As most deck builders know, there's "mahogany" - variants of Philippine mahogany, a tropical hardwood that is typically sold as meranti (or red meranti) or red balau - and then there's genuine mahogany - the American and Honduran bigleaf varieties. Is there a big difference between the two species in terms of durability when used as decking? That's the question as a New Jersey couple do battle with the distributor and supplier of their mahogany decking and the contractor who installed it. They claim that they didn't get what they paid for, which is why the decking started to rot seven years after installation. The supplier, distributor, and decking manufacturer say that the problem was caused by faulty installation details. Adding to the confusion, the Wood Analysis Lab at the USDA Forest Service tested samples of the decking and found that it was actually Pilon, a tropical hardwood that is rated as moderately to very durable in ground contact.

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