What is a Slate Pool Table

  • By: Rob
  • Date: April 23, 2023
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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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.

Here we will look closer at what is a slate pool table, and many more things that relate to slate pool tables, such as where they are from, their thickness and the different types of slate bed pool tables. Keep reading to learn more

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. 

A 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. 

slate-bed-pool-table-wooden-beams-what-is-a-slate-pool-table

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 does slate mean on a pool table

I understand that the idea of a slate pool table might be confusing, many people ask, what is a Slate Pool Table? Clearly, the whole table is not made from slate.

When people refer to a slate pool table they are talking about the type of playing surface the billiard table has. The slate is located under the cloth of the table and is quite simply a piece of 3 pieces of quarried slate rock.

Slate is used for its durability and ability to keep its shape. Wooded pool tables, an alternative to slate, may warp over time.

The bed of a table refers to the type of playing surface, so a slate bed would be a pool table that has a slate playing surface. That slate is topped with felt cloth and encased in a wooden pool table frame. 

What is a Three-piece Slate Pool Table

A 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 it gives room for precision leveling.

Slate pool tables

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.

If you are unsure and want to check if you have a slate pool table or if its a 1 or 3 piece, then check my detailed guide out.

What is the best slate for a pool table

Slate made for pool tables is quarried from a few countries with Brazil, China, and Wales being some of the main ones. Its the Slate quarried from the Ligurian region of Italy that is considered the best pool table slate.

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 ones 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 a 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 labeled “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.

How Thick is the Slate on a Slate Pool Table

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.

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.

Are slate pool tables Better

The short answer is yes, slate pool tables are better than wooden pool tables. Slate is a harder and more durable material than wood, so it lasts longer and withstands wear and tear better. In addition, slate pool tables provide a smoother playing surface that makes shots more consistent. Finally

Slate pool tables tend to be more expensive than wooden pool tables, but they are worth the investment if you want the best possible experience playing pool.

A slate bed pool table has a number of advantages over alternative pool table beds such as:

  • Slate pool tables are more durable and last longer because it is a harder material
  • Playing on slate tables provides a smoother surface than playing on wooden tables
  • Slate pools tables cost more, but they’re worth the investment if you want to have the best experience possible playing pool
  • Slate bed pool tables don’t warp as wooden tables do
  • Slate pool tables don’t need to be refinished as often as wooden tables
  • A slate table provides a true surface, ensuring that the balls roll the way they should

How heavy is a slate pool table compared to a wooden pool table

Slate pool tables vary in weight, but they are typically much heavier than wooden pool tables. This is because slate is a very dense material. Slate is quarried from the earth and then cut into thin pieces that are used for pool tables.

Wooden pool tables are made of lighter materials, such as MDF and particleboard.

A slate bed pool table can weigh between  500 and 1000 pounds + depending on the size.

A wooden pool table usually weighs around 200 pounds.

You can find more information on how much a pool table weights here

Can a slate pool table warp

While slate pool tables are incredibly sturdy and don’t warp as such, it is possible for it to sag in the middle. If the frame does not offer enough support the slate may start to bow or curve over time due to the weight of the slate.

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 variants 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. 

Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.

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