Slate vs Wood Pool Table – Everything You Need To Know

  • By: Rob
  • Date: May 12, 2022
  • Time to read: 13 min.
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Are you looking to buy a new pool table or are you just trying to understand the difference between a slate vs wood pool table – This guide will run down everything you need to know between the two types of pool table beds and much more!

Tables aren’t cheap so it’s understandable having questions when comparing a slate vs wood pool table, or indeed even a slate pool table vs a non slate pool table.

Briefly, What is the difference between a slate and wood pool table?

Compare Slate Vs Wood Pool Tables

There are some differences between slate and wood pool tables. The main one is that one is made from wood, such as MDF while the other is made from quarried rock slate. With slate being a rock it’s extremely heavy, durable, waterproof, and expensive, unlike most pool tables with a wooden bed.

We have scratched the surface on slate vs wood pool tables. You have to wonder, with so much praise given to slate pool tables, are mdf pool tables any good?

With so much lets deep dive and explore other questions such as; are non-slate pool tables any good, why is slate better, and look closer at some of the differences between the two types of billiard table beds.

Slate vs wood pool table: Key features

 Slate Table BedWood Table bed
CostHighCheaper
MaterialSlate RockComposite Wood
Thickness3/4 Inch or 1 InchLess than an Inch
MadeBrazil, Italy, Wales and ChinaAnywhere
DurableExtreamlyCan be
WarpsNo, but can sagYes
Pieces1 or 3 piece1 Piece

Pool tables come in all shapes and sizes, standard table sizes for American pool tables range from 7ft to 9 ft tables

***check out the standard pool table size for more information***

Their English counterparts range from 6ft to 7ft in length.

***Learn more about American vs English pool tables to know more about them.***

When we talk about a slate pool table or a wooden pool table we are referring to the table bed.

The table bed is the hard surface located under the table felt or cloth. 

So a wooden pool table would have a wooden table bed and a slate pool table will have a slate table bed.

The frame of the table could be the same for both tables. Usually, the more expensive tables will have a better table frame, cushions, felt, and table bed. 

Simply put, A wood vs slate pool table has a couple of major differences. 

  • Price: Slate is more expensive
  • Warp: Wooden tables are affected by weather conditions.
  • Longevity: Slate tables will last longer.
  • Performance: Slate tables will eventually outperform wooden ones.
  • Portability: Wooden tables are lighter and easier to transport
  • Re-felting: Wood backed slate make re-felting easier.

A wooden pool table is usually made from MDF, HDF or particleboard. MDF is the most common wooden bed for a pool table.

People love this table as a result of its budget-friendliness plus the ease of transporting it since it is lightweight compared to slate. 

Wooden pool tables have different playing features, and depending on the quality of hardwood used, one can get an impressive table feature. 

A slate pool table is made from one or more slabs of slate. As you can suspect, this type of table is more expensive than its wooden counterpart, and also boasts of better quality. 

The slate table is often the one you will find in clubs and pubs and billiard halls. So, if you play pool at the club or pubs, there is a high chance you’ve enjoyed cueing on a slate pool table.

A lot of slate tables have a wood backer, which is considered an industry standard. The wood backer is there to help attach the felt to the slate using staples or tacks.

There are “Lower end tables” that have slate as a bed are un-backed which will need the felt to be glued to the slate.

Wood backed slate is designed to make re-felting much easier and a better way to re-felt your table. 

Common quarried slate for pool tables includes Brazilian, Italian, Welsh and Chinese slate. When manufactured and shaped for pool tables they usually will have a thickness of around 1 inch. 

Hopefully, that was informative on some of the key features between wood vs slate pool tables but if you are looking for more information about what is a slate pool table, be sure to check out that article.

Are non slate pool tables good

Good non-slate tables will play perfectly well for many years if cared for. If you buy a wood table bed, ensure that has been treated against warping and coated in acrylic or primer to help waterproof it. Other non-slate pool tables can also be protected to last longer.

Be considerate of the room temperature and humidity levels and purchase a good protective cover.

If you speak to most people they will always say slate pool tables are the better tables.

But, are non slate pool tables good? 

In short, yes they are. Just like with anything, you get what you pay for.

It’s possible to pick up cheap slate pool tables that is not to the same standard as a high-quality wooden table.

In general, slate tablets will win against non slate pool tables.

The battle between wood vs slate pool tables and more recently, a slate pool table vs non slate such as marble table beds, has been going on for a while. But slate has always come out the victor.

A slate table bed fairs much better and can keep its shape even if environmental conditions are not favorable.

For nonslate tables that arent made from wood, such as marble or glass, it’s simply too expensive. 

Just make sure the slate is well supported on its table bed to avoid it “sagging” in the middle. If supported adequately, with all else being equal, the slate will win vs non-slate pool tables.  

