What is a slate pool table? [Benefits & Drawbacks]

There are different types of pool tables on the market and determining which one is perfect for you can be challenging. One of the most popular types because of its durability and quality is a pool table made of slate. So, what is a slate pool table?

The slate is a type of rock that pool table manufacturers use to make playing surfaces. It’s considered the best available surface for playing. They are often used for tournaments because of their ability to last and steadiness. For a smooth roll, slate surfaces are covered with felt.

Through this article, you’ll find out more about slate pool tables. You’ll be able to tell what slate is, why and how pool tables are made of it, what are the benefits of these types of pool tables, etc. Let’s check it! 

What is Slate?

What is a slate pool table

Slate is a type of rock formed by sedimentary processes. The original open structure of the rock is compacted into a mudstone or shale.

The rock is easily split along its bedding plane. Slates are used as building materials because they are easy to work and split.

This rock contains minerals like quartz, clay, and mica with a fine grain which gives it strength and durability.

Because of its characteristics, slate is used for tabletops, tombstones, tiles, electrical panels, etc.

For more than 200 years slate has been used in the pool table-making industry. It was discovered as a better replacement for wood in 1826 by John Thurston.

For all those years better material isn’t found for pool tables. 

Why are pool tables made of slate?

Pool tables need a perfectly flat slate surface. Slate is a very hard stone that splits easily into large flat pieces.

To polish these pieces, they need to be brought up to a high temperature and then slowly cooled down.

This process takes time and effort, but when it is finished, you get a perfect slate to play pool with.

What are the Benefits of Slate Bed Tables? 

The main benefit of slate bed tables is their durability. Slates are very durable materials.

They won’t warp unless you hit them with something hard. They’re not affected by temperature or humidity.

Also, slate bed tables are the most popular choice among professional players because they give the true surface for maximum control and straight shots.

What are the Drawbacks of Slate Bed Tables?   

Slate tablets are extremely heavy and require a strong table frame to support them.

They are most suitable for permanent game rooms, so if you’re dealing with limited space, a slate table isn’t a good option for you.

One more drawback of a slate bed table is its price. Slate is an expensive material to use for making pool tables.

Also, moving the table will cost you extra money because of its weight.

What is a pool table slate made of?

Slate pool tables are made of solid rock, which is, usually, a combination of sand, calcium, quartz, and other minerals.

These stone rocks are usually excavated in large pieces and then cut into proper dimensions to be transported to table manufacturers.

How is the slate pool table made?

Slate pool table creation starts in the mountains, where huge rocks are being mined and excavated.

Then, miners cut rocks into “rough cuts”, or large slates a bit larger than the final dimensions. Cutters usually cut slates 5 inches larger than the final dimensions. 

After the slate is transported to manufacturers, they’re cutting it into exact dimensions, polishing and grinding it to get a smooth, flat slate.

Then, they drill holes where pockets will be installed. If needed, manufacturers are drilling additional holes for screws and that’s the final stage in slate creation.

Some manufacturers are offering slate cutting in three pieces to ease transportation all around the world.

What is the thickness of the pool table slate?

Pool table slate thickness varies between three-quarters of an inch and one inch. Slate thickness is very important. If it’s too thick, it will be too heavy for transportation and handling.

On the other hand, if it’s too thin, it may crack. So, many manufacturers came up with the conclusion that one-inch slates are perfect for their tables.

How to tell if a table is a slate or non-slate? 

If you’re new to the game at the beginning it can be hard to tell from which type of material the pool table is made.

As they are covered with cloth, only an experienced eye can notice the difference. 

However, if you look under the table or reach into the table pocket you can see if it’s slate or non-slate. 

What is a 3-piece slate pool table?

3 piece pool tables are the most popular among manufacturers. If you’ve played on a 9-foot pool table, you’ve likely played on a 3-piece table. 

Due to their size and robustness, slates are heavy and hard to handle and transport, so many manufacturers are cutting slates into three pieces, which makes them easier for transportation and assembly.

What is a one-piece slate pool table?

