US20100107522A1 - Synthetic support base for modular flooring - Google Patents

Synthetic support base for modular flooring Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100107522A1
US20100107522A1 US12/688,222 US68822210A US2010107522A1 US 20100107522 A1 US20100107522 A1 US 20100107522A1 US 68822210 A US68822210 A US 68822210A US 2010107522 A1 US2010107522 A1 US 2010107522A1
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Prior art keywords
support structure
flooring
synthetic
support base
support
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Abandoned
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US12/688,222
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Andrew Gettig
Ronald A. Yokubison
David F. Smith
Charlie M. Graves
Troy D. Mohr
Thayne B. Haney
Joseph M. Ure
Original Assignee
Andrew Gettig
Yokubison Ronald A
Smith David F
Graves Charlie M
Mohr Troy D
Haney Thayne B
Ure Joseph M
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Priority to US67412305P priority Critical
Priority to US11/410,506 priority patent/US20060285920A1/en
Application filed by Andrew Gettig, Yokubison Ronald A, Smith David F, Graves Charlie M, Mohr Troy D, Haney Thayne B, Ure Joseph M filed Critical Andrew Gettig
Priority to US12/688,222 priority patent/US20100107522A1/en
Publication of US20100107522A1 publication Critical patent/US20100107522A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E01CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS, RAILWAYS, OR BRIDGES
    • E01CCONSTRUCTION OF, OR SURFACES FOR, ROADS, SPORTS GROUNDS, OR THE LIKE; MACHINES OR AUXILIARY TOOLS FOR CONSTRUCTION OR REPAIR
    • E01C13/00Pavings or foundations specially adapted for playgrounds or sports grounds; Drainage, irrigation or heating of sports grounds
    • E01C13/04Pavings made of prefabricated single units
    • E01C13/045Pavings made of prefabricated single units the prefabricated single units consisting of or including bitumen, rubber or plastics

Abstract

A flooring system configured to accommodate sports play and other activities, wherein the flooring system comprises a support base having a synthetic component, such as a synthetic support structure, wherein the support base is configured to provide a support surface for receiving and supporting a flooring configuration. The support base may further comprise a filler material operable with the synthetic support component, wherein the synthetic support component is integrated into the filler material.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/410,506, filed Apr. 24, 2006 and entitled “Synthetic Support System for Modular Flooring,” which claims the benefit of U.S. Application No. 60/674,123, filed Apr. 22, 2005, and entitled, “Synthetic Support System for Modular Flooring,” each of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety herein.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to synthetic sport and other flooring configurations, such as a modular sport flooring configuration comprising a plurality of interlocking modular tiles, designed for use in athletic play or for a variety of other purposes. More particularly, the present invention relates to a support base having a primarily synthetic component, wherein the support base is designed and configured to support a sports or other similar flooring configuration, and wherein the support base is configured to replace traditional support bases, such as concrete and asphalt.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND RELATED ART
  • In recent years, the use of flooring configurations made of synthetic or artificial materials to form a flooring surface intended for sports play and other activities has grown in popularity. These synthetic flooring configurations are advantageous for several reasons. First, they are easily manufactured and typically formed of materials which are generally inexpensive and lightweight. Thus, if a portion of the flooring configuration is damaged it may easily be removed and replaced. Second, these synthetic flooring configurations are easily removable as they are temporarily placed over a support base. Thus, if the entire flooring configuration needs to be relocated, each individual modular floor tile making up the flooring configuration can easily be detached from one another, relocated, and then reattached to form the flooring configuration in a new location. Third, the durable plastics from which these flooring configurations are formed are long lasting. Fourth, unlike the alternative traditional floors of asphalt and concrete, which are made up of primarily natural materials, a synthetic material comprises better performance characteristics, such as improved shock or impact absorption, while also reducing the likelihood of injury in the event of a fall. The connections for the modular flooring configuration can even be specially engineered to absorb lateral forces to further reduce the chance of injury. Fifth, synthetic flooring configurations generally require little maintenance as compared to non-synthetic flooring materials, such as wood.
  • To construct a usable synthetic flooring configuration, a suitable support base is required. The support base provides many functions, namely to provide and maintain a level surface on which the flooring configuration may rest, and to provide a suitable support that resists buckling of the flooring configuration overlaid thereon. Support bases are typically constructed of concrete or asphalt, particularly if the synthetic flooring configuration to be overlaid on the support base is intended for use outdoors or in large indoor areas, such as recreational centers, gymnasiums, etc.
  • Although traditional support bases of concrete and asphalt are commonly used, there are several inherent difficulties associated with these. First, and foremost, these are permanent structures that require significant effort and expense to install. In addition, once installed, it is highly impractical, from a cost and labor standpoint, to try and remove and relocate these support bases in the event one desires to relocate the synthetic flooring configuration. Rather, upon removing and relocating the synthetic flooring configuration to a new location, a new support base is typically constructed at the new location.
  • Moreover, it is not uncommon for the support base to comprise up to one half or more of the total cost of installing a synthetic flooring configuration, particularly if the support base requires retaining or reinforcement of any kind. This is one reason installations of such flooring configurations is so high. Contributing to this are various fluctuations in material availability. In the aftermath of natural disasters or other unforeseeable events, such materials can be in short supply, thus driving costs even higher.
  • Considering international aspects, there are many countries in which concrete or asphalt is unavailable altogether. In these locations, concrete must be imported, which is much too cost prohibitive and impractical in most instances for a game court. In other countries, the technology needed to construct large slabs of concrete or asphalt is practiced or known by only a few, and equipment needed is either scarce or nonexistent.
  • Another significant problem centers around water drainage. In most instances, current support bases are impervious to water drainage, and therefore must comprise some degree of slope or grade to allow water to flow from its surface. Recently, the number of government covenants and/or regulations placing restrictions on the use of concrete and asphalt has been on the rise as such slabs cause water to run off instead of being absorbed by the ground. This has caused many city aquifers to be depleted.
