You may have a few things going against you. The first and obvious is the condition of the deck wood. Old decks that have not had routine proper maintenance, may never look good short of sanding through the damaged wood fibers to a "clean" starting point. With soft wood decks ( pine, cedar, redwood, pressure treated etc.) this is common.
The second may lie in the product you are using...surface finishes like paint and some opaque stains will chip and flake if the wood is not properly prepped.
Changing the color could happen if you sand away the old finish and recoat or use an opaque type stain ( almost like paint).
I'm a big fan of Ipe decks and Penofin stains. This combo with last a long long time.
KMS - thanks for the tip and believe it or not, I never had a probem w/ the deck chipping or splintering until the jerk I was involved w/ would scrape it w/ a metal snow shovel Then Mr. Know-It-All sanded down the deck and restained it w/ 8 year old stain. I am just tired of doing it all the time now, and wanted to change the color of ito begin with - like a darker grey to match the lighter grey of the house.
Wish my horse would come in and I could afford PVC fencing, but from what I have heard you have to scrub moss, etc off of that evey year - guess there is no "easy" fix for this one!
Good help is hard to find...LOL. My deck is going on 15 this year...and still looks brand new...I'm so glad I splurged on the ipe...I just wish I had a big ol bank account to add a deck like that to our cabin
There is a 10+ year product called 'Restore' available at The Depot. It goes over and covers just about anything, including cracks
Just wash the deck and get the loose stuff off first.
I did this to my deck..i sprayed it with water and took pool chlorine granuals and sprinkled all over it and let it set a bit.. I took my broom and started scrubbing the chlorine in and if it was a bit dry i would wet it again. I was so surprised i scrubbed it all off with one bag of chlorine granuals . then i rinsed the deck off.. I was so surprised at how fast and easy it was.. .Cost of bag of chlorine for pool about $3.00..