US20040217339A1 - Plastic fencing system - Google Patents

Plastic fencing system Download PDF

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US20040217339A1
US20040217339A1 US10/835,831 US83583104A US2004217339A1 US 20040217339 A1 US20040217339 A1 US 20040217339A1 US 83583104 A US83583104 A US 83583104A US 2004217339 A1 US2004217339 A1 US 2004217339A1
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Prior art keywords
post
panel
posts
rail
fencing system
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US10/835,831
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Lawrence Stone
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Stone Lawrence M.
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04HBUILDINGS OR LIKE STRUCTURES FOR PARTICULAR PURPOSES; SWIMMING OR SPLASH BATHS OR POOLS; MASTS; FENCING; TENTS OR CANOPIES, IN GENERAL
    • E04H17/00Fencing, e.g. fences, enclosures, corrals
    • E04H17/14Fences constructed of rigid elements, e.g. with posts, with additional wire fillings
    • E04H17/16Fences constructed of rigid elements, e.g. with posts, with additional wire fillings using prefabricated panel-like elements, e.g. wired frames
    • E04H17/168Fences constructed of rigid elements, e.g. with posts, with additional wire fillings using prefabricated panel-like elements, e.g. wired frames using panels without frames and fitted in grooves of posts

Abstract

An improved plastic fencing system is disclosed. In one exemplary embodiment, the improved plastic fencing system is constructed by manufacturing fence posts and rails of extruded vinyl plastic. The posts come in a variety of cross-sectional shapes and sizes. The posts and rails include grooves, slats, or channels that allow the attachment of numerous decorative inserts or attachments. The inserts or attachments allow for multiple aesthetic looks, to include various colors, textures and styles of fencing including stucco, rock, brick, and the like.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/467,012, filed on May 1, 2003, and entitled “Improved Plastic Fencing System”, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.[0001]
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. The Field of the Invention [0002]
  • This invention relates to vinyl fencing and more particularly, to the decorative and functional additions to be attached, by various means, to vinyl fencing. [0003]
  • 2. The Relevant Technology [0004]
  • Since its introduction into the consumer market some [0005] 20 years ago, vinyl fencing has grown in popularity. It provides a nice appearance and offers a more maintenance free approach than the traditional wood fence.
  • There has also been, just in the past several generations, a major shift on the emphasis placed on fencing. As our society has become less agriculturally based and moved more and more people into planned and developed urbanized communities, fencing has also evolved. Prior uses of fencing were more functional in nature and application. Fencing was built to hold animals within certain confines, to keep animals out of specific areas or to protect sensitive areas from unwanted use or trespass. Fences further defined property lines and boundaries and were useful in dividing lands for rotational uses in grazing and/or other land uses. Fencing then provided a more utilitarian function. [0006]
  • In today's lifestyles, communities, uses and designs, fencing has taken on yet another function and application, that of design and appearance, adding beautification as a major priority. More fencing is now being made than ever before to be aesthetically and cosmetically attractive in its appearance and design. Beauty, style, design, and ease of maintenance have become preferred to the past utilitarian functions and approaches. While all fencing still lends itself to defining borders, boundaries and some applications of animal confinement, a far greater emphasis is now being placed on the fence's appearance and style than ever before. [0007]
  • Vinyl fencing, until just recently, has been primarily white in color and appearance. With the late additions of tan, green and most recently black, the consumer now has a choice in color. Very little, if anything at all, has been further developed and/or is available in today's marketplace that offers a more decorative approach to vinyl fencing, other than color alternatives. [0008]
  • All the major and minor manufacturers, extruders, and producers of vinyl fencing products share a vast commonality in their product lines of posts, rails, and a privacy fencing components. Industry wide, color appears to be the latest and greatest step forward in their offerings to consumers, which is something new in the decorative approach to vinyl fencing. With improvements in plastics, ultra violet inhibitors and extrusion methods and equipment, vinyl fencing has not only proven to be a viable economic product but also one that is here to stay. It only stands to reason that further enhancements should be invented, designed, manufactured and sold to further expand and enhance the uses, applications and appearance preferences of vinyl fencing products available to the general public. [0009]
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • In view of the foregoing, it would be an advancement in the art to provide the decorative designs and highly advanced cosmetic attachments to vinyl fencing and other vinyl products that do not exist in today's marketplace. Exemplary embodiments of the present invention meet this need. [0010]
  • Exemplary embodiments of the invention include multiple components designed and engineered to enable the use of decorative inserts and enhancements. It vastly improves the overall appearance of the vinyl fence, and other vinyl products, by allowing additional products to be added or attached to existing vinyl fences. Through the use of various embodiments of these newly designed products, decorative inserts can be added to the fence, substantially altering its appearance. To allow the beautification and reflection of the exterior design of a home's features to be extended to that home's fence brings the home and its fenced borders into unifying harmony. There are now extended uses and further applications of vinyl fencing products that further increase the strength and rigidity of the fence while enhancing appearance. [0011]
  • One aspect of the invention is the design of a vinyl post having formed or extruded integrally therein an elongated slot or slots on one or more faces to allow for the insertion or attachment of interchangeable and decorative panels and other accessory type products. This design substantially increases the strength and rigidity of the post itself and further accommodates the use of a wide variety of insertable or attachable panels. More particularly, this design accommodates the use of decorative panels covering a multiplicity of features and designs, giving the post additional capacities and dramatically adding to the uses of, while enlarging the application and attachment of, cosmetic features to the fence. The panels can either be inserted in the slots, snapped around the post to grip walls of the slots, or attached by other methods. [0012]