  • Despite water drainage problems, many cities and counties have restricted the construction of additional concrete or asphalt slabs for various other reasons. This has significantly limited the number of play areas within certain locations, particularly in large cities where much of the landscape comprises concrete or asphalt. Because of these restrictions or prohibitions, there are several people in these areas that do not have proximate access to a play area or sports facility.
  • Traditional support bases are also very rigid and hard. They do not provide any degree of inherent flexibility or give, nor do they exhibit any impact absorption characteristics. Thus, any impact or other forces are required to be borne or absorbed solely by the flooring configuration. As such, this has been a critical factor in the design of many synthetic flooring configurations.
  • Concrete and asphalt are also very susceptible to cracking. As these slabs can often experience extreme weather conditions, such conditions can have a detrimental effect on the concrete or asphalt surface. After time, the concrete or asphalt surface can become irregular, inconsistent, and unusable.
  • Finally, although not necessarily problematic, concrete and asphalt support bases are not particularly aesthetically pleasing.
  • Based on the foregoing, it would be advantageous to provide a support base that is less permanent, that is able to better facilitate water drainage from the flooring configuration, that is relatively easy and inexpensive to install, that can be easily relocated and installed at another location, that comprises characteristics or properties that contribute to overall performance, that helps to reduce the likelihood of injury, and that provides other needed advantages.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In light of the problems and deficiencies inherent in the prior art, the present invention seeks to overcome these by providing a support base comprised, at least in part, of a synthetic component, and that is designed and configured to replace conventional or traditional support bases, namely concrete, asphalt, and other similar surfaces that are comprised of primarily of natural aggregate or sub-aggregate materials, such as rock, gravel, sand, and similar materials.
  • In accordance with the invention as embodied and broadly described herein, the present invention features a method for constructing a flooring system configured to accommodate sports play and other activities, the method comprising: (a) preparing a portion of ground to comprise a substantially flat subgrade; (b) situating a synthetic support structure about the ground to form a support base having a support surface of a generally planar configuration; (c) preparing the support base and the support surface; and (d) overlaying the flooring configuration on the support surface.
  • The present invention also features a method for constructing a flooring system configured to accommodate sports play and other activities, the method comprising: (a) locating a portion of ground; (b) preparing the portion of ground to comprise a soil composition having suitable friability; (c) applying a synthetic soil solidifier to the soil composition; (d) preparing the soil composition containing the soil solidifier to form a support base having a support surface of a generally planar configuration; (e) curing the support base to cause the soil solidifier to bond with the soil; and (f) overlaying the flooring configuration on the support surface.
  • The present invention further features a flooring system configured to accommodate sports play and other activities, the flooring system comprising: (a) a support base configured to receive and support a flooring configuration, the support base comprising a synthetic support structure situated about a portion of ground, the support base being configured to provide a support surface having a generally planar configuration; and (b) a flooring configuration disposed about the support surface of the support base.
  • The present invention still further features a sports flooring system comprising: (a) a support base configured to receive and support a flooring configuration, the support base comprising a synthetic support structure situated about a portion of ground and configured to receive and absorb a force acting thereon, the support base being configured to provide a support surface having a generally planar configuration; (b) a flooring configuration disposed about the support surface of the support base, the flooring configuration being configured to receive and absorb a force acting thereon; and (c) a force transfer element for transferring at least a portion of the force acting on the flooring configuration to the support base, the flooring configuration operable with the support base to absorb shock by distributing loads acting within the flooring system.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings merely depict exemplary embodiments of the present invention they are, therefore, not to be considered limiting of its scope. It will be readily appreciated that the components of the present invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, could be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Nonetheless, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • FIG. 1 illustrates a general layout of a generic flooring system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wherein the flooring system comprises a flooring configuration that is supported by a synthetic support base comprised of a sub-surface support structure secured to the ground, a filler material, and an optional intermediate layer;
  • FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a modular, sub-surface support structure to be used in a support base, according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of a modular, sub-surface support structure to be used in a support base, according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a partial perspective view of an exemplary flooring system utilizing the modular, sub-surface support structure of FIG. 3;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates one alternative to providing a flooring system comprised of a plurality of modular support structures, wherein the support structure comprises a rollable configuration;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a partial perspective view of an above ground, modular support structure to be used in a support base, according to still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an exploded perspective view of a flooring system in accordance with still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a flow diagram depicting a method for constructing a flooring system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a flow diagram depicting a method for constructing a flooring system in accordance with another exemplary embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
  • The following detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the invention makes reference to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof and in which are shown, by way of illustration, exemplary embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. While these exemplary embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art practice the invention, it should be understood that other embodiments may be realized and that various changes to the invention may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Thus, the following more detailed description of the embodiments of the present invention is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as claimed, but is presented for purposes of illustration only and not limitation to describe the features and characteristics of the present invention, to set forth the best mode of operation of the invention, and to sufficiently enable one skilled in the art to practice the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is to be defined solely by the appended claims.
  • The following detailed description and exemplary embodiments of the invention will be best understood by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein the elements and features of the invention are designated by numerals throughout.
  • The present invention describes and features a method and system for supporting a flooring configuration, such as the type manufactured and sold by Connor Sport Court International of Salt Lake City, Utah, which flooring configurations are commonly sold under the SPORT COURT® brand name and other associated trademarks. More specifically, the present invention describes and features a flooring system comprising, at least in part, a synthetic support base configured to replace traditional support bases and to provide the necessary support to a flooring configuration, modular or otherwise, overlaid upon, situated about, coupled thereto, or otherwise interacting with the support base, in response to the several forces (e.g., normal, lateral, longitudinal, shear, and other forces) induced and acting upon the flooring configuration. The present invention flooring system, namely both the flooring configuration and the support base supporting it, is designed to be easily removable and much less permanent than existing flooring systems utilizing traditional support bases, such as cement. Although flooring configurations, as known in the art, are easily removable from the traditional support bases supporting them, the support bases themselves are not easily removable. Indeed, the construction of a flooring system, such as the ones described and referred to herein, utilizing a traditional support base requires a great commitment in that the support base is typically a more permanent structure, even though the flooring configuration overlaid thereon is not as permanent. Moreover, traditional flooring systems lack efficient and sophisticated support characteristics that are provided by the present invention flooring system, such as improved water drainage, increased shock and force absorption capabilities, and ease of leveling and re-leveling of the support base, if needed, just to name a few.
