CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally relates to a wall covering system that minimizes the visibility of seams therein. Specifically, the invention comprises two or more sheets of flexible material each having a perimeter with one or more sides composed of smooth, non-linear segments. Sheets are arranged along a surface so as to abut in a non-overlapping, interlocking fashion.
2. Description of the Related Art
Home remodeling and decorating is a multi-billion dollar industry fueled in part by the availability of do-it-yourself products. Such products enable one with little skill or experience in a particular task, examples including plumbing and carpentry, to quickly and efficiently complete a project having the quality and appearance that might otherwise require an expert. However, the installation of wall coverings remains a uniquely challenging activity for a novice.
The qualitative appearance of a wall covering system is largely determined by the visibility of seams. In short, appearance quality is compromised when seams are visible.
The related arts do not provide a wall covering system, namely hand hung sheets composed of paper, vinyl, fabric, and combinations thereof, allowing a non-expert to achieve a seamless appearance. For example, conventional wall coverings include two or more rectangular-shaped sheets having a seam of linear extent whereby one sheet abuts another. A linear seam provides a visual reference easily distinguished by the human eye. This visual reference is caused in part by color variations between wall covering sheets, gaps between sheets, and overlapping of sheets. Typically, the visibility of a linear seam is minimized by color matching between sheets and precision alignment of abutting sheets so as to avoid gaps and overlaps.
Do-it-yourself wall covering systems attempt to achieve a nearly seamless appearance via sheets having minimal thickness so as to minimize the depth of gaps between abutting sheets and/or the height of ridges resulting from the overlapping of sheets. For example, Gauss, U.S. Pat. No. 6,324,811, teaches lightweight, non-fabric sheets of hand-torn wallpaper applied in an overlapping fashion so as to have a seam-free appearance. The ragged edge of hand-torn paper avoids the appearance of seams by complimenting the chromatic presentation and/or random motif printed on the visible surface of the paper. However, higher-quality and professional grade wall coverings are thick, since they are typically composed of one or more layers of heavy paper, vinyl and/or fabric, and thereby frustrate the teachings of Gauss.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
What is currently required is a wall covering system that enables a novice to hand hang two or more sheets, composed of paper, vinyl, fabric, and combinations thereof, so as to produce an apparently seamless appearance that might otherwise require an expert to achieve.
An object of the present invention is to provide a wall covering system comprised of sheets of flexible, semi-rigid, or rigid material each having a perimeter composed in part or whole of smooth, non-linear segments wherein sheets are arranged along a surface in a complimentary non-overlapping, interlocking fashion.
The present invention is comprised of at least two sheet elements each having a decorative surface, a bonding surface and a perimeter disposed around and between both decorative and bonding surfaces. Each sheet element has at least one side composed of at least one smooth, non-linear segment. The complimentary, non-linear sides along two sheets are abutted to form a seam of non-linear extent so as to create a visual reference which is less distinctive than a linear seam and as such seamless. Alternate embodiments of the present invention include an adhesive layer disposed along the bonding surface. In other embodiments, a thin removable covering is provided along one or both sides of the sheet element to achieve the desired degree of rigidity to simplify installation. A method for hand hanging the present invention is also provided.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Three advantages are offered by the apparently seamless wall covering system. The present invention greatly reduces installation cost by eliminating professional services required for a professional appearance. The present invention eliminates the tedium of hand hanging a wall covering by providing a decorative system that is both challenging and enjoyable in its application. The non-linear sides of the present invention improve sheet interlock thereby avoiding gaps and overlaps.
The invention will now be described in more detail, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is an enlarged section view of the present invention showing two sheet elements with a seam there between and bonded to a wall via an adhesive layer.
FIG. 2 is an exploded view of several exemplary interlocking sheet elements.
FIG. 3 a is an enlarged section view of an exemplary sheet element showing optional removable coverings along decorative and bonding surfaces.
FIG. 3 b is an enlarged section view of an exemplary sheet element showing optional removable coverings along decorative surface and adhesive layer.
FIG. 4 is an elevation view showing a decorative wall having an exemplary wall covering system thereon.
FIG. 5 is an elevation view of an exemplary wall covering system comprising repeating and interlocking sheets.
FIG. 6 is an elevation view of an exemplary wall covering system comprising repeating and interlocking unit cells composed of multiple sheet elements.
FIG. 7 is a flowchart describing a method for hand hanging the present invention.
- DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
- 1 Wall covering system
- 2 Sheet element
- 3 Decorative surface
- 4 Bonding surface
- 5 Adhesive layer
- 6 Wall
- 7 Perimeter
- 8 Seam
- 9 Protrusion
- 10 Opening
- 11 Wave-shaped edge
- 12 Corner edge
- 13 Ceiling
- 14 Wall
- 15 Wall
- 16 Floor
- 17 Decorative wall
- 18 Side
- 19 Unit cell
- 20-23 Steps in FIG. 6
- 24 Male side
- 25 Female side
- 26 Design
- 27 Diagonal
- 28 Removable covering
While a planar disposed arrangement is shown in FIGS. 1-6, the present invention is applicable to a wide variety of surface shapes including but not limited to concave and convex surfaces.
Referring now to FIG. 1, the wall covering system 1 of the present invention is shown in cross section view having a pair of sheet elements 2 a, 2 b bonded to a wall 6 via an adhesive layer 5. Each sheet element 2 a, 2 b has a decorative surface 3 a, 3 b, a bonding surface 4 a, 4 b, and a perimeter 7 a, 7 b. The perimeter 7 a, 7 b is disposed between the decorative surface 3 a, 3 b and bonding surface 4 a, 4 b. As shown in FIG. 2, the perimeter 7 a-7 c defines the overall shape of each sheet element 2 a-2 c, respectively.
Sheet elements 2 a, 2 b may be composed of a variety of materials including but not limited to fabrics, paper, vinyl, cloth backed paper, cloth backed vinyl, and combinations thereof The adhesive layer 5 may be composed of a variety of bonding materials known within the art. For example, the adhesive layer 5 may be a water or heat activated material applied onto the bonding surfaces 4 a, 4 b during fabrication of the sheet element 2 and dried to a solid. It is likewise possible for the adhesive layer 5 to be a liquid and/or solid adhesive applied between bonding surfaces 4 a, 4 b and wall 6 during application.
The composition of sheet element 2 and adhesive layer 5 may provide the desired degree of rigidity in the sheet element 2 to facilitate application to a wall 6. For example, it is possible for the sheet element 2 alone or in combination with the adhesive layer to be flexible, rigid, or semi-rigid.
It is likewise possible to have an optional removable covering 28, preferably a polymer, contacting and adhered to decorative surface 3 and/or bonding surface 4, as shown in FIG. 3 a, or decorative surface 3 and/or adhesive layer 5, as shown in FIG. 3 b. The removable covering 28 may provide a flexible, rigid, or semi-rigid structure when contacting the sheet element 2. The removable covering 28 may be water soluble so as to first provide a rigid or semi-rigid sheet element 2 thereby aiding in the application of the sheet element 2 to a wall 6 and thereafter softening to allow its removal. It is also possible for the removable covering 28 to be water insoluble so as to provide the desired degree of rigidity yet be readily separable or peel-able from the sheet element 2 before or after application to a wall 6. It is preferred that the removable covering 28 not obscure the decorative surface 3 so as to facilitate alignment of decorative patterns between sheet elements 2. Removable covering 28 may be composed of such non-limiting exemplary materials including cellophane, polyethylene and polypropylene formulations sprayed or rolled onto the sheet element 2 during manufacture.
Decorative surfaces 3 a, 3 b are outwardly disposed and visible. A variety of exemplary decorative surfaces 3 a, 3 b are possible including murals, photographs, portrait, floral designs, faux finishes, single and multiple color motifs, repeating designs, randomly disposed and arbitrary designs, and textured finishes.
Sheet elements 2 a, 2 b are abutted so as to minimize gaps and avoid overlapping there between. The resultant seam 8 is disposed at a right angle with respect to the bonding surfaces 4 a, 4 b. It is preferred that the sheet elements 2 a, 2 b contact across their thickness, as represented in FIG. 1.
Referring now to FIG. 2, three exemplary and interlocking sheet elements 2 a-2 c, are shown in a plan wise view with their respective decorative surfaces 3 a-3 c clearly visible. The perimeter 7 a-7 c about each sheet element 2 a-2 c is shown comprised of a series of smooth, non-linear segments that define complimentary and interlocking boundaries. Perimeters 7 a-7 c include a limitless variety of non-linear designs.
The perimeter 7 of a sheet element 2 may include three or more sides 18. For example, the middle sheet element 2 b in FIG. 2 is shown with four sides 18 a-18 d. Each side 18 may be composed of one or more non-linear segments. For example, the right side 18 b of the middle sheet element 2 b in FIG. 2 is comprised of a series of undulations defining a wave-shaped edge 1 la. In an other example, the left side 18 d of the middle sheet element 2 b in FIG. 2 is comprised of two non-linear segments about an opening 10. Perimeters 7 a-7 c are either sheared or cut into a planar-shaped sheet element 2 via techniques understood in the art.
