I just purchased a used picnic table that is a redwood color. It's pretty worn but in good shape otherwise. I'm not sure if it was previously coated with a solid color redwood stain or exterior paint. Is there a way I can tell and would it matter which one I use to refinish?
About the easiest way to tell if it was painted is if there is added thickness to the surface from layers of paint. Stain on the other hand, penetrates the surface, rarely peels, and doesn't build up layers of film like paint does. If it's peeling more than likely it's paint. As Joe said, scrape it, clean it, sand it up, clean it off some more & refinish it with stain. It is less likely to peel.