Learn More…
If you are committed on getting a slate table, but the cost is a deciding issue, then check out my guide on picking the best used pool table for your home and some tips on where to find the best one to buy

Some non-slate tables play very well, the wood is treated to help it against adverse weather conditions, the build quality is excellent and it is made to last.

There are other alternatives out there that are not made from wood and are cheaper than slate but still come with a lot of the same benefits of slate.

Wooden tables, particularly MDF are cheaper and therefore very common as a table bed. The biggest problem with these is they are prone to warping in extreme weather conditions.

Just like a pool cue, having a wooden table bed where the wood has been properly treated will help prolong the longevity and playability of the table.

There are things you can do to protect a non-slate pool table and add some extra playing years to it, such as:

  • Adding a good protective cover
  • Keeping the table in a room where the temperature is regulated.
  • Avoid liquids on the table
  • Don’t have the table in direct sunlight
  • Avoid moisture in the room

In general, when you compare a wood vs slate pool table, the slate pool table will win most of the time.

They will most likely last longer and keep there performance better for longer. 

Hopefully this answers the question about are non slate pool tables good. You can find good non slate pool tables that play perfectly well and if you go the extra mile to protect them you can get even more life of of them.

If you have a pool table and are unsure if its slate or not then check the link for all the information to determine what type of table you have.

Pool table slate alternative

There are a number of pool table slate alternatives out there to also consider. I have said a lot about wooden alternatives such as MDF, HDF and particleboard but what is the pool table slate alternative.

Its possible to get the following as a pool table bed:

  • Thick glass pool table bed
  • Marble pool table bed
  • Granite table bed

Although these pool table slate alternatives exist and have qualities similar to a slate table bed, they are much less common. This is mainly because the time, effort and cost to quarry, cut and shape is more expensive than that for slate. Some other cheaper pool table slate alternatives are:

  • Accuslate Pool table bed
  • Slatron table bed
  • Honeycomb plastic bed

Sometimes called fake slate, Accuslate is basically a fiberboard. 
Slatron is made from a plastic layer that surrounds around particleboard. 
Honeycomb plastic bed is plastic honeycombs that are topped with layers of plastic.

Difference between slate and wood pool table

The difference between a slate and wood pool table shall be discussed in the light of their price, playability, longevity, quality/warping & weight/portability.

Price:- Comparison On A Slate vs Wood Pool Table

The wooden pool table is the least expensive of the two. 

The price of a typical wood pool table ranges between $200 and $5,000. 

the starting price of a slate pool table is around $1,000, and depending on the preferred brand, this price can go as high as $20,000 or even higher.

Price of pool table

Playability:- Comparison On A Slate vs Wood Pool Table

Slate will win out in the end

There is an apparent reason why major pool tournaments, if not all, are played on slate pool tables.

Balls roll smoother on slate tables and they a precision leveled to a higher degree of accuracy, which that makes them a perfect choice for professional tables.

Club and pub owners also prefer using slate for a pool table as they are more durable and last lover even with a lot of use.

The grains in the wooden table are randomly oriented and coarse, those on the slate are flat and parallel. 

Longevity:- Comparison On A Slate vs Wood Pool Table

Slate will win out in the end

The top finishing alone isn’t enough to judge the durability of a pool table. Besides the finishing, the frame/general body quality also helps to determine how long a table will last. 

Manufacturers who use slate for a pool table attach the quality frame and provide a lifetime warranty for the table. Wooden tables don’t share this feature, as the wood top can absorb liquid causing bumps or waves on the surface. 

Also, divots can appear on the wooden table when downwards shots/jump shots are performed. In general, when comparing a wood vs slate pool table, a slate table will be more durable. 

Quality:- Comparison On A Slate vs Wood Pool Table

Slate will win out in the end

There is a clear difference between slate and wood pool tables when it comes to quality and warping.

Slate pool tables are resistant to warping, and spilled liquid doesn’t affect the texture in any way. 

On the other hand, the wooden table will wrap when subjected to humid conditions over a long period, sometimes years. 

MDF and HDF can be treated against warping and made waterproof, but slate is naturally waterproof and won’t warp, therefore it will win out every time.

Weight And Portability:- Comparison On A Slate vs Wood Pool Table

MDF will win this one

Normally, pool tables aren’t designed to be moved around regularly, so the issue of portability may not have significant weight in making a choice. 

It is worth mentioning that a slate table weighs an average of 250 kg or above 700lbs. 

A slate table is quite heavy; hence, it is usually transported and installed at its location professionally. 

The non-slate tables are far more portable, with an average weight of 100 kg (200+ lbs), meaning it isn’t a challenge to move the table a bit. 

