 213 includes a first side 213 a and a second side 213 b opposite the first side. The first and second sides 213 a, 213 b each include a channel portion 215 that extends inwardly into the hollow interior of the railing 212 and forms a longitudinal groove 216 on the exterior of the railing wall.

[0044] The base 230 includes a back plate 232 and a railing mount 234 configured for insertion into an open end of the railing 212. The back plate 232 is configured to connect the mounting assembly 220 and railing 212 to the support structure. One or more slots 243 extend along the back plate 232. The slots 243 are adapted to receive one or more fasteners to mount the back plate to the support structure. The railing mount 234 extends outwardly from the back plate 232 for connection with one of the ends of the railing 212. A variety of configurations may be used for the railing mount 234. In FIG. 7, the railing mount 234 comprises a pair of tubular rectangular hubs 236 that extend outwardly from the back plate 232. The hubs 236 are configured for telescopic insertion into an end of the railing 212 to support the railing.

[0045] The back plate 232 has a recessed central section 233 and pair of side flanges 235 that protrude outwardly from the central section. The width of the recessed section 233 is equal to or slightly larger than the width of the railing 212. In this arrangement, the end of the railing 212 is configured to abut against the recessed section 233 of the back plate 232, with the sides of the railing fitting between the flanges 235. When the railing 212 is mounted over the hubs 236, the side flanges 235 remain exposed on the sides of the railing.

[0046] In the preferred embodiment, the railing 212 has one or more inner reinforcements to add rigidity and weight to the railing. Referring to FIG. 7, the hollow interior of the railing 212 is adapted to receive a pair of tubular rectangular reinforcement bars 214. The tubular reinforcement bars 214 each include a rectangular opening having dimensions equal to or slightly greater than the dimensions of the hubs 236 on the base 230. The reinforcement bars 214 are configured to align with the hubs 236 and fit over the hubs when the railing end is connected with the base 230.

[0047] Thus far, the inner reinforcements for the railings have been described as a an H-shaped member, or as tubular rectangular bars. The reinforcements used in the present invention may have a variety of configurations, however, and need not have the H-shape or rectangular configuration described. Referring now to FIGS. 8-10, railing reinforcements are shown with alternate configurations. FIGS. 8 and 9 show a railing 212 reinforced by a single “C”-shaped reinforcing member 314. The reinforcing member 314 includes an inward extending guide track 316 and an opening 318 adapted to receive and accommodate the inwardly projecting channel portions 215 on the railing. FIG. 10 shows a modified “H”-shaped reinforcing member 414 with guide tracks 416 that can be used in place of the “C”-shaped reinforcing member 314 in FIGS. 8 and 9.

[0048] As described earlier, the trim components of the present invention conceal exposed portions of the base. In addition, the trim components conceal fasteners that mount the base to the support structure, and protect the fasteners from exposure to moisture and other elements. In FIG. 7, the trim ring 240 includes a first trim piece 242 and a second trim piece or cover portion 244. The first trim piece 242 and second trim piece 244 are configured to detachably connect with one another to form a closed ring around the perimeter of the railing. The protruding flanges 235 on the base 230 are configured to cooperatively engage the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 to secure the trim pieces to the support structure. The first and second trim pieces 242, 244 have generally hollow interiors that form channel slots 246. The channel slots 246 have widths that are generally equal to or slightly larger than the widths of the flanges 235. In this configuration, the first trim piece 242 and second trim piece 244 are adapted to slide over the protruding flanges 235. Since the flanges 235 protrude outwardly from the recessed central portion 233 of the back plate 232, a clearance space is formed between the flanges and the supporting structure. The first trim piece 242 and second trim piece 244 are configured to slide along the supporting structure into the clearance space to connect the trim ring sections over the flanges 235.

