What makes pool tables weigh as much as they do is the material used to construct the base of the tables. What a pool table is built from can be difficult to tell due to the felt covering the center of the table. The material a pool table is made from can affect the quality of your pool games and pool table.
Pool tables are often made from slate or wood. Slate is a type of rock used in pool tables because of how smooth its texture is. The most effective way to figure out if a pool table is slate is by considering the price, weight, and quality of the pool table.
Not all pool tables are made the same, or made for the same purposes, such as pool tables for casual players and pool tables for professionals. To figure out how to identify which material your pool table is made of, or which one is a better purchase, keep reading.
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How Can You Tell if a Pool Table is Slate?
Not all pool tables are made from slate, but there is a way to check if a pool table is slate or not. Identifying a pool table’s building materials is not as difficult as it may sound. Relying on your senses, you can determine whether a pool table is slate or not by going through each of these factors:
Each of these factors is important for determining whether a pool table is made from slate or not. If a pool table is not made from wood, then there is a high probability that it is a slate pool table.
Appearance and Feel
The main way to tell if your pool table is made of slate is through sight and touch. By looking under the pool table, you should be able to see the material that the table is made of. Slate is typically gray, ranging from light to dark gray. If the color is a pale brown, then your pool table is made of medium-density fiberboard.
By reaching under the table or into the pool ball pockets past the fabric lining, you should be able to feel the material. Slate is cool to the touch, and will feel smooth yet hard. A wood pool table will feel smooth, yet will have the familiar feel of wood grain.
Another way of knowing whether the pool table is slate or wood is to listen to the sound produced. Take a metal object, a coin or nail for example, and tap the object against the bottom of the table. Metal on slate will sound at a higher pitch than metal on wood, which will produce a duller thud sound. The downside to this tactic is that some tables use wood for the bottom, yet are still made with slate.
Construction of Pool Table
Slate pool tables can be identified by the exterior appearance, aside from the underside. Slate pool tables often have ornate designs and are made from high-quality wood on the outside. They are made to last many years, so the materials used in slate pool table designs are often from higher quality materials, which add to their identifiable weight.
Fiberboard wood pool tables can be more flimsy, as they are built using thinner and cheaper materials, such as particleboard. The use of plastic and particleboard make the wood pool tables easier to lift and move, yet are not built to last several years’ worth of constant use.
Why Are Pool Tables Made From Slate?
Slate does not suffer from environmental effects like wood pool tables do. It is rare that slate pool tables warp, and if they do, then it is more likely that the wood exterior is warping rather than the slate interior. Because slate naturally splits in even slices and is durable, slate is a better option that withstands years worth of use, whereas wood does not.
Since slate breaks evenly, it makes for an ideal playing surface. Wood can be built and formed to be a smoother surface, but has more risk of warping as it ages, regardless of type of wood used. Slate breaks off in smooth one inch to one and a fourth inch slices that, while heavy and needs support, is a better playing surface.
Wood Versus Slate
Slate is the most used material in constructing pool tables, but wood is also used in more affordable pool tables. The type of wood used in pool tables is a type of fiberboard called medium-density fiberboard.
Slate based pool tables are built typically using three slabs of slate, cut from the same main rock. The type of material a pool table is built from has pros and cons to which you should invest in.
Wood Pool Tables
Wood pool tables are an alternative to slate pool tables, but they come with some strings attached. The pros of owning a pool table made with wood are:
- More affordable
- Weighs less
The cons of purchasing wood pool table include:
- Cheaper quality
- Shorter life span
Wood, also known as MDF, pool tables are often built to be more than for billiards, often including accessories to play ping pong, or other tabletop games. The overall quality of most wooden pool tables involves cheaper materials, such as plastic and thin metals, making the tables lighter.
Most wooden pool tables weigh only a fraction compared to slate pool tables, weighing in around 100 to 300 pounds. Wooden pool tables are designed to be portable, typically with foldable legs, so the lighter weight makes for easier maneuverability. This also allows for a wider range of social events, if you don’t like hosting at home all the time.
If billiards is a game that you reserve for when you host parties or like to take as a party game, then a MDF pool table would be a better investment for you. This lighter option is also a better choice for those who are not sure if they want a semi-permanent pool table in their lounge or game room, as both options require plenty of room, both for storage and to play.
When buying an MDF pool table, keep in mind that wood is susceptible to environmental damage, such as humidity and moisture. These factors can lead to the table top warping, making for unfavorable game play. Check for this type of damage if you decide to purchase a second-hand wooden pool table. It is best to examine your potential purchase in person to avoid buying a table that is unusable.
Slate Pool Tables
Slate pool tables are a good choice if you want a long-lasting pool table, but there are some other details you may not know about. The pros of owning a pool table made with slate are:
- Higher quality
- Better for frequent or professional players
- Long life span
The cons of slate pool tables include:
- More expensive
- Hefty weight
- Not portable
Slate tables weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds, making them almost impossible to move once they have been installed in a home or bar. Since slate as a standard material weighs a considerable amount, the rest of the table must be built to support the slate slabs, which adds to the weight.
What makes slate pool tables a good investment is that they are great for those who play a considerable amount of pool at home or are professional pool players who want to practice at home. The construction on slate pool tables are often indications of the table’s quality as well.
For those looking for a long-lasting investment, purchasing a slate pool table is the best way to go. The cons make it appear that owning a slate pool table is cumbersome, but it is worth the purchase especially if you intend on playing frequently or practicing for pool tournaments since slate is the standard in commercial establishments.
When looking for a slate pool table, there is the option of purchasing second hand, but this option should be approached with full attention and caution. Always request to see the table in person and be allowed to examine the table for any damage and if the table is made of real slate.
Most high-quality pool tables are made with slate and are built for consistent use. Slate pool tables are the best option for aspiring pros and professional billiard tournament players. If you are just starting to get into playing pool, purchasing a wooden pool table is the more affordable option that would still allow a long enough life span to figure out if you enjoy the game enough to aim for tournaments.