Slate Pool Tables VS Non-Slate Pool Tables

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Slate Pool Table VS Non-Slate Pool Tables

When you are purchasing a pool table, you will be faced with a major decision; should you buy a slate pool table or a non-slate one? If you know nothing about pool tables, this can be a pretty tough decision to make. Luckily for you, we are here to run you through all of the differences between the two.

A lot of people wonder about the difference between slate pool tables and non-slate pool tables. This enables them to work out which option is the right for their needs. We feel that this easy-to-understand chart should go a long way towards helping you understand the difference between the two options.

ComparisonSlate Pool TableNon-Slate Pool Table
PricingExpensive.Available at a variety of prices.
DurabilityIncredibly durable.Durability depends on table purchased.
Flatness of the tableSlate is precision ground. It is virtually guaranteed to be flat.Non-slate pool tables are not as finely finished. This means that there could be pits on the table causing the ball to roll.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface of the differences between slate pool tables and non-slate pool tables. We have plenty more information to share with you, such as how each table option is likely to impact your game. Let us help you decide which pool table option is the right one for you.

Slate Pool Table VS. Non-Slate Pool Table

In order to compare these types of pool table, we thought it would be best to give you a run-through of the various points one may need to consider when purchasing a pool table. This will ensure that you armed with the knowledge to make the right purchasing decision for your pool game.

What are they made of?

Slate tables are, of course, made from slate rock. The slate has been precision ground to be as flat as possible. It is then cut to size and covered in the pool table fabric.

Non-slate tables are generally made from MDF but can come in a variety of other materials too including plastic. If you are purchasing a non-slate pool table, it is important that you check the material it is constructed of so you know whether it will perform to your needs.


State pool tables are essentially a large piece of solid rock with a bit of decoration added. As you can probably guess, this makes them incredibly hard to move. In fact, it is very, very likely that once a slate pool table is in position, it won’t be moved again. It would take a whole team of people.

While non-slate tables come in a variety of different materials, they are generally all going to be fairly lightweight. Most are portable or can at least be moved with just a couple of people.


Space is where there isn’t going to be all that much difference. Both options come in all the standard pool table sizes.

That being said, you may find some non-slate tables that can be folded up for storage. However, do bear in mind that if you go down this route, you are not going to be working with the best pool table in the world. Something made to be put into storage tends to have lower-quality materials.


As we already stated; it is pretty difficult to move a slate pool table. Not impossible, but very difficult. Most non-slate pool tables are simple to move, and some of them can easily be placed into storage.

The portability does cause a few issues, though. For example; if you are playing pool and you bump against a slate pool table, nothing is really going to happen. If you bump against a lightweight non-slate pool table, then the balls can move about. This essentially ruins the game.

If you want to move a slate pool table, then you will need to hire a professional to help you disassemble the table and move it. This can easily cost over $1,000. It is not something that you should be tackling on your own, mostly due to the risk of damaging your beautiful table.


Due to the amount of effort that go into their construction, as well as the cost of the materials, you will find that slate pool tables like this are a lot more expensive than non-slate tables. It isn’t just a small price difference either. The worst slate pool table may be double, sometimes even triple, the cost of the best non-slate pool table.


This is where slate pool tables really start to shine.

It is almost impossible to damage a slate pool table. In fact, the only way you will be hampering the slate is if you took a hammer to it. The material will not get a single dent otherwise, not even with decades and decades of regular pool playing.

Your main concern will be to replace the pool table’s cloth regularly. This will help to protect the slate bed and ensure that it stays in pristine condition.

Even the best non-slate pool tables will not even come close to the durability of slate. All materials will have their own properties, but they will all be fairly soft. This means that other time, you will likely be doing small amounts of damage to it. These tables may last a decade at the most, even high-quality tables.

It is worth noting that non-slate pool tables do not perform well in humid environments. This is because they can warp. It will only be a slight amount of warping, but it will certainly be enough to impact your game.

Table Flatness

Pros use slate tables because they are flat as flat can be. All slate pool tables will have their slate bed precision ground to be perfectly flat. There will not be a kink or a warp in sight.

None of the materials that are used to make non-slate pool tables can be ground to the same amount of precision as a slate pool table. This means that there will be slight imperfections in the table. These imperfections will get worse over time. There is nothing you can do to prevent that.

The imperfections in non-slate pool tables will change the way in which the ball moves. The change will be very subtle, but it means that you have less control over your shot, which can really hamper the way in which you play pool.

The reason why pros use a slate pool table is that they will never have those imperfections. The virtually flat surface guarantees that the player remains in control of the ball at all times. There is no need to worry about the ball rolling slightly,  or perhaps veering off a little in an unintended direction.

If you want to play at the absolute top of your game, then you need a slate pool table. In fact, this is the exact reason why slate tables were invented in the 1800s. People thought that wooden pool tables were not great to play on.

The Look of the Pool Table

In the past, if you wanted the best-looking pool tables, then you would need to opt for slate. These slate tables could afford to be highly decorative, as they tended to be a luxury that only the rich could afford. Often people would use them for decoration, and they would see very little in the way of pool games.

While slate pool tables tend to be the better-looking pool tables still, mostly due to their cost, there have been several non-slate tables introduced to the market that you would be proud to have on display in your home. Although, for the best-designed tables, you are looking at a price similar to that of a slate table.

Is it worth buying a Slate Pool Table if You Are an Amateur?

This depends on how serious you are about playing pool, as well as the amount of money you have at your disposal.

Purchasing a slate pool table is a serious financial and space investment. The price of a quality slate pool table (or even a low-quality one) can easily stretch into the thousands of dollars. You also have to remember that this is something that can’t be moved around easily, so you need to have space available.

If you are an amateur to the point where you are not sure whether the sport is right for you, then start with a non-slate table. You can always upgrade later on if you develop a love for playing pool.

Of course, the best way to improve your pool game is on a slate pool table. While non-slate pool tables will allow you to develop your skills to an extent, you will have to upgrade eventually. There is a reason why the pros only play on slate tables. You perform a whole lot better.

Which Non-Slate Materials Are The Best For a Pool Table?

The main concern shouldn’t be so much the material that the table is made from, but the manufacturer of the table. The better the manufacturer, the better the quality of the pool table. Even particleboard can perform well when assembled by top pool table manufacturers.

That being said, if you live in a humid environment, then you may want to steer clear of particle board tables, and perhaps opt for plastic or another type of stone bed. These will not warp as easily in high humidity environments.

Related Questions

How long will a slate pool table last?

Slate pool tables last virtually forever. The hardness of the material means that they are tough to damage. The cloth will need to be changed on the table every so often to keep them in peak condition. The actual slate bed is unlikely to ever be damaged.

Do you need a slate pool table if you wish to play competitively?

Yes. Slate pool tables are made to competitive pool playing standards. The only way that you can truly develop your game is on a slate pool table. A non-slate pool table will often have kinks in it that can change the direction your ball moves in.

Can you purchase non-slate pool tables that look like slate?

If looks are a priority, then there are non-slate pool tables on the market that look similar to slate tables. This means that they have a touch of grandeur about them, almost as if they are designed to be the centerpiece of a room.

See Also:
How Long Do MDF pool Tables Last
4 Best Pool Tables With Ball Return
When Can You Move The White Ball In Pool?
How To Store Pool Balls (Here’s The Answer)

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