When it comes to pool tables, one of the primary considerations is the material used for the bed beneath the felt.

Slate vs Non-Slate Pool Tables

Today we’re considering the difference between slate vs non-slate pool tables.

Each type has its own set of pros and cons, and understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision.

Slate vs Non-Slate Pool Tables – Pros and Cons

Slate Pool Tables: The Professional’s Choice


  1. Precision and Consistency: Slate, a natural stone, is favored for its flatness and smoothness. It’s the go-to choice for professional and serious amateur players because it provides a consistent and predictable playing surface.
  2. Durability: Slate tables are known for their longevity. They can last for decades if properly maintained.
  3. Resistant to Warping: Unlike wood or other materials, slate doesn’t warp over time, which means the playing surface remains even and true for years.
  4. Better Resale Value: Given their durability and popularity among enthusiasts, slate pool tables generally have a higher resale value.


  1. Cost: Slate tables are more expensive, making them a significant investment.
  2. Weight: These tables are extremely heavy, making installation and moving challenging.
  3. Maintenance: While durable, slate can crack if mishandled or if the table is moved incorrectly.

Non-Slate Pool Tables: The Practical Alternative


  1. Affordability: Non-slate tables are generally more affordable, making them a popular choice for casual players and budget-conscious buyers.
  2. Lightweight: They are much easier to move and install, a big plus for those who might need to relocate the table.
  3. Variety: Non-slate tables come in a wider range of designs and sizes, offering more versatility for home use.


  1. Inconsistent Play: Materials like wood or synthetic composites can warp over time, leading to an uneven playing surface.
  2. Lower Durability: Non-slate materials tend to have a shorter lifespan and can show wear more quickly.
  3. Less Resale Value: Due to the above factors, these tables usually don’t retain their value as well as slate tables.

Alternative Materials to Slate

Slate is a popular material used in high-quality pool tables for its durability and smooth, flat playing surface. However, when it comes to alternatives, several materials are used instead of slate.

Here are some common ones:

  1. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): MDF is a common choice for more affordable pool tables. It’s a composite material made from wood fibers that are compressed together with resin. MDF tables are lighter than slate tables and are easier to move. However, they are more susceptible to warping and don’t offer the same level of play consistency as slate.
  2. Honeycomb: Some tables use a honeycomb pattern made from plastic or other materials. This design helps to reduce weight and cost while providing a reasonably durable and flat surface.
  3. Particleboard: Similar to MDF, particleboard is another type of engineered wood, but it’s made from wood chips and sawdust bonded together with resin. It’s less dense and more prone to warping compared to MDF and slate.
  4. Plywood: Plywood, made from thin layers of wood veneer glued together, is also used in some budget-friendly pool tables. While it’s sturdier than particleboard, it’s still not as durable or flat as slate.
  5. Slatron/Synthetic Slate: Slatron is a type of synthetic material designed to mimic the properties of slate. It’s a dense, particle board-like material covered with a plastic layer. It’s more durable than MDF or particleboard but doesn’t quite match the feel or longevity of real slate.
  6. Fiberglass or Plastic: Some modern or outdoor pool tables use fiberglass or plastic as a lightweight and moisture-resistant alternative. These materials are not as common and typically don’t provide the same play quality as slate but are suitable for casual play and environments where durability against elements is key.

Each of these materials has its own pros and cons.

For example, MDF and particleboard are more affordable but less durable and prone to warping, affecting the play quality over time. Slate remains the premium choice for its unparalleled flatness, consistency, and durability, but it comes at a higher cost and with greater weight.

Slate vs Non-Slate Pool Table Repair

Both slate and non-slate materials used in pool tables can be repaired, but the methods and ease of repair differ significantly between the two.

Slate Repair

  1. Cracks and Chips: Slate, being a natural stone, can be repaired if it suffers from cracks or chips. The repair process typically involves filling the cracks with an adhesive filler that is similar in color to the slate. After filling, the surface is sanded down to ensure it is perfectly smooth and level.
  2. Warpage: Slate is highly resistant to warping, so this is rarely an issue.
  3. Professional Assistance: Given the weight and delicacy of slate, repairs are best handled by professionals.

Non-Slate Repair

  1. Materials: Non-slate pool tables are usually made from materials like MDF (medium-density fiberboard), particleboard, or other synthetic materials.
  2. Surface Damage: Like slate, these materials can be repaired if they suffer from surface damage. Filling and sanding techniques similar to those used for slate may be applied.
  3. Warpage Issues: Non-slate materials are more prone to warping, which is a more challenging problem to fix. In some cases, the entire bed might need to be replaced if warping is severe.
  4. DIY Potential: Repairs on non-slate tables can sometimes be more DIY-friendly, depending on the extent of the damage and the skill of the individual.

Limitations and Considerations

  • Extent of Damage: The feasibility of repair often depends on the extent of the damage. Minor issues are usually fixable, but severe damage might require more extensive work or even replacement of the entire bed.
  • Quality of Repair: It’s important to note that while repairs can restore functionality, they might not always bring the table back to its original condition, especially in terms of the precision of the playing surface.
  • Cost vs. Replacement: In some cases, especially for non-slate tables, it might be more cost-effective to replace the table rather than repair it.

In summary, while both slate and non-slate pool tables can be repaired, the durability and resistance to damage of slate often make it a more manageable and long-term choice. However, non-slate tables offer more straightforward and sometimes DIY repair options, albeit with potential limitations in terms of play quality post-repair.

In the End… Is Slate the Best Choice?

The answer depends on your needs and preferences.

If you’re a serious pool player or seeking a professional-level playing experience, slate is undoubtedly the best choice. Its precision, consistency, and durability are unmatched.

However, for casual players, families, or those with budget constraints, non-slate tables offer a practical and still enjoyable alternative.


Choosing between a slate and a non-slate pool table comes down to weighing factors like cost, use, and your level of seriousness about the game.

Whichever type you choose, proper maintenance is key to keeping your pool table in prime playing condition.