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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: pavers

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.


Build Your Own Backyard Fire Pit This Weekend

Chelsea O'Donnell

Last week we talked about the different ways you can enjoy an ambient fire in your own backyard. While there are many options for a portable, moveable (and tippable!) pit, many of us like the idea of a permanent area to enjoy evenings gathered around the warm glow of an open fire. So today, I’ll be showing you how to build a simple backyard pit that you can enjoy for the rest of the summer and right through the autumn too.

First things first, always check your town’s website or fire department for their rules on open fires. Some special requirements might include fire size, setback distances, or general fire permits, so make the call before you get started.

Next, choose a place with plenty of room that’s well away from your home and any low hanging trees, bushes, or vegetation. This is a fire we are talking about, so safety has to be of the utmost importance. Also, if you have to dig, make sure you steer clear of any utility lines or in-ground sprinklers.

Once you have your spot, measure out the space for your pit. You’ll want to have 36-44 inches for the inside where the fire will burn, plus an additional 12 inches around for your stone or brick wall. Put a few chairs about 24 inches from where your outer rim will be to ensure that people can fit comfortably without burning their knees. Setting up your space is important - you want to make sure you have enough room for your family to enjoy the fire without the set up feeling too close or crowded.

Once your setup is ready, dig a 12-inch deep hole into the ground. If you’re building your pit on a patio, you’ll want to remove the original pavers. Then add a layer of sand and tamp it down so it’s level. Alternatively, you can also add a layer of additional pavers on top of the current base and fill in the cracks and crevices with sand. It’s important to have this base for your fire to ensure that you protect the ground or your current patio from heat damage.

Next, it’s time to lay your ring. Most home improvement stores carry pre-made fire pit “kits” which include the stone that you’ll need for the job. Alternatively, you can find rounded pavers to purchase at a simple per unit price, just be sure that they are heat resistant. I highly recommend going with a height of at least 18 inches or roughly knee height to ensure that the fire is properly contained while still giving it room to throw heat.

If you’re going with a DIY option, the easier way to do it is to lay the pavers subway style, with each layer centered over the seam of the previous layer to give it extra stability. It also gives the pit a higher-end look. Depending on the size of your pavers, three layers of stone should do the trick. If you’re using brick, you’ll probably need to double that amount.

And that’s it! Of course, you can choose to create a much more lavish design, but if you’re going for a simpler look, it can be built in just a few hours and will be ready to be enjoyed that very day. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros to share your ideas.

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.

Choosing the Best Driveway Material for Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

A cold winter and damage from plow trucks and salting might have your driveway looking a little worse for wear. I’ve had curbs taken off more times than I can count, and cracks almost always appear as a result of rough weather and surface materials that haven’t been updated in some time.

While it’s true 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 considering 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 and 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 stone 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 the installation of this material will likely mean your driveway will be 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 with you 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.