Question: We have a shade in our bedroom that rolls out periodically by itself and takes some effort to roll back up. What causes this?
S. N., Lake Forest
Answer: "The problem is in the shade's roller," says Ron Morley of Bob's Shades & Linoleum in Orange. "There's a spring built inside, and if that can't be reached, you'll have to replace the roller. In the spring end of the roller are two locking mechanisms called 'dogs.' They wear out after a while from use. When you pull the shade down and it rolls back up a few seconds later, the dog may be worn down. If you pull it down, let it go and it rolls back up immediately, the dogs might be sticking. In either case, take it to a shade store to see if you can find a matching roller."
Q: I've got some redwood patio furniture that needs to be stripped and refinished, but I've heard that these new environmentally safe stains and finishes aren't as good and won't last as long as the old kind. I'm considering having my brother in the Midwest send the kind I used to get. Are the new finishes as good?
C. A., Brea
A: "For the most part, these new finishes are just as good as the ones that used to be sold, although it depends on what you're buying," says Jim Livingstone of Paint N Paper House in Placentia. "If you go with the name brands, you shouldn't have a problem. They use a linseed oil or a silicone base, and they have the same flow and protection properties as the older stains.
"I think it's a mistake to go to the trouble of bringing in stains that are banned here. We have a great climate in Southern California, and outdoor furniture here doesn't face the weather of other areas. If the surface is correctly prepared and you use the stain and finish according to the manufacturer's instructions, I don't see how you can have a problem."