Any help is much appreciated.
Some background. I have a relatively new home - it will be two years old in November. The deck was (obviously) built new. It's weathered two summers and two winters and has not been treated in any way.
It's still in pretty good shape, though it shows a touch of mildew here and there. (see photos below).
My wife and I are pretty fussy about quality, looks, finish. I tried to stain the deck myself and was unhappy with how it was coming out. I was brushing on stain using a water clean up stain and ended up with some unevenness and some shiny spots ("flashing" I believe), from overapplication.
Also, when I tried some deckwash products, I had horrible results. A pro-painter who looked at the deck felt it was in good enough shape that no washing or preping was needed.
I received quotes around $1200 to do the deck, top and bottom and I really don't want to pay that kind of cash.
So my specific questions are:
1. Is there a method (other than just being a better brusher) that will give me a more even look, but do a decent job? Pads? Spray?
2. From the photos, would you agree that no prep is needed (for a semi-transparent)? What about the very light mildewing? Can I just stain over it?
3. Do I need to worry about the rather largish black mildew stains on the underside of the deck? Do they cause any structural damage or can I just leave the underside go?
4. For someone relatively inexperienced at this type of job, can I expect decent results if I'm careful, or should I just knuckle under and pay the cash?
Any insight is VERY MUCH appreciated!
Uneveness and flashing...
Current condition of deck:
Very light mildewing: