BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) to provisional application Ser. No. 60/489,189, filed Jul. 22, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a system for creating a deck on the support joists of an attic.
2. Description of the Related Art
Residential and commercial buildings typically include an attic, which is an area defined between the roof of the building and the ceiling of the uppermost floor of the building. The ceiling of the uppermost floor of the building is supported by a plurality of spaced-apart, parallel joists, which are disposed in the attic and make up the floor of the attic. Insulation is often installed between the attic floor joists to insulate the ceiling and interior of the building. Quite often electrical wiring and heating/cooling ducts extend through the attic area to access different locations within the building. Unfortunately, such duct work and wiring is difficult to access when repair is needed because one must walk and balance along the spaced-apart joists. In addition, other than providing a passage for the wiring and duct work, the attic area consists of wasted space.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Many building owners attempt to use the attic area as storage space. However, storage items must be supported by the joists. One must be careful not to store or allow storage items to fall into the gaps between the joists, because this may cause damage to the underlying ceiling. Some building owners have attempted to install a deck surface on top of the joists to provide a surface on which items can be stored and upon which a person could walk and access the electrical and duct work. Commonly these attic deck surfaces are constructed of plywood or particle board that is nailed down to the joists. However, the installation of such material is often difficult because the particle board and plywood is heavy and bulky. In addition, it is difficult to align two meeting pieces of plywood on one joist, thereby making it difficult to install a series of board pieces. Furthermore, such attic decks do not permit the circulation of air into insulation in the gaps between the spaced-apart joists. Consequently, a need remains for a lightweight, easy-to-install system for creating a deck on the support joists of an attic.
The present invention provides an attic deck system with interconnecting deck panels for use in an attic having a plurality of spaced-apart attic joists. The attic deck system, in one form, includes a plurality of deck panels each having a panel body with first and second edge portions. The first edge portion defines a first series of alternating projections and recesses, while the second edge portion defines a second series of alternating projections and recesses. The first series of alternating projections and recesses is complementary to the second series of alternating projections and recesses such that the first edge portion of one deck panel interlocks with the second edge portion of another deck panel. The deck panels are adapted to be mounted on the plurality of spaced-apart joists such that at least a portion of each of the first and second edge portions of each panel respectively extend over the upper spaced-apart joists. The first and second edge portions each include a downwardly extending tab, which is spaced apart from the outermost periphery of respective first and second edge portions and is adapted to abut an inner edge of one of the joists.
In another form, the attic deck system includes a plurality of deck panels each having a panel body with first and second edge portions. The first edge portion is complementary to the second edge portion such that the first edge portion of one deck panel interlocks with the second edge portion of another deck panel. Each deck panel defines a width extending between an outermost periphery of the first edge portion and an outermost periphery of the second edge portion. The width is approximately equal to a distance measured between an outer edge of one attic joist and an outer edge of another adjacent attic joist, such that at least a portion of each of the first and second edge portions of one deck panel are extendable over and positionable on the respective joist widths.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In yet another form, the attic deck system includes a plurality of deck panels each having a panel body with first edge portions and a second edge portion. Each of the first and second end portions defines an outermost periphery and includes a downwardly extending tab, which is spaced apart from the outermost periphery and is adapted to abut an inner edge of an attic joist.
The above-mentioned and other features and objects of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of embodiments of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an attic deck system according to one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of a panel of an attic deck system according to one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the panel of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a top view of a pair of interlocking panels of the attic deck system according to one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the interlocking panels of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a side view of the panel of FIG. 2;
FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of the attic deck system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 8 is a top view of interlocking panels of an attic deck system according to another embodiment;
FIG. 9 is a top view of interlocking panels of an attic deck invention according to another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 10 is a top view of a panel of an attic deck system according to another embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of an attic deck system according to another embodiment of the present invention
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. Although the drawings represent embodiments of the present invention, the drawings are not necessarily to scale and certain features may be exaggerated in order to better illustrate and explain the present invention. The exemplification set out herein illustrates embodiments of the invention, in several forms, and such exemplifications are not to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention in any manner.
The embodiments hereinafter disclosed are not intended to be exhaustive or limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed in the following description. Rather the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may utilize its teachings.
FIG. 1 illustrates deck system 10 according to the present invention. Deck system 10 generally includes a plurality of interlocking panels 12 a-d, which may be mounted on the attic joists 40 to create an attic deck. Turning to FIGS. 2 and 3, each panel 12 includes first connecting edge portion 18 and complementary second connecting edge portion 20. Each of first and second connecting edge portions 18, 20 includes a series of alternating projections 26 and recesses 28. As shown in FIGS. 4-5, projections 26 are sized to fit within recesses 28 such that first connecting edge 18 of panel 12 a interlocks with second connecting edge 20 of panel 12 b. Referring back to FIGS. 2-3, each panel also includes an upper surface 14 and a lower surface 16. Each of projections 26 includes aperture 32 extending through panel 12 from upper surface 14 to lower surface 16.
Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, panel 12 defines width Wp which extends from the outermost periphery of first connecting edge portion 18 to the outermost periphery of second connecting edge portion 20. In other words, width Wp extends between projections 26 of first connecting edge 18 and projections 26 of second connecting edge 20. Panel width Wp is approximately equal to the distance Do between the outer edges of adjacent joists 40 such that when panel 12 is positioned on top of joists 40 both projections 26 and recesses 28 of first and second connecting edges 18, 20 are positioned on and extend across substantially the entire upper surface of adjacent joists, as shown in FIG. 1. For instance, standard joist spacing typically measures either about 16 inches or about 24 inches from the center of one joist to the center of the next joist. Joists themselves typically have a width Wj of about 1½ inches and, therefore, the distance Do between the outer edges of adjacent joists is typically either about 17½ inches or 25½ inches. The distance Di between the inner edges of adjacent joists is typically either about 14½ inches or 22½ inches, as shown in FIG. 7. Therefore, for the standard 16 inch and 24 inch joist spacing arrangements, panels 12 can be mass produced to have a width Wp substantially equal to either about 17½ inches or about 25½ inches, such that the interlocking projections 26 and recesses 28 of adjacent panels 12 may be positioned on and supported by joists 40, as illustrated in FIG. 1. Alternatively, panels 12 may be custom crafted such that width Wp accommodates non-standard joist spacing and non-standard joist width.
Referring now to FIG. 1, to install deck system 10 a first panel 12 a is placed on top of adjacent joists 40 and is aligned such that projections 26 and recesses 28 of first and second edges 18, 20 are positioned on top of adjacent joists 40. Panel 12 a is secured to joists 40 by fastener 34, which is inserted into aperture 32 and engages joists 40. Fastener 34 may be a screw, bolt, nail, pin or other fastener. A second panel 12 b may be positioned next to first panel 12 a such that projections 26 and recesses 28 of first connecting edge 18 of first panel 12 a interlock with projections 26 and recesses 28 of second connecting edge 20 of second panel 12 b. Second panel 12 b may then be secured to joists 40 using fasteners 34. Additional panels 12 c, 12 d may be installed in a similar manner.
In order to aid in the alignment of panels 12 a-d on adjacent joists 40, each panel 12 a-d may include tabs 30, shown in FIGS. 3 and 5-7, which extend downwardly from lower surface 16. As illustrated in FIG. 5, interlocked panels 12 a, 12 b define a width Wt extending between tabs 30 of panel 12 a and tabs 30 of panel 12 b. Referring to FIGS. 1, 5 and 7, the measurement of width Wt is substantially equal to about the width Wj of joists 40, such that first and second connecting edges 18, 20 of panels 12 a, 12 b, respectively, are positioned on top of joist 40. Each panel 12 a-d also defines a width Wpt extending between tabs 30 of the panel 12, as shown in FIG. 5. Referring specifically to FIGS. 5 and 7, width Wpt is equal to about the distance Di between the inner edges of joists 40. As discussed above, typical joist spacing is about 14½ inches or about 22½ inches between the inner edges of adjacent joists. Therefore, width Wpt may measure approximately 14½ or 22½ inches. Of course, panels 12 a-d may be custom made to accommodate non-standard joist spacing and non-standard joist width. As shown in FIG. 7, panels 12 a-d are positioned on joists 40 such that tabs 30 abut the inside edge of joists 40, thereby aligning first and second connecting edges 18, 20 on joists 40 and preventing lateral movement of panels 12 a-d.
Panels 12 can be made of any rigid material, including plastic, metal, wood, and polyurethane. It is particularly advantageous to mold panels 12 from plastic because the manufacture of such panels is relatively inexpensive and the resulting plastic panel is lightweight and easy to install. Panels 12 shown in FIGS. 1-7 all have a lattice pattern 36 including a plurality of rectangular lattice openings 36 a. This pattern provides strength to the deck, while minimizing the weight of the panels and allowing circulation of air beneath the panels. It should be understood that the panels need not have the lattice design shown in FIGS. 1-7, but rather may be solid or have another suitable pattern.
As illustrated in FIGS. 1-7 the first and second connecting edges 18, 20 of panels 12 include alternating projections 26 and recesses 28 having a three-sided angled shape. It should be understood that projections 26 and recesses 28 of first and second connecting edges 18, 20 may have a different shape provided that the first and second connecting edges 18, 20 are complimentary to, and can intermesh with, one another. For instance, as shown in FIG. 8, first and second edges 18, 20 have alternating, interlocking tongues 126 and grooves 128. FIG. 9 shows another possible interlocking pattern which includes a series of rectangular projections 226 and recesses 228.
Referring to FIG. 10, panel 12 may include reinforcing ribs or bars 42 to provide additional support and stabilization to the panel. Such reinforcing structures are not necessary to the present invention. However, such structures may be beneficial in providing a more stable deck surface for storing and supporting heavier items.
As shown in FIG. 11, panels 12 a-e need not be consistently and perfectly aligned with one another. For instance, panels 12 a-e may be arranged in a staggered formation relative to one another, such as panels 12 c-12 e. In addition, panels 12 a-e may be spaced apart from one another, such as panels 12 b, 12 d and 12 c, 12 e. Such an arrangement creates openings 210 in the deck floor through which ventilation ducts 310, wires/cables 410 and other structures can extend, while achieving maximum attic deck coverage.
The attic deck system of the present invention provides a rigid deck surface or top of the attic joist, thereby yielding a surface upon which items may be stored and providing additional storage space. In addition, the rigid deck surface allows one to walk around in the attic and access different areas of the attic, which were previously difficult to reach.
While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.