US 20050016099 A1
Floor covering hard panels having at least on two opposite edges, coupling elements made in one piece with the panels, so that several ones of such panels can be mutually coupled, whereby these coupling elements provide for an interlocking in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the panels, as well as in a direction perpendicular to the edges and parallel to the plane of the panels, and whereby these coupling elements are made such that the panels can be rotated into and/or out of one another at least along the above-mentioned edges. The panels are provided, at least on the above-mentioned edges, near the top side, with a part from which has been removed an amount of material such as by a bevel.
1. A laminate floor covering panel, at least comprising a core and a decorative layer;
said panel being rectangular and elongated and having a pair of opposed short edges and a pair of opposed long edges;
said panel at both pairs of edges being provided with coupling parts for mutually coupling a plurality of such panels to each other in a common panel to form a floor covering, wherein these coupling parts in coupled condition of two of such panels provide for an interlocking in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the panels as well as in a direction perpendicular to the edges concerned and parallel to the plane of panels;
said decorative layer being provided with a printed pattern imitating wood;
said printed pattern being constituted of a single pattern extending over the complete surface of the panel to define a panel which imitates only one natural plank of wood; and
wherein the short edges have a length shorter than 16 cm.
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wherein the coupling parts of both pairs of edges are configured so that, when two of such panels are coupled to each other, the coupled edges may be connected by a relative rotational movement between the panels; and
wherein the panel at both pairs of edges near the top side is provided with an area from which a portion of panel material has been removed.
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13. The laminate floor covering panel as claimed in
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This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 09/805,234, filed on Mar. 14, 2001.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention concerns floor covering panels, in particular hard laminate panels.
2. Related Art
It is known that such laminate panels can be made of different layers. Usually, the panels are formed of boards based on wood products, such as chipboard or fibreboard, in particular MDF or HDF (medium density fiberboard and high density fiberboard), upon which one or several layers, including a panel decorative layer, are provided at least on the top side. The panel decorative layer may be a printed paper layer, but in certain embodiments it may just as well be a layer of wood, in particular veneer. Such panels can also be made of other materials, for example merely synthetic material, or of a base plate having a wood base, such as chipboard, MDF or HDF and the like, upon which is provided, instead of a printed paper layer or veneer, another material such as cork, thin strips of wood and the like.
It is also known to couple these panels on their edges as they are laid, either by means of a conventional tongue and groove joint, whereby they are possibly glued together, either by means of a glueless coupling which provides for a mutual interlocking of the panels both in the horizontal and vertical direction, for example as described in international patent Publication No. WO 97/47934.
The present invention relates to hard laminate panels for forming a floor covering and which provides for new embodiments according to different aspects offering respective-advantages.
According to a first aspect, the invention provides for a floor panel comprising at least on two opposite edges having coupling means or elements made in one piece with the panels, so that several ones of such panels can be mutually coupled at such edges, whereby these coupling elements provide for an interlocking in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the floor covering, as well as in a direction perpendicular to the edges concerned and parallel to the plane of the floor covering, and whereby these coupling elements are made such that the panels can be rotated into and/or out of one another at least along the above-mentioned edges, and wherein the panels are provided, at least on the above-mentioned edges, near the top side, with a part from which has been removed an amount of material (e.g., a bevel).
With material removed from the top edge, several advantages are obtained. A first advantage consists in that the panels, as they are rotated, both when rotating into one another and when rotating out of one another, can be moved more easily in relation to one another, as there are no angular edges anymore which hinder the mutual rotation of the panels. A second advantage consists in that the panels can be made heavier, in particular thicker than as usual, as the thickness of the panels, thanks to the bevel, has little or no influence anymore on the good working order of the above-mentioned coupling means, during the rotating in and/or the rotating out.
Preferably, the above-mentioned parts consist of bevels, in particular with a gradient of 45°. Practically, the bevels preferably extend, in a horizontal direction, over a distance of at least 1 millimetre. Preferably, however, this distance is in the order of magnitude of 2 millimetre.
According to a different variant of the first aspect of the invention, the coupling elements are made such that the panels, instead of being disconnectable at least by a rotation, can be disconnected from one another at least in one other manner. Even then, the above-mentioned bevel still offers certain advantages, as will become clear from the following description.
According to the most preferred embodiment, the panels are rectangular and are provided with the above-mentioned parts, that is, the above-mentioned bevels, respectively, on all four-sides.
