Here is a typical Portland deck exhibiting varying levels of stain remnant. This deck is is great example of what we commonly encounter. Parts of the deck are bare, leading the homeowner to think that simply cleaning and refinishing will suffice to provide a nice looking new finish. However, the sections of the deck with substantial stain remaining are the problem.
On some decks, the majority (it is never all) of the stain will lift off with cleaning. Coupled with the homeowner's understanding and acceptance that some of the remnant stain will still show through the new coat, only cleaning the deck prior to refinishing might be a viable, lower cost alternative. On other decks, however, very little of the stain will lift off with just cleaning.
If a homeowner has expectations of a "new" looking deck, the are setting themselves up for much dissappointment. There will be significant and obvious variation after the new coat is applied. Some spots will look great while others will look horrible, with a modled look of the old stain randomly showing through. The rub is that to the inexperienced eye, it is very hard to tell which of these two scenarios your deck will end up in.
That is where it experience and knowledge of a professional can really make the difference between being satisfied and disappointed. We consider the penetrability of the deck – how well it will accept a new coat. If the existing coat is glossed over to any degree, there will be little chance of the new coat blending in well. The other area we work with our customers on is understanding expectations and explaining likely outcomes.
Sometimes, if you know that your deck will look much nicer but will still have many noticable imperfections, you are better equipped to make the determination whether or not you want to make the additional investment into stripping the deck down to "bare" wood (even stripping a deck may leave 1-3% of the old finish remaining, usually in nooks and crannys.) Other times, it will benefit the homeowner to hear the hard facts – their deck will look disatrous without stripping. We are here to help you evaluate such tough decisions. Please give us a call for a free evaluation and estimate.