In the examples described above, a portion of the respective perimeters 7 a and 7 c along the sheet elements 2 a and 2 c contact the middle sheet element 2 b in a complimentary fashion so as to provide intimate contact over the entire length of the interlock. As such, the sheet element 2 c to the right has a wave-shaped edge 11 b. Whereas, the sheet element 2 a to the left has a protrusion 9 a so as to occupy the opening 10 along the middle sheet element 2 b. One or more protrusions 9 a-9 c may reside about a perimeter 7 a, as shown in FIG. 2. A limitless number of designs are possible to interlock two or more sheet elements 7 a-7 c.
Referring now to FIG. 4, an exemplary wall covering system 1 is shown completely covering a decorative wall 17 bounded by two other walls 14, 15, a floor 16, and a ceiling 13. Nine interlocking sheet elements 2 a-2 i are shown. Several sheet elements 2 a-2 c and 2 e-2 i are shown having at least one corner edge 12. For example, the upper left sheet element 2 a is shown having two linear corner edges 12 a and 12 b terminating the sheet element 2 a at the corner formed between decorative wall 17 and wall 14 and between decorative wall 17 and ceiling 13. It is likewise possible for the wall covering system 1 to traverse the corner between the decorative wall 17 and one or both walls 14, 15 so as to completely cover all surfaces thereof While a variety of interlocking shapes are possible with the present invention, it is likewise possible for two or more sheet elements 2 to include one or more interlocking yet repeating designs. For example, FIG. 5 shows six sheet elements 2 a-2 f of identical shape each having a perimeter 7 with a protrusion 9, an opening 10, and two wave-shaped edges 11 a, 11 b. In another example, FIG. 6 shows four unit cells 19 a-19 d each comprising a plurality of sheet elements 2 a-2 p and each having two male sides 24 and two female sides 25 that interlock to form a continuous and seamless wall covering system 1. It is likewise possible for each unit cell 19 to have one or more male sides 24 and female sides 25 so as to provide a unit cell 19 having multiple interlocking edges.
Each unit cell 19 may have one or more designs 26 on its decorative surface 3. For example, FIG. 6 shows one unit cell 19 a having a first design 26 a and a second design 26 b disposed about a diagonal 27 a traversing the unit cell 19 a. A large sheet element 2 j may be provided so as to traverse the unit cell 19 a in a lengthwise fashion along the diagonal 27 a. However, it is also possible to have two or more smaller sheet elements 2 across the diagonal 27 a. Likewise, FIG. 6 shows three additional unit cells 19 b, 19 c, and 19 d having designs 26 gand 26 h about a diagonal 27 d, designs 26 c and 26 d about a diagonal 27 b, and designs 26 eand 26 fabout a diagonal 27 c, respectively. Designs 26 a-26 h may comprise one or more patterns providing for a contiguous appearance across each interlocking male side 24 and female side 25. The described use of decorative variability between designs 26 a-26 h facilitates a broad range of repeating and non-repeating patterns. Designs 26 a-26 h also provide visual references that assist installation and alignment of unit cells 19 a-19 d.
While a variety of sizes and shapes are possible for the described unit cells 19 a-19 d, exemplary embodiments may be comprised of a square-shaped element having sides with an approximate length (L) of 48-inches wherein each interlocking male side 24 and female side 25 are provided over a depth (D) of 2.5-inches. As shown in FIG. 6, approximately three sheet elements 2 may be provided along each edge so that each sheet element 2 is approximately 16-inches long.
Referring now to FIG. 7, a preferred method for hand hanging the above described wall covering system 1 is shown and described. In step 20, the paperhanger outlines the location of at least two adjacent sheet elements 2 a, 2 b along a wall 6. Step 20 is accomplished by placing each sheet element 2 a, 2 b or a template having a perimeter 7 of identical shape to each sheet element 2 a, 2 b onto the wall 6 and marking the respective perimeters 7 a, 7 b with a pencil, chalk or other similar device. It may be desired to mark the wall 6 with a reference numeral corresponding to a reference numeral on the decorative surface 3 or bonding surface 4 of the sheet element 2. Next in step 21, the paperhanger bonds a first sheet element 2 a onto the wall 6 over its respective location. Next in step 22, the paperhanger interlocks a second sheet element 2 b with the first sheet element 2 a so that the second sheet element 2 b resides over its respective location. The non-linear surfaces between the two sheet elements 2 a, 2 b are aligned in a non-overlapping fashion. Next in step 23, the second sheet element 2 b is bonded to the wall 6 over its respective location. The bonding step is achieved via techniques understood in the art. The described method is repeated until all sheet elements 2 are adhered to the wall 6 in a non-overlapping and interlocking fashion.
The description above indicates that a great degree of flexibility is offered in terms of the present invention. Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.