  • This new design in vinyl posts can be extruded in many cross-sectional sizes and shapes, including but not limited to 4″×4″; 5″×5″; 6″×6″; 5″×8″; 8″×8″ and even 14″×14″ or larger. The cross sectional shape may be square, rectangular, triangular, polygonal, or other shapes and cross sections suitable for fence posts. This product may be used with a new or first installation of a vinyl fence, thus providing for the capacity to insert varying types of decorative inserts. While these posts can be extruded or made in various sizes, lengths, shapes and colors, the invention is not limited to plastic extrusion techniques, but may also be manufactured by injection or blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming fence posts. In a preferred embodiment, the posts are manufactured out of vinyl, PVC or other applicable plastics. However, polyethylene, polypropylene, ABS and other types of plastics would be suitable, depending on the specific manufacturing technique selected. [0013]
  • Another aspect of the invention is the newly designed Single and Double Sided slot attachments. These slot attachments are designed to fit existing vinyl posts and/or rails having a 90° angle forming their corners; such square posts most widely exist in the 4″×4″ and 5″×5″ sizes, while the rails are generally anywhere between about 1.5″ and about 4″ wide. These slot attachments are designed to be attached to the corners of the existing square style of vinyl, wood, or other materials used as fence posts, either by chemical adhesives to include glues, epoxies, and other means of forming a chemical bond between surfaces, and/or mechanical fasteners, including screws, nails, bolts, rivets and the like. This creates a slot on the face of the posts and rails that would further enable the existing square post and rails to now accommodate the insertion of the decorative panels or functional type accessory items. These corners can be applied in any length or section of the post in order to achieve the desired function and/or aesthetic objectives and results. [0014]
  • Alternately, these slot attachments can have rounded corners that correspond to various diameter rounded corners that may exist. For example, the corners can be rounded anywhere from a {fraction ([0015] 1/4)} inch radius to a two or more inch radius, depending on the size of the post or rail to which the slot attachments will be added.
  • These components were designed and invented as a means to ‘retrofit’ the existing posts and rails with further capacities to hold insertable panels and products. These posts and rails now have no such capacity to hold an insertable or interchangeable type decorative panel or other functionary or decorative type items, thus enlarging the present uses and functions of the square posts and rails by adding capacities not previously available. As with the posts described above, these slot attachments can be extruded or manufactured in a variety of colors, lengths, shapes and sizes, and formed from a variety of plastic materials using any of the plastic manufacturing techniques described above. [0016]
  • In alternate exemplary embodiments, slot attachments can be produced that attach to the face of existing posts and/or rails. As with the corner slot attachments, that face slot attachments can be fixed to rails and/or posts using chemical or mechanical fasteners. With both the corner slot attachments and the face slot attachments, they can be attached along the entire length of the rail/post, along a portion of the rail/post, or intermittently along the rail/post. As long as there is a sufficient length of slots on each side to hold the decorative panels, the various corner and face slot attachments are considered to fall within the scope of these exemplary embodiments. The primary purpose of the slot attachments is to create a slot on the face of the rail, slat or post that would further enable the rails, slats, and posts of a fence to accommodate the insertion of decorative panels and or functional type accessory items. These slot attachments can be manufactured in various sizes, colors, lengths and shapes. [0017]
  • These and other objects and features of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter. [0018]
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • To further clarify the above and other advantages and features of the present invention, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which: [0019]
  • FIG. 1 illustrates one exemplary embodiment of a fence post according to the present invention; [0020]
  • FIG. 2 shows an alternate embodiment of a post and both a slide in and a snap-over version of panels that can be attached to the posts; [0021]
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B show a top and front view, respectively, of exemplary embodiments of the snap-over panels of FIG. 2; [0022]
  • FIG. 4 illustrates one exemplary side rail according to an alternative aspect of the present invention; [0023]
  • FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate an alternate exemplary side rail having two different embodiments of a slot attachment piece; and [0024]
  • FIG. 6 shows one exemplary embodiment of a privacy fence slat that can also accommodate decorative panels, according to yet another aspect of the present invention. [0025]
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • Exemplary embodiments of the present invention are drawn to a plastic fencing system, and the exemplary posts, rails and decorative panels that make up the fencing system. Additionally, alternate exemplary embodiments of the present invention are drawn to slot attachments that allow an individual to attach the various decorative panels to existing fencing systems without replacing the posts and rails of the existing system. [0026]
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a top view of one exemplary embodiment of a fence post, designated generally as reference numeral [0027] 100. Post 100 includes a front side 102, a rear side 104, and right and left sides 106, 108, respectively. Those skilled in the art will realize that the designations “front”, “rear” and “sides” are arbitrary. These designations are provided to enable discussion of the various aspects of the fence post, and should not be construed to limit the exemplary embodiments of the present invention in any way.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, post [0028] 100 has four symmetrical and substantially identical corners, 110A-110D. Since the corners 110A-D are substantially identical in this embodiment, we will limit our discussion to corner 110A. However, it is understood that the discussion of corner 110A applies equally well to corners 110B, 110C, and 100D.