One-piece slate pool tables are common among 8-foot table manufacturers.

Unlike 3-piece slate tables, one-piece slate tables will handle more pressure and they’re perfect for commercial use, like cafes and pubs.

Since they’re made of one slate, these types of tables can be moved without disassembling. Still, bear in mind its size and weight.

If you decide to move it, you’ll probably have to bring at least 5 pairs of helping hands.

Slate vs Wood Pool Table 

When deciding on whether to go with slate or MDF boards, players should understand how important straightness and accuracy are.

Players should also know that there are pros and cons to both types of tables. Let’s check who wins in the slate vs wood pool table battle.

Slate bed pool tables

Gameplay – slate tables are flat and give maximum ball control for straight shotsPrice – slate costs more than any wood or MDF table
Warping – slate remains flat for a long time without any maintenanceWeight – slate is really heavy and any movements of the slate pool table require additional manpower.
Stability – Once leveled, the slate table provides maximum stability for a long period

Woodbed pool tables

Price – wood tables are usually made from MDF which is an affordable materialGameplay – playing on wood is a bit slower than playing on slate
Weight – these types of tables are easy to take apart and transport because of their lightweightWarping – over time wood beds warp and give an uneven surface
Size – there is a bigger choice of sizes than for slate pool tablesLiquid – spills can completely destroy  wood because of its ability to absorb liquids

To be quite honest with you, if you’re not on a budget go with a slate pool table. It will give you a better game and it will require little or no maintenance at all.

Pool table slate cost

Slate tablets are more expensive than those made of wood. The average pool table slate cost is between $1,800 and $3,000. Of course, price depends on size, quality, and manufacturer. 

As always if you are on the budget you can buy a used pool table and reduce expenses. 

Pool table slate replacement cost

One of the main attributes of slate pool tables is their endurance. If it’s handled properly, a slate pool table can easily last more than 50 years.

Still, damages do happen. If you damage your slate pool table, you need to ask around for the pool table slate replacement cost. These damages are expensive and they can easily go over $3,000. 

Bear in mind that slate costs between $1,800 and $3,000, so if you also bear in mind that slates are heavy and robust and can’t be replaced by one person, you have a choice to find someone to help you to transport and install it, or you can hire professionals which can significantly increase your expenses.

Cost to refelt slate pool table

Every slate pool table needs to be felted in a proper way to give us solid results in the game. An average pool table refelts costs between $250 and $600.

The cost to refelt a slate pool table usually depends on different factors like fabric quality, pool table size, and quality of the service.

We wrote more about it in our article on how much it costs to refelt a pool table.

Moving a slate pool table

Moving a slate table is not an easy task, mostly because of its weight. That’s why so many people decide to hire professionals to help them with it.

It’s not the cheapest solution but it’s the easiest. We already wrote about this topic and you can check how much it costs to move a pool table.


To save you time, I did some investigation and found the most common questions about slate pool tables. I hope you will find it useful.

Other Types of Tables

Slate and MDF pool tables are the most common, but there are also other types such as honeycomb or Permaslate pool tables. A honeycomb pool table is made of plastic layers formed in a honeycomb which prevents warping. Permaslate is a plastic layer on a particle board and it is more durable than other synthetic slate tables.

What is the best non-slate pool table?

If you can’t afford a slate pool table, my first recommendation for a non-slate pool table is a Hathaway Hustler pool table.

How to transport a slate pool table?

Slate tables are heavy and you can’t transport them on your own, so you have two options: to hire professionals or engage a lot of manpower to transport them.

How heavy is a slate pool table?

Slate pool tables weigh between 500 pounds for 6-foot tables and up to 2500 pounds for 12-foot tables.

To sum it up

There are many reasons why slate tables are the most popular in the world of billiards. I presented to you the slate pool table’s main features, its pros and cons, and reasons to buy it. 

They’re providing the best playing experience and the longest life. Still, if you’re on a budget, it may be too expensive for you, but if you save up some money, a slate pool table is the best option for you.

Now that you know what is a slate pool table, let me know below if you have any further questions or comments.

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