US 20050252144 A1
A veneer panel system is used with a wall or a retaining wall to provide a natural stone appearance and/or to improve the appearance of an existing wall. Panels can be interlocked to form a stable veneer structure. The structure is attached to a wall by various attachment means.
1. A wall system comprising:
wall components for constructing a retaining wall;
a plurality of rectangular panels, each panel having a front surface and an opposed back surface defining a panel thickness, a set of opposed top and bottom edges and a set of opposed first and second side edges, the front surface comprising a mineral aggregate embedded in a resin; and
means for connecting the plurality of panels to the retaining wall formed from the wall components.
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16. A method of making a retaining wall including a plurality of wall blocks and geogrid comprising:
stacking wall blocks in one or more courses to form a first portion of the retaining wall, the first portion having a front wall surface and an upper course of blocks which forms an upper surface of the first portion;
placing the geogrid over the first portion of the retaining wall such that a first section of the geogrid extends behind the retaining wall and a second section of the geogrid extends in front of the retaining wall;
stacking wall blocks in one or more additional courses over the first portion of the retaining wall to form a second portion of the retaining wall, the geogrid extending between the upper surface of the first portion and a lower surface of the second portion of the retaining wall, the second wall portion having a front wall surface and an upper course of blocks which forms an upper surface of the second portion;
folding the geogrid back over the front and upper surfaces of the second portion so that the second section of the geogrid extends behind the retaining wall; and
stacking wall blocks in one or more additional courses over the second portion of the retaining wall to form a third portion of the retaining wall, the geogrid extending between the upper surface of the second portion and a lower surface of the third portion of the retaining wall, the third wall portion having a front wall surface and an upper course of blocks which forms an upper surface of the third portion.
17. The method of
providing a plurality of panels; and
connecting the panels to the front surface of the retaining wall.
18. The method of
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This application claims the benefit of provisional application Ser. No. 60/566,616, filed Apr. 29, 2004, the contents of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to walls and retaining walls and in particular relates to a veneer panel system to form a decorative and protective face for such walls either during construction of the wall or after the wall has already been installed.
Retaining walls are used in various landscaping projects and are available in a wide variety of styles. Numerous methods and materials exist for the construction of retaining walls. Such methods include the use of natural stone, poured concrete, precast panels, masonry, and landscape timbers or railroad ties.
A widely accepted method of construction of such walls is to dry stack concrete wall units, or blocks. These blocks are popular because they are mass produced and, consequently, relatively inexpensive. They are structurally sound, easy and relatively inexpensive to install. Because they comprise concrete, they are durable. They can be given a desired appearance, such as, for example, natural stone. Many block systems also use pins that are adapted to fit in corresponding pin holes in adjacent blocks or may use other mechanical means to contribute to the stability of a wall.
Typically, retaining wall blocks are manufactured to have the desired appearance on the front face (i.e., the outer face of a wall) because only the front is visible after the wall is constructed. It is highly desirable to have the front face of the wall system have a natural stone appearance, and many approaches are used in the art to treat or process concrete to evoke the appearance of natural stone, including splitting the block, tumbling the block to weather the face and edges of the face, and using processing or texturing equipment to impart a weathered look to the concrete.
Depending upon their location, the soil type, the amount of water that can flow through the wall, and the mineral content of the water, an undesirable appearance can develop on the surface of a retaining wall. In addition, due to exposure to the elements and freeze/thaw cycles, concrete retaining walls may exhibit spalling, that is, chipping and cracking of concrete, which affects their appearance and can ultimately affect their utility. Freeze-thaw effects are worsened when the wall face is exposed to salt spray, which commonly occurs on roadways where de-icing salts are used to clear the road of ice and snow. Efflorescence refers to the leaching of mineral salts from water and this often occurs on walls in contact with water. The resultant deposit on a surface creates an unattractive white stained appearance on a wall.
There have been prior efforts to veneer segmental retaining walls with natural stone or concrete that is molded to closely resemble natural stone. While such veneering produces aesthetically pleasing walls, it is a laborious and highly expensive process, as it requires skilled masonry work to tie in the stone or concrete veneer to the wall using traditional mortared masonry construction methods. Such veneering can double the cost of the finished wall. In addition, segmental retaining walls are not rigid structures and applying a rigid mortared veneer may cause cracking unless appropriate steps are taken to provide slip joints.
Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a retaining wall system that would be easy to install, that would possess an appearance that closely resembles natural stone and that would keep its desirable appearance indefinitely. Another need in the art is a way to improve the appearance of surface-damaged or stained retaining walls.
Many retaining wall systems described in the art include the use of reinforcing materials, also referred to as geogrids, geosynthetic reinforcement, or geogrid soil reinforcement. These terms sometimes are used interchangeably, and “geogrid” as used herein is intended as a generic term. Reinforcement materials may be inextensible, such as steel mesh, or extensible geosynthetic materials, such as mats and oriented polymeric materials. For example, flat polymeric sheets are used to form geogrids by forming holes in the sheets and then drawing them to orient the polymer and increase the modulus. Such polymeric materials include high density polyethylene (HDPE) and these materials form relatively stiff geogrids commercially available under the trade designation “TENSAR”.
While the HDPE materials are relatively stiff, a second type of geosynthetic material is composed of a mat typically formed from polyester fibers that are woven or knitted. These may comprise rectilinear polymer constructions characterized by large (e.g., 1 inch (2.5 cm) or greater) openings. In these open structure geogrids, polymeric strands are woven, knitted or “welded” (by means of adhesives and/or heat) together in a grid. Polymers used for making relatively flexible geogrids include polyester fibers. The polyester typically is coated, commonly using a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a latex topcoat. The coating may contain carbon black for ultraviolet (UV) stabilization. Some open structure geogrids comprise polyester yarn for the warp fibers and polypropylene as the fill fibers.
Another flexible reinforcing geosynthetic material is fabric, i.e., woven or non-woven constructions without large openings. These fabrics typically comprise polymers and may be referred to as geofabrics. The geofabric can be laid between courses of blocks in a wall, and typically is tied into the wall and held there. When blocks are configured to have pin connectors, for example, a hole or slit is formed in the geofabric at the construction site and the geofabric is held on the blocks by fitting it over the pins.
In common use, the geogrid extends behind the retaining wall and ties into the earth behind the wall, thus creating a cohesive soil mass tied into the wall facing that resists overturning. Geogrids are either mechanically connected to a course of blocks or rely on the friction created by placing the geogrids layer between courses of blocks. When the mode of connection is friction alone, the geogrid is placed on top of a course of blocks, and then a succeeding layer of blocks is placed on top of the geogrid. When the connection is mechanical, after placement of a course of blocks to the desired height, geogrid is placed onto a course of blocks and held in place by means of pins in the block (which may have a primary function of aligning and holding blocks together) or by means of special connectors. Flexible geogrid is put under tension by pulling back and staking the geogrid behind the retaining wall. Backfill is placed and compacted over the geogrid. Construction of the wall continues and may include additional layers of geogrid.
Such systems have proven reliable in many wall applications. There are limits to their performance however, particularly at the upper portions of the wall, where the load of the blocks above the geogrids layer do not provide as much load on the connection, so that frictional forces are reduced. The use of frictional connections forces the wall designer and builder to use more and higher strength geogrids because connection strength limits the strength of the system, and this adds expense to the wall. Mechanical connectors attempt to overcome this limitation by mechanically connecting the geogrids to the wall facing in a way that is not load dependent. The difficulty with this approach is that in order for such connectors to provide high levels of efficient connection they must add considerable expense to cost of using the geogrids reinforcement, and add complexity and expense to the installation process. Thus there are shortcomings to both approaches.
There are also many wall applications in seismic zones where providing an extra measure of protection against loss of connection between the wall facing and the reinforcing geogrids during a seismic event would be highly desirable. Thus there is a need for a geogrid connection system that is not load dependent, that does not add significant expense to the construction of the wall, and that is highly reliable and resistant to failure during seismic conditions.
We have invented a veneer panel system that can be used with a wall or a retaining wall to provide a variety of desired appearances, including an appearance that closely resembles a variety of natural stone types and to improve the appearance of the front face of an existing wall. Individual panels form a veneer for the wall; the panels preferably are interlocked to form a stable veneer structure. This structure is attached to a wall by various attachment means. This system also permits a cost effective maximum positive connection of geogrid with blocks or units comprising the retaining wall while providing the desired appearance.