According to a second aspect which can either or not be combined with the first aspect, the invention provides for a floor covering panel comprising a hard panel with a core upon which is provided a panel decorative layer, whereby these panels are rectangular and elongated and are provided with coupling means at least on the two opposite longitudinal edges, so that several ones of such panel can be mutually coupled to one another, whereby these coupling elements provide for an interlocking in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the floor covering, as well as in a direction perpendicular to the edges concerned and parallel to the plane of the floor covering, and whereby these coupling elements are made such that each panel can be coupled to and/or uncoupled from another similar panel by means of a rotation along their opposed longitudinal edges, and the width of the panels is smaller than 17 cm, and preferably even smaller than 16 cm.
Further, the panel, apart from the above-mentioned maximum width, preferably has a length which amounts to at least eight times the width.
It is known that hard panels, which are equipped with coupling elements which provide for a horizontal and a vertical interlocking on at least two of their edges, are made as relatively small plates with a width of 19 to 20 cm and a length of 1.20 to 1.40 m. It is also known that the plates, when being laid, have to be occasionally rotated into one another and out of one another so as to make them fit against a wall, skirting board or the like. A disadvantage of the known embodiments of the above-mentioned plates consists in that it is often difficult to carry out said rotation, for example when the plates have to be installed with their far ends under the edge of an overhanging cupboard or such. According to the above-mentioned second aspect of the invention, this disadvantage, as well as others, are avoided, if not minimised. Thanks to the small width, the panels are less high when being rotated, so that there are no disadvantages during the installation in a large number of practical applications.
Moreover, the above-mentioned relation between length and width offers a technical solution, as a result of which the visual ‘plate-like’ effect is excluded.
According to a third aspect of the invention, floor covering panels having a laminated structure include a panel decorative layer on the top surface, and bevels or such are formed as by cutting away on one or several edges of the panels, near the top side, and the surface of these bevels is also provided with a bevel film or coating-like decorative layer, preferably a layer provided as a separate material and separate from the panel decorative layer. In particular, such a layer preferably consists of a separately provided print. Thanks to the use of such a separate print, the bevels can be easily provided with a bevel decorative surface. The base panels can then be made in a conventional manner by sawing them out of a large plate which has already been provided with a panel decorative layer, and the bevels may be printed later.
According to a major embodiment of the third aspect, the above-mentioned print consists of a print which is obtained by means of transfer printing. Such transfer printing offers the advantage, in combination with its use on floor panels, that high production rates can be obtained and that any pattern whatsoever can be realized. Further, this technique excludes the risk of the decorative top surface of the panels being soiled. Another major advantage hereby consists in that the print is immediately or almost immediately dry, so that the panels can be stacked and packed almost immediately.
Preferably, the floor panels, which are made according to the third aspect of the invention, have a core made of a material having a wood base, in particular wood which has been ground into particles or fibres, mixed with a binding agent, upon which the decorative layer is provided, and whereby the above-mentioned bevels extend through the material of the core. Thus a porous surface is obtained on the bevels, guaranteeing a good bond for the print layer.
As usual, the decorative layer of the panel preferably contains a layer printed with a pattern, such as a wood pattern, and the decorative layer according to the invention, in particular the print on the bevels or such, is preferably a similar pattern.
Moreover, use is preferably made of a moisture-proof, impermeable bevel decorative layer or print respectively, which is particularly advantageous in case the panels have a base plate which consists of porous material, such as MDF, HDF (medium density fiberboard and high density fiberboard) or the like. Thus is obtained an entirely moisture-proof structure on the top surface, on the flat surface by means of the usual layer of synthetic material on the one hand, and on the bevels by means of the additional bevel decorative layer situated on the bevel on the other hand.
Although the decorative layer on the bevels is preferably realized by means of transfer printing, other possibilities are not excluded. Thus, for example, use can be made of a self-adhesive strip.
According to a fourth aspect, the invention provides for a floor covering panel having a core made of MDF or HDF, or a similar material, wherein the panel is provided with an underlayer provided on the bottom side and fixed onto it, preferably made of polyethylene or a polyethylene based material. The combination of MDF or HDF with the use of an underlayer fixed onto it, especially when it is formed of polyethylene or is made on the basis of polyethylene, offers the advantage that particularly good sound-insulating qualities are obtained.