[0049] In the preferred embodiment, the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 contact the flanges 235 in a tight frictional engagement. In this arrangement, the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 can be installed by hand without the need for fasteners or tools. If desired, the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 can be connected to the flanges 235 with fasteners, and need not be secured solely by frictional engagement. Alternatively, the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 can be connected to the flanges 235 with a bonding agent, such as glue, to secure the trim ring 240 to the back plate 232. The first and second trim pieces 242, 244 may also include ratchet teeth or other connector means to interconnect the trim pieces in a connection independent from any physical connection to the base 230. In this arrangement, the trim pieces 242, 244 are connected to one another over the base, and do not engage the base 230, so that the size of the assembled trim cover is not controlled by the size of the base or flanges 235. This may be desirable where the installer desires a specific size for the trim ring. For purposes of the remaining description, it will be assumed that the trim pieces 242, 244 physically connect with the flanges 235 on the base 230.

[0050] The orientation of the flanges 235 permits the first trim piece 242 and second trim piece 244 to slide onto the base 230 in a plane parallel to the mounting surface on which the base is mounted. As described above, this arrangement permits the trim pieces to be assembled with minimal interference from railing stiles, panels or other railing components that are connected beneath the railing 212 in close proximity to the base. For example, where the base plate 232 is mounted on a vertical wall, the first trim piece 242 may be slid generally upwardly onto the flanges 235, and the second trim piece 244 may be slid generally downwardly onto the flanges, such that the trim pieces are slid onto the flanges in a vertical plane parallel to the wall surface.

[0051] An optional cap rail may be mounted over the railing to provide a handrail suitable for gripping, or a support rail for holding flower planters or other items on top of the railing. Referring now to FIGS. 7-9, a decorative cap rail 270 extends over railing 212. The cap rail 270 is detachably connected with a top portion of the railing 212 and includes a body portion forming a channel slot 271. The channel slot 271 has a width more or less equal to the width of the railing member 212. In this arrangement, the cap rail 270 can be pressed onto the top portion of the railing 212. A pair of resilient flexible extensions 272 extend downwardly and longitudinally along the channel slot 271 and partially enclose the railing member 212 when the cap rail 270 is installed over the railing member.

[0052] As described earlier, the channeled portions 215 in the railing 212 form longitudinal grooves 216 on the first and second sides 213 a, 213 b of the railing wall 213. The grooves 216 are adapted to receive the extensions 272 on the cap 270 to connect the cap with the railing 212. Each of the extensions 272 forms a detent 274 configured for insertion into one of the grooves 216 in the railing wall 213. The detents 274 are configured to detachably connect the cap rail 270 to the railing 212. The extensions 272 on cap rail 270 are resiliently flexible and displaceable between an inward position, shown in FIG. 8, and an outward position, shown in FIG. 9. In the inward position, the extensions 272 are positioned inwardly toward the channel slot 271. in the outward position, the extensions 272 are displaced outwardly and away from the channel slot 271. The detents 274 are separated by a gap that is narrower than the width of the railing 212 when the extensions 272 are positioned in the inward position.

[0053] The extensions 272 are ordinarily biased toward the inward position and flex outwardly toward the outward position when the cap rail 272 is pressed on to the railing. The detents 274 on the extensions 272 preferably have rounded ends that slidably engage the railing 212 as the cap rail 270 is pressed onto the railing. In this arrangement, the cap rail 270 can be pressed onto the railing 212 without scraping or marring the railing surface. A variety of detent and groove configurations may be used, and the configuration shown in FIGS. 8 and 9 is not the only configuration that may be used in accordance with the invention.

[0054] Methods for installing the railing 212 and cap rail 270 and will now be described. The railing system 210 may be assembled almost entirely by hand, with minimal use of tools. Once the back plate 232 is mounted to the support structure with fasteners, the remaining assembly steps may be performed by hand without the need for adhesives, fasteners or tools. That is, the railing 212 is manually placed over the hubs 236 on the base 230. Once the railing 212 is secured on the hubs 236, the first and second trim pieces 242, 244 are slid onto the flanges 235 of the base 230 to conceal the base 230.

