How To Tell If A Pool Table Is Slate Or Wood


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If you own a pool table or are planning on purchasing one, it is important that you know whether it is a slate or wood pool table. This will have a major impact on the longevity of your table, as well as how it will feel to play on it. Thankfully, our experts have the information that can help you out.

So, how can you tell whether a pool table is a slate or wood pool table? Perhaps the simplest method is to look on the underside. In most cases, it should be fairly obvious what type of table you have. Slate will have a stone-like underside. Of course, this may pose a few issues if the bottom of the table is covered. However, you will generally be able to tell by the weight of the table. Slate is much, much heavier.

Of course, there are other methods to use to tell whether you have a pool table made of slate or wood. We want to run you through these methods so you know ‘once and for all’ whether you are playing with a slate or wood pool table.

How To Tell Whether You Are Playing With a Slate Or Wood Pool Table

There are several methods that you can use to determine the construction material of a pool table. It is likely that you will have to use only one or two methods. For the most part, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to determine what the pool table has been constructed from. These tips should help.

Check The Bottom of the Pool Table

If you have access to the pool table, then look underneath it. If there isn’t some sort of ‘cover’ in place, a simple knock on the playing surface will tell you the construction material.

If you hear a hollow sound when you knock the bottom of the playing surface, then it is likely going to be wood. If the material is completely sold and ‘stone-like’, then you have a slate playing surface.

Look at the top of the playing surface

This is a method that will not always work, so do not rely on it, but it may help to confirm your suspicions if you are buying a pool table used.

If you get your eyes level with the playing surface, you may be able to see whether there is any warping on the table. If there is warping, then you will be looking at a wooden pool table. Slate will never warp.

Of course, you can also knock gently on the top of the playing surface too. This is important if you do not have access to the underside of the pool table. In most cases, a gentle knock should be able to tell you whether the table is slate or wood. Once again, a wood pool table will sound hollow. Slate will sound solid.

Alternatively, you could remove the fabric if it is due to be replaced in the near future. You will be able to see the playing surface like this. Remember; most wooden pool tables will not allow you to replace the table fabric. They are built to be a bit more ‘disposable’.

Check the weight of the pool table

Again, this is something that you will only be able to do if you have direct access to the pool table.

If you try to move a wooden pool table, it is likely going to be easy. Even if there are decorations around the side of the table to spice up the aesthetic, it should be fairly easy to move for one or two people.

If you have a slate pool table, it is going to be virtually impossible to move alone. This type of playing surface will often need specialist equipment to get it into place, even if most of them can be broken down into small parts for moving. This is because the playing surface is going to be a solid slab of stone.

Consult the Manufacturer

If it is possible to find out the model number for the pool table, then contacting the manufacturer is likely to be the safest bet. They will have a full specification for the table.

If you are planning to purchase a pool table from an online store such as Amazon, it should list what the table is constructed from. If it does not, it is unlikely to be a slate pool table.

Look At the Price of the Pool Table

Slate pool tables are not cheap. Even the ‘worst’ slate pool tables on the market will cost around the $2,000 mark and go up from there. This is because slate pool tables require a lot of effort in terms of tooling. The best slate pool tables are often in excess of $5,000.

Wooden pool tables are cheap. In fact, a good proportion of them will be under $500. While you can find more expensive wooden pool tables, mostly because they will have various decorations on them, it can be rare. If you are paying that much for a wooden pool table new, then the manufacturer will almost certainly tell you what they have been constructed from.

How Does the Ball Move?

If you are a bit more experienced with playing pool, then you can look at how the ball reacts when you take shots. On a slate pool table, you will have more control over your shots. The ball will often move quicker and with a hint of smoothness in your game.

What Are Wooden Pool Tables Made Of?

Most wooden pool tables will be made from MDF i.e. particleboard. This is essentially multiple pieces of wooden ‘pushed’ onto one another to form a solid piece. This is why wooden pool tables can warp so easily. Moisture will get into the playing surface, causing it to ‘expand’.

There are solid wood pool tables on the market, but these can be exceedingly expensive, and at the price many of these tables cost, it would probably be in your best interests to pick up a slate pool table instead. It will last a lot longer.

Can Stone Pool Tables be Made from Anything But Slate?

Yes. Although these are on the rarer side. This can, of course, make it difficult to work out whether you have a slate pool table or one made from another type of stone.

Perhaps the only real option you have here, unless you can look at the manufacturer’s specification for that table, is to check how level the playing surface is. There are no stones that can be precision ground as much as slate can be. So, if the playing surface is not completely level, then it almost certainly is not slate.

Are Slate Pool Tables One-Piece?

Not all of them. Many slate tables will be 3-piece slate tables. This means that they are three pieces of slate combined to form the playing surface.

If you want to be able to tell whether you have a one-piece or a three-piece table, the simplest solution is to look under the table. You will notice a ‘join’ if there are multiple pieces that form the playing surface.

For the most part, having a three-piece slate pool table is not going to hamper your play too much. Although, it is always preferable to play on a single piece slate pool table if you can. The surface will be a lot flatter, and this means more control over the ball direction.

Does It Matter Whether You Are Playing On Slate Or Wood?

Yes.

Wood pool tables, even if you purchase a quality wooden pool table, are never going to lay completely flat. This can hamper your play. Slate pool tables can be precision ground. This means a smoother playing surface, and that means it is easier to play on. Pros will only ever play on slate pool tables for this reason.

Slate pool tables will also last decades. They are nigh on impossible to break. If you have a wooden pool table, you can expect to replace it in around 5-10 years. It will be even less if you are using the table in a humid environment. 

Related Questions

How long will a slate pool table last?

A well-treated slate pool table is likely to last forever. As long as the fabric is regularly changed on the table, there is very little that can hamper the playing surface.

How long will a wooden pool table last?

Most wooden pool tables will likely last a decade at the most. However, this will be dependent on the environment they are used in. In a humid environment, one may find the pool table lasts a few years before it becomes too warped to play on.

How can you move a slate pool table?

Slate pool tables are considerably heavier than their wooden counterparts. The only way a slate pool table can be moved is if special equipment is used. There are several ‘expert’ pool table moving companies that can assist with the moving process.

See Also: Slate Pool Tables VS Non-Slate Pool Tables
How Long Do MDF Pool Tables Last

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