  • Unlike conventional or traditional support bases used to provide the necessary support for a modular and other similar synthetic flooring systems, such as concrete, asphalt, etc., the present invention provides a synthetic support base designed to introduce new and different advantages into flooring systems of the type described and otherwise referred to herein. In effect, the present synthetic support base is intended to replace the need for traditional support bases.
  • Some of the advantages realized by the present synthetic support base are recited herein. For example, the present synthetic support base is designed to mimic many of the positive characteristics of traditional support bases formed of concrete or asphalt, such as good stability, good ball bounce, ease of maintenance, their ability to be leveled, their ability to function as a weed growth inhibitor.
  • In addition, the present invention synthetic support base may be configured to be pervious to water, thus facilitating improved water drainage from the flooring system. Each component in a constructed flooring system, including the flooring configuration overlaid upon the support base, may facilitate water drainage. Indeed, the support base, having a synthetic component that may be manufactured to comprise any size and/or configuration, may therefore be configured to operate directly with the flooring configuration to channel water from the uppermost contact or playing surface of the flooring system, through the flooring configuration, through the support base, and finally into the ground.
  • The present invention synthetic support base is easy to install and easy to prepare, meaning that it is easy to manipulate (e.g., level, extend, etc.) to form or define a generally planar support surface on which the flooring configuration may be placed. This defined support surface may be easily initially leveled. In addition, the support surface may be easily modified or manipulated after the support base is constructed and the flooring configuration installed. For instance, the support surface of the support base may be re-leveled without difficult maintenance or replacement of the support base, and without having to remove the entire flooring configuration.
  • The present invention synthetic support base provides improved impact absorbing properties, while maintaining desirable ball bounce and jumping characteristics. As stated herein, the support base may be configured to absorb some of the forces acting on the contact surface and within the flooring configuration. Unlike traditional surfaces that did not absorb any of the impact, or a negligible amount, and that required the flooring configuration to function as the only means for absorbing a force or shock, a support base having a synthetic component may be configured, as desired, to comprise an impact absorbing characteristic that operates with the flooring configuration to provide a shock absorbing system. This may ultimately improve the design potentials of synthetic modular floor tiles and the flooring configurations assembled with these floor tiles as designers and manufacturers may be less concerned with building shock absorbing characteristics directly into these floor tiles.
  • The present invention synthetic support base is designed to be less permanent than traditional support bases. Indeed, the present invention support base is easily removable, thus allowing easy replacement, or relocation of the support base to another location to form a similar flooring system. In the case of a modular synthetic support structure, all that is required to move or repair this structure is to disassemble all or a portion of it and to perform the same or a similar installation, either on-site for the new portion, or at the new location if being relocated.
  • The present synthetic support base facilitates one or more advantageous types of interaction or interface with the flooring configuration overlaid thereon. Indeed, because of its ability to comprise any shape or feature, the support base may be configured to couple or otherwise relate to or interact with the flooring configuration for one or more purposes. For example, in a flooring system comprising a modular flooring configuration made up of a plurality of interlocked floor tiles, the support base may be configured to couple to the flooring configuration to minimize the shifting of the individual tiles. Still further, as discussed herein, the flooring configuration may be configured to transfer various loads or forces acting thereon to the support base and the synthetic support structure component therein. Stated differently, the flooring system may comprise a force transfer element that functions to transfer at least a portion of the forces acting on the flooring configuration to the synthetic support base. By doing this, impact and other forces are distributed between the flooring configuration and the support base. The ratio of distribution may be different for each flooring system installed, and may be determined based on a number of factors. In any event, the present invention provides this benefit, and such may be determined by those skilled in the art.
  • The present invention synthetic support base will enable a greater number of sports and activity facilities to be constructed, particularly in areas having restrictions on the use of traditional surfaces. A synthetic support base may be configured to eliminate many of the problems associated with traditional surfaces that caused their restriction. For example, an exemplary synthetic support base may be configured to provide good water drainage that allows the water to drain and be absorbed by the ground rather than entering city or county water systems. By meeting city or county guidelines, a greater population of individuals may be provided with sports and activity areas.
  • Other possible uses are contemplated, such as by the military for activity areas, MASH units, etc. For example, a stationed unit may easily integrate a synthetic support structure into an exiting ground location to form a support base on which a flooring configuration may be placed. Moreover, because of their low cost and ability to be manufactured and installed without expensive equipment, a present invention sports or activity flooring system may be a reality for many in locations where such would not otherwise be possible if a traditional support base was required, such as in third world and other countries where technology and resources are scarce. Temporary housing locations, remote scientific research stations, summer camps, and a myriad of others are also contemplated.
  • Each of the above-recited advantages will be apparent in light of the detailed description set forth below, with reference to the accompanying drawings. These advantages are not meant to be limiting in any way. Indeed, one skilled in the art will appreciate that other advantages may be realized, other than those specifically recited herein, upon practicing the present invention.
