Which exterior semi-transparent stain is best
Yep....in a way....BRAND doesn't matter!
The previous posters are on the right track.
* Your results depend largely on your prep, age of decking, previous coatings, etc.
* If it's an older deck, and never been sanded...DO IT.
* There does come a point where decking needs to be sanded. If your surface is 20yrs. old, you can strip & brighten all you want, but the wood itself is still waaaaayyyyy to degraded to hold S/T stain EVEN REMOTELY as good as a sanded deck.
* The final call is yours obviously, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you did the stripping/brightening/drying on half your deck....and did a thorough sanding on the other half.....you'd be doing more sanding.
* I have a 16y/o Redwood deck, and have sanded the floor twice. I've taken my steps off 3 times (18 Redwood 2x6's) and sanded them too.
* Since you can't buy Redwood anymore (unless you pay DEARLY for it), I'm DAMN fussy.
* That's exactly why I sand.
It just depends on YOUR priorities!