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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: house

A Good Cleaning Will Extend the Life of Your Deck for Years

Chelsea O'Donnell

I hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July! While celebrating with family at a backyard barbecue, I started thinking about decks, patios, and the outdoor spaces that we all enjoy during the summer. Sure, they are wonderful to have, but they take a lot of work too. So let’s talk about how to best maintain them, starting with a deck. 

The life expectancy of a wood deck is about 10 to 15 years, but did you know that it could last north of 20 years with proper cleaning and maintenance? That’s right, with a good seasonal scrub and sealing, your deck could stay looking beautiful long after your neighbors’ needs replacing.

A deck takes a lot of abuse during the seasons. The summer sun is especially harsh and the humidity forces the wood to expand and contract, which can lead to shifting and splitting. The winter is no picnic either as snow, ice, and freezing temperatures will do their fair share of damage to both the surface and the joists. With all those elements taking their toll, it’s no wonder why a deck is so susceptible to rot. Luckily, there is plenty that you can do to take care of it, so let’s get to it.

Attack the Crevices

The first thing you have to do is sweep the surface of your deck clean, and then grab a putty knife to dislodge all the debris stuck in the nooks and crannies. Whirlybirds and leaves can do a lot more damage than you think because they begin to rot as soon as they get wet. Leaving them trapped in the wood will most certainly send your deck to an early grave. This is also a great time to sand down any splintered areas and replace deteriorated or popped nails or screws.

Scrub the Wood

Once your surface is completely debris-free, it’s time to give the wood a deep clean. You might remember my affinity for a pressure washer and deck cleaning is where this machine really shines. A year’s worth of dirt, mildew, and gunk can be tough to take off, and while a stiff scrub brush and some serious back-aching effort will do the trick, the pressure washer will tackle the task in half the time. Many people recommend a bleach and water solution but I prefer to use a non-toxic alternative such as Spray Nine which has no corrosive chemicals and won’t kill your plants. Give the deck a good, solid coating of cleaner and let it sit for 15 minutes before pressure washing or scrubbing.

Stain and Seal

Staining the deck is an optional step but sealing it shouldn't be. Many decks experience discoloration over time and staining is one great way to give your wood a facelift and make it look new. But regardless of if you’re staining or not, applying a weather-resistant seal is your best defense against having the replace your deck sooner than you expected. Apply the sealant in a thin coat using a medium paintbrush or a roller, working with the wood grain to ensure an even finish. It’s important not to apply the sealant in direct sun as it will dry too quickly and the wood won’t be able to absorb it. If instructed, apply a second coat, working in the same way. Finally, allow the sealant to dry for 24 to 48 hours before placing deck furniture or planters back on the surface.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful like-new deck for the rest of the summer and beyond. Your wood will thank you.

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.


10 Hacks To Make Window Washing A Little Less Painful

Chelsea O'Donnell

This past weekend my family tackled the tough job of cleaning the windows in my daughter’s recently purchased historical home. After years of built-up dirt, this was no easy task and let me tell you, it made me appreciate my easy to clean vinyl windows a whole lot more. But with a house in a historic district, efficiency upgrades aren’t as simple as they are with other homes, so a morning of cleaning was inevitable. Luckily, with a few simple tricks, we got the job done and the windows look amazing. 

Window washing is a dreaded task, but a few hours can make all the difference. Here are 10 of my favorite tricks, tips, and hacks to simplify the job and get your glass gleaming again.

  1. Never clean windows on a hot day. The glass will heat up, causing your washing solution to dry on the panes faster than you’ll be able to wipe it off. A cloudy, overcast day is your best bet for this job. 

  2. Instead of relying on reams of paper towels, stop into your local hardware store and grab an eight-inch squeegee for those small panes. They make the job a lot easier with much less waste, just don’t forget to wipe the blade between swipes!

  3. Here is a great DIY window cleaning solution. Combine one cup hot water and one cup white distilled vinegar. Mix in a spray bottle and there you have it. For very grimy windows, clean with hot soap and water first, followed by the vinegar mixture for a streak-free shine. 

  4. To get rid of really pesky streaks, use a dry board eraser. Unlike paper towels, an eraser can do away with streaks without leaving lint behind. 

  5. If you really hate washing windows, take an extra step and apply a window protectant. The clear polymer coating will help protect the glass from dust, dirt, and grime for longer. 

  6. If you’ve run out of paper towels, old newspapers are a great alternative. The ink will get on your hands but you don't have to worry about lint getting left behind on the windows.

  7. Hard water spots can be tough to remove with regular window cleaner. A dryer sheet will do the trick, just buff in circular motions. It works on mirrors and shower doors too. 

  8. Caterpillars love building nests in window tracks. Clean them out with a thin screwdriver and then follow up with a firm, toothbrush-sized bristle brush. 

  9. Hate cleaning blinds? Wrap a pair of kitchen tongs in two microfiber cloths and secure with an elastic band on either side. Run the tongs between each slat to remove dust and pet dander. 

  10. Have a can of WD-40 in the garage? A quick coat on freshly cleaned window sills will prevent dirt and grime from sticking.

If after this round of window washing you swear it will be your last, consider upgrading to vinyl windows. The seamless, tilt-in design makes them so easy to clean and the energy efficiency can’t be beaten. It’s one of the best upgrades you can make to your home to save both time and money in the long run. 

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.

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 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.