  • With reference to FIG. 1, illustrated is general layout of a generic flooring system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, wherein the flooring system comprises a flooring configuration that is supported by a support base comprised, at least in part, of a synthetic support structure positioned about and optionally secured or anchored to the ground. In general, the synthetic support structure may be located in an above ground, sub-surface, or partial sub-surface position. Although not necessary, depending upon the particular type, the support base may further comprise a filler material configured to receive and to retain the synthetic support structure, thus integrating the synthetic support structure within the filler material. The filler material may be disposed about all or a portion of the support structure in order to facilitate the setting of the support structure in its proper place and to help retain its set position during use of the flooring system. In addition, the flooring system may include an optional intermediate layer situated between the support base and the flooring configuration.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the flooring system 10 more specifically comprises a support base 14 and a flooring configuration 18 configured to be overlaid upon a support surface 16 defined by the support base 14 upon construction or formation of the support base 14. The support base 14 comprises several different components, namely a modular, sub-surface synthetic support structure 30, a filler material 8, and an intermediate layer 88.
  • The synthetic support structure 30 is configured to comprise the primary support component of the support base 14, and in some embodiments, may be configured to provide a suitable support surface on which a flooring configuration may be directly placed. As shown, the support structure 30 may be positioned about a prepared portion 4 of ground 2, which will typically comprise a grated or flattened ground portion having a suitable subgrade. In light of its intended use, the support structure 14 may be designed to comprise suitable load bearing, force distributing, weather resistant, corrosion resistant, and other properties. In essence, the support structure 30 may be designed and installed in a manner so as to resist movement within the support base 14. In this manner, the support base 14 provides at least one function similar to that of traditional support bases, namely to provide a stable durable support surface for the flooring configuration 30.
  • It is contemplated that the synthetic support structure 30 may comprise any type of structure capable of performing as intended herein, namely to form or construct the present invention support base for the present invention flooring system. Specifically, the support structure 30 may comprise any suitable type, arrangement, configuration, and design. Some exemplary designs are set forth in the drawings and discussed in greater detail below. However, one skilled in the art will recognize that these are not all inclusive, and that other designs and types of synthetic supports structures may be used to practice the present invention. Indeed, depending upon the factors and parameters surrounding the construction of a particular flooring system, the support structure 30 may take on any one of a variety of designs. As such, those specifically shown in the drawings and discussed below are not to be construed as limiting in any way.
  • The support structure 30 is preferably comprised of a synthetic or artificial material, such as plastic, thus allowing it to be designed and engineered as needed, such as to include different force or load absorbing and distributing characteristics, or to include solid or perforated tops, etc. The support structure 30 may be comprised of a plurality of support structure modules, each one being configured to couple to or interconnect with at least one other support structure module, or it may comprise a single, unitary structure.
  • Once in place, the support structure 30 may be anchored or otherwise secured to the ground 2 using any type of anchoring or securing means. The support structure 30 may further be anchored or secured to an existing structure, such as an adjacent building structure, a retaining wall, an adjacent support base, or any combination of these. Anchoring the support structure 30 to the ground 2 or to another structure or support base functions to prevent unwanted movement or shifting of the support structure 30 and the support base 14, especially during use of the flooring system 10. The support structure 30 may be anchored or secured to the ground 2 using any one of a variety of known devices and techniques. In one aspect, the support structure 30 may be anchored using spikes or stakes. Other types of anchoring or securing means are intended. When anchoring to an adjacent support base, the support structure may be anchored to an adjacent support base using rebar, pencil bar mesh, or another similarly configured support structure.
  • As indicated above, one of the benefits of the present invention support base is its ability to accept and distribute a load acting on the flooring configuration. As such, the flooring system is configured to comprise a force transfer element that transfers all or a portion of a load or force acting on the flooring configuration to the support base. In one exemplary embodiment, the force transfer element may comprise a mechanical interface existing between flooring configuration and the support base. For example, the force transfer element may comprise the various posts located on the underside of the flooring configuration that are used to support the contact surface in an elevated position above the support base. As a force is applied to the contact surface of the flooring configuration, it is transferred to the posts, which further function to transfer the force to the support base, namely the synthetic support structure component of the support base. Because of the synthetic makeup of the support structure, and its intended capability to receive and absorb a force, thus providing a distributed load pattern across the entire flooring system, such a force transfer is made possible. Other force transfer elements are contemplated herein.
  • The present invention also contemplates being able to select a specific type of synthetic support structure to operate with a specific flooring configuration to provide a desired ratio of distributed shock absorption between the flooring configuration and the support base. Various factors may go into determining this ratio, such as the location of the flooring system, the intended sports or activities or events the flooring system will be used for, and others.
  • The support structure may further be used to tie into another or second support structure to extend the support base and ultimately the flooring configuration. Specifically, the flooring system may be extended a desired distance by tying a first, existing synthetic support structure into a second synthetic support structure, or even a building structure. This may be accomplished using any known coupling means, or the coupling configuration currently existing on the installed support structure. Other necessary steps, such as preparing the extended support base to define a support surface may be required. Once the support base has been extended, the flooring configuration may also be extended to complete the flooring system.
  • In still another embodiment, the present invention synthetic support base may be used to extend an existing support base made of traditional materials, such as concrete. In this case, the one or more reinforcement members (e.g., rebar, wire mesh, etc.) may be used to couple the concrete to the synthetic support structure of the synthetic support base. With this, it is contemplated that any existing support base may be extended to provide a flooring system of increased size.
  • The support base 14 may further comprise and the synthetic support structure 30 may be integrated into a filler material 8. A filler material 8 is most likely to be used in those situations where the synthetic support structure 30 is configured to be present in a sub-surface or partial sub-surface arrangement. However, an above-ground arrangement may still warrant use of some filler material. The filler material 8 may be configured to support or retain the support structure 30. The filler material 8 is intended to be of sufficient size and quantity so as to encase, surround, penetrate, and/or cover the support structure 30 for the purpose of facilitating the setting and retaining of the support structure 30 in a fixed or semi-fixed position and to resist movement of the support structure 30 to provide a stable support base 14. In other words, the filler material 8 may function to stabilize the support structure 30 about the ground 2. The support structure 30 may be configured to receive at least a portion of the filler material 8 within its interior through various apertures, grooves, channels, or other openings formed in the support structure 30. As such, the filler material 8 functions to help set the support structure 30 in its proper position, as well as to facilitate leveling and re-leveling of the support structure 30 and the defined support surface of the support base. Additional anchors or securing means may or may not be necessary.