  • Corner portion [0029] 110A of post 100 includes an outside corner portion 112A. While outside corner portion 112A is shown as being slightly rounded, this need not be the case. Corner portion 112A could be squared off, more rounded than shown, less rounded than shown, or some other configuration. Corner portion 110A defines one outside corner of post 100. Corner portion 110A further includes first and second tabs 114A, 116A. Tab 114A and side 106 define a first slot 118A. Tab 116A and side 102 define a second slot 120A. Tab 114A has a rounded portion 122A. Tab 116A has a rounded portion 124A. As with corner portion 112A, rounded portions 122A, 124A can also be squared off, more rounded than shown, less rounded than shown, or some other configuration.
  • While FIG. 1 shows corners [0030] 110A-D as having a basically arrow-shaped cross section, this is for illustrative purposes only. Any corner design that facilitates the attachment of the decorative panels (discussed below with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3) fall within the scope of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention. Other examples of corner designs are discussed below with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3.
  • Slots [0031] 120A of corner 110A and 120D of corner 110D provide one example of structure used to attach a panel (not shown, but see FIG. 3) to side 102. Likewise, slots 118A and 118B provides structure used to attach a panel to side 106. Slots 118A, 118B, 120A, and 120B can run the entire length of post 100, part of the length of post 100, or be periodically spaced on post 100. As long as the slots provide sufficient structure and support to hold a panel in place, they are contemplated to be within the exemplary embodiments of the present invention.
  • In alternately exemplary embodiments, a “snap-on” panel could be attached to post [0032] 100 by fitting over, for example, rounded portions 124A and 124B of corners 110A and 1103B. These panels will be discussed in more detail below with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3. While post 100 is shown as having slots on all four sides that facilitate the attachment of panels, this need not be the case. Post 100 can be constructed having one, two, three, or all four sides receiving a panel.
  • Post [0033] 100 is shown having a basically rectangular cross-section. This is for purposes of illustration only. Post 100 can have any cross-section that facilitates the attachment of the decorative panels discussed in detail below. By way of example and not limitation, post 100 can have a triangular, square, rectangular, polygonal, or other cross-section. Additionally, post 100 can be manufactured in many dimensions including, by way of example and not limitation, 4×4 inches, 4×6 inches, 6×6 inches, 6×8 inches, etc. Posts with sides having a width of from about 2 inches to 20 or more inches are contemplated to fall within the scope of the exemplary embodiments.
  • Those skilled in the art will also realize that post [0034] 100 can be manufactured in any desired length. For example, in exemplary embodiments, post 100 can be between 3 and 10 feet in length. The actual length of post 100 in a particular application will depend on how high the user desires the fence to be above the ground. Other shorter and longer lengths are also possible and fall within the scope of the exemplary embodiments.
  • In exemplary embodiments, post [0035] 100 is made from plastic. Examples of the types of plastics that can be used to construct post 100 include, but are not limited to, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and other types of plastics. In this exemplary embodiment, post 100 is manufactured using plastic manufacturing techniques known to those of skill in the art. Such techniques can include, by way of example and not limitation, extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming fence posts out of the materials outlined above. In this exemplary embodiment, post 100 can be manufactured in a single step. For example, post 100 can be extruded and cut to any desired length. Alternately, posts can be manufactured in multiple steps, wherein slot attachments are added after the post has been formed. This will be discussed in more detail below with respect to FIG. 5.