In this application, wall refers to structures comprising natural stone, poured concrete, precast panels, masonry, landscape timbers or railroad ties, and retaining wall blocks. Panels having a desired appearance are used as a veneer by attaching the panels to the exposed surfaces of a wall.
In a preferred embodiment, the panels of this invention are used with retaining walls, and in a most preferred embodiment, the retaining walls comprise blocks. The blocks are made of a rugged, weather resistant material, preferably (and typically) zero-slump molded concrete. Other suitable materials include plastic, reinforced fibers, wood, metal and stone. The blocks may have various shapes and characteristics, as known in the art, and may be stacked one upon the other to provide a straight wall, and also may be stacked so that they are angled from vertical. As known in the art, the blocks may be connected to each other by a pin attachment system, or the blocks may be provided with one or more protruding elements that interlock with one or more corresponding recesses in an adjacent block.
“Upper” and “lower” refer to the placement of the block in a retaining wall. The lower, or bottom, surface is placed such that it faces the ground. In a retaining wall, one row of blocks is laid down, forming a course. An upper course is formed on top of this lower course by positioning the lower surface of one block on the upper surface of another block.
Retaining walls may be straight (i.e., substantially linear, as well as vertically straight), curved (serpentine) or may have sharp corners (i.e., 90 degree angles). Such walls can be angled from vertical. In this invention, reinforcing geogrid tie-backs or geosynthetic fabrics (also referred to generally as geogrids and geotextiles) may be used with retaining wall blocks. Regardless of the type of retaining wall, the veneer panel system should be easy to install, structurally sound, and meet or exceed all ASTM, IBC, and AASHTO requirements for retaining wall structures.
The veneer of this invention preferably comprises a mineral aggregate in fiberglass. This material is produced by mixing stone particles, sand, or mineral with resin, pouring this into a mold. Typically, particles of the type of stone that the panel is meant to resemble are used in the resin mixture, and these particles provide the color for the panel. For example, if the panel is intended to resemble natural granite, then granite particles are used in the mix. If limestone is the desired look, then fine particles of limestone may be used. Various powdered pigments may be added to the mix in order to create different colors or shades of color. The mold is configured to impart a surface texture to the material that resembles the texture of natural stone. After the mineral resin mix is added and spread across the mold, a mixture of glass fibers and resin is added into the mold. At this stage, structural components used to attach the panels to the surface that is being veneered may be added. Such components may be formed of pultruded fiberglass, and may be attached to the panel during the curing process in order to create a bond between the fiberglass panel and the structural component. After the resin has cured, the front surface of the panel preferably is sandblasted to remove resin from the surface, thus revealing a naturally-appearing mineral or stone surface. Alternatively, the front surface may by polished in order to produce a polished stone look.
It is to be emphasized that the surface of a panel may have any desired appearance. A natural appearance, such as stone, is generally most desirable. The panel may have a uniform appearance or it may have an ashlar pattern formed into it. The panels may also resemble stone that has been processed or treated as is commonly known in the natural stone industry. For example, the panel may resemble a weathered stone, polished stone, or flame treated stone. In addition, the mold may be configured to produce panels that resemble stone that has been hand or machine pitched or tumbled to produce an aesthetically pleasing natural quarried stone appearance.
The panels are produced in dimensions that are convenient to manufacture and handle. The panels may be planar but preferably have a slight curve molded at the edges so as to be used with various connecting elements, as described further below. Convenient panel sizes are about 8×18 inches (20.5 cm×45.7 cm), 16×48 inches (40.6×121.9 cm), and 32×48 inches (81.3×121.9 cm). The dimensions of the panel may vary from these stated dimensions in order to meet aesthetic or functional requirements of particular applications. These panels are relatively light in weight when compared to panels of granite. For example, a granite panel may weigh 400 to 500% more than a similarly sized panel of the present invention.
The back of the panel is provided with an attachment means so that the panel can be affixed to a wall. The resin/fiberglass composition of the panels allows a desired attachment means to be molded into the panel when it is formed, attached by adhesive, or attached by mechanical means such as screws and bolts. Attachment means include hooks, brackets, connection joints, connection channels, and the like. Preferred attachment mechanisms are described further below.
