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Looking for your first pool table or perhaps looking to sell one? In order to price accordingly you’ll need to know what type of table bed it is; a slate pool table or a non-slate pool table
There are two popular types of pool tables in the market today. You either have an MDF pool table or a slate pool table.
MDF stands for medium-density fibreboard which is basically pieces of wood that have been bound with resin and compressed. Compared to other wood composites, MDF is known for its characteristic of being flat because of the molding process.
On the other hand, there are the slate bed pool tables. The slate bed is made of a rock that has been extracted from the ground. The rock will then get processed and cut into the desired shape before it will be honed mechanically to have a flat surface.
I made a great article about what is a slate pool table here is you are looking to get a little more information on the subject.
How to Tell if Pool Table is Slate
Not everyone knows how to tell if the pool table is slate or wood. This is true, especially for first-time pool table owners.
The more you know, the more likely you won’t fall for a salesman’s pitch.
There are a few ways to determine if a pool table is slate or not. A higher price is a good sign as well as the look and weight of the table. To fully confirm, you’ll need to inspect for slate screws and to check underneath the table
The price of the table is a good starting signal of the table’s bed. Tables with a higher value usually house slate beds. Cheaper tables will either have slate alternatives or MDF. A new slate bed pool table will be sold between $2000 and $5000 and even more, depending on the type of slate, thickness of the slate and size of the table. This is considerably more than the average cost of an MDF bed table which ranges between $500 and $2000.
Obviously, you can buy better quality MDF tables at a higher price, just as you can buy cheaper slate tables; but the price is a good sign for the type of bed used.
Apart from the price, one of the best ways on how to tell if a pool table is slate or not is by taking a closer look at the materials used on the pool table. Since slate tables are designed for the upmarket, you can also expect an upscale finish on these types of tables. Take a closer look at the construction:
If a manufacturer is equipping the table with slate, chances are they will have the same standard of quality for the rest of the table.
Lifting the table is another easy way to determine if it’s a wood or a slate table. With slate being a type of rock, it’s only natural for it to be heavier.
By lifting one end of the table you can get a good idea about how heavy the table is:
The best way to determine if the table is slate or not is to inspect for slate screws. By running your fingers under the cushion ridge the whole length of the table you should be able to feel where the slate screw are or at least the slate screw holes. Most likely they will be located to the side of the middle pockets.
Checking under the table will also help evaluate the table’s surface material. A lot of the time you can just see the bare slate being supported by wooden beams.
If the bed is covered then you can always check for the exiting slate screws (as talked about) and perhaps you might be able to feel where the slate slabs meet if the table is a multi slate table.
How to Tell if Pool Table is 3 Piece Slate
Apart from knowing how to tell if a pool table is slate or wood, it is equally important to know how to tell if pool table is 3 piece slate or a 1 piece slate.
A 3-piece slate table comes from a single piece of slate. It was then cut into three pieces, thus the name. So why a 3-piece slate? A 3-piece slate pool table is known for allowing manufacturers to do precision leveling. Each piece is leveled to make sure that it can accommodate uneven surfaces on your floor.
There are a few to tell if pool table is a 3 piece slate pool table or not. First, you will be able to feel screws right below the rail near the side pocket. This only exists on 3-piece slate tables. Next is to check where the slate slabs meet.
Checking underneath the pool table is another good way, look for where the slate pieces are lined up. If you can see the slate bed under the pool table, there is a good chance you will be able to spot where the pieces have been leveled. If you don’t there is a chance it may be under one of the table supporting beams. But if you do see where two pieces have been connected together then you can be sure its a 3-piece slate table.
Failing all that, you can always look up your table from the manufacturer online – perhaps drop them an email with some pictures.
There are plenty of active billiard forums out there. One of my favorite ones is AZBilliards or even Reddit. Drop a message in one of them with some pictures and I’m sure someone will be able to give you an answer.
How Many Pieces Does a Slate Pool Table Come In
If you want to know how many pieces a slate pool table come in you need to know what type of game your playing.
A typical pool table will have either 1 big slate that covers the playing surface or made up of 3 pieces of slate. A snooker table, being much larger will have 5 pieces of slate.
A typical slate billiards or snooker table can come in 1-piece, 3-piece, or a 5-piece slate option. Why have it in multiple pieces? Milling a single piece 8-foot slate or larger can be tricky. It is hard to level a single piece slate. However, with multiple pieces, it becomes easier to level the table. And once the slates have been installed, there will be a filler that will ensure that it’s seamless in between. Some brands even use wax
Multiple slates also make it easier to transport and assemble the pool table in your home. Can you imagine lifting a 1-piece 12-foot slate snooker table? With sectional slate tables, access to small spaces won’t be a problem. It becomes easier to take the slates separately and assemble everything inside the room.
Slate vs. Wood Pool Table
If you played in a bar that offers a pool table, then you’ve most likely played in a slate table. The main difference in tables is that wood or MDF tables are cheaper than slate tables. But when it comes to the quality of the table, slate tables are more durable than their wood counterpart. One of the reasons why people buy slate tables is because it is resistant to warping. You don’t have to worry about your pool table even if you accidentally spilled liquid on the surface.
Before you even decide to buy your own pool table, whether for your own personal use or your commercial establishment, you need to know how to tell if a pool table is slate or wood. Next, you also need to know how many pieces does a slate pool table come in. Between sectional and 1-piece slate tables, the former is preferred simply because it is easier to level and it is more durable.