Scott Burt—well-known to many JLC readers—reports here in our sister-publication Professional Deck Builder. His company finishes, refinishes, and maintains a surprising variety of tropical hardwood decking, including garapa gold, meranti, cambara, and even good old mahogany. They're all dense, but none are as dense or as durable as Scott's favorite species, ipe; it's so dense, in fact, that if you throw a piece of it into water, it will sink. Ipe also has a closed grain and is naturally oily, qualities that—along with its density—help make it resistant to insects and rot, but that also make it difficult to finish properly. Homeowners and contractors alike often take the same approach to installing and finishing ipe that they would with other species of wood decking, and that gets them into trouble. That's when they call Scott.

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