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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 Category: DIY

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.

Simple Projects To Increase Your Home’s Resale Value

Chelsea O'Donnell

With real estate season heating up, you might be thinking about small remodeling projects to get the best possible price for your home. If a major renovation isn’t up your alley, you could consider smaller “spruce-up” projects that will give your house a refresh without breaking the bank. Here are some areas to focus on:

The Kitchen

A kitchen is almost always the hub of a house, even for non-cooks. People love to get together to make meals, chat about each other’s day, and enjoy casual snacks in a comfortable common space. For any potential buyer, a kitchen design that’s clean, functional, and snazzy will help to increase the sale price. Just remember to keep your updates neutral enough to appeal to lots of potential buyers.

Curb Appeal

First impressions are crucial when listing a house on the market. It goes without saying that roof streaked with mold and overgrown landscaping will turn people away. Spend some time updating roofing and siding and use a professional landscaper or tap into your inner green thumb to spruce up plants and shrubs. You’d be shocked at how much of a difference a few small changes will make.

The Master Suite

With how busy people are, creating an oasis for a potential buyer to enjoy can score you major points. A master bedroom complete with an ensuite is always a wise investment, especially if it exudes relaxation. Soaking tubs, double sinks, and large closets have mass appeal and paying attention to little extras can help people see themselves enjoying their potential new home.

Backyard

When the warm weather comes people are chomping at the bit to get outside, which is why creating a backyard retreat is always a good idea. From firepits to barbecue areas, privacy fencing to comfortable seating areas, making the most of a yard is a sure fire way to encourage buyers to consider your home. An additional living space, such as a three season porch, is also a huge bonus.

Paint

Lots of homeowners paint their interiors to suit their lifestyles. That might mean bright blue and pink colored bedrooms for kids and a few old trends that have seen better days (who ever thought red walls were a good idea?). Repainting with neutral grays, bright whites, and warm taupe tones will give a home an instant facelift without too much expense or effort.

Have you thought about giving your home a mini-makeover to get it ready for sale? What are your favorite tips? I’d love to hear from you, send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros

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.