What is a Slate Pool Table

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The popular game, Pool, also known as Billiards, evolved from a lawn game to an indoor game now played on what is called a Pool table. The pool tables used in the early years of the game as an indoor sport were wooden.

However, the wooden platforms used for the tables got warped easily, and balls did not roll as desired. This challenge brought about an alternative to the wooden tables, so in 1826, John Thurston introduced the slate table. 

So, what is a slate pool table? A slate pool table is a pool table whose playing surface is made of slate. The slate is then covered in felt. An alternative to a slate table bed would be a wooden table bed. Both have their benefits with a slate bed being considered the better of the two pool table beds.

Slate was the material that passed the test of offering a smooth playing surface and being readily available for use. Slate is now used widely alongside wood to make pool tables today. There is a good reason to choose slate table beds over wooden but both have their advantages and disadvantages. One such reason slate is considered better than wooden tables is because it is more resistant to natural conditions and better for gameplay.

The slate used in these tables comes from fine-grained rock made of many minerals such as quartz, clay, and mica. It is very suitable for the pool table because it can be easily ground and polished to achieve the smooth and flat surface ideal for the game.

The slate makes sure that the surface used to play is extremely level but is pricier than wood. The wooden table beds made from synthetics warp easily, and this makes them less durable. Many manufacturers are confident enough to give a lifetime warranty for a slate pool table.

Brazil, China, and Italy are the significant slate exporters worldwide. A particular slate from the Ligurian region of Italy is seen as the top quality for pool tables worldwide. This usually comes with a mark labelled “OIS” (Original Italian slate.) Italian slate is generally softer and easier to work with, while the Brazilian slate is more rigid and durable.

Slate tables can be heavily used for years without the slate bending or breaking. A pool table with an Italian or Brazilian slate can last for many years when maintained properly.

The slate used in a pool table usually contributes to about 65% of its total weight. Depending on the size of the table used, the weight of the slate varies between 400 and 600 pounds (180 to 270 kg). The thickness of slate beds used also varies from ¾ of an inch to one inch.

The shipping of slate pool tables is usually not a cheap or easy endeavor. A slate is generally separated into three pieces to make transportation easier. While single slate tables can also be shipped, a majority of customers prefer to get the three-piece slate because it is less difficult to move and can be leveled with a higher level of precision.

A woolen felt cloth usually is used to cover the slate surface of the pool table. It is made with around 60% wool and is the standard covering for pool tables. It usually comes in different colors, but the typical color is green.

As far as gameplay is concerned, slate is usually preferred. The pool balls on a slate table move very smoothly and quickly, unlike other materials. When the grains on the table are not regular, the ball rolls more slowly. Regardless of the felt used on the table, the surface used determines the balls’ movement.

What is a Slate Bed Pool Table

Slate bed pool tables are tables that have a playing surface made from slate. The slate is then covered in cloth, most often stuck to the slate’s surface to ensure a consistent playing surface. Slate bed pool tables are popularly seen in places such as pool halls, nightclubs, and pubs. A slate bed gives the best and most real playing surface, which will not deteriorate over time. 

slate-bed-pool-table-wooden-beams-what-is-a-slate-pool-tableA slate bed pool table may come in one large single piece of slate or multiple pieces. They are perfectly flat and depending on the size of the pool table are shaped to fit perfectly into a pool table frame, including the pockets. The slate is then supported using wooden beams under the table bed. 

There is some confusion when people hear about a slate pool table. They think most of the table is construted using slate, this is not true, just the playing surface.

The most significant advantage of a slate bed is performance. As the ball roll is considered entirely accurate, professional pool and snooker tournament tables use slate beds worldwide.

Any serious player who is willing to go professional in the pool game is advised to use a slate bed pool table for better practice and better game performance.

The components of slate bed pool tables are usually made of the highest quality. The cloths, such as Simonis pool table felt, are top quality with cushions of tournament-grade that will give the best rebound response. Slate pool tables can be difficult to spot at first, but their price is usually a good indication. If there is going to be an expensive playing bed then most likely the rest of the table will follow suit.

What is a Three-piece Slate Pool Table

Slate pool tablesA three-piece slate pool table is simply a single piece slate table cut into three pieces during the milling process. Many professional players prefer playing on three-piece tables because the Three-piece slate gives room for precision leveling. The pieces can be leveled such that they can accommodate uneven playing surfaces such as carpet or wood. 

Slate bed tables are usually heavy, and ease of movement and installation is an important consideration. Even the smallest slate beds, which are the English 6-foot tables, can weigh up to 250kg. Once slate pool tables are installed, they should be left in one place for a long time. This is why it is essential to plan the pool table’s location ahead of time for permanent placement. This is because moving the table is an uphill task and could lead to the slate going out of alignment.

A 3 piece slate table can be re-leveled, but it’s best to get a professional who understands the process. One benefit of having a 3 piece slate pool table is the precision leveling that can be achieved.

How Thick is the Slate on a Slate Pool Table

Standard slate pool tables have a 1-inch slate bed, but it’s also possible to find tables with three quarters of an inch or half an inch. The thickness of the slate bed is a determinant of the heaviness of the table.

Usually, slate pool tables having one-piece slate beds come with a thickness of ¾ inches, while the ones with 3-piece slate beds are thick by 1 inch.

By industry standard, slate beds should be 1 inch thick. Using a one-inch slate bed is the best choice for a slate pool table. However, some manufacturers make slate beds with 1 ¼ inch.

When the thickness of a slate is increased, it reduces deficiencies in the table. As the thickness increases the slate’s weight, this heaviness prevents the table from moving during vigorous play. The slate is generally supported with a wooden frame when installed on the pool table cabinet.

How to Know a Slate Pool Table

Knowing whether a pool table is slate or wooden is not a burdensome task. It is easy to do based on some parameters. The first thing to look out for in knowing a slate pool table is the weight. As mentioned earlier in this article, slate is much heavier than wood. If you are near a physical table, try to lift the table on your own. If the pool table is easy to lift, then it is most likely not made of slate.

Another way to know a slate pool table is to take a look under the table, if you can see the slate table between the wooden table supports then you know its made of slate and not an alternative, such as MDF. Checking for slate bolts under the table along the edge of the playing surface is another good indication its a slate table.

One more way to distinguish a table is before purchase. Slate table prices are considerably higher than the wooden counterparts.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, this answered the original question of, what is a slate pool table, and hopefully many others you might have.

Just remember, a slate pool table describes a pool table that has a slate playing surface rather than an MDF or slatron or other alternatives. Slate pool tables are considered more expanse and overall, better quality. 

now knowing what a slate pool table is, you’ll now know that there are different varients such as where the slate is from, how many pieces, and the thickness of the slate.

Hopefully, this article answered all those questions for you. 

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