  • The filler material 8 may further be configured to provide or define the support surface of the support base 14. The filler material 8 may be caused to cover or enclose the synthetic support structure 30, wherein the filler material 8 functions as the uppermost surface of the support base 14 (unless an intermediate layer is used). In this situation, the filler material 8 will most likely benefit from additional preparation, such as compacting, in order to obtain a suitable surface having a generally planar configuration.
  • The support base may indeed be configured to be temporary. However, if desired, the support base may be configured to be more permanent. In such situations, a binding agent may be added to the filler material to further “set” the filler material. One example of a binding agent includes Portland cement in any pre-determined concentration,
  • The filler material 8 may comprise an aggregate, sub-aggregate or other arrangement. Examples of filler materials include, but are not limited to, rocks, gravel, loose soil or dirt, sand, rubber, CHAT, baseball mix, and any combination of these, as well as others known in the art. The filler material 8 preferably comprises a sub-aggregate or other similar arrangement capable of being disposed about and/or within the synthetic support structure 30. In some cases, the filler material 8 may be caused to enter the various apertures formed within the synthetic support structure 30, as well as to encompass the exterior of the synthetic support structure 30, thus retaining the synthetic support structure 30. The filler material 8 may then be compacted or otherwise prepared to form or define the support surface on which the flooring configuration 18 may be placed.
  • Though not necessary, the flooring system 10 may further comprise an intermediate layer 88, which may be disposed or situated between the support base 14 and the flooring configuration 18. The intermediate layer 88 may be configured to interface with the support base 14 and the flooring configuration 18 to operably relate the two in one or more ways, such as to facilitate the proper support of the flooring configuration 18 about the support base 14, or to improve the performance of the support base 14 in supporting the flooring configuration 18. Although the flooring configuration 18 may be overlaid directly upon the support structure 30, there may be a need to incorporate the intermediate layer 88.
  • In one aspect, the intermediate layer 88 is intended to perform various enhancing functions. For example, the intermediate layer may be configured to facilitate a proper functioning relationship between the support base and the flooring configuration 18. More specifically, the intermediate layer 88 may be configure to act as a barrier between the flooring configuration 18 and the support base to prevent buckling of the flooring configuration 18. The intermediate layer 88 may be configured to be porous, thus making it pervious to water to facilitate water drainage. Furthermore, the intermediate layer 88 may function as a barrier to prevent unwanted weed or other vegetation growth through the flooring system. In this context, the intermediate layer 88 may comprise any material or configuration, but will preferably comprise a flexible, porous fabric, such as a geotextile fabric, and will preferably be situated or disposed over any filler material used.
  • In another aspect, the intermediate layer 88 may be designed to provide a rigid surface that the flooring configuration 18 may be overlaid upon. In this embodiment, the intermediate layer 88 would function to provide a smooth finished surface, that may or may not be pervious to water, that is designed to accommodate the flooring configuration 18.
  • The intermediate layer 88 may be further configured to interface with the support base and any synthetic support structure 30 in one or more ways. In one aspect, the intermediate layer 88 may be anchored or somehow coupled or secured directly to the support structure 30 once the support structure 30 has been properly situated about the ground 2. In another aspect, such as in a partial sub-surface configuration, the intermediate layer 88 may be formed as part of the support structure 30 itself. In any event, it is intended that the intermediate layer 88 comprise an above-ground component that is configured to directly receive the flooring configuration 18. Incorporating a properly configured intermediate layer into the flooring system of the present invention allows existing and other flooring configurations to be overlaid on the support base in a functional manner just as they would a traditional support base.
  • In essence, the intermediate layer 88 may comprise any type, configuration, shape, design, etc. needed for a particular flooring system. In addition, the intermediate layer 88 may be formed of any suitable material, such as fabric or plastic. The surface of the intermediate layer 88 may be a solid or smooth surface, or it may comprise a porous, grid-like or random pattern. In addition, the intermediate layer 88 may be configured with various attachment means used to attach the intermediate layer 88 to the support structure 30 and/or the flooring configuration 18.
  • The flooring configuration 18 may comprise any type commonly known in the art. However, those types of flooring configurations for which the present invention is well suited, and which will be discussed herein merely for exemplary purposes, are those types of flooring configurations that are synthetic and modular in nature, and that are intended for sports play and various other activities. In one exemplary aspect, the flooring configuration 18 may comprise a modular flooring configuration, wherein a plurality of individual floor tiles are interlocked together to form an assembled flooring configuration having an upper or contact surface for playing sports or participating in other activities. In another exemplary aspect, the flooring configuration 18 may comprise a unitary or non-modular-type flooring configuration. Each are well known in the art and are thus not specifically discussed in detail herein.
  • With reference to FIG. 2, illustrated is a perspective view of a single synthetic support structure module for use within a modular synthetic support structure 30 in accordance with one exemplary embodiment. This particular support structure comprises the Versicell subsurface drainage module manufactured and sold by Elmich Co. of Australia. As shown, FIG. 2 illustrates the synthetic support structure module 32 configured to interconnect with other similar modular components to form the modular support structure 30. As shown, each support structure module 32 comprises an upper surface 34 and a lower surface 38 separated by a pre-determined distance or height. The support structure module 32 is shown as also comprising a rectangular shape with a first end 42, a second end 46, a first side 50, and a second side 54. Located on each side is coupling means 70 in the form of either a female receiver 74 or a male coupler 78, thus allowing the support structure module 32 to be interconnected with the corresponding coupling means on one or more adjacent support structure modules.