  • Also in this exemplary embodiment, post [0036] 100 is illustrated as having a uniform wall thickness D1. However, this need not be the case. For example, the walls of sides 102, 104, 106 and 108 can have a different thickness than the walls of corners 110A-D. In this exemplary embodiment, the thickness D1 of walls 102, 104, 106, and 108 of post 100 is approximately 0.150 inches. However, thicknesses from about 0.090 inches to about 0.250 inches are also contemplated to fall within the scope of exemplary embodiments of the invention. Alternately, post 100 can be a solid piece of plastic.
  • The specific wall thickness D1, design of corners [0037] 110A-D and integrated slots of post 100 provide lateral structural support for post 100. This makes post 100 both strong and lightweight. Post 100 is therefore easy to carry and install. It will stand up to wind and weather.
  • Post [0038] 100 further includes one or more rail slots 128 (shown in phantom) spaced up from the bottom and down from the top that are sized and configured to accommodate fence rails. When a plurality of posts 100 are erected at spaced apart intervals, a plurality of rails can be inserted in the rail slots 128 to form a fence system. Each post 100 can accommodate one, two, or more rail slots 128 on a side. While rail slots 128 are illustrated as being on sides 106 and 108 of post 100, those skilled in the art will realize that rail slots 128 could be found on sides 102 and 104 instead of, or in addition to, the illustrated configuration. Alternately, rail slots 128 could be found on adjacent sides, for example, sides 102 and 106. This would be the case if post 100 was to be used as a corner post in which the rails were joined to post 100 at right or other angles additionally, the depth of rail slots 128 is shown for exemplary purposes only. The actual depth of rail slots 128 can be greater or lesser than that shown, depending on the distance between posts. Specific details concerning exemplary designs for the rails are discussed below with respect to FIGS. 4 and 5.
  • An alternate exemplary embodiment of a fence post is illustrated in FIG. 2, and designated generally as reference numeral [0039] 200. Post 200 includes a front side 202, a rear side 204, and right and left sides 206, 208, respectively. Those skilled in the art will realize that the designations “front”, “rear” and “sides” are arbitrary. These designations are provided to enable discussion of the various aspects of the fence post, and should not be construed to limit the exemplary embodiments of the present invention in any way.
  • Side [0040] 202 includes an indentation 210 defined by a right tab 212 and a left tab 214. Part of indentation 210 includes slots 216, 218 that accommodate a decorative panel 220. Slots 216, 218 are substantially similar to slots 118A, 120A in FIG. 1. Depending on the specific dimensions of posts 100 and 200, panel 220 can be inserted into either post 100 or post 200. Specific details concerning embodiments of panel 220 will be discussed below with respect to FIG. 3.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, sides [0041] 206 and 208 includes recesses 222, 224, respectively. These recesses 222, 224 can extend down post 200 at least to ground level when post 200 is planted in the ground. Alternately, recesses 222, 224 can extend only part way down post 200. Recess 222 and bottom side 204 define a right protrusion 226. Recess 224 and bottom side 204 define a left protrusion 228. Protrusions 226, 228 are sized to allow an alternate embodiment of a panel 230 to be attached to post 200. Panel 230 can be “snapped” onto post 200 without the use of tools of any kind. Alternately, panel 230 can be slid over protrusions 226, 228. Details concerning panels 220, 230 will be discussed below with respect to FIGS. 3A and 3B.
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate top and side views, respectively, of one exemplary embodiment of a fence [0042] 300 comprising one or more panels 310 attached to a fence post 330. A plurality of generally horizontal rails 350 are supported in corresponding rail slots 332 in post 330. In this exemplary embodiment, panels 310, posts 330 and rails 350 can all be assembled without the use of tools of any kind. While post 330 shown in this embodiment is a double sided version of the portion of post 200 that supports a snap on panel 310, post 300 could also be similar to post 100, the opposite side of post 200 discussed above, or some alternate design. In this exemplary embodiment, panel 330 can also be slid over protrusions 334 of post 330. As long as post 300 can accommodate the connection of decorative panels, it falls within the scope of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention.
  • Panels [0043] 310 can be manufactured in a variety of styles, colors, and textures. For example, in FIG. 3, panel 310 provides the appearance of a stone wall, with a plurality of “stones” 312 mounted on or integrally formed within panel 310. In alternate exemplary embodiments, panel 310 can be a solid surface of any desired color. Additionally, panel 310 can have the appearance of brick, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, an embossed pattern, and various other styles and types which can also be manufactured in any color. Furthermore, panel 310 can have a smooth, textured, or mottled surface, depending on the desires of the owner of the fence. This incredible diversity of panel types has not been previously available. Further still, the panels can be easily changed if desired. For example, an individual could go from a stone fence, to a brick fence, to a stucco fence, to a solid color fence, without having to actually build a new fence every time. Alternately, an individual could have, by way of example and not limitation, a stone fence facing one direction, and a solid color fence facing another direction.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, panels [0044] 310 can be manufactured from a plastic. Examples of the types of plastics that can be used to construct panels 310 include, but are not limited to, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and other types of plastics. In this exemplary embodiment, panels 310 are manufactured using plastic manufacturing techniques known to those of skill in the art. Such techniques can include, by way of example and not limitation, extrusion, injection or blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming panels out of the materials outlined above.