[0055] If the decorative cap rail 270 is desired, the cap rail is held above the railing 212 with the channel slot 271 aligned over the top side 212 a of the railing. The cap rail 270 is then pressed down onto the railing member 212. As the cap rail 270 is pressed onto the railing, the detents 274 are spread apart to permit the extensions to fit around the top portion of the railing. Preferably, the extensions 272 and detents 274 are arranged so that the detents deflect outwardly upon engagement with the top portion of the railing 212, permitting the top portion of the railing to pass between the detents into the channel slot 271. Alternatively, the detents 274 may be spread apart by inserting a person's fingers between the extensions and applying an outward force until the detents fit around the top portion of the railing 212. In either scenario, the extensions 272 are spread apart until the space between the detents 274 is greater than or equal to the width of the railing. The cap rail 270 is then pressed down over the railing. As the cap rail 270 is advanced, the inward bias on the extensions 272 urge the detents 274 inwardly against the sides of the railing. The detents 274 are prevented from fully returning to the inward position by the sides of the railing, which act against the inward bias of the extensions 272. As the cap rail 270 is advanced downwardly, the rounded detents 274 slidably engage the exterior of the railing 212 until the detents align with the grooves 216. Once the detents 274 align with the grooves 216, the detents 274 are no longer engaged with the railing wall against the inward bias of the extensions. As a result, the detents are free to snap inwardly into the grooves 216 to connect the cap rail 270 with the railing 212.

[0056] It may be desirable to install the decorative cap 270 flush against the support structure to minimize the gap between the cap and the mounting surface on the support structure. In such instances, the second trim piece 244 on the trim ring 240 is omitted to allow the cap to directly engage and abut the support structure. The cap 270 will cover the exposed top portion of the base 230, eliminating the need for the second trim piece.

[0057] The embodiments that have been described above may be constructed with many of the same components. For example, a railing assembly without a cap rail 270 may be easily modified to include the cap. Similarly, the decorative cap 270 may be readily removed from the railing 212, since the cap rail is detachably connected with the railing. When adding a cap 270 to a railing 212, the second trim piece 244 on the top side of the railing may be disconnected and removed to permit the cap to be connected over the railing and installed flush against the back plate 232 on the base 230.

[0058] The cap 270 may be installed in a plain color or may be modified to provide an additional decorative effect. For example, where the railing 212 is constructed of a paintable material, such as a wood or composite material, the railing may be painted. In addition, the railing 212 may be adapted to mount supplemental decorative components that enhance the appearance of the cap 270 and railing assembly. For example, the railing assembly may include decorative inserts or strips 280 as shown in FIG. 11. Each strip 280 has a tongue portion 282 that is configured for insertion into one of the longitudinal grooves 216 on the railing 212. The tongue portion 282 preferably has a configuration identical to the detents 274 on the cap rail 270. This configuration permits the strips 280 to be interchangeable with the cap rail 270, and vice versa. The strips 280 may include a variety of patterns, colors and designs for display on the sides of the railing. In addition, the strips 280 may be molded or extruded, and may be formed of any resilient flexible material including but not limited to plastic. If desired, the railing may be formed with three or more grooves to permit connection with the cap rail 270 and a strip 280 at the same time.

[0059] Referring now to FIG. 12, an alternate embodiment of a mounting assembly 420 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The mounting assembly 420 includes a base 430 having a back plate 432 and a tubular railing mount 434 that extends from the back plate. The back plate 432 includes one or more slots 433 adapted to receive a mounting fastener to secure the back plate to a support structure. Unlike the embodiments described above, the railing mount 434 is configured to fit over the end of the railing, not inside the end of the railing, to support the railing.

[0060] The railing mount 434 forms a socket 436 adapted to receive the end of a railing member to secure the railing member to the mounting structure. The socket 436 has an open forward end 437 adapted to receive the railing member, and a rearward end 439 that joins with the back plate 432. The railing mount 434 includes a rigid outer wall 435 and a resilient flexible inner wall 437. The inner wall 437 of the socket 436 preferably includes a plurality of spring sheets 438 that extend in a cantilevered arrangement around the perimeter of the socket. The spring sheets 438 are molded into the railing mount 434 and are configured to engage the end of a railing member as the railing member is inserted into the socket 436. The spring sheets 438 are biased inwardly and are adapted to exert pressure on the railing member when the railing member is positioned in the socket. In this arrangement, the pressure exerted by the spring sheets 438 on the railing member creates frictional resistance to stabilize the railing member and resist shifting of the railing member in the socket 436.

