Patent application title: PREFABRICATED WALL PANEL
Patrick Egan (Indianapolis, IN, US)
IPC8 Class: AE04C2284FI
Class name: Static structures (e.g., buildings) with synthetic resinous component foam
Publication date: 2012-01-05
Patent application number: 20120000155
A prefabricated wall panel and method are disclosed. A panel including a
sheet rock layer and a laminated in-situ foam layer within a frame is
attached to a pre-existing masonry wall, such as a basement wall.
1. A prefabricated wall panel assembly for finishing an inside surface of
a pre-existing wall, comprising; a rectilinear panel of sheet rock having
an inside surface and an outside surface and a perimeter edge around said
surfaces; a rectilinear frame comprising right and left vertical frame
members, said frame being attached to said panel on its outside surface
prior to attachment to the wall; and, a laminated rigid foam layer along
said outside surface of said sheet rock panel and located within said
frame with said frame being attachable to the wall.
2. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said rigid foam layer comprises an in situ foam that has been injected and has been cured within said frame.
3. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 2 wherein said foam comprises rigid polyurethane foam.
4. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 3 and further comprising top and bottom horizontal frame members.
5. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 4 wherein said foam layer comprises an in situ foam that has been injected and has been cured within said frame members.
6. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 5 wherein said frame is flush with said perimeter edge of said wall panel at least along substantial portions of said vertical frame members.
7. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 6 wherein said frame is flush with said perimeter edge of said wall panel along the entire perimeter edge.
8. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 7 wherein said frame is made elongated wooden boards having a cross-sectional dimension of approximately 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches, and wherein said sheet rock is at least 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, and wherein the insulation R-value through said wall panel assembly is at least 10.
9. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 8 wherein said foam layer is substantially impervious to water and water vapor.
10. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 9 wherein said wall panel has an overall thickness of less than 3 inches and is substantially planer on both the inside and outside surfaces, and wherein the overall panel thickness is within a tolerance of less than 1/4 inch across the panel.
11. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said foam comprises rigid polyurethane foam.
12. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 and further comprising top and bottom horizontal frame members.
13. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 12 wherein said foam layer comprises an in situ foam that has been injected and has been cured within said frame members.
14. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said frame is flush with said perimeter edge of said wall panel at least along substantial portions of said vertical frame members.
15. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said frame is flush with said perimeter edge of said wall panel along the entire perimeter edge.
16. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said frame is made elongated wooden boards having a cross-sectional dimension of approximately 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches.
17. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said foam layer is substantially impervious to water and water vapor.
18. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 1 wherein said wall panel has an overall thickness of less than 3 inches and is substantially planer on both the inside and outside surfaces, and wherein the overall panel thickness is within a tolerance of less than 1/4 inch across the panel.
19. A prefabricated wall panel for finishing an inside surface of a pre-existing wall, consisting essentially of: a rectilinear panel of sheet rock having an inside surface and an outside surface and a perimeter edge around said surfaces; a rectilinear frame comprising top and bottom horizontal frame members and right and left vertical frame members, said frame being attached to said panel on its outside surface prior to attachment to the wall; and, a laminated rigid foam layer adhered directly to said outside surface of said sheet rock panel and located within said frame with said frame being attachable to the wall.
20. The prefabricated wall panel of claim 19 wherein said frame is flush with said perimeter edge of said wall panel along the entire perimeter edge.
21. The prefabricated wall panel of claim 20 wherein said foam comprises rigid polyurethane foam.
22. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 19 wherein said foam layer is substantially impervious to water and water vapor.
23. The prefabricated wall panel assembly of claim 20 wherein said foam layer is substantially impervious to water and water vapor.
24. A method for providing a finish wall panel on a pre-existing wall, comprising the acts of: within a factory, providing a sheet rock panel, a foamable media, and a frame member, and in-situ foaming said foamable media directly on a surface of said sheet rock and within said frame member; and, curing said foamable media into a rigid, moisture impervious foam panel adhered directly to said surface of said sheet rock.
25. The method of claim 24 and further including the acts of aligning said frame member around and substantially flush with a perimeter edge of said sheet rock before the act of curing said foamable media.
26. The method of claim 25 and further comprising the acts of transporting said panel to a job site, and attaching said panel to a pre-existing wall.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to prefabricated wall panels, and more specifically, prefabricated wall panels to be secured to pre-existing walls.
 There is a large need for finishing pre-existing, unfinished walls, such as basement walls. Many basement walls get finished as either a part of original construction or subsequent remodeling to finish a basement. Typically one would place a vapor barrier against the masonry surface, frame up a 2×4 wall composed of a top plate and bottom plate and studs every 16'' on center. One would than fill fiberglass insulation batting between the studs with it fastened to or held adjacent the studs. A second vapor barrier may then be installed over the studs. Finally sheet rock is fastened to the studs to form a finished surface. Each step in the above finishing process requires significant amount of labor.