  • While the paragraphs above discuss a “snap-on” panel [0045] 310, the discussion also applies to slide in panels, such as panel 220 in FIG. 2. Slide-in panel 220 can also be manufactured in any of the styles and colors discussed above. Additionally, slide-in panel 220 can also be manufactured from the same types of materials as panel 310. Slide-in panel 220 can be anywhere from 2 inches to 8 feet or more in width. The longer widths can be used with the privacy panels discussed below with reference to FIG. 6.
  • FIGS. 4 and 5A illustrate exemplary embodiments of rails that can be used with the exemplary embodiments of posts shown in FIGS. 1-3. FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional view of one exemplary embodiment of a double sided rail [0046] 400. Rail 400 includes a generally rectangular central portion 402 having a first side 404 and a second side 406. In this exemplary embodiment, first side 404 and second side 406 are symmetrical. However, those skilled in the art will realize that this need not be the case.
  • First side [0047] 404 includes first tab 408 that defines first slot 410, and second tab 412 that defines slot 414. In this exemplary embodiment, tabs 408 and 412 are formed integrally with rail 400. However, FIG. 5 illustrates an alternate exemplary embodiment where the tabs are not integrally formed, but are applied as slot attachments after the rail has been manufactured. As with posts 100 and 200 discussed above, slots 410, 414 allow a decorative panel, such as panel 220 in FIG. 2, to, be inserted therein. Slots 410, 414 can run the entire length of rail 400, part of the length of rail 400, or be periodically spaced on rail 400. As long as slots 410, 414 provide a sufficient structure to hold a panel in place, they are contemplated to be within the exemplary embodiments of the present invention.
  • Second side [0048] 404 is similarly constructed to first side 402; and the discussion of first side 402 above applies to second side 404, as well. In alternate exemplary embodiments, a snap-on panel, rather than a slide in panel, such as panel 310 in FIG. 3, could also be used on the rails. As previously discussed above, the panels that are designedto fit within rail 400 can be identical in structure to panel 310 (FIG. 3) or is B w panel 220 (FIG. 2).
  • In this exemplary embodiment, rail [0049] 400 can be manufactured from a plastic. Examples of the types of plastics that can be used to construct rail 400 include, but are not limited to, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and other types of plastics. In this exemplary 0 embodiment, rail 400 is manufactured using plastic manufacturing techniques known to those of skill in the art. Such techniques can include, by way of example and not limitation, extrusion, injection or blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming panels out of the materials outlined above.
  • Also in this exemplary embodiment, rail [0050] 400 can be made as a unitary piece of any desired length. Lengths from 1 foot to 20 or more feet are contemplated to fall with the scope of the exemplary embodiments of rail 400. Additionally, any cross-sectional dimensions that are desired can be accommodated in this exemplary embodiment of rail 400. By way of example and not limitation, rail 400 can have a width of from {fraction (1/2)} inch to 4 inches or more, and a height of from about 3 inches to about 20 inches or more.
  • Furthermore, in this exemplary embodiment, rail [0051] 400 is illustrated as having a uniform wall thickness D2. However, this need not be the case. For example, the walls of sides 404, 406 can have a different thickness than the walls of top and bottom portions of the rail. In this exemplary embodiment, the thickness D2 of walls 404, 406, of rail 400 is approximately 0.150 inches. However, thicknesses from about 0.090 inches to about 0.250 inches or greater are also contemplated to fall within the scope of exemplary embodiments of the invention. Alternately, rail 400 can be a solid piece of z plastic.
  • FIG. 5A illustrates a cross-sectional end view of an alternate embodiment of a side rail, designated generally as reference numeral [0052] 500. Rail 500 includes a rail section 502 having a generally rectangular cross section. However, other cross sections, including, but not limited to, square, triangular, and polygonal, could also be used.
  • Rail section [0053] 502 includes a first embodiment of a slot attachment 504 that defines a first slot 506. Rail section 502 further includes a second embodiment of a slot attachment 508 that defines a second slot 510. First and second slot attachments 504, 508 are shown for the purposes of illustration of the different embodiments. In exemplary embodiments of rail 500, first and second slot attachments 504, 508 can be used as complementary pairs, i.e. an upper and lower first slot attachment 504 or an upper and lower second slot attachment 508. Any embodiment of a slot attachment that can be affixed to rail section 502 and that can hold a decorative panel such as those discussed above is contemplated to fall within the scope of the exemplary embodiments.
