Screening the Options--Aluminum or Fiber?

Question: We’ve got to replace the window and door screens around our house this spring. The old ones we have now are aluminum and are frayed and cracked. Should we replace them with aluminum, or do some of the new plastic or fiber screens hold up better?


San Juan Capistrano

Answer: “On sliding or swinging door screens, you should probably think about getting aluminum screens,” says Lori Green of Green’s Discount Glass and Screen in Garden Grove. “Aluminum holds up better under heavy use, which is what’s needed in a door screen. Even though it corrodes over time, aluminum is a stronger material than fiber. On windows, screens aren’t subjected to abuse, so using fiber screens makes sense. They’ll last a long time with just a regular cleaning once a year.”


Q: I’ve been replacing the electrical outlets in our 16-year-old house and I’ve noticed that some of them are connected with two wires while others have four. Is this because of a mistake when the wiring was laid out? Should they all have four?


Huntington Beach

A: “An outlet connected to another set of wires means it can be operated from another location,” says Jack Boltey of Essco Wholesale Electric in Anaheim. “You’ll often find this in bedrooms where the outlet is connected to a switch so you can turn a lamp on and off when you enter the room. As you replace the outlet, make sure the wires are connected in the right places.”

Q: We have aluminum mini-blinds throughout the house and I’m having a heck of a time getting them clean. Is there any way to get them back to their original condition?



A: “Because of the way they’re made, mini-blinds are very difficult to clean,” says Gidon Adlan of Bob’s Shades and Linoleum in Orange. “It’s usually worth it to have them professionally cleaned. A professional can come to your house and remove them and use a static cleaning process to get all the dirt and dust off. The charge is usually between $7 and $10 per blind, it doesn’t take very long and it’s a lot easier than doing it yourself. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a sponge and take the entire day working on the blinds.”

Q: We recently bought a small oak cupboard that we’d like to hang on the kitchen wall. The only problem is it’s very heavy, about 300 pounds, and we’re having trouble trying to figure out how to attach it to the wall safely. Any suggestions?


Santa Ana

A: “Because of the weight, you’ll need to connect it to the studs behind plaster or drywall,” says Randy Findley of Bayne Custom Picture Framing in Fullerton. “You can try using some large lag screws and screw it into the wall, but that may not be practical since you may not be able to hide the screws. You could also use anchor bolts and then some heavy-duty brackets connected to the back of the piece. There are also heavy loop hangers that can be held into the cupboard with wood screws and then an auger anchor can be put into the studs.”

Q: I’d love to put a wrought-iron table in our back-yard patio with a marble top, but I’ve been told by friends that marble isn’t a great choice for the outdoors, since it deteriorates rapidly, is that true?


Fountain Valley

A: “Marble is fine for outdoor use as long as it’s properly maintained,” says Michelle Wagner of Del Piso Brick and Tile in Anaheim. “It’s a natural stone so it can be left outside. But for use as a table I’d recommend having it polished and sealed to help protect it. It should also be periodically cleaned and you have to wipe up any water marks to prevent spotting. It’s not as maintenance free as a plastic table might be, but it’s relatively easy to care for.”