US20060005498A1 - Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns - Google Patents

Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060005498A1
US20060005498A1 US10/885,230 US88523004A US2006005498A1 US 20060005498 A1 US20060005498 A1 US 20060005498A1 US 88523004 A US88523004 A US 88523004A US 2006005498 A1 US2006005498 A1 US 2006005498A1
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Prior art keywords
edge
plank
pattern
planks
flooring
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Abandoned
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US10/885,230
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Vincente Sabater
Eugenio Garcia
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Bank of America NA
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Vincente Sabater
Garcia Eugenio C
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Application filed by Vincente Sabater, Garcia Eugenio C filed Critical Vincente Sabater
Priority to US10/885,230 priority Critical patent/US20060005498A1/en
Publication of US20060005498A1 publication Critical patent/US20060005498A1/en
Assigned to FAUS GROUP, INC. reassignment FAUS GROUP, INC. CORRECTION TO CORRECT AN ERROR IN A COVER SHEET PREVIOUSLY RECORDED WITH THE WRONG APPLICATION NUMBER (10/800,029). AT REEL 016112 FRAME 0610 Assignors: GARCIA, EUGENIO CRUZ GARCIA, SABATER, VINCENTE
Assigned to BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS AGENT reassignment BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS AGENT COLLATERAL ASSIGNMENT OF PATENTS AND PATENT APPLICATIONS Assignors: FAUS GROUP, INC.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B44DECORATIVE ARTS
    • B44FSPECIAL DESIGNS OR PICTURES
    • B44F11/00Designs imitating artistic work
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B44DECORATIVE ARTS
    • B44FSPECIAL DESIGNS OR PICTURES
    • B44F9/00Designs imitating natural patterns
    • B44F9/02Designs imitating natural patterns wood grain effects
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04FFINISHING WORK ON BUILDINGS, e.g. STAIRS, FLOORS
    • E04F15/00Flooring
    • E04F15/02Flooring or floor layers composed of a number of similar elements
    • E04F15/02005Construction of joints, e.g. dividing strips
    • E04F15/02033Joints with beveled or recessed upper edges

Abstract

Laminated flooring planks include decorative motifs, mechanically embossed-in-registration surface textures, recessed perimeters, and locking mechanisms. Adjacent planks substantially aligned allow embossed-in-registration patterns to be substantially continuous across adjacent flooring panels. The recessed perimeter prevents the edges of the flooring panel from prematurely wearing. Individual planks within the flooring system may comprise at least one partial sub-panel having a decorative motif and/or embossed surface texture (i.e., pattern)that is complementary with a pattern of a neighboring partial sub-panel or plank. Each plank may include edge patterns adjacent a portion of an edge of the plank and at least one bulk pattern adjacent the edge patterns. Edge patterns within a plank and of planks within a flooring system are substantially identical to each other. Bulk patterns form a substantially continuous pattern within an individual plank when adjacent a plank.

Description

  • This application incorporates by reference application Ser. No. 10/689,510, filed on Oct. 21, 2003, entitled FLOORING SYSTEM HAVING SUB-PANELS WITH COMPLEMENTARY EDGE PATTERNS, which is a Continuation-in-Part of application Ser. No. 10/374,751, filed on Feb. 27, 2003, entitled “FLOORING SYSTEM HAVING COMPLEMENTARY SUB-PANELS” (Attorney Docket No. 5724.017.22), which is a Continuation-in-Part of co-pending application Ser. No. 10/352,248, filed on Jan. 28, 2003, entitled “FLOORING SYSTEM HAVING COMPLEMENTARY SUB-PANELS” (Attorney Docket No. 5724.017.21), which is a Continuation-in-Part of co-pending application Ser. No. 10/137,319, filed on May 3, 2002, entitled “EMBOSSED-IN-REGISTER PANEL SYSTEM” (Attorney Docket No. 5724.017.00), and incorporates by reference co-pending application Ser. No. 09/903,807, filed on Jul. 31, 2001, entitled “EMBOSSED-IN-REGISTER MANUFACTURING PROCESS” (Attorney Docket No. 5724.016.00) and U.S. Pat. No. 6,401,415, filed on Dec. 13, 1999, entitled “DIRECT LAMINATED FLOOR”, for all purposes as if fully set forth herein.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to laminated materials. More particularly, the present invention relates to a flooring system of interlocked laminated materials having decorative motifs and surface textures that are mechanically embossed in registration with their decorative motifs.
  • 2. Discussion of the Related Art
  • Because of their look and feel, traditional building and finishing flooring materials such as fine woods, slate, granite, stones, brick, and concrete are generally preferred by consumers. However, such traditional building and finishing flooring materials tend to be expensive to produce and install. For example, while a solid wood floor has a highly valued luxurious appearance, the materials and labor required to install such floors can be prohibitively expensive.
  • Many alternatives to traditional building and finishing flooring materials are available, including laminates such as high-pressure laminates (HPL), direct-pressure laminates (DPL), and continuous-pressure laminates (CPL). However, such alternatives typically do not possess the realistic look and texture of the traditional building and finishing flooring materials. For example, most alternatives having an outer surface with a wood motif look fake and can readily be identified as something other than authentic wood. Furthermore, while high quality HPL, DPL, or CPL boards may visually look like wood, their textures readily reveal that they are not.
  • One problem with most alternatives to traditional building and finishing flooring materials is that their surface textures do not match their decorative motifs. For example, visual depictions of wood knots in alternative flooring materials are not matched with surface textures characteristic of the wood knots. Accordingly, the attractiveness of these alternative materials is significantly reduced.
  • One approach used to match the surface texture of alternative flooring materials to their decorative motifs includes a technique known as chemical embossing. In chemical embossing, the surface texture of the alternative material is developed by chemically reacting an ink that forms the decorative motif with an agent added to a sub-surface layer. While somewhat successful, the resulting surface texture tends to lack the textual sharpness and three-dimensional characteristics of traditional materials.
  • As an alternative to the traditional building and finishing flooring materials laminated materials may be mechanically embossed to produce a surface texture. See, for example U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/903,807 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,401,415, which are hereby incorporated by reference. Such methods produce embossed-in-registration laminated materials having decorative motifs and matching high-quality three-dimensional textures. Embossed-in-registration laminated materials require accurate registration of mechanical embossment and the decorative motif. An advantage of embossed-in-registration laminated materials is that they can realistically reproduce the look and feel of traditional products.
  • No matter what type of flooring system is used, the flooring system must be easily moved to a work site while being easy and quick to install. To this end, assembly and locking mechanisms may be incorporated within flooring systems to facilitate on-site installation. One type of assembly and locking mechanism is the tongue and groove system used for connecting panels. It is understood that such tongue and groove systems are disclosed in Cherry, U.S. Pat. No. 2,057,135, and in Urbain, U.S. Pat. No. 2,046,593. For example, FIG. 1 can be interpreted to illustrate a tongue and groove system 11 that uses clips 12 to secure panels together.
  • Another type of assembly and locking mechanism is understood to be disclosed in Chevaux, U.S. Pat. No. 3,946,529 where a flooring system 13 appears to be connected using a tongue and groove system arranged underneath the flooring, reference FIG. 2.
  • Still another assembly and locking mechanism is taught in Kajiwara, U.S. Pat. No. 5,295,341. There, it is understood that laminated boards are provided with a snap-together system such as a groove-tongue joint. As a result the laminated boards can be assembled without glue. Referring to FIG. 3, the laminated boards are provided with a locking means in the form of a groove connector 16, and a tongue connector 18. The groove connector 16 has forwardly protruding grooves 20, while the tongue 18 is provided with a pair of forwardly diverging sidewalls 22 and 24 that are separated by an elongated groove 26. The sidewalls include rear locking surfaces 28 and 36. The sidewalls can be compressed together to enable locking.
  • Another type of assembly and locking mechanism is the snap-together joint is suggested in Martensson, U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,778. As shown in FIG. 4, it is understood that laminated boards are provided with a locking means comprised of a groove 6 and a tongue 7 that form a tongue-groove assembly. The groove 6 and tongue 7 may be made of water tight material and snapped together with a portion 9 fitting in a slot 4.
  • While the aforementioned assembly and locking mechanisms have proven useful, they have not been used with embossed-in-registration laminate systems in which embossed-in-registration decorative motifs or graphics align across joints between the individual embossed-in-registration laminates. This significantly detracts from the visual and textural impression of systems comprised of embossed-in-registration laminate boards. Therefore, a new embossed-in-registration laminate system in which the visual and textural patterns cross joints while retaining the embossed-in-registration aspects would be beneficial. Even more beneficial would be an embossed-in-registration laminate system comprised of interlocking embossed-in-registration laminate boards in which the visual and textural patterns cross joints while retaining embossed-in-registration aspects.
  • Further, the aforementioned flooring systems have a relatively low ability to resist wear. While not wishing to be bound by any particular theory, it is hypothesized that premature aging (wear) begins at or near the perimeter edges and/or along tongue and groove lines. The aforementioned flooring systems have a substantially even (level) surface texture such that the center and perimeter of each panel contact users (e.g., pedestrians) an equal amount. The perimeter of each panel, however, is substantially weaker than the center of the panel and therefore deteriorates first.
  • In addition, flooring systems typically do not have decorative motifs or pattern designs that are longer than the length of a plank. For example, in a flooring system designed to reproduce a wood floor having wood strips, the length of the wood strip pattern is typically equal to or shorter than the length of a single plank. This is desirable in related art flooring systems because it does not require the installer to plan more than one plank beyond the plank being installed.