To create a veneer panel, several panels are installed next to each other over a wall. In a preferred embodiment, the panels are provided with tongue and groove attachment means so that two adjacent panels can be connected to each other. Preferably, each panel has two adjacent sides with a groove adapted to receive a tongue from corresponding sides of adjacent panels. Preferably, the attachment means provide a joint that discourages or minimizes penetration of water from rain or roadway spray. To attach a panel to the wall, a bracket, hook, connection joint or channel is molded into the back of the panel when it is manufactured. This then can be used to attach the panel to the wall by means of screws, bolts, pins, wire, nylon connectors or strapping or railings. Alternatively, and preferably, an interlocking element is molded onto the back of a panel when it is manufactured. This interlocking element mates with a corresponding interlocking element on the wall. The attachment means for the veneer panel preferably provides for flexibility when positioning the panels a distance from the wall. Because of irregularities in the underlying wall surface, it may be necessary or desirable to position the panels at various distances from a wall, and to allow for lateral positioning of the attachment means to accommodate curvature in the wall.
The panel of this invention is impervious to water and salt spray, is resistant to freeze-thaw degradation and UV degradation, and is relatively light in weight. As a result of these properties, the panel of this invention provides not only greater beauty, but enhances the durability of the underlying wall structure, since most concrete products become more vulnerable to freeze-thaw deterioration when salt water and freezing conditions are both present. After a panel wall has been installed, individual panels can be replaced if desired, which is a cost advantage if a portion of the surface of a wall has been damaged. The panels also are formed of a material that discourages graffiti since it has an irregular surface, and from which graffiti may be removed more readily since it does not absorb spray paint as readily as concrete. Use of the panels conceals any aesthetic problems with the wall, such as staining from red clay soils or from efflorescence.
The panels are useful when a wall is constructed from retaining wall blocks when it is desired to use a geogrid and to produce a simple, cost-effective and highly efficient connection between the geogrid and the wall. That is, because the wall surface will be concealed by the panels, the geogrid can be wrapped around the blocks, extending behind the blocks into the earth behind the wall. Thus the geogrid is in contact between the entire surfaces of adjacent blocks, as shown in FIGS. 9 to 12. Preferably, fabric is placed where the geogrid exits and re-enters the front face of the blocks to eliminate abrasion of the geogrid by the edges of the concrete block. Any cost-effective and suitably durable fabric of sheet material may be used for this purpose, including woven or non-woven polyester fabric, vinyl sheeting, or plastic sheeting. The connection system may use a variety of geogrids or geofabrics for soil reinforcement.
Installation of the geogrid reinforcement of the present invention is accomplished by laying out the geogrid at the desired height on top of the course of block, but extra geogrid is provided at the face of the wall in a sufficient quantity that after succeeding courses of block are placed and backfilled, the geogrid may be pulled up over the succeeding courses and then laid back into the reinforced zone. The number of succeeding courses between geogrid layers is a function of products and the design principles used, but spacing of two or three courses is common. A protective fabric or sheet is placed between the geogrid and the block above and below the geogrid in order to protect the geogrid from abrasion. The geogrid may be placed in uniform lengths, or may be in different lengths if the wall design calls for the use of intermediate reinforcing using shorter reinforcement lengths between longer lengths.
As a result of the present invention, the geogrid completely encloses the blocks. This provides a highly efficient connection system that adds minimal cost to the wall structure when compared to existing solutions. It provides greater structural integrity to the finished wall, which is highly desirable in critical applications, and certainly in seismic zones.
Turning now to the Figures, the veneer panel system of this invention is shown and described.
Similar blocks are used to form three courses of blocks, slightly set back from one another.
Then, as shown in
The veneer panel system of this invention is also suitable for use with other types of retaining wall systems. For example, as illustrated in
Another alternative for temporary retaining wall use is shown in
The veneer panel system can also be used with walls in buildings, such as shown in
Although particular embodiments have been disclosed herein in detail, this has been done for purposes of illustration only, and is not intended to be limiting with respect to the scope of the following appended claims. In particular, it is contemplated by the inventors that various substitutions, alterations, and modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the claims. For instance, the choices of materials or variations in shapes are believed to be a matter of routine for a person of ordinary skill in the art with knowledge of the embodiments disclosed herein.