  • First and second slot attachments [0054] 504, 508 can be attached to rail section 502 using chemical adhesives designed for that or other purposes. Such chemical adhesives can include, by way of example and not limitation, glues, epoxies, resins, and other chemical adhesives known to those of skill in the art. FIG. 5B shows a detailed view of one section of slot attachment 508 illustrating “glue bumps” 520 that facilitate the attachment of slot attachments 504, 508 using chemical adhesives. These bumps 520 provide for an offset between the post or rail the slot attachments 504, 508 are glued to, and the attachments themselves. This allows for a more secure chemical bond between slot attachments 504, 508 and the material of the posts or rails. Alternately, first and second slot attachments 504, 508 can be attached to rail section 502 using mechanical fasteners such as nails, screws, rivets, bolts, and the like.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, rail [0055] 500 can be constructed similarly to rail without the integrally formed tabs. Alternately, rail 500 can be a pre-existing rail made from wood, plastic, or some other material capable of having first and second slot attachments affixed to it by one of the methods discussed above. First and/or second slot attachments 504, 508 can also be added to existing fence posts, thus allowing the decorative panels to be installed on the posts as well as the rails. Consequently, the decorative panels can be retroactively installed on existing fencing, without having to incur the expense of replacing the existing fence posts and rails.
  • Slot attachment [0056] 508 is shown as having an attachment curvature 512 that approximates the curve of the corner of rail 500. However, slot attachment 508 can be manufactured in a variety of different configurations depending on the type and geometry of the rails and posts that will receive slot attachment 508. By way of example and not limitation, slot attachment 508 can have attachment curvatures that can have radii from about 0.1 inch to about 1.5 inches. Alternately, slot attachment 508 can be made with square corners to facilitate attachment to square, rectangular, or otherwise shaped posts having square corners.
  • Additionally, slot attachments [0057] 504, 508 can run the entire length of rail 502, part of the length of rail 502, or be intermittently spaced on rail 502. As long as a sufficient length of slot attachments 504, 508 are connected to rail 502, other existing rails or posts, to receive the decorative panels discussed above, such attachments are considered to fall within the scope of the exemplary embodiments.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, slot attachments [0058] 504, 508 can be manufactured from a plastic. Examples of the types of plastics that can be used to construct slot attachments 504, 508 include, but are not limited to, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and other types of plastics. In this exemplary embodiment, slot attachments 504, 508 are manufactured using plastic manufacturing techniques known to those of skill in the art. Such techniques can include, by way of example and not limitation, extrusion, injection or blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming panels out of the materials outlined above.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates one example of a privacy panel [0059] 600 according to yet another aspect of the present invention. Privacy panel 600 includes a panel member 602 having a tab 604 on a first end and a tab slot 606 on an opposite end. A plurality of panel members 602 can be joined together by inserting one tab 604 into a corresponding tab slot 606 on an adjacent panel member 602. In this manner, as many panels 600 can be assembled and interlocked to provide privacy. Tabs 604 and interlocking tab slots 606 are sometimes known as “tongue in groove” construction.
  • Panel [0060] 600 further includes a plurality of slot attachments 608. In this exemplary embodiment, two slot attachments 608 can be located on each side of panel member 602. This allows a decorative panel, such as those previously discussed, to be inserted into either or both sides of panel member 602. Alternately, slot attachments 608 can be located on only one side, for example, the side that faces toward the street or otherwise to the outside of the fence system. As with tabs 408, 412 (FIG. 4), slot attachments 608 can be integrally formed with panel member 602 during the manufacturing process. Alternately, slot attachments 608 can provide another example, similar to slot attachments 504, 508 (FIG. 5), of slot attachments that can be added to panel member 602 in a post-manufacturing process.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, panel member [0061] 602 can be manufactured from a plastic. Examples of the types of plastics that can be used to construct panel member 602 include, but are not limited to, vinyl, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and other types of plastics. In this exemplary embodiment, panel member 602 is manufactured using plastic manufacturing techniques known to those of skill in the art. Such techniques can include, by way of example and not limitation, extrusion, injection or blow molding, rotational molding, and any other plastic manufacturing technique suitable for forming panels out of the materials outlined above.