  • In one exemplary aspect, the support structure module 32 comprises a plurality of extension members 58 of a pre-determined length or height extending between the upper surface 34 and the lower surface to define a plurality of apertures 62 spaced apart from one another in any patterned or random arrangement about the support structure 30 and that extend from the upper surface 34 to the lower surface 38. In another exemplary aspect, the support structure module 32 may comprise a generally solid makeup with the plurality of apertures 62 being formed therethrough in any pattern or arrangement, wherein the apertures 62 also extend between the upper surface 34 to the lower surface 38. The extension members 58 are configured as the primary load bearing components of the support structure, and are designed to bear the loads that will be transferred to the support structure through the flooring configuration. As such, they may be designed with pre-determined load limits, configurations, etc.
  • The apertures 62 within the support structure also perform several functions. First, the apertures function to accept or receive and retain a filler material, as described above, to facilitate the setting of and to stabilize the support structure. The apertures allow the filler material to enter into an interior portion of the support structure while the structural extension members retain the filler material. Second, the apertures facilitate water drainage by allowing water to flow from the flooring configuration, down through the support configuration and support base, and into the ground. Third, the apertures reduce the weight of the support structure without sacrificing performance. The extension members defining the apertures, if so configured, function to provide the support structure with shock or impact absorption characteristics. Other functions not specifically recited herein may be apparent to those skilled in the art.
  • FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective view of a single synthetic support structure module for use within a modular synthetic support structure 130 in accordance with another exemplary embodiment. This particular support structure comprises the Gravelpave2 paving product manufactured and sold by Invisible Structures, Inc. of Golden, Colo. As shown, FIG. 3 illustrates the synthetic support structure module 132 configured to interconnect with other similar support structure modules to form a modular support structure 130. As shown, each support structure module comprises a first structural layer 140 in the form of a grid-like infrastructure. The first structural layer 140 defines the lower surface 138. Extending upward from and situated about the intersection of the respective members of the lower layer 140 are a plurality of extension members 158, each of which are independent from one another. The uppermost portions of the extension members 158 function to define the upper surface 134. The extension members 158 are cylindrical in form and comprise a circular cross-section with a pre-determined diameter. The extension members 158 further comprise a pre-determined height. As such, each extension member 158 comprises an interior 162 defined by its sidewalls, wherein the interior portion 162 is configured to allow water to drain therethrough, to receive and retain a filler material therein, if desired, and to perform all of the functions similar to those discussed above in relation to the embodiment shown in FIG. 2.
  • In one exemplary aspect, the extension members 158 may be independent and separated from one another as shown in FIG. 3. In another exemplary aspect, the extension members 158 may be integrally formed with one another. In addition, the cross-sectional geometry of the extension members 158 may be circular, square, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, or any other geometric configuration.
  • FIG. 3 also illustrates the support structure 130 as comprising a flexible, breathable, permeable or semi-permeable membrane 94 deposited or disposed about the lower surface 138 of the lower layer 140. In the exemplary embodiment shown, the membrane 94 comprises a non-woven, geotextile fabric. The purpose of the membrane 94 is to facilitate the retaining of the filler material within and about the support structure, as well as to stabilize and limit the vertical displacement of the support structure 130 once in place. The membrane 94 also facilitates water drainage, functions to prevent cavities or potholes from forming beneath the support base, and acts as a vegetation growth inhibitor. The membrane 94 may be formed from many different types of fabrics or materials as will be apparent to one skilled in the art.
  • It is noted herein that other support structure configurations are contemplated for use with the present invention. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, the NeoTerra Solid Top product manufactured and sold by Mateflex of New York; the NeoTerra Perforated product also manufactured and sold by Mateflex of New York; the Piastrella product manufactured and sold by Progetto Plastica of Comano, Italy; the Guidonia, Aprilia 2000, Aprilia Pierced Line 2000, Aprilia Line 900, Millepiedi, and Four-Leaf Clover products manufactured and sold by Arplast of Lograto; the Salvaprato Geoflor product manufactured and sold by Geoplast srl of Grantorto, Italy; and the Green Parking product manufactured and sold by Mornico of Italy.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a partial perspective view of an exemplary flooring system utilizing the modular, sub-surface support structure of FIG. 3. Specifically, FIG. 4 illustrates the several components comprising the exemplary flooring system 10. As shown, the support structure 130 is situated about the prepared portion 4 of the ground 2. A filler material 8 is shown as being configured to be disposed about the support structure 130, and within the several cylindrical extension members 158 extending from the lower grid-like layer 140. Sitting atop the support structure 130 is an intermediate layer 88 comprising a porous geotextile fabric. Of course, an intermediate layer formed of a rigid material may be incorporated as well. The intermediate layer 88 is situated between the support structure 130 and the flooring configuration 18. The intermediate layer 88 is designed to be above-ground over which the flooring configuration 18 may be laid. The filler material 8, the support structure 130, and the intermediate layer 88 all interrelate to form the support base for the flooring configuration 18. The flooring configuration 18 is shown comprising an isogrid floor tile 102 having an upper surface 106 and a lower surface (not shown) adjacent the support surface of the support base. The floor tile 102 further comprises coupling means 114 in the form of both female 114 and male 118 counterparts, thus allowing the floor tile 102 to be interconnected with other similar tiles, as commonly known. In this assembly, the flooring configuration 18 is sufficiently supported about the support surface of the support base below.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates one alternative to providing a flooring system comprised of a plurality of support structure modules interconnected together. Specifically, FIG. 5 illustrates a unitary support structure capable of being rolled up as shown. The specific embodiment of the unitary support structure shown in FIG. 5 comprises a plurality of extension members 258 disposed about a lower layer 240, wherein the extension members 258 and the lower layer 240 are each similar to the extension members and lower layer of the support structure described above and shown in FIG. 3. FIG. 5 illustrates that the support structure used to provide a support base for a flooring configuration may be a single, unitary structure, rather than a plurality of modular sections. Alternatively, FIG. 5 illustrates how an assembled modular support structure formed of a plurality of support structure modules, such as those described above in relation to FIG. 3, may be rolled together and stored in their assembled state.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a partial perspective view of flooring system comprising an above ground, support structure module to be used in a support base having a modular support structure. FIG. 6 further illustrates a flooring configuration configured to be overlaid on the support structure. Specifically, FIG. 6 illustrates a flooring system 310 as comprising a synthetic support structure 330 having an upper surface 334 and a lower surface 338. The support structure 330 comprises a plurality of apertures 362 formed therein that extend through the support structure 330 from the upper surface 334 to the lower surface 338. The support structure 330 is configured to be disposed about a prepared portion 4 of the ground 2, and optionally contained within a filler material, with its upper surface 334 positioned above the ground 2. as such, the support structure 330, and optional filler material 8, function to define a support base 314 having a support surface 316.