  • Accordingly, there is a need for a workable method of fabricating alternative building or finishing materials where the alternatives have the realistic look and feel of traditional products and have an increased capacity to resist premature wear, and in which the minimum number of planks is used maintained while still being able to create design motifs or pattern elements with a length greater than that of a single plank.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Accordingly, the present invention is directed to embossed-in-registration flooring system that substantially obviates one or more of the problems due to limitations and disadvantages of the related art.
  • An advantage of the present invention provides an embossed-in-registration flooring system including individual adjacent flooring planks having embossed-in-registration decorative motifs where at least one of a surface texture and decorative motif is substantially aligned between adjacent flooring planks.
  • Another advantage of the present invention provides an embossed-in-registration flooring system including interlocked flooring planks having embossed-in-registration decorative motifs where at least one of a surface texture and decorative motif is substantially aligned between adjacent flooring planks such that substantially continuous embossed-in-registration patterns are formed across the interlocked flooring planks.
  • Another advantage of the present invention provides an embossed-in-registration flooring system may, for example, include flooring planks wherein a surface of a perimeter of each individual flooring plank may be recessed such that an upper surface of the perimeter of the flooring planks is below a portion of an upper surface of the flooring planks surrounded by the perimeter.
  • Another advantage of the present invention provides a plank comprising a plurality of sides defining a perimeter; a plurality of edge patterns arranged proximate at least one first portion of the perimeter, wherein at least two of the plurality of edge patterns are substantially identical; and at least one bulk pattern arranged adjacent the plurality of edge patterns and proximate at least one second portion of the perimeter, wherein at least one bulk pattern and an edge pattern adjacent the at least one bulk pattern forms a substantially continuous pattern.
  • Another advantage of the present invention provides a flooring system, comprising at least two planks adjacent each other along a predetermined direction, wherein each plank comprises: a plurality of sides defining a perimeter; a plurality of edge patterns arranged proximate at least one first portion of the perimeter, wherein at least two of the plurality of edge patterns are substantially identical; and at least one bulk pattern arranged adjacent the plurality of edge patterns and proximate at least one second portion of the perimeter, wherein at least one bulk pattern and an edge pattern adjacent the at one least bulk pattern forms substantially continuous pattern; herein edge patterns of the at least two planks form a substantially continuous pattern.
  • A further advantage of the present invention provides a floor panel, comprising a plurality of sides defining a perimeter; a surface having thereon a decorative motif, said decorative motif comprising at least two edge patterns adjacent each of the sides of the panel and at least one bulk pattern in the interior of the panel and adjacent the edge pattern on each side, wherein at least one edge pattern along a side is substantially identical to the edge pattern in a corresponding position along an opposite side; and wherein at least one portion of the decorative motif along a side is substantially different from the corresponding portion of the decorative motif along an opposite side.
  • Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. These and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the structure particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.
  • It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention.
  • In the drawings:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a related art assembly and locking mechanism;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates another related art assembly and locking mechanism;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates yet another related art assembly and locking mechanism;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates still another related art assembly and locking mechanism;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of components in an embossed-in-registration flooring plank according to the principles of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a press machine capable of fabricating embossed-in-registration flooring planks in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an embossed-in-registration flooring plank in one aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a top view of a system of embossed-in-registration flooring planks in another aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a cross-sectional view along line 9-9 shown in FIG. 8;
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a top view of a system of embossed-in-registration flooring planks in yet another aspect of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11 illustrates a cross-sectional view along line 11-11 shown in FIG. 10;
  • FIGS. 12A and 12B illustrate schematic views including a perimeter surface portion of a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 13A and 13B illustrate a flooring system in still another aspect of the present invention;
  • FIGS. 14A-14C illustrate an exemplary plank of a flooring system in still another aspect of the present invention+and
  • FIGS. 15A-15E illustrate an exemplary method of forming patterns on a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • FIGS. 16A-16E illustrate an alternative exemplary method of forming patterns on a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative exemplary method of forming patterns on a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • FIG. 18 illustrates an alternative exemplary method of forming patterns on a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • FIG. 19 illustrates an alternative exemplary method of forming patterns on a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS
  • Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
  • FIG. 5 generally illustrates components of a flooring plank according to the principles of the present invention.
  • Referring to FIG. 5, an embossed-in-registration flooring system may, for example, include at least one flooring plank. In one aspect of the present invention each flooring plank may include a board substrate 34 made out of a substrate material (e.g., a medium or high density fiberboard, chipboard, etc.), at least one base sheet 36 (e.g., a kraft paper sheet) impregnated with predetermined resins and arranged over and/or under the board substrate 34, a decorative paper sheet 38 about 0.15 mm thick and impregnated with a polymerizable resin (e.g., phenols such as melamine) arranged over the board substrate, and at least one protective overlay sheet 30 arranged over the decorative paper sheet 38. In one aspect of the present invention, each protective overlay sheet 30 may be formed from a highly resistant paper impregnated with a melamine solution containing corundum (Al2O3), silica, etc. In another aspect of the present invention, different papers may be arranged between the decorative paper sheet 38 and the board substrate 34. In one aspect of the present invention, the at least one protective overlay sheet 30 and the base sheet 36 may be impregnated with a resin. In another aspect of the present invention the resin impregnating the at least one protective overlay sheet 30 and the base sheet 36 may be different from the melamine resin used to impregnate the decorative paper sheet 38.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated from substantially the same paper, resin, etc. For example, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using paper made from substantially the same paper fibers (having, for example, substantially the same ash content, color, and orientation) on the same on the same paper making machine. Further, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using paper originating from a single, contiguous section on the manufacturing spool. All of the aforementioned paper use restrictions that may be employed in fabricating flooring planks of a flooring system ensure that impregnated papers will always have substantially the same final dimensions after they are pressed and cured. In one aspect of the present invention, the warehousing of paper used to fabricated flooring planks within a flooring system may be controlled such that the time, temperature, and humidity in which the paper is stored is maintained to facilitate consistent flooring plank dimensions. In another aspect of the present invention, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using cellulose paste made from the same manufacturer. In yet another aspect of the present invention, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using resins made from the same manufacturer. In still another aspect of the present invention, the resins may contain powder originating from substantially the same source, have substantially the same chemical and physical qualities, and be mixed in the same reactor. Further, flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using resins have a substantially constant solids content. All of the aforementioned resin use restrictions that may be employed in fabricating the flooring planks ensure that impregnated papers will always have substantially the same final dimensions after they are pressed and cured. In still another aspect of the present invention, each of the flooring planks within a flooring system may be fabricated using substantially the same impregnation process. For example, when dipping the various sheets of paper into melamine resin, the paper should experience a constant, uniform melamine load. Further, a band tension and oscillation of the impregnation machine should be precisely controlled as they influence the degree to which the various paper sheets are impregnated with the resin.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, the aforementioned sheets and substrates may be fabricated into an embossed-in-registration flooring system including a plurality of interlocking flooring planks. To produce such a flooring system, a press machine, such as a press machine shown in FIG. 6, may be used to mechanically emboss each flooring plank in registration with a decorative motif arranged on the decorative paper sheet 44.
  • Referring to FIG. 6, the press machine may, for example, include a base 42, a top press 54, and an upper press plate 56. In one aspect of the present invention, the upper press plate may include an embossing pattern (e.g., a three-dimensionally textured surface). Accordingly, the embossing pattern may, for example, include elevated ridges, dots, depressions, etc., of any design capable of being aligned with a decorative motif formed on the decorative paper sheet 44.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, the impregnated decorative paper sheet 44 arranged on the board substrate 40 must be accurately positioned relative to the embossing pattern of the upper press plate to enable an embossed-in-registration flooring plank. In one aspect of the present invention, alignment between the embossing pattern of the press plate and the decorative motif must be ensured when the press is in a locked position and the board is under pressure. The degree of control required may vary depending on the type of decorative motif used. For example, alignment of a wood grain embossed-in-registration motif across adjacent embossed-in-registration flooring planks requires a higher degree of alignment than alignment of a wood grain embossed-in-registration motif that is not aligned with adjacent flooring planks.
  • Alignment between the decorative motif on the decorative paper sheet 44 and the embossing pattern on the upper press plate 56 may be achieved by removing about 2 to 3 millimeters of material around the perimeter of the board substrate 40 in a milling process thereby yielding several reference planes (e.g., board edges) and a board substrate having tightly controlled dimensions. Next, an impregnated decorative paper sheet 44 having exterior dimensions about 8 or 10 mm smaller than the board substrate 40 is arranged on the board substrate 40. In one aspect of the present invention, the impregnated decorative paper sheet 44 may be arranged on the board substrate 40 using the board edges as alignment means. In one aspect of the present invention, alignment marks may be arranged on the board substrate 40 and be alignable with alignment marks provided on the decorative paper sheet 44.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, the decorative paper sheet 44 may be attached to the board substrate 40 via static electricity. After they are attached, the decorative paper sheet 44 and the board substrate 40 are arranged on a carriage feeding into the press machine. The static electricity may substantially prevent the decorative paper sheet 44 from being accidentally displaced as the board substrate 40 is moved with the carriage. In one aspect of the present invention, the carriage may be stopped just before it enters into the press machine such that the decorative paper sheet 44 may be precisely arranged over the board substrate 40 using, for example, tweezers (not shown). In another aspect of the present invention, the tweezers may be used to precisely arrange the decorative paper sheet 44 over the board substrate 40 arranged on the lower press plate. In one aspect of the present invention, the decorative paper sheet 44, the at least one protective overlay sheet 46, and the optional base sheet 48 may be arranged over the board substrate 40 prior to being arranged within the press machine. After the decorative paper sheet 44 is arranged over the board substrate 40, the carriage may be moved out of the press machine. Next, an alignment system substantially aligns the decorative paper sheet 44/board substrate 40 system with the embossing pattern in the upper press plate 56. In one aspect of the present invention, the alignment system may use the board edges to substantially align the decorative motif 44 with the embossing pattern on the upper press plate 56. The press machine may be operated after the alignment is complete.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, after the components illustrated in FIG. 5 are arranged within the press machine and aligned with the embossing pattern, the various sheets and substrate may be pressed and cured for predetermined amount of time until the resins set, yielding an extremely hard and wear resistant flooring plank. For example, after being inserted into the press machine and aligned with the embossing pattern, the board substrate 40, decorative paper sheet 44, protective overlay sheet 46, and optional base sheet 48 may be heated at a temperature of about 160-220° C. and pressed together under a pressure of about 20-40 Kg/cm2 for about 20 to 60 seconds. Accordingly, the top press 54 presses the embossing pattern of the upper press plate 56 into the decorative paper sheet 44 and board substrate 40 structure. The combination of the applied heat and pressure fuses the decorative paper sheet 44 and the board substrate 40 together. The alignment system ensures that the decorative paper sheet 44 is substantially aligned with the embossing pattern in the upper press plate 56. Accordingly, melamine resin within the various sheets may be cured and an embossed-in-registration plank may be produced.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, porosity within the fused piece may be minimized by slowly curing the resins (e.g., the melamine). Accordingly, as the operating temperature is reduced, the time during which the various sheets within the press machine are pressed is increased. In another aspect of the present invention, as the press plate 56 is heated to about 160-220° C. the embossing pattern included within the press plate may expand. Accordingly, the embossing pattern on the press plate 56 may be provided so as to compensate for the expansion of the pattern. Therefore, the dimensions of the embossing pattern are provided such that they substantially correspond to the design of the decorative motif when the resins within the components of FIG. 5 are cured.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, a mechanically embossed surface texture may be imparted to an individual flooring plank having a decorative motif. In one aspect of the present invention, the mechanically embossed surface texture may be provided in registration with the decorative motif. Accordingly, an embossed-in-registration flooring plank may be fabricated. In another aspect of the present invention, a plurality of embossed-in-registration flooring planks may be joined together to form an embossed-in-registration flooring system. In yet another aspect of the present invention, at least a portion of embossed-in-registration patterns of adjacent flooring planks may be substantially aligned with each other to form substantially contiguous embossed-in-registration patterns across adjacent flooring planks within the flooring system.
  • While the embossed-in-registration process described above is suitable for embossed surface textures that are less than about 0.2 mm deep, deeper surface textures may be problematic. Embossing patterns capable of imparting deep surface textures, for example, require relatively large press plate protrusions that tend to disturb the pressure homogeneity applied across the board surface. This pressure disturbance can cause distortions in the final product. In one aspect of the present invention, embossed surface textures may be formed greater than about 0.2 mm deep by hollowing out the board substrate 40 at locations where deep surface textures are desired. In one aspect of the present invention, the hollowing out process may be performed before, during, or after the perimeter of the board substrate 40 is milled as described above. In another aspect of the present invention, the board edges may be used to locate the boundaries of the hollowed out portions of the board substrate 40.
  • Referring to FIG. 7, an embossed-in-registration flooring plank 60, fabricated according to the process described above may optionally include a protective padding layer 50 on one side. The mechanically embossed surface texture is registered with the decorative motif 68 of the decorative paper sheet 44. By registration, it is meant that the embossed surface texture is substantially aligned with the decorative motif of the decorative paper sheet 44. By providing an embossed-in-registration flooring plank, a realistic representation of a natural material may provided to individual flooring planks. While the decorative motif illustrated in FIG. 7 realistically represents the image and texture of a wood grain, it should be appreciated that other embossed-in-registration designs such as ceramic planks, concrete, marble, etc., may be produced.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, each of the individual flooring planks may, for example, include at least one locking mechanism.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, locking mechanisms may be incorporated within the board substrate 40 before the embossing pattern is imparted to the surface of the board substrate 40 in registration with the decorative motif. Accordingly, locking mechanisms may be fabricated within individual board substrates 40. Next, the locking mechanisms may be used to join individual board substrates together to form a plank structure. The plank structure may then be inserted into the press 54. After the embossing pattern is imparted to the plank structure and the fused components are fused together, the plank structure is removed from the press 54. Next, embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 within the fused plank structure are separated by unlocking the locking mechanisms. In one aspect of the present invention, cutting tools may be used to assist in the separation and to ensure the decorative motif is not damaged.
  • In another aspect of the present invention, the locking mechanisms may be incorporated within the board substrate 40 after the embossing pattern is imparted to the surface of the board substrate 40 in registration with the decorative motif. Accordingly, a board substrate 40 having relatively large dimensions of, for example, 4′×8′, may be embossed by the press 54. Next, the resulting embossed-in-registration substrate may be cut into a plurality of individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60. In one aspect of the present invention, edges of the individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 may have smooth edges and precise dimensions. In one aspect of the present invention, the cutting may be performed using shaping tools, milling tools, cutting tools, breaking tools, etc. In one aspect of the present invention, the board substrate may be cut by the press machine. Accordingly, the board substrate 40 may be cut into units (e.g., strips) having dimensions of, for example, 300×300 mm, 400×400 mm, 600×600 mm, 1,200×300 mm, 1,200×400 mm, etc. Next, the locking mechanisms may be incorporated within the individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60. In one aspect of the present invention, the locking mechanisms may be hidden beneath the surface of the flooring planks or they may be visible.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, the locking mechanisms may be incorporated within the individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 by aligning the at least one of the board edges, alignment marks, decorative motifs, and surface textures of the flooring plank with a milling tool. By aligning the milling tool with any of the aforementioned alignable features, locking mechanisms may be milled into the sides of the board substrates 40 such that, when flooring planks 60 are joined together the at least a portion of the decorative motifs form a continuous pattern and at least a portion of the embossed-in-registration patterns form a substantially continuous surface texture across adjacent flooring planks.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, the embossed-in-registration flooring plank 60 may include a locking mechanism 64 (e.g., at least one of a tongue and groove locking system, a snap-together locking system, etc.) extending along all four sides of the embossed-in-registration laminate 60. For example, a snap-together locking system may be added to all four sides of the embossed-in-registration flooring plank 60 and used to connect multiple embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 into an embossed-in-registration flooring system 300 (as shown in FIG. 8). The number and location of locking mechanisms may depend on the desired configuration of the embossed-in-registration flooring system. For example, when an embossed-in-registration flooring system abuts a corner, only two locking mechanisms are required (along the sides).
  • Referring to FIG. 8, the embossed-in-registration flooring planks A and B may, for example, include locking mechanisms along four sides (e.g., along joints J1, J2, J3, and J4). Embossed-in-registration flooring planks C and D may, for example, include locking mechanisms along four sides (e.g., along joints J1, J2, J3, and another joint not shown).
  • Embossed-in-registration flooring planks including the aforementioned locking mechanisms may be securely attached together with or without glue to form an embossed-in-registration laminate system 300. Multiple embossed-in-registration flooring planks may be joined together to obtain any desired shape for flooring, planking, or the like. The embossed-in-registration flooring planks may be joined to each other such that at least portions of embossed-in-registration patterns of adjacent flooring planks are substantially aligned with each other and form a substantially continuous image and embossed surface texture across flooring planks within a flooring system.
  • FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate an exemplary embossed-in-registration flooring system 300 incorporating one type of locking mechanism on each of the individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60. FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary embossed-in-registration flooring system including flooring planks incorporating a snap-type tongue and groove locking mechanism. In one aspect of the present invention, the snap-type tongue and groove locking mechanism may be integrated into the sidewalls of each embossed-in-registration laminate 60 so as to ensure that embossed-in-registration patterns of adjacent flooring planks are substantially aligned with each other and substantially continuous within the flooring system.
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a cross sectional view of FIG. 8 taken along line 9-9. As shown, the locking mechanism may be fabricated by forming a groove 230, a tongue 200, a channel 210, and a lip 220 along the edges of the embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60. The locking mechanisms on the embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 may be joined together by inserting the tongue 200 into the groove 230 of an adjacent embossed-in-registration flooring plank 60. Subsequently, the lip 220 is secured within channel 210, thereby joining adjacent embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 into an embossed-in-registration flooring system 300. In one aspect of the present invention, the embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 labeled A, B, C and D may be joined together with or without glue. It should is appreciated that other types of locking mechanisms may be incorporated within the sides of the individual embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60.