[0061] A decorative trim cover 440 extends over the base 430 to conceal the back plate 432. The trim cover 440 includes a first trim piece 442 and a second trim piece 444 that connects with the first trim piece. A variety of trim piece designs and connectors may be used to interconnect the trim pieces and base. In FIG. 12, a pair of locking apertures 431 extend through the inner and outer walls of the socket 436. The first and second trim pieces 442, 444 have a corresponding pair of resilient flexible tabs 441 that are configured to align with and engage the locking apertures 431 to detachably connect the trim pieces over the socket. The inner wall 437 of the socket 436 has a plurality of spacer bars 450 adjacent to the locking apertures. The spacer bars 450 are configured to engage two sides of the railing and create a clearance space between the railing and the locking apertures 431. The resilient flexible tabs 441 extend through the locking apertures 431 into the clearance spaces to detachably connect the trim pieces 442, 444 over the socket 436. The ends of the tabs 441 may have a variety of configurations for engaging the slots 431 in a snap fit connection. In FIG. 12, each tab 441 has a barbed end 452 with a camming 454 surface. The tab 441 is biased toward a locking position in which the barbed end 452 is slightly misaligned with the corresponding slot 431 in the socket 436. The camming surface 454 is configured to engage a side of the slot and deflect the barbed end 452 against the bias of the tab and into alignment with the slot 431. In the deflected position, the barbed end 452 passes through the slot as the trim piece is pressed onto the socket. Upon passing through the socket, the camming surface 454 no longer engages the side of the slot 431, and the bias on the tab displaces the tab back to the locking position. In the locking position, the barbed end 452 is misaligned with the slot 431 and abuts the edge of the slot to substantially prevent the tab from being pulled in the reverse direction out of the slot. In the preferred embodiment, the length of the tabs 441 and barbed ends 452 are such that the barbed ends pass completely through the slots 431 when the trim pieces are fully engaged around the socket. In this arrangement, the trim pieces lock over the socket in a tight fit.

[0062] The terms and expressions which have been employed are used as terms of description and not of limitation. There is no intention in the use of such terms and expressions of excluding any equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof. It is recognized, therefore, that various modifications are possible within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the invention incorporates variations that fall within the scope of the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7216855 *Jul 11, 2006May 15, 2007Platt Robert EFence rail mounting clip
US7243473Aug 6, 2003Jul 17, 2007Terrels Christopher JPost assembly and trim ring
US7427055 *Dec 13, 2005Sep 23, 2008Platt Robert EMounting bracket and snap-on cover assembly for use therewith
US7731160Sep 24, 2008Jun 8, 2010Railing Dynamics, Inc.Post and railing assembly with support bracket covers
US7866120 *Jul 24, 2008Jan 11, 2011Joseph PrennPost wrap device
US7908821 *Jan 25, 2006Mar 22, 2011Joseph PrennPost wrap device
US20110302874 *Jan 10, 2011Dec 15, 2011Joseph PrennPost wrap device
WO2006084188A2 *Feb 3, 2006Aug 10, 2006Michael G BurkartRail mounting apparatus and method
WO2008079348A2 *Dec 21, 2007Jul 3, 2008Matthew L BeachlerHandrail insert
Classifications
U.S. Classification52/287.1
International ClassificationE04H17/14
Cooperative ClassificationE04H17/1443
European ClassificationE04H17/14E2A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 31, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: RAILING DYNAMICS, INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TERRELS, CHRISTOPHER J.;TERRELS, ANDREW P.;REEL/FRAME:019777/0249
Effective date: 20070801