  • The flooring system 310 further comprises an intermediate layer 88 disposed about the upper surface 334 of the support structure 330. The intermediate layer 88 is configured to operably relate with the support structure 330 to provide a suitable support surface over which the flooring configuration may be laid. As shown, the intermediate layer 88 comprises a solid surface configuration. The intermediate layer 88 may be coupled to the support structure 330. In addition, the support structure 330 may be coupled to the ground 2. The support structure 330, the prepared ground portion 4, and the intermediate layer 88 function to provide a suitable and advantageous support base for a flooring configuration, which flooring configuration is shown as comprising a modular tile 102, as commonly known in the art. The tile 102 comprises a grid-like upper surface 106, and coupling means 114 in the form of a male coupler 122 and a female receiver 118 counterpart to facilitate the assembly of a plurality of modular tiles into the flooring configuration.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a flooring system in accordance with still another exemplary embodiment of the present invention. As shown, the flooring system 410 comprises a support base 414 having a synthetic support structure 430 formed from a plurality of individual support panels 432, shown as panels 432-a, 432-b, 432-c, and 432-d. Support panels 432 each comprise a plurality of slots, shown as slots 436-a, 436-b, and 436-c that extend laterally from an edge 440 part way through the support panel 432. Although each panel 432 is shown having three slots, this is not to be limiting in any way. The slots are each configured to receive and engage a corresponding slot from a different support panel, thus interconnecting the two different support panels. As shown, support panels 432-b, 432-c, and 432-d each are configured to interconnect with support panel 432-a via their corresponding slots 436, once properly aligned, to form the assembled synthetic support structure 430, being in the form of a grid-like structure. Any number of support panels 432 may be interconnected together to construct a support base of a particular size.
  • The advantage of the embodiment of FIG. 7 is that the support structure 430, which in its assembled state provides a three-dimensional layout, may be constructed using a plurality of panels that may be packaged or bundled tightly together, shipped, and unpackaged and assembled easily on-site.
  • FIG. 7 further illustrates the synthetic support structure 430 as being configured to receive filler material 8, the two being operable together to form a support base having a support surface for receiving the flooring configuration 18. The filler material 8 may be configured and utilized as described above.
  • FIG. 7 further illustrates a reinforcement member 452, which may be designed for use with any of the synthetic support structures discussed herein. The reinforcement member functions to reinforce the support base, as needed. In the embodiment shown, the reinforcement member comprises a wire pencil bar mesh. Other reinforcement members are contemplated herein, such as rebar, and even an additional synthetic support structure.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a flow diagram depicting a method for constructing a flooring system according to one exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this method, the first step, step 504 comprises preparing a portion of ground to comprise a substantially flat ground surface, or subgrade. The next step, step 508, comprises situating or disposing a support structure about the ground surface. The next step, step 512, which is optional, comprises securing the sub-surface support structure to the ground. The next step, step 516, which is also optional, comprises covering the support structure with a filler material, such as loose gravel or dirt. The next step, step 520, comprises compacting the filler material into the support structure, if so applied. The next step, step 524, comprises further preparing the filler material and the support structure to form a suitable support surface having a generally planar configuration. The next step, step 528 comprises overlaying a flooring configuration on the support surface of the support base. The method for constructing a flooring system may further comprise, as an optional step, step 532 situating an intermediate layer between the support surface of the support base and the flooring configuration, such that the flooring configuration is overlaid upon the intermediate layer. The method for constructing a flooring system may still further comprise step 536, which is relocating the flooring system to a new location. This step involves removing the flooring configuration from the support base, removing the support structure from the ground, relocating and reinstalling the support base in the new location, and again overlaying the flooring configuration about the support base.
  • The present invention further features a method for constructing a flooring system configured to accommodate sports play and other activities in accordance with another exemplary embodiment. With reference to FIG. 9, this particular method comprises step 604, namely locating a portion of ground; step 608, preparing the portion of ground to comprise a soil composition having suitable friability; step 612, applying a synthetic soil solidifier to the soil composition; step 616, preparing the soil composition containing the soil solidifier to form a support base having a support surface of a generally planar configuration; step 620, curing the support base to cause the soil solidifier to bond with the soil; and step 624, overlaying the flooring configuration on the support surface. In the event the support base needs to be repaired, the above steps may be repeated, as shown in step 628.
  • As referred to herein, friability refers to the lack of hardness of the soil particles making up the soil composition used. In relative terms, some soil particles are “hard” and others are “soft.” The harder the soil particles, the less friable they are, and the more resistant the resulting support base will be to wear and tear. Conversely, the softer the soil particles, the more friable they are, and the less resistant the resulting support base will be to wear and tear. Generally speaking, “hard” soil particles include various particles such as silica sand or crushed quarry rock. “Soft” soil particles may include limestone screenings or decomposed granite particles. Ordinary soil dirt can consist of various proportions of hard and soft soil particles.
