Help fixing the finish on my oil stained deck

So I bought this house about 2.5 years ago. The first summer I was in it, the red oak deck was fading a bit and clearly needed some stain. The owner had left the oil based stain used previously in the garage, so I used that to apply a new coat (after using deck cleaner and allowing drying time).
The next year, it was already starting to peel and flake off. I didn't get a chance to address it last summer, and now it looks absolutely awful. Because of the large amount of peeling going on, I assume I need to start from scratch here. Some suggestions I've gotten are to use stain stripper (specifically Cabot's oil based stain stripper) followed by the wood brightener product. I would then start from scratch with whatever stain I want.
Realistically, I tested it, and it didn't exactly strip all the stain off. In fact, I tried it on a portion of the wood that was in fairly good shape, and I really can't see a difference in the area where the stripper was used. It possibly looks a little lighter, but clearly still stained. And this makes sense to me, because I don't see how the stripper could strip off anything other than the top layer without actually stripping off the wood itself. Is this really what a strain stripper is meant to do?
Assuming I am on the right path, does it still make sense to use the deck stripper and follow it up by a coat of the same (or darker) oil based stain? My concern is that the spots that retained more stain will end up being darker than those that did not. The only other solution I can think of would be to sand it down, but that will be quite a challenge with all the vertical slats on the handrail, not to mention the fact that all the screws would then be sticking up a bit.
Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated!
-Jeff
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Ack, that's red cedar, not red oak.
And the products are Flood CWF - there was one can of oil based cedar tone stain in there, which is what I refinished with last year. There was also a can of clear coat, also flood CWF.
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I dought its a red oak deck likely PT pine. Cabots oil is good, failure of stain is often not following instructions, like it gets to cold at night-50 , or was damp, or moldy. Bleach Kills mold cheaply.
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Right...I said it was red cedar in the very response you quoted...
I know there are a handful of reasons it may have failed, but right now I'm just trying to figure out how to fix it.
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Cruise your local pro paint stores, lumber yards the library (Consumer REports) and home centers and ask a whole bunch of questions. Distill all the answers and keep trying all the remedies offered. One might work some day, but hopefully in a few years the appearance of the deck will no longer be a major concern and you can let it age gracefully until it is time to replace it with something more durable. Accept the fact that if you insist on a new looking deck it will be as high priced in terms of materials and labor as having Paris Hilton for a trophy wife.Good luck.
Joe
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just going to try a few things.
But - to make it clear I am by no means trying to make this thing look like new. I'm just trying to make it look like this isn't a crack house. The deck looks terrible right now. Only way to fix it is to strip all that stuff off according to the manufacturer. They are suggesting I just strip it as many times as it takes. So, that should be fun.
Thanks, Jeff
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Joe wrote:

cedar and was originally stained using a clear Cabot Stain. Then the hug-a-trees came into their own and our government forced the original stain off the market. Replacement finishes are not honest "replacements." The new finish formulations don't adhere well when placed over the places where the original finish persists.
The only remedy I can see is to remove all of the existing finish and begin anew with currently available finishes. Cabot, Flood or Benjamin Moore make acceptable products but I strongly urge calling and talking with a coatings chemist at the company you choose to buy from...not a salesman. I've done it and found it to be worthwhile. I expect that the stripping will take several years since I have over 1000 sq ft to do so I am now looking for how to do this easily. I have not had good success hiring contractors to do this so far. Their approach is to use a pressure washer, which is the wrong answer.
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If it were me, I'd look into getting it professionally sandblasted. It will cost a bit, but it's fast and zero effort on your part.
Sounds like the existing stain must be solid since it's peeling? If you go with one that is semi-transparent, etc that will eliminate the problem, provided the wood is nice enough that you can do so.
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