Are All Pool Tables Made With Slate?

slate pool table

Billiards, commonly known as pool, is a popular indoor game, mostly known for its presence in leisure places such as pubs and bars. There are different types of pool tables. The distinguishing factor is primarily the material and cloth used to make the pool table.

Billiards Congress of America (BCA), the governing body in the US, consents to natural slate as the material for a billiard table. So, let us look at slate and other materials from which billiards are made.

What is slate, and why is it used as a pool table material?

Since its first use in 1826, slate has been the most common material used to make a pool table. It is the only sanctioned material by the BCA.

Slate is a dense, heavy, solid rock consisting of grain, mica, quartz, and clay. Natural slate is typically prepared in the quarry.

According to Made How, the process involves precisely cutting thin flat sheets of the rock of thickness 0.75-1 in (1.9-2.5 cm). Computer-guided lasers and diamond saws ensure that the slate sheets are uniform.

Also, holes for the ball pockets, screws, and bolts are drilled at the site before shipment (Made How). Several sheets, usually three, are attached and bolted to the table to make a billiard table.

Superior tables use natural slate as it offers several advantages. First, the natural slate offers a smooth and flat playing surface. They are precisely cut using computerized machinery to ensure this quality is attained.

Slate is durable since it does not absorb water, thus making a billiard table that can be used for an extended time. Some manufacturers even offer a lifetime warranty.

Also, as a naturally occurring rock, slate is relatively easy to find and mine. Another pro of slate pool tables is that their mass makes them ideal for playing. These tables are more robust, stationary, and stable than wooden pool tables enabling smooth play.

How can you tell if a pool table is slate?

Knowing what material is used to make a pool table can be challenging since they are usually covered with a cloth. To help discover the material, here are a few helpful tips.

•    Slate is heavy compared to other materials such as wood. On average, slate wights 450 lbs (200 kgs), and a complete slate pool table can weigh as much as 1000 lbs (450 kgs). Compared to a wood pool table which weighs on average 250 lbs (100 Kgs) (Billiard Beast).
•    Look at the underside of the pool table since it is mostly not unclothed. According to Billiard Beast, slate is light or dark grey. Wood, for instance, is brown in color.
•    You can also use a coin or ring and gently tap the exposed underside. Look for a distinctive metal sound on a rock to be sure the material used is slate.
•     If you compare the cost of slate to wood, the former is more expensive. A superior natural slate billiard table costs between $1,800 and $3,000, while a wood pool table would cost less, between $700 to $1500.

Can you make a pool table without slate?

Yes, other materials can be used to make a pool table. The first use of a slate table was in 1826; wood was the standard material used before that. Due to its expensive nature, people still purchase pool tables that use different materials to slate.

What other materials are pool tables made of?

Hardwood is a popular and integral choice in making pool tables. Even slate pool tables use wood as their structural framework. Made How highlights that common hardwoods used are tulip, oak, mahogany and maple.

These materials provide an attractive finish and create durable tables resistant to scratches.

To make rails, softwood like pine and hardwood are laminated and modified into tracks. The upper part is made from hardwood and the bottom half from softwood.

Cloth is essential as it covers the playing surface and rails. The BCA sanctions wool as the cloth material. Home Leisure expresses two cloth types specifically designed for American or British pool tables.

Other materials are zinc alloy or cast iron for pockets, bolts and screws, leather or rubber pocket liners, and slate-sealing wax.

Do all pool tables have a slate top?

Not all pool tables used natural slate as a playing surface. Some pool tables use hardwood as their playing surface. It provides the advantage of being cheaper than slate. However, it suffers the disadvantage of not being durable. A wooden surface can absorb moisture and warp, making play impossible.

Plastic is another inexpensive though less popular material used in making pool tables. Recycled plastic, rubber, and mineral dust are used to create synthetic slate and plastic honeycomb sheets that are sometimes used to create the playing surface of billiard tables.

What can be used instead of slate for the pool table?

Slate is superior but expensive. Less expensive options used to make pool table surfaces are hardwood and plastic.

Why are pool tables so heavy?

High-quality pool tables use natural slate, which is dense and heavy. Natural slate can weigh between 400-600 lbs (180-270 kgs) per sheet. Superior tables use several sheets of slate (sometimes four), making the entire table weighty.

A BCA-approved professional pool table can weigh between 1700-2200 lbs (750-1000 kgs). To support the heavy slate top, quality and considerable quantity of hardwood are needed to make a heavy-duty wooden frame.

This and the large legs used adds up the weight making the entire pool table very heavy.

How heavy is a non-slate pool table?

According to Billiard Beast, MDF tables weigh between 100-300 lbs (45-140 kgs). A wooded pool table weighs between 180-600 lbs (80-270kgs). They weigh significantly less than a slated pool table.

Take Away

Natural slate makes far superior billiard tables compared to wood or plastic. Slate pool tables are ideal for enjoying a billiard game since they are durable, robust, heavy, and have a smooth surface.

Despite being more expensive than wood, professionals prefer these tables. Pool tables with a wooden surface can suffer from moisture that makes the surface warp rendering it unplayable.


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