Last year we built a deck off the back of the house. Because so much else was going on, I didn't work to get it sealed right away. So by this summer it was look pretty weathered. I called two different deck sealing companies that had sent promotions in the mail. The first lost their first quote and then came back with a really high price. Later they called me back, and after I said I thought their price was really high, they started dancing about how it was negotiable and what would I be willing to pay. I then talked to contractor #2. He gave me a great price right on the spot and could come back in a few days. Sold. He did a very nice job and the deck looks (almost) like new. Unfortunately, either he was not so good or the knots in the cedar were just too weathered to get all of the darkening out after powerwashing and sanding. Three lessons from this little example:
1) Any price or quote is negotiable.
2) Don't trust someone who first tries to overcharge you (aka rip you off) and then falls apart when you catch them.
3) Seal your deck right away if its cedar. (If you use treated wood, you should wait at least six months, even a year.)