New homeowner in need of advice for painted/peeling deck
The upper/lower, north-facing deck on the home we purchased in the PNW looked great when we purchased two years ago... It was a beautiful solid blue color that matched the fence and coordinated nicely with the house color. Last summer we applied some deck cleaner (from Lowes or HD) and the deck started peeling terribly as soon as I started to scrub and hose off the cleaner. This summer it looks terrible, due to the peeling paint and the damage from us not even realizing how much annual cleaning and maintenance we should be doing (yes, well-meaning but clueless new homeowners). So now we're reading forums like this one to educate ourselves, and realizing we'll easily do more harm to the deck if we don't plan carefully. After digging around in the various paint cans the previous owners left behind, I now realize the pretty blue product they used was a Sherwin Williams exterior latex paint. And from what I've read here and elsewhere, that was not a good choice (moisture build up from below causing the paint to peel so quickly etc). I'm hoping those here with loads more knowledge and experience that we have can help me sort out what steps we need to take to get this deck into decent shape. We're focusing only on the floor boards of the deck--the rails and ledges are holding up fine. My questions:
1) Am I correct in thinking we need to use a stripper specifically formulated for latex paint? And that after applying we should pressure wash but use a low psi (less than 1000) to keep from damaging the wood? Any recommendations for a specific stripping product?
2) Do we need to sand the deck also?
3) Can someone please recommend what kind of product we should use once we get rid of the paint? I'm pretty clear from reading here that even in the stain department, we should avoid a solid b/c of high maintenance etc.? But I'm completely confused about all the other options, and specific products folks get into long back-and-forth arguments about here. Our highest priorities are a) that the deck be protected from the elements so we can put off rebuilding for a good number of years; b) that it look presentable so we can enjoy our otherwise beautiful backyard space (so we're fine with letting go of a solid stain color matched to the blue color of the rails); and c) that the maintenance be more rather than less worry-free--we don't mind reapplying a product every few years but would like to avoid having to strip beforehand.
Any constructive recommendations to help us get off to a fresh start with this poor abused deck greatly appreciated!