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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


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


Filtering by Tag: fiberglass

Replacement Windows for Less Maintenance and Energy Efficiency

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you swore that this past winter would be the last time you’d put up with drafty, old aluminum windows, this week’s column is for you. Around this time of year, I get calls from lots of people looking for advice and information on replacing their windows. Not only do old windows let lots of warm air out and cold air in, but they are also difficult to clean and maintain.

These days, many people are looking to replace their aluminum windows and sliding doors with a more durable option - something made from vinyl, wood or fiberglass that can withstand the test of time. There are lots of options out there and the one you pick will be based on four very important factors: the climate where you live, the amount of moisture and condensation your home is prone to, the kind of aesthetic you want for your home, and the maintenance required to keep them looking great. Keeping these four deciding features in mind, let’s go through the options.

When it comes to temperature, aluminum conducts heat and cold, which is why it’s a popular choice for cookware. Aluminum windows and doors are notorious for transferring the outside temperature in, which makes them very inefficient in both the winter and the summer. Wood fares better in the extreme seasons, but vinyl and fiberglass windows and doors are made for all weather and are built specifically to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Remember that only 10 percent of the window is the frame, so investing in double pane energy efficient glass is your best option, no matter what frame you go with.

With our humid summers and damp winters, moisture is a major factor in deciding whether to upgrade your old windows and doors. Because aluminum transfers heat, it can attract condensation and moisture, which can lead to leaks, mold buildup, and rot inside your wall. The mold build-up I see around old windows would scare the life out of you, especially when you remember that you’re breathing those spores in every day! If you have signs of mildew or corrosion from your aluminum frames, it’s time to get them replaced.

Then there is the “look and feel” factor. Many people started replacing their aluminum windows and doors with vinyl so they could achieve a more contemporary look with the various finishes and designs that vinyl offers. Of course, aluminum products can be painted or powder coated to match the style of your home, but there will be maintenance to keep them looking great.

That brings us to upkeep. Be aware that any painted product will begin to chip and peel over time. The look of wood is elegant and timeless but it requires regular painting or staining, just like aluminum. Vinyl and fiberglass are very easy to care for and they don’t peel, fade or need to be repainted. These products are not prone to scratches, dings or dents and can give you a longer, hassle-free lifespan if you take care of them properly.

With summer in full swing, now is a good time to think about replacing old windows and doors for products with maximum energy efficiency and minimal maintenance. If your home still has aluminum and you’re experiencing some of the problems I’ve mentioned, it might be time for an update.

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 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 Advice is for guidance only.

An Entry Door Buyer’s Guide – Tips from The Pro

Chelsea O'Donnell

A front door is one of the most defining features of a house. It welcomes people into your home and sets the stage for what to expect on the inside.  An entry door can really increase the curb appeal of your home, and it generally recoups between 80 and 95% of its cost in resale value. So if you’re thinking about an upgrade, here is what you should consider.

Entry doors are generally made of wood, fiberglass or steel, and each material has both positive and negative factors. To make the comparison simple, I am going to focus on three important factors: energy efficiency, maintenance, and price. 

Fiberglass is the newest kid on the block and it’s a favorite because of its flexibility. The material gets a tick for energy efficiency is generally a top performer for retaining heat and air conditioning, and reducing your carbon footprint. Fiberglass doors can also be made to look quite unique in terms of style, even mimicking wood or metal to ensure your personal aesthetic can be achieved. Fiberglass doors are also very sturdy and generally stand up to most kicks, bumps or denting. But it’s not all gold stars for fiberglass. Under extreme impact or weather conditions, fiberglass has been known to crack, and although it’s not common, it is something to consider. Also, these doors tend to be a bit more expensive than your average steel option, but less expensive than most wood models. 

Steel doors are a popular choice because they are relatively low cost and provide one of the strongest options available on the market. From a security perspective, a steel door is a reliable choice and it will stand up to most wear and tear with ease. Steel is also relatively easy in the maintenance category as it really only needs to be repaired when it's scratched or dented.  Conversely, weather can play a part in the lifetime of a steel door as they do have the potential to rust when hit with severe and persistent rain, snow and other wet weather conditions. Additionally, steel doors are huge heat conductors, to the point where we often don’t suggest pairing one with a storm door if it’s facing south as the heat that collects between the two doors has the ability to melt parts of the door or even shatter the glass.

Lastly, there are wood doors, which are probably the most aesthetically pleasing. In addition to looking beautiful, they also resist scratches and are very difficult to dent. Of course, with the good comes the bad, and with wood, the biggest negatives are its price and upkeep. Wood is easily the most expensive of the three options, and the material does need to be painted or stained every few years to ensure it still looks like new.

No matter which type of material you choose, you want to ensure you’re purchasing a door from a reputable manufacturer and that you have a rock solid warranty. Also, be sure to choose a professional, recommended contractor for the installation, as the fitting of the door can make all the difference in terms of performance. Most of the time, the air that flows through the home generally comes from the gaps and spaces between windows and doors, not the product itself. There’s no use spending good money on a new door and have a bad install impact its performance. Don’t forget, if you have a question, I’m here to help!