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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: concrete

A New Driveway To Give Your Home Major Curb Appeal

Chelsea O'Donnell

While it’s obvious that a driveway is a convenient place to park your car, it also offers considerable curb appeal and can increase the resale value of a home if a potential sale is in your near future. Of course, when choosing driveway material, there are many to consider and what works for one house might not work so well for another. So let’s go through the pros and cons of the four most popular options to help you make the best decision for your home.

Asphalt

This is the most popular driveway material and for good reason - it’s practical and easy to install. An average asphalt driveway can typically be laid in a day and if properly maintained, they can last for up to 30 years or more. An asphalt driveway is also a safe bet with our cold winters and hot summers as they can stand up to severe temperature changes. Sounds pretty good right? I think so, but there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. For starters, asphalt only comes in one color - black. So if you’re looking for something special to match the aesthetic of your home, you aren’t going to find it here. Another thing to consider is that asphalt does crack and crumble with age, but problem areas can be resealed so you don’t need to replace the whole driveway with every blemish.

Gravel

For people looking for a driveway solution on a budget, gravel might be the way to go. While they aren’t as popular as they once were, gravel is great for very long or intricately shaped paths. On the flip side, using loose stones can get very sloppy and you’ll likely find yourself regularly going out to get new materials to replace what’s been lost from both the weather and everyday use. Gravel is also tough to plow and shovel, so take that into consideration if your driveway gets a lot of snow.

Pavers

No one can deny the beauty of a brick or stone driveway. Homeowners love them for an upscale look that can mimic the style of the property while still offering a strong and reliable material that will last for decades. Of course, with beautiful pavers also comes high product and labor costs as each piece will have to be laid by hand. Take this into consideration when you’re thinking about which material to use as paver installation will likely have your driveway out of commission for a lot longer than some of the other options.

Concrete

If you’d like a driveway with some individuality but don’t want to fork over the cash for pavers, concrete might be your best bet. Concrete is poured quite easily so the installation is relatively fast, although you’ll need to wait a week to drive on it. There are also many options to stamp or dye the material to create a unique look, including mimicking the design of pavers. While concrete is still more expensive than asphalt, it also lasts a really long time - 30 years or more. The downside? Concrete can be susceptible to cracking and can be pricier to fix.

No matter what type of driveway material you decide on, the end result will only be as good as what’s underneath the material. A qualified professional will discuss elevation, drainage, and environmental factors to help you make the best choice for your home.

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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Now is a Great Time to Repair or Replace That Driveway

Chelsea O'Donnell

A driveway is the entry point into almost every home, but a cracked surface can instantly date and devalue the property, especially if you’re a homeowner who is looking to sell in the near future. Depending on the condition of the driveway, patching, resurfacing or replacing the asphalt are all options to give your home a freshening up that will increase its resale value. Let’s take a look at the best ways to tackle this project.

If you’re wondering why your driveway has cracked or crumbled in the first place, the most likely culprits are sun and rain. The strong rays from the sun break down the surface of the asphalt while water from rain, ice, and snow run underneath, eroding the gravel which creates cracks and areas that begin to cave in. A driveway should last for at least 15 years depending on its environment, but as time passes and you start to see signs of wear, you’ll know that you’re ready for an upgrade.

If cracking is your problem, have a look at how thick the cracks are. If they are less than a quarter inch wide, you can use a liquid crack filler to fix them. First, use a screwdriver to remove any debris from the crack and then use a powerful stream of water from a hose or pressure washer ensure the inside of the crack is clean. Allow the area to dry completely. Once it’s dry, shake your crack filler vigorously to ensure all the ingredients are combined. Fill the crack flush to the rest of the pavement and then smooth it out if necessary. Allow the filler to dry, noting if the mixture sinks into the pavement and requires a second coat. Wait at least 24 hours before applying a second coat if necessary and then wait for an additional 24 to 48 hours before walking or driving on the repaired pavement.

If you have larger cracks, divots, or places in the driveway that have caved in slightly, you may need to resurface it. This is cheaper than replacing the entire driveway and can be a very effective alternative if the damage is not too severe. Concrete resurfacer can be purchased at any home improvement store and should be applied according to the instructions on the bag. Remember, resurfacing means that you won’t be able to use your driveway for a few days while it dries, so don’t take on this project the same weekend that you’re hosting a picnic or family party.

Finally, if you have large sinkholes or “birdbaths”, it’s likely that the foundation and drainage system underneath the asphalt or concrete is not working properly, so patching and resurfacing are only going to work temporarily. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to replace the driveway in its entirety in order to truly fix the problem. While this is the most arduous of the three options, it will also last the longest. A new driveway under good conditions should have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years and new pavement will give your home fantastic curb appeal. Again it’s important to note that installing a new driveway is a two-step process which includes laying the gravel for drainage and setting the pavement on top. Putting down the gravel sometimes means waiting two weeks for it to settle, so before you take on this kind of work, be aware of the time that it takes to complete.

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.

Help! The Cold Weather Has Cracked Our Concrete

Chelsea O'Donnell


I received an interesting letter from a reader this week who said, “Dear Bob, we got started on our outdoor clean-up last weekend and noticed that the concrete in our patio area has some cracks that weren’t there in the fall. Is there anything we can do to fix it or do we have to have it professionally repaired? Thank you, Barbara D.”

This is a great question and it’s a common problem for homeowners during this time of year. Concrete, like most natural materials, changes with the environment. When there is a lot of snow, ice, and rain, that water can seep down into the porous concrete. As the temperature drops, the moisture freezes, causing the concrete to expand. When the temperature warms and the ground thaws, the concrete then shrinks, which leads to cracking. Most of the time, these hairline cracks aren’t problematic on their own but left untreated, it is likely that they will get bigger and tougher to fix. Unfortunately, cracking is one of the downsides to concrete and it can be tough to prevent. On the flip side, fixing them is relatively simple, so let’s walk through it.

First, you’ll always want to work with a very dry surface, so don’t start this project if it has recently rained. Once the weather is ready to cooperate, be sure that the cracks are completely clean of debris by using a chisel to remove loose pieces of concrete, dirt or sand.  Next, you’re ready to fill the crack using either a concrete caulk for small cracks or a pourable concrete mix for larger gaps. Always follow the manufacturer's directions as some products will require you to fill the crack with sand and others will recommend using a trowel to pack down the material. Then leave it plenty of time for it to cure before sealing the concrete to protect it from cracking again.

If you simply have too many cracks and you’d rather replace the concrete, here are a few things to remember. Firstly, make sure the pour is done in ideal conditions and ask your contractor about using plastic sheeting or a curing compound to control the moisture from the beginning. Next, don’t mess with it! Concrete takes three to seven days to set depending on the environment, so don’t rush it. Allowing the surface to harden completely before you use it can delay or prevent cracking in the future. Next, be sure to maintain your concrete with a sealant which will allow the right amount of moisture to come in and will let the surface breathe. Finally, check that your driveway or patio has proper drainage. The longer water sits on it, the more likely that it will seep through the surface. Taking these steps will help to ensure that your concrete stays looking newer for longer with less probability for additionally cracking after our next bout of extreme weather.  

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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.