CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
This invention pertains to tile frames.
More particularly, this invention pertains to a movable frame for supporting one or more tiles upon an indoor or outdoor surface.
2. Description of the Related Art
Prior efforts have been made to provide grids for ceramic tile, primarily to ensure regular spacing for the tiles or particular patterns for the tiles. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,323,575 issued Jun. 28, 1994 to Yeh discloses a tile and mounting mat assembly in which the mats are designed to interlock with one another to cover an expanded area. Such a mat is inappropriate for a free-standing application, such as a stepping stone, a movable floor covering, a coaster or a table top.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In addition, ceramic tiles are relatively fragile, subject to chipping and cracking. In order to be used as a stepping stone, a ceramic tile requires support
A tile frame is provided for supporting and protecting a tile having sides. The tile frame comprises a base wall, a peripheral flange, having an inner wall and an outer wall. The flange is attached to and extends upwardly from the base wall to define a chamber sized for frictional engagement of the sides of tile with the inner wall of the flange.
According to one embodiment of the present invention, a rigid tile support frame includes a base wall and a peripheral flange that cooperatively define a chamber shaped and sized to accommodate a tile with frictional engagement. The height of the peripheral wall is marginally less than the thickness of the tile, so that the top of the tile is elevated above the peripheral flange. The outer surface of the peripheral flange is generally smooth to provide a finished appearance.
Another embodiment of the present invention provides a grid of peripheral flanges defining a plurality of chambers adapted to accommodate a plurality of ceramic tiles with a frictional fit. The outermost peripheral flanges are generally smooth to provide a finished appearance.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
Another embodiment of the present invention provides an elevator panel inserted between the base wall of the tile frame and the ceramic tile to raise the top surface of the ceramic tile above the top edge of the peripheral wall.
The above-mentioned features of the invention will become more clearly understood from the following detailed description of the invention read together with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a tile and tile frame embodying various of the features of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of a tile frame embodying various of the features of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a plan view of another tile frame embodying various of the features of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a tile frame with multiple inserted tiles.
FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of a tile and tile frame embodying various of the features of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5.
A frame for securely engaging one or more ceramic tiles is disclosed herein. Referring to the drawings, in which similarly numbered structures represent similar structures in the various drawings, a tile frame 10 is depicted in FIG. 1. The tile frame 10 includes a generally planar base wall 12 and a peripheral flange 14, having an inner wall and an outer wall, attached to and extending upwardly about ¼ inch from the periphery of the base wall 10. The base wall 10 depicted in FIG. 1 is generally square in shape. A plurality of apertures 16 are defined in the base wall 10. The apertures 16 extend through the base wall 10.
The peripheral flange 14 includes four sections 14 a, 14 b, 14 c, and 14 d which cooperatively define a chamber adapted to receive a ceramic tile 18. Ceramic tiles are produced in a variety of sizes, including squares of 4 inches, 6 inches, 8 inches and 12 inches. They are also produced in a variety of shapes, including circular, and various thicknesses. For applications in which the tile and tile frame are intended to be a coaster, for example, a four inch square tile may be used. In this case, the distance between the sections 14 a and 14 c is preferably 4 inches. Similarly, the distance between section 14 b and 14 d is preferably 4 inches. For applications in which the tile and tile frame are intended for use as a stepping stone, a 12 inch square tile is preferred, the distance between the sections 14 a and 14 c is preferably 12 inches and the distance between the sections 14 b and 14 d is preferably 12 inches to provide frictional engagement between the tile 18 and the sections 14 a, 14 b, 14 c, and 14 d.
FIG. 3 depicts a tile frame 19 adapted to receive a circular tile. The base wall 20 is circular in shape, as is the peripheral flange 22. The peripheral flange 22 extends about ¼ inch above the base wall 20. The diameter of the peripheral flange 22 is sized to frictionally engage the sides of a circular ceramic tile.
FIG. 4 depicts an embodiment in which a plurality of tiles are inserted in a gridwork comprising a plurality of integrated tile frames as depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2. This combination of tile frames is adapted for use as a floor mat or as a table top, for example.
FIGS. 5 and 6 depict a tile frame 26 that provides a peripheral flange 28 having an outer wall that slopes outwardly from the inner wall to prevent tripping a person stepping onto the tile 18. In order to accommodate additional height of the peripheral side wall 28, an elevator panel 30 is inserted between the base wall 32 and the tile 18. Preferably, the thickness of the elevator panel 30 is adapted to raise the top surface of the tile 18 slightly above the top edge 36 of the sloping peripheral side wall 28.
In use, a tile 18 is inserted into the tile frame 10, frictionally engaging the peripheral flange 14. The frictional engagement prevents the tile 18 from sliding within the tile frame 10. If the user desires to remove the tile, such as to replace it with a different tile, the apertures 16 allow the user to push the tile 18 from the tile frame 10.
The tile frames of the present invention may be formed by various molding methods, including injection molding, for example. A variety of materials including plastic, rubber or metal may be used to form the tile frames.
While the present invention has been illustrated by description of several embodiments and while the illustrative embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicant to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. The invention in its broader aspects is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative apparatus and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of applicant's general inventive concept.