  • Referring back to FIG. 8, each of the embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 may, for example, exhibit an embossed-in-registration ceramic plank motif G1. The ceramic plank motif may comprise a plurality of planks in the shape of squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, ovals, any other shape or design that are separated by grout lines. In one aspect of the present invention, widths of grout lines Wh, Wv, and the intraboard grout width W may be substantially equal. When incorporating the snap-type tongue and groove locking mechanism into the embossed-in-registration flooring planks 60 the grout width adjacent the joints J1, J2, J3, and J4 on each embossed-in-registration laminate A, B, C, and D are approximately one-half the intraboard grout width W. For example, the vertical plank grout width (Wv) across joint J1 is made up of grout lines on embossed-in-registration laminates A, B, C and D, such that when the embossed-in-registration laminates A, B, C, and D are joined at J1 the vertical grout width (Wv) is approximately equal to (W). Accordingly, the grout width on any individual embossed-in-registration flooring plank 60 adjacent a joint is one-half of intraboard grout width (W). In another aspect of the present invention, the horizontal and vertical grout widths Wh and Wv may be controlled such they are substantially equal to the dimensions of the intraboard grout width W. It should be appreciated, however, that the dimensions of the grout widths in the embossed-in-registration flooring planks depend on the type of locking mechanism incorporated and the decorative motif exhibited.
  • In addition to grout lines, many other decorative motifs may be used in the embossed-in-registration flooring system of the present invention. Referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, a decorative motif exhibiting, for example, a wood grain surface G2 substantially aligned across joints J5 and J6 of adjacent flooring planks may be provided. According to the principles of the present invention, wood grain patterns generally include more elements (e.g., wood grain lines, wood knot 423, etc.) that extend to the perimeters of the flooring planks that need to be aligned than ceramic plank motifs. Accordingly, aligning the wood grain motif is generally more difficult than aligning grout line portions of the ceramic plank motifs. For example, aligning a first portion of a wood knot 423 on embossed-in-registration flooring plank E with a second portion of the wood knot 423 on embossed-in-registration flooring plank F is generally more complex than aligning grout line widths across joints of adjacent flooring planks. Accordingly, when fabricating a locking mechanism, consideration of all the graphic elements (e.g., wood grains lines and wood knots 423) must be considered to ensure a realistic embossed-in-registration flooring system 400. In one aspect of the present invention, at least one portion of the decorative motif may be used as an alignment marks ensuring consistent alignment of adjacent flooring planks.
  • In another aspect of the present invention, individual flooring planks within the embossed-in-registration flooring system 400 may be joined together with a snap-type mechanical system as illustrated in FIG. 11 depicting a cross sectional view of FIG. 10 along line 11-11. Again, alignment techniques used in the fabrication of the locking mechanism such that the embossed-in-registration laminate system 400 has a surface texture surface 423 that is substantially continuous across joints, J5 and J6. Optionally, the embossed-in-registration laminates 60 have a protective padding layer 70 under the base sheet 48.
  • FIGS. 12A and 12B illustrate schematic views of a flooring plank in accordance with the principles of the present invention.
  • Referring to FIGS. 12A and 12B, an upper surface at the perimeter, P, of each embossed-in-registration flooring plank may be recessed below an upper surface at the portions of the flooring plank surrounded by the perimeter. An object O (e.g., a users shoe, a wheel, etc.) contacting the major surface, Ms, of a flooring plank does not generally contact the surface of the perimeter, Ps, due to the perimeter's recessed surface. In one aspect of the present invention, the perimeter may include a portion of the flooring plank extending from the edge of the flooring plank approximately 3.175 mm toward the center of the flooring plank. In another aspect of the present invention, the depth to which the surface of the perimeter of the flooring plank is recessed is approximately 0.794 mm. In another aspect of the present invention, the surface of at least one portion of the perimeter of a flooring plank may not be recessed, as will be discussed in greater detail below with reference to FIG. 13.
  • Accordingly, the embossed-in-registration pattern may be provided to the edges of the flooring plank and may be aligned with embossed-in-registration patterns formed on adjacent flooring planks while the edges of each individual flooring plank may be prevented from prematurely wearing.
  • Although it has been shown in FIGS. 8 and 10 that individual flooring planks within a flooring system are substantially the same size and shape and are joined to each other such that each side of each flooring plank is joined to only one adjacent flooring plank, it should be appreciated that individual flooring planks within a flooring system may vary in size (e.g., width and/or length) and shape (e.g., rectangular, square, triangular, hexagonal, etc.). In one aspect of the present invention, individual flooring planks may have complementary shapes capable of being assembled similar to a puzzle or mosaic. Further, one aspect of the present invention contemplates that sides of individual flooring planks may contact more than one adjacent flooring plank.
  • In accordance with the principles of the present invention, flooring planks within a flooring system may be arranged such that at least one side of each plank includes at least one sub-panel adjacent at least two other sub-panels. In another aspect of the present invention, each plank may include, either entirely or partially, at least one sub-panel, as will be described in greater detail below.
  • In FIG. 13A, for example, partial sub-panel 134A of plank 130A may be a complementary sub-panel with respect to neighboring partial sub-panel 136B of plank 130B, adjacent plank 130A. With this arrangement, the partial sub-panels 134A and 136B may be made to appear as one unitary sub-panel.
  • Still referring to FIG. 13A, each of the planks 130A-F may comprise at least three sub-panels wherein at least one of the sub-panels is a unitary sub-panel and at least two of the sub-panels are partial sub-panels. For example, 132A is a unitary sub-panel and 134A and 136A are partial sub-panels.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, the unitary sub-panel 132A may provide a complete decorative motif with or without an embossed surface texture that may or may not be in registration with the decorative motif. In another aspect of the present invention, the partial sub-panels 134A and 136A of a plank may provide separated, incomplete decorative motifs with or without embossed surface textures that may or may not be in registration with the decorative motifs. In one aspect of the present invention, neighboring partial sub-panels of adjacent planks may be complementary to each other such that they provide a substantially complete decorative motif and/or surface texture and appear as a substantially continuous, unitary sub-panel. In one aspect of the present invention, complementary partial sub-panels may have complementary decorative motifs and/or embossed surface textures. Accordingly, when complementary partial sub-panels of adjacent planks are properly aligned, a substantially continuous (i.e., complete) decorative motif and/or embossed surface texture may be formed across neighboring complementary partial sub-panels. In one aspect of the present invention, sub-panels within a plank may or may not comprise substantially the same decorative motif and/or embossed surface texture.
  • FIG. 13B illustrates a schematic view of an exemplary plank 130 such as that shown in FIG. 13A.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, portions of the perimeter surface of each plank may be recessed at locations where neighboring sub-panels are not complementary. In another aspect of the present invention, portions of the perimeter surface of each plank may be non-recessed at locations where neighboring sub-panels are complementary. Referring to FIG. 13B, portions of the upper surface of the perimeter “P” of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 a may be slightly recessed compared to the major surface of each of the planks (see also FIG. 12B) to prevent premature wear of each of the planks. Further, portions of the upper surface of the perimeter of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 b may be non-recessed and substantially coplanar with the major surface of the sub-panels. Recessing only portions of the perimeter surface of each of the planks at positions not occupied by the decorative motifs and/or embossed surface textures of partial sub-panels of a plank allows complementary partial sub-panels to appear as a part of a unitary sub-panel while not significantly detracting from the overall durability of each of the planks. In yet another aspect of the present invention, portions of the surface of each plank may be recessed at locations where sub-panels of a plank are adjacent one another. Referring to FIG. 13B, portions of the upper surface of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 c may be slightly recessed compared to the major surface of each of the planks (see also FIG. 12B) to provide a visual and textural effect that each of the sub-panels of the plank are not a part of the same plank.
  • FIGS. 14A-14C illustrate an exemplary plank of a flooring system in still another aspect of the present invention.
  • Referring to FIGS. 14A-14C, similar to the plank shown in FIGS. 13A and 13B, portions of the upper surface of the perimeter “P” of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 a may be beveled to prevent premature wear of each of the planks. Further, portions upper surface of the perimeter of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 b may not be beveled such that they are substantially coplanar with the major surface of the sub-panels. Beveling the perimeter surface of each of the planks at positions corresponding to the decorative motifs and/or embossed surface textures of partial sub-panels of a plank allows complementary partial sub-panels to appear as a part of a unitary sub-panel while not significantly detracting from the overall durability of each of the planks. In yet another aspect of the present invention, portions of the surface of each plank may be provided with a groove at locations where sub-panels of a plank are adjacent to one another.
  • FIGS. 14B and 14C illustrate cross-sectional views of plank 130 taken across lines I-I′ and II-II′, respectively. Referring to FIGS. 14B and 14C, portions of the upper surface of each of the planks 130 indicated by reference numeral 138 c may be beveled to form a groove. Thus, the groove provides a visual and textural effect that sub-panels of a plank are separate. In one aspect of the present invention, the bevel at 138 c may produce a groove having a substantially V-shaped groove. It is appreciated, however, that the bevel may produce other groove topographies (e.g., U-shaped grooves, etc.). In one aspect of the present invention, the beveling of each of the planks 130 at perimeter surface portion 138 a creates a groove between adjacent planks. Accordingly, the groove formed between adjacent ones of the planks, via beveling at 138 a, has substantially the same width and topography as grooves formed within the planks, via beveling at 138 c.
  • The motif and/or surface texture present at the recessed surface of the perimeter of each plank may or may not correspond to the motif/surface texture present at the main surface of a corresponding plank. Thus, a substantially continuous motif and/or surface texture may or may not be present across the surfaces of the perimeter and the interior of any individual plank. Alignment marks or markings (not shown) can be used to self-align a decorative motif on the planks. In one aspect of the present invention, the embossed in-registration pattern may be a free form or custom design. It is to be understood that substantially any embossed-in-registration pattern and any decorative motif may be realized by applying the principles of the present invention. In one aspect of the present invention, alignment of the planks may be done visually upon joining them together. Accordingly, alignment of the planks 130 may be performed using the decorative motif and/or embossed surface texture of each of the planks.
  • While it has been illustrated that the planks in FIGS. 13A, 13B, and 14A-14C are substantially rectangular, the principles of the present invention allow the planks within the flooring system to have other shapes and sizes (e.g., geometric, freeform, etc.) or different or similar dimensions such that the flooring planks may be assembled in a “mosaic”-type arrangement or other regular, semi-repetitious, or random arrangement of panels. Further, while it is illustrated that each plank comprises an identical sub-panel layout, the principles of the present invention allow the planks within the flooring system to have other sub-panel layouts (e.g., other sub-panel shapes, sizes, etc.) The individual planks within the flooring system may be cut from a board such that joints between the flooring panels of the flooring system are not visible. Further, the planks within the flooring system illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14 may be joined together with or without glue. Still further, while it has been discussed that the embossed surface texture is substantially aligned with an underlying decorative motif, it is to be understood that substantially any embossed surface texture may be imparted to the planks of the present invention, regardless of the underlying decorative motif. Still further, the decorative motifs and/or the embossed surface texture of one plank may not be aligned or even be remotely similar in appearance and/or texture to decorative motifs and/or embossed surface textures of adjacent planks.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, any of the aforementioned decorative motifs and/or embossed surface textures that may or may not be embossed in registration with the decorative motifs (collectively referred to herein as “patterns”) may be applied to any of the aforementioned planks to form a substantially continuous pattern across adjacent planks arranged along a predetermined direction by forming each of the plank patterns using at least one bulk pattern and at least one edge pattern.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, each edge pattern may be present at a perimeter portion of the plank extending along at least a portion of at least one edge of each plank. In another aspect of the present invention, each edge pattern may extend to a predetermined distance (e.g., about one millimeter, about one inch, etc.) into the interior of the plank, away from the perimeter of the plank. In another aspect of the present invention, at least one bulk pattern may be arranged adjacent at least one edge pattern, wherein a pattern present at the edge of the bulk pattern adjacent the edge pattern may form a substantially continuous visual/textural pattern with a pattern present at the edge of the edge pattern adjacent the bulk pattern.
  • In one aspect of the present invention, patterns of individual planks, arranged adjacent each other along a predetermined direction within a flooring system, may complement patterns of adjacent planks (i.e., form substantially continuous patterns across adjacent planks) when edge patterns of the adjacent planks form a substantially continuous pattern. Where the flooring system described above comprises a plurality of adjacent planks arranged along the predetermined direction, and where the edges of each plank are arranged adjacent to edge patterns of other planks along the predetermined direction, edge patterns of adjacent planks are identical or substantially identical. The identical or substantially identical edge patterns of adjacent planks enable a continuous pattern to be formed across the adjacent planks.
  • For example, referring to FIG. 15A, an exemplary plank pattern of plank 150 may comprise two edge patterns 152 substantially identical to each other and a bulk pattern 154. As shown in FIG. 15A, the two substantially identical edge patterns 152 are present at a perimeter portion of the plank 150, extend along a portion of the opposite edges of the plank, and extend a predetermined distance into the interior of the plank 150. Still referring to FIG. 15A, the pattern present at the edge of the bulk pattern 154 adjacent the edge patterns 152 forms a substantially continuous pattern with the pattern present at the edge patterns 152 adjacent the bulk pattern.
  • Referring now to FIG. 15B, a plurality of planks 150A, 150B, 150C, etc., such as those illustrated in FIG. 15A may be arranged adjacent each other within a flooring system along a predetermined direction such that edges of each plank are arranged adjacent to the edges of other planks along the predetermined direction (e.g., an edge of plank 150A is adjacent an edge of plank 150B, an edge of plank 150C is adjacent an edge of plank 150D, etc.). As mentioned above, a substantially continuous pattern may be formed across an individual plank 150 because the bulk pattern 154 is substantially aligned with the edge patterns 152.
  • In an embodiment of the invention, the predetermined direction in which the planks are arranged is based on the adjacent edge patterns 152 in the planks, such that only by arranging the planks in the predetermined direction will the pattern formed be continuous and natural-looking. In this embodiment, reversing a plank or flipping a plank over will result in a discontinuous pattern. However, it is understood that in another embodiment, the edge patterns along a portion of the perimeter may be selected such that reversing, flipping or otherwise rearranging planks does not disrupt the pattern, i.e. the pattern is continuous.
  • In another embodiment, the predetermined direction is based on the interlocking mechanism that joins adjacent planks, such that the planks will not fit together properly if they are arranged in a direction other than the predetermined direction. One example of such a interlocking mechanism is a glueless tongue and groove system, in which the tongue is formed along at least one edge of the plank and the groove formed along the opposite edge. In yet another embodiment, the predetermined direction is based on both the edge patterns 152 and the glueless locking mechanism.
  • According to the principles of the present invention, bulk patterns 154A-154F may or may not be the same. In one aspect of the present invention, each of the bulk patterns 154 within a flooring system may be unique. Further, according to the principles of the present invention, edge patterns of individual planks may be substantially identical. Therefore, edge patterns of adjacent planks in a flooring system, across which a substantially continuous pattern is formed along the predetermined direction, are also substantially identical. A substantially continuous pattern may be provided across plank 150A because bulk pattern 154A and edge patterns 152A are aligned with each other to produce a substantially continuous pattern. Substantially continuous patterns may be individually provided across planks 150B, 150C, etc., because their respective bulk patterns 154B, 154C, etc., and edge patterns 152B, 152C, etc. are similarly aligned with each other to produce a substantially continuous pattern.
  • Because the edge patterns of planks 150A-150F within the flooring system illustrated in FIG. 15B are identical, edge pattern 152A forms a substantially continuous pattern with edge pattern 152B, edge pattern 152C forms a substantially continuous pattern with edge pattern 152D, and so on. Accordingly, a substantially continuous pattern may be formed across planks 150A and 150B, across planks 150C and 150D, and so on. The boundary or joint between the edge pattern 152A and the edge pattern 152B is substantially not visible, or the appearance of the presence of the boundary or joint is minimized. Similarly, the boundary or joint between the edge pattern 152C and the edge pattern 152D is substantially not visible, or the appearance of the presence of the boundary or joint is minimized. The boundary or joint between the edge pattern 152E and the edge pattern 152F is substantially not visible, or the appearance of the presence of the boundary or joint is minimized.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, in which the edge patterns 152 are all substantially identical, any of the planks 150A-150F may replace any other plank within the flooring system while still maintaining the presence of a substantially continuous pattern across planks arranged adjacent each other along the predetermined direction. This is because all bulk patterns of a plank are substantially aligned with their respective edge patterns to form substantially continuous patterns within a plank and because all edge patterns of planks adjacent each other within a flooring system are identical, forming form substantially continuous patterns across planks adjacent each other along the predetermined direction.
  • In another embodiment, planks may have adjacent right and left edge patterns 152 substantially identical, while opposite left and right edge patterns 152 are not.
  • For example, in FIG. 15C, the unitary sub-panel 132 of plank 150 may have a pattern provided by a bulk pattern 154G, partial sub-panel 134 may have a pattern provided by bulk pattern 154I and edge pattern 152, and partial sub-panel 136 may have a pattern provided by bulk pattern 154H and edge pattern 152, wherein the bulk patterns 154G-154I may or may not be the same. As mentioned above, however, the edge pattern 152, present at the perimeter of the partial sub-panel portions 134 and 136 of the plank 150 and extending along a portion of the edges of the plank 150, are identical to each other. Accordingly, in view of FIG. 13A, when, for example, planks 130A and 130B are arranged adjacent each other along a predetermined direction, edge patterns 152 of complementary partial sub-panels 134A and 136B are substantially identical to each other and a substantially continuous pattern may be formed across adjacent planks, wherein the bulk patterns of the complementary partial-sub panels become a part of a substantially continuous pattern, appearing, visually and/or texturally as a unitary sub-panel.
  • Furthermore, referring now to FIGS. 15C and 15D, flooring systems incorporating planks such as those illustrated in FIGS. 13A-14C may be provided with substantially continuous patterns across planks adjacent each other along predetermined directions by applying the techniques described above with reference to FIGS. 15A and 15B. FIG. 15D shows the planks having a woodgrain pattern in the arrangement shown in FIG. 15B. Because the edge pattern 152A is substantially identical to the adjacent edge pattern 152B, planks 150A and 150B have the appearance of a substantially continuous woodgrain pattern running uninterrupted across the boundary or joint between edge pattern 152A and edge pattern 152B of the adjacent plank.
  • In addition, because the edge patterns 152A and 152B do not run along the entire length of the boundary or joint between planks 150A and 150B, but only along the portion corresponding to the height of the partial board on the bottom half of the planks, the pattern is not continuous across that portion of the boundary between planks 150A and 150B corresponding to the height of the complete boards on the top half of the planks.
  • As mentioned above, within the flooring system incorporating the planks illustrated in FIGS. 13A-14C and 15C, the bulk patterns within the sub-panels of the planks may or may not be the same. In one aspect of the present invention, each of the bulk patterns within the flooring system may be unique.