  • Also in this exemplary embodiment, panel member [0062] 602 can be made as a unitary piece of any desired length. Lengths from 1 foot to 20 or more feet, depending on the desired height of the privacy fencing system desired, are contemplated to fall with the scope of the exemplary embodiments of panel member 602. Additionally, any cross-sectional dimensions that are desired can be accommodated in this exemplary embodiment of panel member 602. By way of example and not limitation, panel member 602 can have a width of from about 2 inches to about 6 inches or more, and a depth of from about 0.75 inch to about 3.0 inches or more. Multiple panel members 602 can be fitted together to form a larger fence panel. By way of example and not limitation, the larger fence panels could be 6, 7, 8 or more feet in width, which are some standard fence panel widths known to those of skill in the art.
  • While panel member [0063] 602 is shown as having a pair of slot attachments 608 on each side, those skilled in the art will realize that this need not be the case. For example, multiple panel members 602 could be put together to form a larger 8 foot panel. This 8 foot panel could then have a right slot attachment 608 on one side, and a left slot attachment 608 on the other side. This would only require one slide in panel, such as slide-in panel 220 (FIG. 2). This slide-in panel 220 could then be attached, using chemical or mechanical fasteners (as previously discussed), to panel members 602 at various locations to provide desired support.
  • Panels [0064] 600, and multiple panel members 602, can be attached to a fence system. In one exemplary embodiment, a lower rail (not shown) having a top portion removed is fixed near ground level of the post. Panels 600 then fit inside the opened lower rail, and an additional opened rail (not shown) is attached at the top to secure panel members 602 in place. In this manner, larger fence panels can be constructed. In alternate embodiments of this exemplary embodiment, the lower rail can have metal reinforcing located within the channel to provide additional structural support to the panel members 602. Similar construction of “tongue in groove” type plastic fence panels is known to those of skill in the art.
  • The fence posts, panels, rails and slot attachments detailed above provide a fencing system that is highly advantageous over currently available fencing systems. First, the components, including the fence posts, rails, decorative and privacy panels are made from plastic. They are strong, lightweight, and come in a very wide variety of colors, textures and styles. For examples, panels can be made with rock, brick, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, an embossed pattern, and a multitude of other styles, patterns and colors, to complement nearly any desired location or architectural style. [0065]
  • The panels can be interchangeable, so that an individual can decide to completely change the appearance of the existing plastic fence system by simply installing new panels having a different face than the old. The posts and rails can remain in place. An individual can get a virtually new fence for much less cost than Einstalling all new fencing. [0066]
  • The various types and styles of slot attachments make it very easy to convert existing fencing to the new system. Currently installed posts and rails can remain in place, while the entire character of the fence is changed with the addition of the decorative panels. The slot attachments can be added to most existing fencing, whether the corners of the posts and rails are square or rounded. As with the new post and rail design. Once the slot attachments have been attached to the old posts and rails, either with chemical adhesives or mechanical fasteners, the panels can be changed whenever an individual decides, thus converting from, for example, stone facing to brick facing. [0067]
  • The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope. [0068]

Claims (53)

I claim:
1. A fence post comprising:
a plastic post, said post having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate a panel.
2. The fence post of claim 1, wherein said post comprises any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).
3. The fence post of claim 2, wherein said post is produced by any one of extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, and rotational molding.
4. The fence post of claim 1, wherein said post has two of said elongated slots on each of at least two sides, each side being able to receive a different panel.
5. The fence post of claim 1, wherein said post has a cross-section that is any one of approximately square, approximately rectangular, approximately triangular, and approximately polygonal.
6. The fence post of claim 5, wherein each side of said post measures between 3 inches and 20 inches in width.
7. The fence post of claim 1, wherein said panel comprises any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
8. The fence post of claim 7, wherein said panel is non-white.
9. The fence post of claim 7, wherein said panel comprises a pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, and an embossed pattern.
10. A fence post comprising:
a plastic post, said post having a plurality of elongated protrusions on at least one side, said protrusions being sized and configured to accommodate a panel.
11. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said post comprises any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).
12. The fence post of claim 11, wherein said post is produced by any one of extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, and rotational molding.
13. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said post has two of said elongated protrusions on each of at least two sides, each side being able to receive a different panel.
14. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said post has a cross-section that is any one of approximately square, approximately rectangular, approximately triangular, and approximately polygonal.
15. The fence post of claim 14, wherein each side of said post measures between 3 inches and 20 inches in width.
16. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said panel comprises any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
17. The fence post of claim 16, wherein said panel is non-white.
18. The fence post of claim 16, wherein said panel comprises a pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, and an embossed pattern.
19. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said panel is configured to slide over said protrusions.
20. The fence post of claim 10, wherein said panel is configured to snap over said protrusions.
21. A fencing system comprising:
a plurality of posts, each of said posts having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate at least a first panel, each of said posts further having at least one rail slot; and
at least one rail having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate at least a second panel;
wherein each of said at least one rail has a first end portion that fits within said rail slot of a first post and an opposite end portion that fits within said rail slot of an adjacent post.