 The present invention improves on this assembly and method. It simplifies the construction process, provides an improved product, is simple, and lends itself well to warehousing, transport and handling prior to its job site installation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The invention is set forth in the claims below, and the following is not in any way to limit, define or otherwise establish the scope of legal protection. In general terms, the present invention relates to a prefabricated wall panel assembly for finishing an inset surface pre-existing wall. The wall panel preferably includes a rectilinear panel of sheet rock, and also preferably includes a rigid foam layer laminated to the sheet rock.
 One object of the present invention is an improved prefabricated wall panel. This and other objects may be discerned from the present disclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the backside of a panel according to one version of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a rear elevation view of the panel of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the panel of FIG. 1. Note that in the preferred version, each side view is a mirror image of the other.
 FIG. 4 is a top plan view of the panel of FIG. 1. Note that in the preferred version, the bottom view is a mere image of the top view.
 FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the wall panel of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 6 is a top cut-away sectional view of portions of two wall panels according to one version of the present invention attached to a wall structure W.
 FIG. 7 is a flow chart of a method according to one version of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended, and alterations and modifications in the illustrated device and method and further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated therein, are herein contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.
 Wall panel 10 is the preferred version of the present invention. Preferably, it is a flat, rectilinear sheet prefabricated to have a sheet of drywall, also called sheet rock (typically gypsum based) laminated in the factory to a backing material of rigid, thermal-insulating structural foam that is substantially impervious to moisture. The sheet rock 40, is of a standard type, typically in standard dimensions (for example, 4 ft.×8 ft., 4 ft.×10 ft., 54''×12 ft., or otherwise). Sheet rock 40 likewise typically has standard thickness of 1/4'', 1/2'', 5/8'' or otherwise.
 Laminated on the back surface of sheet rock 40 is foam panel 30. In the preferred embodiment, foam panel is fabricated in the factory to be laminated on the sheet rock 40 directly to the sheet rock without intervening layers. More preferably, the composition of the in-situ foam making up foam layer 30 is self-adhering to sheet rock panel 40. A preferred example of such foam is in-situ foaming of polyurethane foam directly on to the back of the sheet rock. Polyurethane foam has advantageous characteristics in that it is structurally rigid, and thereby protects and enhances the overall strength of panel assembly 10. Additionally, it is impervious, or at least substantially impervious, to moisture, such as water and/or water vapor, and therefore acts not only as an insulation member with good R-value characteristics, (e.g. R value of at least 10 or more, and about 14 for a 2 inch thick panel) but also acts as a moisture barrier. The thickness of foam layer 30 may vary. Accordingly, foam layer thickness T2 will rarely exceed three (3) inches, and ordinarily will be two (2) inches or less in thickness. The preferred thickness T2 is the same as the thickness of frame 50, typically 11/2'' inches thick. Thus, for example, the overall thickness T1 of panel 10 is typically 2 inches.
 Moreover, the back, outside surface 32 of the foam layer, as compared to the front, inside surface 42 of the sheet rock, are highly parallel and planer. Preferably, this attribute leads to uniform overall panel 10 thickness T-1 (see FIG. 4) that does not vary in thickness beyond a tolerance of approximately 1/4'', and more preferably, about 1/8'', and more preferably, a thickness tolerance of about 1/16'' or less. This thickness tolerance is achieved by careful manufacturing and the prefabrication of the panel assembly 10 in a factory.
 Wall panel 10 also preferably has a high degree planer tolerance. Typically, the tolerances of wall panel 10 are held to planer tolerance the same as the sheet rock used as a component in the present invention. Preferably, such planar tolerances are less than 1/4 inch across the panel in a fully supported horizontal mode.
 Preferably, panel 10 also includes a frame 50 around portions, and preferably all of the perimeter edge 22 of the panel. Preferably, the frame is made from wood attached to sheet rock 40, foam panel 30 and/or both. Typically, the frame is made of 11/2''×11/2'' cross-section wood members running along the respective lengths and widths of the panels. For example, in the illustrated version, frame members 53 and 55 comprise the vertical portions of the frame along the side edges of the panel, whereas frame members 52 and 54 are along the top and bottom, respectively, of the panel member (see FIG. 2). The frame could be made of metal, plastic or other material as well.
