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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: backyard

Kick Up Your Hammock Game for Summer Relaxation

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week’s oppressive heat had me daydreaming about relaxing in the cool shade in the comfort of my backyard hammock. If you’re a hammock fan, you know how wonderful it feels to swing freely, dozing effortlessly in the quiet comfort of nature. If a hammock isn’t your bag, it can only be that you haven’t found the perfect one to enjoy. So this week, in the spirit of the last month of summer, I’ve pulled together a guide of my favorite hammocks for every occasion to inspire readers to slow down and relax. 

For the Traditionalist

If you love the look of a classic rope hammock, you can’t go past Pawleys Island. Made in the USA, these hammocks are generous in size and come in a whole bunch of colors in case white isn’t your thing or if you’re worried about it getting dirty. $169. https://pawleysislandhammocks.com

For the Lovebirds

If you’re looking for comfort for two, the Hammock Sky Brazilian Double is a great pick for around the yard. Its solid canvas makeup goes with any decor and is 60 inches wide, making it big enough to easily accommodate two adults. I also love the lifetime warranty in case something goes awry. $50. www.amazon.com

For Serious Comfort

Hammock loyalists know that Hatteras is one of the best brands out there and their pillowtop line might just beat out your bed in terms of comfort. These hammocks look great on a stand by the pool, but I have to warn you, you may never want to leave it. Keep your barbecue close. From $349. https://hatterashammocks.com/products/hammocks/pillowtop

For On-The-Go

Hikers and campers love the Hummingbird which is light, tiny, and easy to hang almost anywhere. For the size of a coffee cup, you won’t believe that this thing holds 300 plus pounds, making it the perfect pack-along hammock for a day trip in the woods. $64. https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/

For Mosquito-Free Comfort

There is nothing worse than climbing into your hammock for a late afternoon snooze when mosquitoes start to attack. This is where G4Free comes in. With their built-in mosquito net, you can enjoy all the comforts of the great outdoors without the pesky bug bites. $28. http://www.g4free.com

For Sunny Spots

Hammocks get faded from too much sun exposure and mold is often an issue too. For a hammock that needs to withstand the elements, the Vivere Sunbrella is worth checking out. Sunbrella material reflects UV rays and is mildew and stain-resistant too. $179. https://www.vivereltd.com/18/brazilian-sunbrella-hammock-double

For Sitting Upright

Lay down hammocks are fantastic for snoozing, but reading the newspaper or even enjoying a cocktail can be a challenge. The Y-Stop Hammock Chair looks and feels like a traditional hammock but its upright design makes it ideal for mornings with your coffee and paper. $45. www.amazon.com

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.



Create a Hip Backyard Centerpiece with a Fire Pit

Chelsea O'Donnell

Fire pits are a major backyard trend right now and one that I personally enjoy on many summer and autumn evenings when the temperature gets cooler. If you’re thinking about building one in your backyard, there are several options to consider depending on your set-up and preferences. Let’s dive into a few of the most popular choices.

 The number one consideration for an open fire is always safety over aesthetic. A fire pit creates a beautiful ambiance that can be enjoyed by the whole family, but a fire is always something to be very cautious about. Make sure to check with your town to understand the rules around bonfires and fire pits before you get started. As an example, according to the Fire Department FAQ’s on the Bristol, Connecticut website, open burning in a chiminea, fire pit, or patio hearth is allowed as long as the fire doesn’t exceed three feet in diameter and does not extend beyond 1am. Again every town is different, so be sure to check with your fire department first.

Once you have the all clear, it’s time to start thinking about the look you’d like to achieve and the space you have available to you. For smaller patios, the most popular options are generally chimineas or fire bowls which are not affixed to the ground and can technically be moved around. When buying a freestanding unit, be sure to invest in one that’s heavy enough so it won’t tip over, and always utilize a fireproof mat underneath, especially if you’re using it on a deck or wood surface. 

If you’re trying to choose between a chiminea and a firepit or bowl, think about whether or not you’re planning to use it for any kind of cooking. I like pits or bowls over chimineas because you can always throw a grate on top for sausages or access the flames for s’mores.

For something more permanent, the most popular fire pit building materials are brick, stone, and concrete. All three materials are very sturdy and will handle a fire just fine, so the choice of materials really depends on your home aesthetic and the budget for your job. Concrete will generally be less expensive while high-end stone can run you several hundred dollars.

What’s even more important than the material, of course, is space. The last thing you want is to build a fire pit to then realize that there isn’t enough room for friends and family to sit around it. A nice pit for four should be about three feet wide, plus you’ll want to leave a two-foot gap between the rim of the pit and where your chairs will sit to ensure no one gets toasty shins. When it comes to height, I recommend building slightly lower than the seats of your chairs to ensure that the fire is appropriately surrounded but still has enough room to let off plenty of heat. Now sit back and enjoy!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Maintain Your Stone Patio for Decades of Use 

Chelsea O'Donnell

Two years ago, I replaced my wood deck for a stone patio. After almost 30 years, I was ready for a new look and the deck itself was coming to the end of its life. But after decades of cleaning, staining, and sealing wood, I wasn’t quite sure how to maintain my bluestone. Luckily, I am now an expert! Here is what I learned as a newcomer to patio protection.

The one thing that makes a patio a bit riskier than a wood deck is that they are laid right on the ground instead of on a platform, which means that any shifts or movement in the earth can cause cracks and splits between the joints or the stone itself. Additionally, weeds are unbelievably strong little pests. After time, they always find a way to creep through the joints. Brick patios are especially susceptible to weed infiltration and ants love making their homes in the gaps too. Luckily, sealing a stone patio on a regular basis is a surefire way of keeping both pests and weak points at bay.

You can start with a thorough cleaning not unlike the process you might be used to for a wood deck. Begin by removing any debris and loose dirt and dust with a firm broom, and then fire up the pressure washer. Stone can be stained from rusty patio furniture so be sure to pretreat and scrub down any marks before giving it a good power wash. Leave it to dry for at least 24 hours.

Next, inspect the joints closely. This is a tougher job for bricks than larger stone, but it’s important to repair any erosion or loose pieces before you apply your sealant. Otherwise, the stone will become uneven and the gaps will invite weeds and ants to make their homes inside. You can use sand to fill any spaces that have deteriorated over time.

Now you’re ready to seal. Each product is different so you’ll want to pay close attention, especially when it comes to finishes. I always look for a high quality, water-based sealant that I can spray on easily. I recommend applying two thin coats and waiting 24 hours between applications to ensure you achieve an even finish. Wait another 24-48 hours after the final coat to put patio furniture, grills, and any other equipment back on the surface.

This may seem like a lot of work, but if your patio isn’t susceptible to too much environmental exposure, you can get away with a good clean and seal every other year. Trust me, the effort is worth it and will extend the life of your patio for years to come.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.