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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

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: driveway

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.


Don't Get Too Salty When Preparing for Snow Removal

Chelsea O'Donnell

While we’ve been lucky so far, snow removal is an inevitable chore that we Connecticut homeowners have come to accept as part of our winter routine. And while we’ve only had an early few inches, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the main event come January.  

Shoveling and plowing are pretty straightforward activities, but one question that I get asked is how to choose the right melting product to make snow removal easier on the back and the wallet. Snow melting agents generally come in two forms - traditional rock salt, also known as sodium chloride, and calcium chloride. While they sound similar, the two are actually quite different and each has its advantages and drawbacks.

Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is a dry material that’s mined and applied to pavement using a walk behind residential spreader or commercial spreaders that are mounted on trucks. Sodium chloride is activated by moisture and will begin to melt the snow when it gets wet. The problem with sodium chloride is that because it’s activated by water, it doesn’t work well if the temperature is below 15 degrees.  However, if temperatures are above 15 degrees, sodium chloride can be a good, inexpensive choice that will take longer to melt but will keep your walkways dry. If you have vegetation or animals, take note that sodium chloride will be harmful to plants and can hurt animals if ingested.

When temperatures dip below 15 degrees, calcium chloride is going to be your best bet. This liquid agent is sprayed onto payment and works instantly to melt snow and ice. In fact, calcium chloride can melt snow up to eight times faster than traditional rock salt alone. Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. Calcium chloride gets hot fast, so while its effective short term, it might not be able to do the full job in a huge storm. It’s also more expensive than traditional rock salt and stays wet, which can lead to slippery surfaces. On the plus side, it’s non-corrosive and won’t harm vegetation, although you’ll still want to keep your pets away from it.

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.

Smart Jobs For Homeowners To Beat the Winter Blues

Chelsea O'Donnell

While temperatures have been pretty comfortable this past week, there is no denying that winter is on the way. With mornings in the 30’s and 40’s, I think it’s time to start talking about what we should be doing to get our homes ready for the cold before it actually comes. So without further ado, here are my top five tips:

Take a picture of your roof.

We’ll start with an easy one. Go outside and snap a photo of your roof from each direction. Wondering why? When we get a massive snowfall, I always recommend for people to get their roofs shoveled. Removing the snow helps to reduce the risk of leaks and other damage to your home. But when the snow is very deep, it’s impossible to see the pipes, skylights and other parts and pieces that stick up out of the roof. Keeping a picture of the clean surface is a great way to minimize the probability of an accident when you’re trying to prevent damage in the first place.

Mark the driveway.

Speaking of damage prevention, stop by the local hardware store and get some property markers. They are generally made of wood or metal and are sometimes painted in a fluorescent color. Use the markers to create an outline around your driveway. Just like your roof, when a blanket of snow hits, it’s impossible for a removalist to see where the driveway ends and where your lawn begins. Creating that parameter will help the snow plow truck operator know where to go, which should assist in keeping your curbs and grass intact.

Give the furnace a checkup.

If you haven’t put the heat on yet, you will soon. Don’t wait until you really need it to make sure that everything is in working order. Clean or replace your HVAC filters and check the temperature gauge to make sure you can power up and down with no problems. Also, now is the time to remove those window A/C units and check and clean those filters too. While you’re at it, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working and change the batteries if necessary.

Seal up the air holes.

I get calls all winter long from people who are wondering why their house is so drafty. If you have an attic hatch, install an insulated box to prevent the cold air from coming down into your living space. Check all your windows and doors for gaps and use weatherstripping, foam, or insulation to seal it tight. If you have a fireplace that you don’t use, get that covered too. Any passageways from the inside to the outside can act as wind tunnels when the frigid winter air comes calling.

Clean those gutters.

We will have a few weeks of falling leaves before the deep freeze, but please don’t leave your gutters clogged to the hilt with debris. If you don’t clean your gutters, it will prevent winter water from flowing off the roof and down away from the foundation. If water has nowhere to go, it will refreeze in your gutters and at the base of your roof, resulting in dangerous ice dams and potential leaks. If you don’t want to do this dirty job yourself, schedule a pro to handle it for you. It will be worth it.

If you do just these five things, you’ll be in much better shape when the wicked weather decides to come our way. Plus it’s much more pleasant to get these jobs out of the way before it’s too cold and snowy to bother. Good luck and as always, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help or advice.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions 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.