The present invention concerns embodiments applying only one of the above-mentioned aspects as well as embodiments in which two or several of the above-mentioned aspects are combined. In this respect it should be noted that two or several of the above-mentioned embodiments can be mutually combined at random, in any possible combination, provided these embodiments have no contradictory qualities.
Although, according to some of the above-mentioned aspects, the panels may consist of different sorts of material, the invention is particularly suitable for panels made of MDF or HDF, or a similar material.
According to a special embodiment, the panels have a thickness of 9 mm at the least, and better still of 10 mm at the least, as opposed to the usual thickness of 7 or 8 mm.
Thus are obtained relatively heavy panels, which consequently have a better sound-insulating effect, as a result of which less sound is produced when they are walked on.
In so far as coupling means as mentioned above are used which allow for a glueless interlocking, they can be of different nature. Thus, these coupling means can have one of the following characteristics or a combination of two or several of them:
Naturally, the invention also concerns panels with which the above-described floor coverings can be realized.
In order to better explain the characteristics of the invention, the following preferred embodiments are described as an example only without being limitative in any way, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
As represented in
According to a first aspect of the invention, a floor covering 1 is formed of hard laminate panels 2, wherein these panels 2 are provided at least on two opposite edges 3-4, and preferably, as represented in the FIGS. 2 to 8, on both pairs of edges 3-4, 5-6 respectively, with coupling means or elements 7 made in one piece out of the core material of the panels 2, so that several of such panels 2 can be mutually coupled to one another, whereby these coupling means 7 provide for an interlocking in a direction R1 perpendicular to the plane of the floor covering 1, as well as in, a direction R2 perpendicular to the edges 3-4 or 5-6 concerned and parallel to the plane of the floor covering 1 or panels 2, and whereby these coupling means 7 are made such that the panels 2 can be assembled and/or disassembled at least along the above-mentioned edges 3-4, 5-6 respectively, by means of a rotation.
Such coupling means 7, which make it possible to couple the panels 2 without any glue being required, at least on two sides and preferably on all sides, and whereby the panels 2 are uncoupled by rotating them out of one another, are known as such from international patent Publication No. WO 97/47834.
From WO 97/47834 it is also known that the above-mentioned coupling means 7, as represented in FIGS. 3 to 8 of the present application, may consist of a tongue 8 and a groove 9 on the one hand, and of locking device 10 on the other hand which at least ensure a specific interlocking in a direction perpendicular to the edges 3-4, 5-6 respectively, of the coupled panels 2 and parallel to the plane of these panels 2. As is further represented, these coupling means 7 are moreover preferably made such that the lip 11 which limits or defined the bottom side of the groove 9, seen from a cross section, extends past the upper lip 12, while the locking means 10 are formed of interlocking parts 13-14 working in conjunction, on the above-mentioned lip 11 which limits the bottom side of the groove 9 and on the bottom side of the coupled panel 2 respectively, in particular the bottom side of the tongue 8 or the extension of this bottom side.
As explained in WO 97/4834, such coupling means 7, depending on their embodiment, allow for different couplings. According to the most preferred embodiment, they are, as will be described hereafter by means of
The above-mentioned rotation is further illustrated in
It is also possible, while holding a panel 2A in a rotated position, to couple a following panel 2C onto it on the edges 5 and 6 respectively, either by means of a generally co-planar translation T3, or by a mutual rotation between the panels 2A and after which both panels 2A and 2C are then rotated down to be interlocked with the preceding row of panels.
Another advantage consists in that a glueless coupling without any play or practically without any play remains possible, also with thicker panels which can be rotated into and/or out of one another, without any extreme compression forces being created on the edge parts during the rotation. The bevels according to this invention ensure that such forces are excluded and/or remain limited, so that the risk of damages, among others to the top layer or to the surface of the bevels, are excluded, if not restricted.
What makes the first aspect of the invention special is that the above-mentioned panels 2 are provided, at least on two of their edges 3-4 or 5-6 and preferably on all four edges 3 to 6, near the top side, with a part from which an amount of material has been cut-away and removed (a cut-away portion), which part preferably each time is in the form of a bevel 15
As represented in
Another advantage is that when it is required for the above-mentioned interlocking parts 13 and 14, in particular the accompanying contact surfaces 19 and 20, to extend tangentially or almost tangentially around a circle having the contact zone 18 as its centre, the average gradient A of the contact surfaces can be kept relatively large for a same distance E of the protruding part of the lower lip 11, as indicated in
Another advantage consists in that, irrespective of the thickness D of the panels 2, the contact zone 18 can always be situated at a certain height H above the bottom side of the panels 2, provided the bevels 15 are realized over an appropriate height H1. Thus it is possible, if required, to always work with similar cutting tools to form the tongue 8 and groove 9, for thinner as well as for thicker 5 panels 2.
