How to Tell if a Pool Table is Slate

  • By: Rob
  • Date: May 12, 2022
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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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. So, how to tell if a pool table is slate or not?

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

Let’s look closer and the different ways to tell if its slate or wood, so you can be sure the type of table you are dealing with. 

How-to-Tell-if-a-Pool-Table-is-Slate-or-wood-3-piece-slate-pool_table

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.  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 can you tell if a pool table is slate can be challenging if you don’t know what to look for. I’ve broken down some of the key things to look for when inspecting a pool table for slate, they are:

  • Price
  • Build and materials
  • Weight
  • Inspect for screws

How to Tell if Pool Table is Slate ​Based on Price

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.

How to Tell if Pool Table is Slate Based on Look

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:

  • Are the legs Hand-carved?
  • Do they have solid wood leg or particle wood or metal?
  • How detailed is the craftmanship of the legs?
  • Are the rails solid wood?
  • Are the pockets genuine leather or fake leather or plastic?

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.

How to Tell if Pool Table is Slate Based on Weight

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 average weight of an MDF table is between 80kgs to 450kgs
  • A slate pool table can weigh as much as 1000kgs

How to Tell if Pool Table is Slate Based on Inspection

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.  

slate holes

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.

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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 RedditDrop 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

Slate pool tables

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.

Do all pool tables have a slate top

No, not all pool tables have a slate top. In fact, there are a variety of materials that can be used to create the playing surface on a pool table. Common materials include slate, MDF, particleboard, and accuslate.

However, a lot of pool tables do have a slate top. This is because slate is a very dense and durable material, which makes it an idea surface for playing pool.

Additionally, slate is a very consistent material, which means that the playing surface will be level and smooth no matter how often it is used. This is not the case with other materials, which can warp or become uneven over time.

Because of the cost to have a slate pool table other options are usually more common. For those who want the absolute best playing experience, a slate top is the way to go.

Is a 1 piece slate pool table or a 3-piece slate pool table better

A 3 piece slate pool table is considered better than a 1 piece because you are able to level the slates with much more precision. This results in a more level playing surface and therefore more accurate shots. If you are looking for the best possible pool table experience, then you should definitely go with a 3 piece slate table.

Another bonus of having 3 pieces in sted of one is if one of the slates becomes damaged, it can be replaced without having to replace the entire table.

There is the advantage of transporting a 3-piece slate table over a 1 piece. A 3-piece slate table can be broken down into three pieces for easier transport.

However, a 1 piece slate pool table does have some benefits. One is that it is typically less expensive than a 3 piece slate table. Additionally, a 1 piece slate table is more solid and stable than a 3 piece slate table.

1 piece vs 3 piece slate pool table

Lets take a quick look at some of the key differences between a 1 piece vs 3 piece slate for a pool table.

  • 1 piece slate pool tables are easier to set up
  • 3 piece slate pool tables offer a better playing experience, thanks to their true-rolling surfaces
  • 1 piece slate pool tables are typically cheaper than 3 piece slate pool tables
  • 1 piece slate pool table is harder to transport than a 3 piece table

Conclusion

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.