 Collectively, the frame 50 and foam 30 make up the backing to the sheet rock 40. The backing, and more typically, the frame 50, are deliberately aligned to be flush with all, or substantially all, of the perimeter edge of the sheet rock which corresponds to perimeter edge 22 of the panel. In this way, the backing, such as the frame, provide support and protection for the edges of the sheet rock. This reduces or eliminates marring or breakage of the edges of the sheet rock during transportation, shipping and handling. The backing may optionally be provided with a tongue and groove mechanism, typically on the vertical side edges to facilitate engagements and interlocking. This may include a tongue and groove or other inter-digitating surfaces on the frame members 55 and 53. It may also include staggering frame members 53 and 55 corresponding to mount inward and outward, respectively, of the perimeter so that in the final assembled form, adjacent sheet rock may overlap a laterally projecting frame member of an adjacent panel in whole or in part. While this optional approach may be used, it is not preferred in that it provides less perimeter protection for the edge of the sheet rock that extends proud of the frame member or the backing member. Also, some or all of the frame members 51-54 may be omitted or have gaps according to design considerations. For example, one design would be to omit the wooden frame members 52 and 54 on the top and bottom edges, leaving only side frame members for attachment to the wall structure, adjacent panel members or both. Similarly, while not preferred, the foam core panel may be made in-situ on the sheet rock in a mold without any frame members. However, in the preferred version, during the fabrication process in the factory, the frame members effectively function as part of the mold to contain the in-situ form making foam panel 30. Moreover, by having the frame members in place prior to in-situ molding, foam such as polyurethane foam will expand against and bind to the frame member adding to the overall structural strength and homogeneity of the panel.
 FIG. 6 illustrates a top partial cut-away view of two panels attached to a pre-existing wall member W. Typically, wall member W is a basement wall, such as a poured concrete wall, cinder block or other masonry wall. Preferably, the framing structure such as wooden furring strips 60 is attached to or adjacent to wall 60 using any of a variety of known techniques, including adhesives, fasteners, header and footer joists or the like. Alternatively, the present invention may be used without a frame member 60 with panels of the present invention being secured directly to the masonry wall W. As shown, the two wall panels corresponding to the "A" and "B" suffix of the corresponding previously described reference characters is shown. For example, wall panel with sheet rock 40A is substantially adjacent to sheet rock 40B. Sheet rock 40A is secured directly to foam layer 30A and vertical frame member 53A. Similarly, sheet rock 40B is secured to in-situ foam panel 30B from the factory as well as vertical frame member 55B. The wall panels may be attached to the pre-existing wall member W in any number of ways, including mechanical fasteners, hangers, adhesives and/or such as nails, screws, staples or otherwise such as shown with fastener 73A and 73B. Optionally, pre-drilled holes and/or indicia markings may be provided in corresponding heights or locations to facilitate fastener installation, although this is not preferred. In the final assembly, the adjacent sheet rock panels 40A and 40B include `mud`, namely plaster or other joint filler material used in the drywall trade. This may be done without tape, or with tape as is known utilizing sheet rock with preformed recesses to accommodate joint tape and mud. Thereafter, it is sanded and finished with paint or otherwise.
 As shown in FIG. 7, the present invention improves efficiency and simplicity of finishing pre-existing walls such as basements. FIG. 7 shows a variety of acts used in the method according to the present invention. Initially, within a factory 85 under factory conditions with precision tolerances as previously described, one begins by the act of providing sheet rock 81 and the act of providing frame or framing material 82 and providing foam 83. Preferably, the foam as is previously described, beginning in a liquid and/or foamable mode in foamed in-situ adjacent to sheet rock, and preferably within the frame which is also adjacent to sheet rock. It is injected in the space behind the sheet rock, typically in openings in the frame. This in-situ foaming acts to attach the backing, namely the foam and optionally the frame to the sheet rock in act 84. This is typically done in a press or other molding operation to maintain the back surface 32 of the foam panel substantially planer and parallel to the front surface 42 of the sheet rock as previously described. Typically, a mold release is used to allow the molding surface forming surface 32 to disengage from the otherwise adhesive nature of the in-situ foam, such as polyurethane foam. Preferably, such mold release comprises a thin film, such as a polymer film, immediately in contact with layer 30. Such film may be removed at the factory, may be removed at the job site, or optionally, may be left in place as a part of panel 30 during final installation to adjacent wall W. In any event, the finished panel assembly is transported from the factory to the job site. This may be done directly or indirectly, such as transporting it to home improvement warehouses, lumber yards and the like for purchase at the retail level by a home "do it yourselfer". Conversely, it may be shipped directly to a job site depending on business considerations, all within the scope of act 86. Thereafter, several panels according to the present invention are attached to pre-existing walls in act 87, such as for example, in the assembly of FIG. 6. Thereafter, final finishing of mudding the joints in act 88 is performed, corresponding to the plastered joint 44 (see 66 as previously described). This may include joint tape as well as the joint compound. Final finishing, such as paint, wallpaper or the like may thereafter be applied to the inside finished surface of the wall.
 While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment have been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected. The articles "a", "an", "said" and "the" are not limited to a singular element, and include one or more such element.
Patent applications in class Foam
Patent applications in all subclasses Foam