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Other Wood Materials
Mahogany, teak and ipe all have their pros and cons. While beautiful and long lasting, mahogany is extremely pricey. For a large decking job, it will increase the cost significantly. Environmentalists question the reliability of claims that mahogany shipped to the U.S. is logged legally.
"We look at the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) with a jaundiced eye," says Tim. Teak is preferred for its beauty and durability, and comes from South America and Mexico, where it is not considered a native plant and is plantation grown. Previously, teak came from Southeast Asia into the U.S.
Ipe is a natural hardwood used in the 1960s for boardwalks at Coney Island, N.Y., and in the 1980s in Atlantic City, N.J. According to Tim, it is illegally logged from old-growth forests in South America and is not environmentally sustainable, although deck builders do use it.
"Ipe is stamped as coming from managed forests and not taken from natural habitats," says Gordon. "It is one of the strongest, affordable hardwoods and is mildew and termite resistant." Its smooth finish and tight grain means no splinters, but its hardness makes it difficult to work with and therefore drives up labor costs.