  • FIG. 15E shows an embodiment of the invention in which the edge patterns of the planks are identical (or substantially identical) in every plank. Specifically, FIG. 15E shows four planks, 150A, 150B, 150C, and 150D arranged such that plank 150A is adjacent the left edge of plank 150B and adjacent to a top edge of plank 150C. Plank 150D is adjacent to the right edge of plank 150C and adjacent to the bottom edge of 150B.
  • In this embodiment, the décor paper of each plank has a wood design. However, it is understood that other natural looking designs other than wood are contemplated by this invention as well. The wood design in plank 150A includes, for example, a complete board or strip 155A on a top half of the board, a short incomplete board 151A and a long incomplete board 153A. Each of the boards has a woodgrain pattern. In addition, the short and long incomplete boards 151A and 153A have an edge pattern 152 running along a portion of the perimeter of the plank corresponding to the width of the incomplete boards 151A and 153A, and may extend a small distance (such as one centimeter, for example) into the interior of the boards. The edge patterns 152 of incomplete boards 151A and 153A are identical. The edge patterns 152 may also not extend into the interior of the boards.
  • Similarly, planks 150B, 150C, and 150D have complete boards 155B, 155C, and 155D, respectively, running the length of the plank, and short boards 151B, 151C, and 151D which are adjacent to long boards 153B, 153C, and 153D, respectively. Each of the short and long boards may have an identical edge pattern 152 along a portion of the perimeter of the plank corresponding to the width of the short and long boards.
  • All short boards 151A-D, long boards 153 A-D, and complete boards 155A-D have woodgrain patterns that are different from each other or some identical to each other. Only the edge patterns 152 in the incomplete boards are identical in this particular example. Furthermore, the edge pattern and interior woodgrain pattern of each incomplete board form a continuous pattern. In other words, there is a continuous overall woodgrain pattern on each of the short boards and long boards that are all different from one another, despite the fact that the edge patterns 152 are the same.
  • When planks 150A and 150B are placed adjacent to one another as shown in FIG. 15E, complete boards 155A and 155B will be adjacent to each other, and long board 153A and short board 151B will be adjacent. Complete boards 155A and 155B appear as separate boards and the woodgrain pattern is discontinuous across them, because the adjacent edges of the complete boards are different. But because the edge patterns 152 in long board 153A and short board 151B are the same, the unique woodgrain patterns of 153A and 151B appear to form a single continuous board with a unique woodgrain pattern running across the planks 150A and 150B. Furthermore, the appearance of a complete and continuous board with a unique woodgrain pattern running in boards 153A and 151B across the planks minimizes the visibility or appearance of the joint or boundary between the planks. Similarly, the woodgrain pattern across boards 153C and 151D is continuous.
  • In a further embodiment, the planks 150A, 150B, 150C, and 150D may have a surface texture that is embossed in registration with the wood design on the décor paper. Because edge patterns 152 are part of that wood design and may be the same or substantially identical in every plank, the embossed surface texture will appear to be continuous along the incomplete boards of adjacent planks in the manner discussed above. In still another embodiment, the embossed in registration surface texture may include bevels to imitate seams between boards, such that in plank 150A, for example, the complete board 155A would have a bevel running along its perimeter, including the boundary between board 155A and incomplete boards 151A and 153A. The incomplete boards 151A and 153A would have a bevel where they are adjacent, but the incomplete boards would not have a bevel along the portion of the perimeter of the plank 150A where the edge patterns 152 are located. In this way, a continuous wood grain pattern and corresponding embossed in registration surface texture can run continuously across planks 150A and 150B uninterrupted by a bevel. This would further reduce the appearance of the boundary between planks.
  • By having all edge patterns 152 to be identical, the present invention allows any planks to be fit together in the predetermined direction in which a long board 153 is adjacent a short board 151 of another plank, because the edge patterns 152 will always line up to form the appearance of a continuous wood grain pattern running across the adjacent long and short boards of the two planks. For example, if the positions of planks 150A and 150B were reversed (such that plank 150B was adjacent a top edge of plank 150C), the edge pattern 152 of long board 153B would match or be aligned with the edge pattern of short board 151A, forming a continuous wood grain pattern in the boards 153B and 151A across planks 150B and 150A.
  • The present invention reduces the complexity involved in installing a laminated floor, because it does not matter which planks are placed adjacent to one another in the predetermined direction. The patterns will be aligned. In a further embodiment, the planks 150 are provided with a glueless interlocking tongue and groove system in which the tongue is formed on two adjacent perimeter edges of the plank and the groove is formed in the opposite two adjacent perimeter edges so that the planks can only be fit together in the direction that will align long boards 153 with short boards 151, for example, where edge patterns 152 meet.
  • In the exemplary embodiment discussed above, the decorative motifs and design pattern elements such as wood strips run across separate adjacent planks. However, the wood strip motif has a length equal to that of the length of the plank, in order to allow for the interchangeability of planks, ensuring an easy installation.
  • FIG. 16 illustrates another exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, a flooring system including at least two distinct planks 160 and 161 has a wood grain motif that includes design motifs imitating wood strips. The flooring system has wood strip motifs running across adjacent planks and that may have a total length equal to twice the length of a single plank. In particular, the flooring system illustrated in FIG. 16 includes a first plank 160 and a second plank 161. The first plank 160 includes a top wood strip 164 and a bottom wood strip 165. On a first edge of the top wood strip 164 is an edge pattern 162 chosen to continue the wood grain pattern from wood strip 164 over to an adjacent plank. The bottom wood strip 165 includes an edge pattern 163 at the edge of the strip on the side of the plank opposite the edge of the plank where edge pattern 162 on the top strip 164 is situated. Edge pattern (also referred to as “continuous pattern”) 163 similarly continues the wood grain pattern from the bottom strip 165 across over to an adjacent plank. In alternative aspects of this embodiment, edge patterns 162 and 163 may be different or may be identical.
  • As noted earlier, a variety of materials may be used to make the planks of the present invention. The materials may include real wood, wood or plastic composites such as particle board, chip board, or laminates. The planks may also include a décor paper or hardwood veneer that includes the decorative patterns. In alternative embodiments, the planks may be made of one species of solid wood with a different species of solid wood veneer on the surface that is precisely cut so that the edge patterns align as discussed herein.
  • The wood strips have bulk patterns in the portions of the strip other than the edges. The bulk pattern corresponds to the underlying design pattern. In other words, the bulk pattern may be a wood grain, stone, marbling, or some other pattern. The edge patterns 162 and 163 are continuous with the bulk pattern such that the edge pattern and the bulk pattern from a continuous pattern. The seam patterns 168 and 169 are not continuous with the bulk pattern, but rather are discontinuous, so as to enhance the appearance of a discontinuity between adjacent bulk patterns having the discontinuous pattern between them.
  • Second plank 161 includes a top strip 166 and a bottom strip 167. The top strip 166 includes the edge pattern 162 at the edge of the plank opposite the edge where the edge pattern 162 is located on the top strip 164 of the first plank 160. Likewise, bottom strip 167 includes an edge pattern 163 along the edge of the plank 161 opposite the edge where the edge pattern 163 is located on the first plank 160. Other embodiments more strips in addition to the top and bottom strip.
  • The first wood strip 160 includes a decorative motif intended to represent a seam between the decorative motifs of the wood strips. In the top strip 164 there is a seam pattern 168 on the edge of the plank opposite the edge where edge pattern 162 is situated and there is a complete seam pattern 169 between the top strip 164 and the bottom strip 165. Furthermore, there is a seam pattern 168 on an edge of the bottom strip 165 opposite the edge of the bottom strip where edge pattern 163 is situated.
  • Similarly, in the second plank 161 there is a seam pattern 168 on the edge of the plank opposite the edge where edge pattern 162 is situated and there is a seam pattern 168 on the edge of the plank opposite the edge where seam pattern 163 is situated. Furthermore, a seam 169 runs between the top strip 166 and the bottom strip 167.
  • The seams 168 may be complete width seams, i.e., their width may be the same as the thickness of the seam pattern 166 or, in an alternative embodiment, the width of the seam pattern 168 may be half the width of the width of the seam pattern 169 such that when two adjacent seam patterns 168 are placed adjacent one another they form a seam pattern whose thickness is equal to the thickness of seam pattern 169.
  • When the flooring plank 160 is placed adjacent to flooring plank 161 the bottom strips 165 and 167 are adjacent to one another and the edge patterns 163 on edges of the plank at the opposite ends of the wood strips 165 and 167 abut one another to form a continuous wood strip design flowing across wood plank 162 and wood plank 161 creating a wood strip whose length is twice the length of the floor planks 160 or 161. The wood strip runs from one end of the flooring plank 160 across to the distal edge of the second plank 161. If an additional first flooring plank 160 is placed on the other side of the second flooring plank 161 then the top flooring plank 166 of the second flooring plank 161 would be adjacent to the top wood strip 164 of the first flooring plank 160 such that the edge patterns 162 and the top strips 166 and 164 abut one another thereby creating a wood strip flowing across the tops of adjacent flooring planks 161 and 160 that is twice the length of the individual flooring planks. Thus, using only two distinct planks the flooring system of the present invention is able to reproduce a wood strip design in which the length of the wood strip motif is twice the length of the plank.
  • In alternative aspects of the embodiment, the seam patterns 168 at the edges of the plank are replaced by a pattern discontinuous from the bulk pattern in the center of the strip but which aligns with the corresponding discontinuous pattern on an adjacent plank.
  • The present invention is not limited to wood grain patterns, but also contemplates stone and marble patterns as well as artificial or artistic designs. In another exemplary embodiment using a marble pattern rather than a wood grain pattern, edge patterns 162 and 163 may be portions of marbling that align with the corresponding edge pattern of an adjacent plank to form continuous marbling across planks, creating the effect of a marble strip or tile longer than the physical length of the plank.
  • In further embodiments, the present invention includes beveled edges and embossed-in-registration surface textures in addition to the décor pattern. In particular, a bevel can be embossed or cut overtop the seam patterns 168 and 169 such that the bevel has the same width as the seam pattern, thereby further enhancing the optical effect of separated boards. Furthermore, the planks 160 and 161 may also have a surface texture embossed-in-registration with the décor pattern such that the embossed-in-registration texture includes corresponding surface textures for the edge patterns 162 and 163. In this manner, the embossed-in-registration surface textures continue across from one plank to the next. In addition, because the flooring system only has two distinct planks, installation of the planks is simple. They planks are installed in an alternating fashion such that flooring plank 160 alternates with flooring plank 161 in a horizontal direction to create wood strips whose length is twice the length of a flooring plank in such that the wood strips at the top and the bottom of the planks are staggered.
  • The present invention contemplates further embodiments such as the exemplary embodiment illustrated in FIG. 16B in which the flooring system includes as many as four distinct flooring planks. These four flooring planks include the first and second flooring planks 160 and 161 illustrated in FIG. 16A as well as two additional flooring planks 171 and 172. Third flooring plank 171 includes a top strip 173 and a bottom strip 174. Here, the top strip 173 has a seam pattern 168 on both edges of the plank while the bottom strip 174 has the edge pattern 163 on both ends of the plank. In addition, the fourth plank 172 has a top strip 175 and a bottom strip 176 in which the top strip 175 has edge pattern 162 on both ends of the plank but bottom strip 176 is bounded by seam patterns 168. In this flooring system planks may be placed adjacent one another provided that they have seam patterns 168 that will be adjacent one another in one strip and an edge pattern 162 or 163 that will be adjacent in the two planks as well when the two planks are placed adjacent one another. As noted earlier, the seam patterns 168 may be replaced by patterns other than seams that are discontinuous from the bulk pattern in the center of the strip.
  • In this exemplary embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 16B, plank 160 maybe placed adjacent to flooring planks 171 or 161 on a first side of planks 171 and 161 (the left hand side in FIG. 16B) or it may be placed adjacent planks 161 and 172 on a second side of planks 161 and 172 (the right hand side in FIG. 16B). Likewise, flooring plank 171 may be placed adjacent planks 160 or 161 on the first or left side or may be placed adjacent to another plank 171 on either the first (left) or second (right) side. Plank 161 may be placed to the right of plank 160 or plank 171 or to the left of plank 172 and 160. Finally, plank 172 may be placed to the right of plank 161 or to the right of another plank 172 or to the left of plank 160 or to the left of another plank 172. This provides for a number of combinations and arrangements of the four flooring planks thereby providing a number of wood strips in the overall flooring pattern design having different lengths greater than or equal to the length of a single flooring plank. For example, if planks 160, 171, 161 and 172 are placed adjacent one another in the manner illustrated in FIG. 16B then the resulting flooring design will include wood strips of length equal to the length of a single plank in flooring planks 171 and the bottom of plank 172. However, the flooring design will also include wood strips whose length is equal to three times the length of a flooring plank such as the wood strip running from the bottom strip of plank 160 across the bottom strip plank 171 and across the end of the bottom strip of plank 161 to the distal end of the plank 161. In addition, planks 171 or 172 may be repeated adjacent to one another as often as is desired to further increase the length of the wood strip in the flooring design to several multiples of the length of a single plank. This is possible because planks 171 and 172 provide wood strips 174 and 172 respectively that are not bounded on either side by discontinuous seam patterns 168 or 169, but rather have the same edge pattern 163 or 162 on either side. This way the flooring system illustrated in FIG. 16B, having the flooring planks 160, 161, 171 and 172, is able to provide wood strips of variable long length without increasing the complexity of the overall flooring plank system.
  • Specifically, the installer is able to install any flooring plank adjacent any other flooring plank such that there will be an edge pattern or discontinuous pattern (such as seam pattern 168) in the top strip or in the bottom strip that is adjacent to the corresponding pattern in the corresponding strip of the adjacent plank. Thus the installer has the ability to design a flooring pattern using the four distinct planks of the system knowing that the complexity of the installation does not increase beyond the requirement that seam patterns 168 be placed adjacent to another seam pattern 168 or that a seam pattern 169 be placed adjacent to another pattern 169.
  • The flooring system can be simplified further to require only three distinct planks: planks 160, 161, and either of planks 171 or 172. For example, in an embodiment with planks 160, 161, and 171, any number of planks 171 can be placed between planks 160 and 161, as is shown in FIG. 16B to create a very long wood strip formed by adjacent bottom strips 165, multiple 174, and 167. In addition, planks 160 and 161 may also be placed adjacent to one another. To create wood strip patterns of length equal to twice the length of a plank across either two top or two bottom wood strips. Furthermore, because in this embodiment only the edge patterns are required to be identical, the interior patterns of the complete, long and short boards of the planks can be different, providing a more natural looking floor.
  • The number of planks in the flooring system can be further reduced to two planks. FIG. 16C illustrates another embodiment having two planks 181 and 182. The first plank 181 includes a discontinuous pattern 183, patterned as a seam, an upper edge pattern 184 corresponding to the top wood strip of the plank 181, and lower edge patterns 185 on opposite sides of the lower wood strip. The second plank 182 includes an edge pattern 184 on the top strip of the plank on the edge opposite the location of the edge pattern 184 on the first plank 181. A discontinuous pattern 183 is located on the edge of the plank opposite that where the edge pattern 184 is located. The bottom strip of the plank 182 includes edge patterns 185 on the opposite edges of the plank 181 with two adjacent discontinuous patterns located in the interior of the bottom strip between the edge patterns 185.
  • When the first and second plank are placed adjacent one another in a horizontal direction such that the edge patterns 184 or 185 of different strips are adjacent to one another, the result is a staggered pattern of wood strips whose length is twice the length of the plank.
  • In a further embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 16D, two planks 186 and 187 have an arrangement of edge patterns 184 and 185 and discontinuous patterns 183 different from that of the two planks in FIG. 16C. In particular, first plank 186 has edge patterns 184 at both ends of the top strip with adjacent discontinuous patterns 183 there between, and edge patterns 185 on both ends of the bottom strip also with adjacent discontinuous patterns 183 there between. The second plank 187 as a top strip with edge patterns 184 at both ends and a bottom strip with edge patterns 185 at both ends. The second strip 187 does not include any discontinuous patterns. By placing planks 186 and 187 adjacent to and alternating with one another, the result is a flooring design with staggered wood planks whose length is twice the length of the plank. In addition, because in this embodiment the plank 187 has no discontinuous patterns, multiple planks 187 can be placed adjacent to one another to extend the length of the wood strips to any multiple of the length of the plank.
  • It is understood in the embodiments of FIGS. 16C and 16D that the edge patterns 184 and 185 may be the same or they may be different. Furthermore, it is understood that the planks are not required to have more than one strip as part of their design pattern. For example, FIG. 16E illustrates an embodiment having two planks 188 and 189 each having only a portion of one strip. Plank 188 has a discontinuous pattern 183 at a first end of the plank and a continuous edge pattern 184 at the opposite second end of the plank. Plank 189 has a discontinuous pattern 183 at the second end and the continuous edge pattern 184 at the first end of the plank. Thus, planks 188 and 189 may be placed adjacent one another in the horizontal direction to create a single strip design in which the length of the strip is twice the length of the plank, and the width of the strip is equal to the width of the plank.
  • A further exemplary embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 17, includes planks 188 and 189 as illustrated in FIG. 16E, but in addition includes third plank 190 and fourth plank 191. The third plank 190 includes discontinuous patterns 183 along all edges of the plank, and fourth plank 191 includes the continuous edge patterns 184 at both ends of the plank.
  • With four such distinct planks, the flooring design may have strips of length substantially equal to the length of one plank, two planks, or three or more planks, depending on the number of duplicate third planks are placed adjacent one another. In an exemplary arrangement, planks are placed adjacent one another in multiple rows in the order of first plank 188, second plank 189, fourth plank 191, and third plank 190.
  • Four planks 188-191 have a further advantage in that planks may be manufactured using a décor paper which is pressed and cut into planks which are then packed in to cartons for shipping and sale. In décor paper that is wide enough to accommodate four planks, it is reasonable to have four distinct planks on a single décor paper. This way, the planks are pressed onto a board, embossed, cut into planks together, and shipped together in the same carton.
  • FIG. 18 illustrates an embodiment of the invention in which a flooring system includes four flooring planks. The flooring system includes four planks, 200, 202, 204, and 206 each of which has a surface design pattern including to long horizontal strips. Planks 200, 204 and 206 have similar strip arrangements. In the bottom portion of the planks is a single complete strip 205 with discontinuous edge patterns 203 on either side of the strip at the ends of the plank. The particular pattern, such as a wood grain pattern, of the single complete strips 205A, C, and D may be the same or different on each of the planks 200, 204, and 206, respectively.
  • In the upper portion of the planks are two incomplete strips 208 and 209, adjacent to one another, separated by a discontinuous pattern 207 that resembles a seam or a joint. The particular pattern, such as a wood grain pattern, of the incomplete strips 208A, C, and D and the incomplete strips 209A, C, and D may be the same or different on each of the planks 200, 204, and 206, respectively. Some portion at the edge or end of the plank, where the incomplete strips 208 and 209 meet the end of the plank, is a continuous edge pattern 201 that is the same on all four planks 200, 202, 204 and 206. The continuous edge pattern 201 is contiguous and continuous with the overall, or bulk, pattern of the strips 208 and 209, however, while the bulk patterns of the incomplete strips 208A, 208C, 208D, 209A, 209C, and 209D may be different, the continuous edge pattern is the same. This way, when any of planks 200, 202, 204 and 206 are placed adjacent one another, the continuous edge patterns of the adjacent incomplete strips of different planks, such as 209A and 208C for example, align to create the appearance of a single, complete strip that runs across the upper portion of more than one plank.
  • The discontinuous pattern 207 may be the same as discontinuous pattern 203, it may be similar to two discontinuous patterns 203 placed adjacent one another, or it may be entirely different from discontinuous pattern 203. Planks 200, 204, and 206 differ in the horizontal position of the discontinuous pattern 207 along the upper portion of the planks. In other words, the length of the pairs incomplete strips, 208 and 209, may differ in each of planks 200, 204, and 206. For example, the lengths of the incomplete strips 208C and 209C of plank 204 are different than the lengths of the incomplete strips 208D and 209D of plank 206. Therefore, while planks 200, 204, and 206 have the same arrangement of continuous edge patterns 201, discontinuous edge patterns 203, incomplete and complete strips 208 and 209, the length of those incomplete strips is different. This way, a floor made of the planks 200, 202, 204 and 206 will appear to have a more random and natural looking appearance because of the differing lengths of complete strips formed by placing incomplete strips adjacent one another.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 18, the flooring system may also include a plank 202 having one complete strip 205B in the bottom portion of the plank 202 bounded at the ends of the plank by the discontinuous edge pattern 203 and a single incomplete strip 210 in the upper portion of the plank 202 incorporating within it the continuous edge pattern 201 at a portion near the edge of the plank. Plank 202 may be used to extend the apparent length of the incomplete strip by one plank length. For example, if planks 200, 202, and 204 are placed adjacent one another, they will create the appearance of three complete strips of equal length with a long complete strip above them. Furthermore, because the placement of the discontinuous pattern 207 is different in planks 200 and 204, the length of that long complete plank will not be equal to a multiple of the plank length.
  • FIG. 19 illustrates a further alternative embodiment of the invention, in which a flooring system includes four planks 220-223. Three of the planks, 221-223, each include a discontinuous pattern 224 in a different position in their decorative pattern, thereby forming two incomplete strips 226A and 227A, 226B, and 227B, and 226C and 227C, respectively. The length of the incomplete strips 226 and 227 differs among the planks because of the differing placement of the discontinuous pattern 224. One of the planks, plank 220, does not include the discontinuous pattern 224, and therefore has a decorative pattern that forms only a single incomplete strip. A portion of the decorative pattern near the edge of the plank, forms a continuous edge pattern 225 that is the same on both sides of all four planks 220-223 in the flooring system. The continuous edge pattern is contiguous and part of the overall decorative pattern on the plank, and when placed adjacent another edge pattern on another plank, continues the decorative pattern seamlessly from one plank to the next. Using a flooring system having the four distinct planks illustrated in FIG. 19, a floor pattern can be created in which wood strips may have a variety of lengths, including lengths that are greater than one or two plank lengths, but which may not be multiples of a plank length.
  • It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (22)

1. A flooring system comprising:
a plurality of distinct flooring planks, at least a first and second plank of said plurality having a first edge pattern along a portion of an edge of the plank and a second edge pattern running along the remainder of the portion of that edge of the plank, wherein the first and second edge patterns are placed on the side of the first plank opposite the side where the first edge pattern and the second edge patterns are located in the second plank,
wherein the positions of the first and second edge patterns on one edge of the first plank are different from the positions of the first and second edge patters on the opposite edge of said first plank.
2. The flooring system of claim 1, further comprising a bulk pattern in an interior region of said first plank.
3. The flooring system of claim 1, wherein the first edge pattern further comprises a portion of a décor pattern continuous with said bulk pattern and wherein the second edge pattern comprises a discontinuous pattern.
4. The flooring system of claim 2, wherein the décor pattern of the first edge pattern is a wood grain pattern and wherein the discontinuous pattern is a seam.
5. The flooring system of claim 1, further comprising a third plank wherein the third plank has the first edge portion running along the same portion on both edges of the plank and a second edge portion running along the same other portion of both edges of the planks.
6. The flooring system of claim 4, further comprising:
a fourth flooring plank having a first edge pattern along the portion of both edges of the plank, said portion different from the portions of the third plank where the second edge pattern is located.
7. The flooring system of claim 1 wherein the first edge pattern and the second edge pattern are different from one another.
8. The flooring system of claim 1, wherein the first edge pattern and the second edge pattern are the same height but are on opposite sides of the first and second flooring plank.
9. A flooring system comprising a plurality of planks, each of said planks having a plurality of edge patterns disposed along edges of the flooring plank such that each of said edge patterns is positioned along the opposite edges of the flooring planks such that the edge patterns on any one of said plurality of planks aligns with the edge patterns of at least two other of said plurality of flooring planks when said two other flooring planks are placed adjacent said first flooring plank.
10. The flooring system of claim 9 wherein at least one of said plurality of distinct planks has an arrangement of said edge patterns in which the arrangement of the plurality of edge patterns on one side of the plank matches the arrangement of the edge patterns on the opposite side of the plank.
11. The flooring system of claim 9 wherein at least one of said plurality of distinct planks includes an arrangement of said edge patterns on one side of the plank that is opposite the arrangement of said edge patterns on the opposite side of the plank.
12. A flooring system comprising:
a first plank;
a second plank;
a first edge pattern at a portion of a first edge of said first plank and at a portion of a second, opposite, edge of said second plank; and
a second edge pattern at a portion of the second edge of said first plank and at a portion of the first edge of said second plank.
13. The flooring system of claim 12, further comprising:
the second edge pattern at a portion of the first edge of said first plank substantially opposite the portion of the second edge of said first plank where said second edge pattern is located.
14. The flooring system of claim 13, further comprising:
the first edge pattern at a portion of the second edge of said first plank substantially opposite the portion of the first edge of said first plank where said first edge pattern is located.
15. The flooring system of claim 13, further comprising:
a discontinuous pattern between said second edge patterns of said first plank.
16. The flooring system of claim 12, wherein said first edge pattern is a discontinuous pattern.
17. The flooring system of claim 15, further comprising:
a discontinuous pattern between said first edge patterns of said first plank.
18. A building panel system, comprising:
a plurality of distinct planks having an interior décor pattern;
each of said planks having a first edge and a second edge opposite said first edge;
a continuous edge pattern on at least a portion of said first edge of at least two of said plurality of distinct planks;
a continuous edge pattern on at least a portion of said second edge of at least two of said plurality of distinct planks;
a discontinuous edge pattern on at least a portion of said first edge of at least two of said plurality of distinct planks; and
a discontinuous edge pattern on at least a portion of said second edge of at least two of said plurality of distinct planks.
19. The building panel system of claim 18, wherein at least one distinct plank of said plurality of distinct planks has a continuous edge pattern along the entire first and second edges of said plank.
20. The building panel system of claim 18, said distinct planks further comprising a third edge and a fourth edge opposite said third edge, wherein a continuous edge pattern is along at least a portion of said third edge.
21. The building panel system of claim 20, further comprising:
a continuous edge pattern along at least a portion of said fourth edge, wherein none of said continuous edge patterns on said first, second, third, or fourth edges are adjacent any other continuous edge pattern on a different edge.
22. The building panel system of claim 18, wherein said building panel system is a flooring panel system, and said planks are flooring planks.
US10/885,230 2004-07-07 2004-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns Abandoned US20060005498A1 (en)

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US10/885,230 US20060005498A1 (en) 2004-07-07 2004-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
CN 200580029812 CN101084349B (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
PCT/IB2005/003088 WO2006003530A2 (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
BRPI0513162 BRPI0513162A (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Floor system having complementary sub-panel with edge patterns
CA 2572706 CA2572706C (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
JP2007519921A JP2008506051A (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having a sub-panel with a continuous edge pattern
CN 201010229170 CN101899895B (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system
EP20050789304 EP1778931A2 (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
KR1020077000417A KR100940252B1 (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
AU2005258848A AU2005258848B2 (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
RU2007104582/03A RU2371554C2 (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 System of flooring comprising subpanels with mutually complementary edge patterns
MX2007000132A MX2007000132A (en) 2004-07-07 2005-07-07 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns.
HK08103265A HK1112951A1 (en) 2004-07-07 2008-03-20 Flooring system having sub-panels with complementary edge patterns
HK11105486.7A HK1151502A1 (en) 2004-07-07 2011-06-01 A building panel system

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EP (1) EP1778931A2 (en)
JP (1) JP2008506051A (en)
KR (1) KR100940252B1 (en)
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AU (1) AU2005258848B2 (en)
BR (1) BRPI0513162A (en)
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BRPI0513162A (en) 2008-04-29

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