Although the above-mentioned advantages are particularly felt with embodiments of the type whereby the uncoupling of the panels 2 can be realized by means of a rotation around the above-mentioned contact zone 18, it should be noted that the above-mentioned bevels 15 also offer advantages which do not necessarily coincide with the fact whether it is either or not possible for the panels 2 to be disassembled by means of rotation. Such bevels 15 offer the advantage that the panels 2 never press directly onto one another on their top surface, so that damage of the top layer resulting from mutual contact between the panels 2 is excluded, which is particularly important in the case of laminate parquet, as well as for floor coverings which are connected without any glue and whereby the panels are driven one another laterally in a generally common plane by means of a hammer and a stop block.
Also, according to a different embodiment, the first aspect of the invention no longer merely applies to panels 2 which can be disassembled by means of a rotation, hut it also applies to all sorts of panels 2 which are provided with coupling means 7 which make it possible for the panels 2 to be interlocked both vertically and horizontal on their edges 3-4, 5-6 respectively, irrespective of whether the assembly and/or disassembly has to be or can be realized by means of a rotation or sliding motion.
The above-mentioned bevels 15 preferably extend at an angle X of 45° in relation to the plane which is determined by or includes the panels 2. However, other gradients are not excluded.
Practically, the bevels 15 will extend in a horizontal direction over a distance Z in the order of magnitude of 2 millimeter, although other dimensions are not excluded here either.
As is further represented in
It is clear that the first aspect of the invention can be applied with panels 2 having an elongated design, as represented in
According to the above-mentioned second aspect of the invention, which the given example of
Such a narrow width B, combined with coupling means 7 of the type whereby the uncoupling has to be carried out by rotating the panels 2 in relation to one another, as represented in
Moreover, the panels 2, according to the second aspect of the invention, preferably also have a length L which amounts to at least eight times the width B.
Preferably, the panels 2 made according to the second aspect of the invention, also have a single pattern which is repeated over the entire top surface, in particular a wood pattern.
As shown in
The bevel decorative layer 25 may as such consist of several layers, but it preferably contains at least one film or coating-like layer imprinted with a pattern, for example a wood pattern printed on a paper layer. In this case, the print 26 can be realized on the bevels 15 or such with a similar pattern. As a printing technique is applied for the decorative layer as well as for the print 26, it is very easy to match both patterns as far as colour and/or design are concerned.
As mentioned in the introduction, the print 26 is preferably moisture-proof and impermeable. Thus is obtained a sealing on the bevels 15, which is particularly useful when the panels have a porous core, for example made of MDF or HDF.
Other transfer printing techniques which are known as such are not excluded, however.
It should be noted that, both as far as the above-mentioned first aspect and the third aspect are concerned, according to a preferred embodiment, one or several, and preferably all bevels 15 extend at such an angle that the plane including the bevel 15, does not intersect the contour of the panel 2 or at most just touches it, as indicated by the lines W in
According to a fourth aspect of the invention, it concerns a floor covering consisting of laminated hard panels 2 with a core 23 based on MDF or HDF, or a similar material, wherein the panels 2 are each separately provided with an underlayer 36 made of synthetic material or another dampening or insulating material provided on the bottom side and fixed onto it, preferably made of polyethylene or polyethylene base material, as represented in
The above-mentioned underlayer 36 can be fixed to the bottom side of the panel 2 in any way whatsoever, for example by means of gluing or by melting it onto the panel. In the case of a conventional laminate construction, the structure thus consists of the decorative layer 25, the core 23, usually based on MDF or HDF, a counter layer 37, and the above-mentioned underlayer 36.
It is clear that the fourth aspect of the invention can be used in combination with floor panels which are provided with a conventional tongue and groove on their edges, as well as in combination with floor panels with coupling means which provide for a horizontal and a vertical interlocking, for example coupling means 7 as described above.
The invention is by no means limited to the above-described embodiments represented on the accompanying drawings; on the contrary, such a floor and in particular the above-mentioned panels, can be made in all shapes and dimensions while still remaining within the scope of the invention.