Learn More…
Although tables are not designed to be moved, sometimes occasions arise where they need to be moved; perhaps you are moving house or moving the table to another room.

Whatever the reason you might want to avoid paying professional movers and oversee the move yourself. Check out how to move your pool table yourself without breaking the slate.

The Pros and Cons of a Slate Vs Wooden Pool Table

What are some of the pros and cons when comparing a slate vs wood pool table. We have mentioned a few already but lets pull it all together so its easier for you to visualize that information.

Compare

Are MDF pool tables any good – Pros & Cons

Wooden Pros

  • Budget Friendly
  • Easily Transported
  • Ideal for Kids
  • Ideal for Beginners
  • Wood can be treated against warping
  • Wood can be treated to make waterproof

Wooden Cons

  • Not Always the Best Quality
  • Prone to Warping
  • Playing experience can deteriorate over time
  • Liquid Spills Can Damage the Wood

Are Slate pool tables any good – Pros & Cons​

Slate Pros

  • BBetter Quality
  • Better playability
  • Durability
  • Wont Warp
  • Last for many years

Slate Cons

  • Cost
  • Transport Issues
  • If slate is not supported, it can sag inn the middle

Types of Slate Pool Table

There are generally two types of slate pool tables, the one-piece slate tables, and the three-piece slate tables. Which usually come in two thicknesses, there is a 1-inch think slate and 3/4 inch think slate

Slate pool tables

There are only subtle differences between these two variants. 

The one-piece slate tables are the most commonly found slate tables in clubs and bars. It is designed to be durable, as the typical slate pool table, complicated to move but not too expensive to fix. 

However, the slate sits on a sill, just like a coffee table-top, meaning it isn’t totally flat and precision leveled. 

The three-piece slate pool tables, on the other hand, are easier to move and perfectly level, meaning the balls roll straight on.

The thickness of the slate is usually an indication of the quality and price with 1 inch to 7/8 inch being more expensive and on the higher end of the scale while a 3/4 inch slate is usually the cheapest. But it must be noted that both are excellent options for the bed of a pool table.

Are slate pool tables better than wooden pool tables

Slate pool tables are more expensive but are considered far superior to other pool table beds. 

They offer a more consistent and durable playing surface. Slate pool tables are heavier than wooden tables, so they tend to be more stable. They also have a more classic look that many people prefer.

If you are looking for the best possible playing experience, then a slate pool table is the way to go. they last longer, play better, and don’t warp as wooden pool tables do. The playing experience is far better than a wood pool table

Can a slate pool table warp

Slate pool tables are popular because of their consistent play and durability. Although they don’t warp in the same way as a wood pool table, such as MDF do, they can bend if not supported correctly due to their weight.

Wooden pool tables can warp if environmental conditions are not right. A slate pool table won’t have this issue.

While a wooden table will warp if not cared for properly, a slate pool table won’t warp, as slate is a rock that’s been quarried.

However, a slate pool table will bend if the pool table frame does not support the slate piece correctly. The weight of the slate will bend in the middle if the table frame does not support it on all four sides and down the middle.

If the slate on a pool table bends it will cause it to become unlevel and affect the quality of your game.

What is the difference between an MDF pool table vs slate pool table

Let’s take a quick look at some of the main differences between an MDF pool table vs slate pool table

  • An MDF pool table is cheaper than a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is not as durable as a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is more likely to warp than a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is more likely to chip than a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table does not have the same level of precision as a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is not as heavy as a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is not as smooth to play on as a slate pool table
  • An MDF pool table is not as resistant to humidity and moisture as a slate pool table

This wood pool table vs slate one is a common debate but as you can see, slate usually trumps it, except on price.

How long will an MDF pool table last

MDF pool tables are a popular choice for many people because they are affordable and durable. How long an MDF table will last depends on how well you take care of it. If you treat it well, it could last for 5-8 years. However, if you don’t take care of it properly, it may only last for a few months.

How long do MDF pool tables last, depends on many factors such as if the wood has been treated and the quality of the composite fibers. The biggest thing that will affect its life span is warping.  You can prolong the life of a wooden pool table if you:

  • Keep your table indoors
  • Keep the temperature 
  • Keep the cloth clean
  • Use a cover when not in use
  • Don’t spill drinks or food on the table
  • Maintain room temperature
  • Don’t stand on it
  • Treat table with care

Overall, though, MDF tables are a good investment and will last for a long time if you take care of them.

You may be wondering if a pool table can go outdoors? if so then check the link to find out everything you need.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of the difference between slate pool table and non slate one. Understanding the key differences between a slate or wood pool table is essential if you are considering spending the extra.

If you are a serious player who will make good use of the table then maybe spend the extra on slate table.

If you will only play occasionally or just want it for a bit of family fun then perhaps an MDF will be better suited for you.