  • The present invention contemplates the use of any known soil solidifier or stabilizer. One particular example of a soil solidifier is the PolyPavement™ brand soil solidifier manufactured and sold by Polypavement, Inc. of Los Angeles, Calif. PolyPavement soil solidifier contains three basic ingredients—synthetic polymers, water and emulsifiers, of which the synthetic polymers are the active ingredients. Water functions as the transport medium for the polymers, while the emulsifiers, which are surface acting agents, function to keep the polymers suspended in the water.
  • Alternative embodiments are contemplated by the present invention in which a support base is constructed using a soil solidifier, such as the PolyPavement soil solidifier discussed above, in combination with a synthetic support structure and/or a filler material. Indeed, it is contemplated that a synthetic flooring system may utilize any of the various synthetic components discussed herein in combination with one another to achieve a variety of different types of synthetic support bases. Thus, it is conceivable that a support base may comprise a combination of a soil solidifier and a filler material, or a soil solidifier, a filler material and a synthetic support structure, or a soil solidifier and a synthetic support structure, etc.
  • The foregoing detailed description describes the invention with reference to specific exemplary embodiments. However, it will be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the appended claims. The detailed description and accompanying drawings are to be regarded as merely illustrative, rather than as restrictive, and all such modifications or changes, if any, are intended to fall within the scope of the present invention as described and set forth herein.
  • More specifically, while illustrative exemplary embodiments of the invention have been described herein, the present invention is not limited to these embodiments, but includes any and all embodiments having modifications, omissions, combinations (e.g., of aspects across various embodiments), adaptations and/or alterations as would be appreciated by those in the art based on the foregoing detailed description. The limitations in the claims are to be interpreted broadly based on the language employed in the claims and not limited to examples described in the foregoing detailed description or during the prosecution of the application, which examples are to be construed as non-exclusive. For example, in the present disclosure, the term “preferably” is non-exclusive where it is intended to mean “preferably, but not limited to.” Any steps recited in any method or process claims may be executed in any order and are not limited to the order presented in the claims. Means-plus-function or step-plus-function limitations will only be employed where for a specific claim limitation all of the following conditions are present in that limitation: a) “means for” or “step for” is expressly recited; and b) a corresponding function is expressly recited. The structure, material or acts that support the means-plus function are expressly recited in the description herein. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined solely by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the descriptions and examples given above.

Claims (17)

1. A support base for supporting a synthetic sports flooring configuration thereon, the support base comprising:
a synthetic support structure situated about a portion of earthen ground comprising:
a plurality of extension members being a primary load bearing component and having an impact absorbing characteristic; and
a non-rigid coupling interface for interconnecting with at least one adjacent synthetic support structure; and
a rigid intermediate layer formed atop the synthetic support structure and having a generally-planar top surface supporting a flooring configuration thereon.
2. The support base of claim 1, wherein an impact force received on the top surface is distributed primarily to the plurality of extension members and not to the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
3. The support base of claim 1, wherein the top surface of the intermediate layer does not extend over a bottom surface of the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
4. The support base of claim 1, wherein the portion of earthen ground further comprises a ground surface prepared to a substantially flat subgrade.
5. The support base of claim 1, wherein the top surface of the intermediate layer further comprises a series of drainage apertures continuously-distributed across the top surface of the intermediate layer.
6. A synthetic sports flooring system for receiving and absorbing an impact force acting thereon, comprising:
a flooring configuration disposed about a support base, the flooring configuration comprising:
a contact surface for receiving an impact force; and
a force transfer element having a first impact absorbing characteristic, the force transfer element absorbing at least a portion of the impact force and transferring a remainder of the impact force to the support base; and
the support base comprising:
a synthetic support structure situated about a portion of earthen ground comprising:
a plurality of extension members being a primary load bearing component and having a second impact absorbing characteristic; and
a non-rigid coupling interface for interconnecting with at least one adjacent synthetic support structure; and
a rigid intermediate layer atop the synthetic support structure and having a generally-planar top surface supporting the flooring configuration thereon,
wherein the remainder of the impact force is distributed primarily to the plurality of extension members and not to the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
7. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein a shock absorption distribution ratio between the first impact absorbing characteristic and second impact absorbing characteristic is selectable.
8. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the top surface of the intermediate layer does not extend over a bottom surface of the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
9. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the portion of earthen ground further comprises a prepared ground surface.
10. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the rigid intermediate layer is formed with the synthetic support structure.
11. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the top surface of the intermediate layer further comprises a series of drainage apertures continuously-distributed across the top surface of the intermediate layer.
12. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the force transfer element further comprises a mechanical interface existing between the flooring configuration and the support base.
13. The sports flooring system of claim 6, wherein the flooring configuration is a modular, synthetic floor tile.
14. A method for constructing a flooring system for receiving and absorbing an impact force acting thereon, said method comprising:
preparing a portion of ground to comprise a substantially flat subgrade;
situating a synthetic support structure about the ground, the support structure comprising:
a plurality of extension members being a primary load bearing component and having a base impact absorbing characteristic;
a non-rigid coupling interface for interconnecting with at least one adjacent synthetic support structure; and
a rigid intermediate layer formed atop the synthetic support structure having a generally-planar top surface; and
overlaying a flooring configuration on said top surface, the flooring configuration comprising:
a contact surface for receiving an impact force; and
a force transfer element having a flooring impact absorbing characteristic,
wherein the force transfer element absorbs at least a portion of the impact force and a remainder of the impact force is distributed to the plurality of extension members for absorption and not to the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
15. The method of claim 14, further comprising selecting the base impact absorbing characteristic and flooring impact absorbing characteristic to define a predetermined shock absorption distribution ratio for the flooring system.
16. The method of claim 14, wherein the top surface of the intermediate layer does not extend over a bottom surface of the at least one adjacent synthetic support structure.
17. The method of claim 14, wherein the flooring configuration is a modular, synthetic floor tile.
US12/688,222 2005-04-22 2010-01-15 Synthetic support base for modular flooring Abandoned US20100107522A1 (en)

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