22. The fencing system of claim 21, wherein each of said posts and said at least one rail comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).
23. The fencing system of claim 22, wherein each of said posts and said at least one rail are produced by any one of extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, and rotational molding.
24. The fencing system of claim 21, wherein each of said posts has two of said elongated slots on each of at least two sides.
25. The fencing system of claim 21, wherein said at least one rail has two of said elongated slots on each of a front face and a rear face.
26. The fencing system of claim 21, wherein said posts have a cross-section that is any one of square, rectangular, triangular, and polygonal.
27. The fencing system of claim 26, wherein each side of said posts measures between 3 inches and 20 inches in width.
28. The fencing system of claim 21, wherein said first and second panels comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
29. The fencing system of claim 28, wherein said first and second panel is non-white.
30. The fencing system of claim 28, wherein said first and second panel comprises a decorative pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, . . . .
31. A fencing system comprising:
a plurality of posts, each of said posts having a plurality of elongated protrusions on at least one side, said protrusions being sized and configured to accommodate at least a first panel, each of said posts further having at least one rail slot; and
at least one rail having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate at least a second panel;
wherein each of said at least one rail has a first end portion that fits within said rail slot of a first post and an opposite end portion that fits within said rail slot of an adjacent post.
32. The fencing system of claim 31, wherein each of said posts and said at least one rail comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).
33. The fencing system of claim 32, wherein each of said posts and said at least one rail are produced by any one of extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, and rotational molding.
34. The fencing system of claim 31, wherein each of said posts has two of Msaid elongated protrusions on each of at least two sides.
35. The fencing system of claim 31, wherein said at least one rail has two of said elongated slots on each of a front face and a rear face.
36. The fencing system of claim 31, wherein said posts have a cross-section that is any one of square, rectangular, triangular, and polygonal.
37. The fencing system of claim 36, wherein each side of said posts measures between 3 inches and 20 inches in width.
38. The fencing system of claim 31, wherein said first and second panels comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
39. The fencing system of claim 38, wherein said first and second panel is non-white.
40. The fencing system of claim 38, wherein said first and second panel comprises a decorative pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, and an embossed pattern.
41. An improvement to an existing fence system, the fence system comprising a plurality of posts at spaced apart intervals and at least one rail connected between adjacent posts, the improvement comprising:
at least post slot attachments attached on either side of said posts and running a distance down said posts, said slot attachments defining a channel adapted to receive afirst panel; and
at least two rail slot attachments attached to said at least one rail, said rail slot attachments defining a channel adapted to receive a second panel.
42. The improved fencing system of claim 41, wherein said first and second panels comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
43. The improved fencing system of claim 42, wherein said first and second panel is non-white.
44. The improved fencing system of claim 42, wherein said first and second panel comprises a decorative pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, and an embossed pattern.
45. The improved fencing system of claim 41, wherein said post slot attachments are attached around adjacent corners of said post.
46. The improved fencing system of claim 41, wherein said post slot attachments are attached near adjacent corners of said post.
47. The improved fencing system of claim 41, wherein said rail slot attachments are attached around adjacent edges of said rail.
48. The improved fencing system of claim 41, wherein said rail slot attachments are attached near adjacent edges of said rail.
49. A fencing system comprising:
a plurality of posts, each of said posts having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate at least a first panel, each of said posts further having at least an upper and a lower rail slot; and
a privacy panel having a plurality of elongated slots on at least one side, said slots being sized and configured to accommodate at least a second panel, said privacy panel further comprising at least upper and lower rails;
wherein said upper rail has a first end portion that fits within said upper rail slot of a first post and an opposite end portion that fits within said upper rail slot of an adjacent post, and wherein said lower rail has a first end portion that fits within said lower rail slot of a first post and an opposite end portion that fits within said lower rail slot of an adjacent post
50. The fencing system of claim 49, wherein said first and second panels comprise any one of vinyl, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, polypropylene, and ABS.
51. The fencing system of claim 50, wherein said first and second panel is non-white.
52. The fencing system of claim 50, wherein said first and second panel comprises a decorative pattern, said pattern comprising any one of brick, rock, stucco, wood grain, tile, mosaic, and an embossed pattern.
53. The fencing system of claim 49, wherein said privacy panels are from about 2 feet to about 10 feet in width.
US10/835,831 2003-05-01 2004-04-30 Plastic fencing system Abandoned US20040217339A1 (en)

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US20190024404A1 (en) * 2017-07-22 2019-01-24 Nolan Dobson Modular Paneling System

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