Slate vs Non Slate Pool Table (With Picture)

So you want to buy a pool table but aren’t sure which type of table to get, Slate vs. non-slate pool table. Both table types have their advantages and disadvantages, and it will depend on what your needs are.

Also, it is essential to understand how these two table types differ. The main difference is in the material used to contract the tabletop. Slate tablets have a tabletop made from tough slate rock that is got from volcanic rock.

On the other hand, non-slate tables have table tops made from other materials, the most common being wood or MDF. As such, these two types of tables differ quite a bit in their price, playability, and other areas.

Slate Pool TableNon-slate Pool table
Construction materialsslate rockwood, plastic, or synthetic slate
WeightWeight upwards of 600 poundsComparatively Lightweight
Playing surfaceSmoother and more flatNot as smooth and flat
LongevityLifetime warrantyProne to warping
UserBest for professional useBest for beginners

Why buy a slate table?

slate table advantages and disadvantages

When comparing a slate vs. a non slate pool table, it is important to understand what each option offers. In this regard, we need to consider why you should buy a slate pool table over a non-slate one.

Flat and level surface

Slate table tops have flat and level table surfaces, great for ball rolling and perfect shots. Furthermore, slate surfaces can be balanced to a precision tolerance of 0.0001 inches, which is why these tables are preferred for professional tournaments.

Resistant to warping

Slate is a tough material that lasts for years, and it is common for manufacturers to offer a lifetime warranty on slate pool tables. Furthermore, the rock does not warp due to changes in humidity or temperature, unlike other materials. Thus the surface remains smooth and flat for longer.

Minimal maintenance

another by-product of slate rock’s toughness is that it requires minimal maintenance. Also, the rock is waterproof, which makes it easier to clean. It is also easier to replace the felt cloth than other non-slate types of tables.

Fair gaming field

Slate table tops offer a consistently flat and smooth surface. This makes slate pool tables ideal for professional pool tournaments.

Disadvantages of slate pool tables

While slate pool tables are great, they are not without their disadvantages. The main disadvantages of these types of pool tables are;


Slate table tops are considerably pricier to craft than non-slate tabletops, as such slate pool tables are significantly pricier than their non-slate counterparts. This is one of the reasons a slate pool table may not make sense for home or leisure use.

Bulky and difficult to move

On the average slate, rock tables can weigh anywhere between 400 and 600 pounds. This makes them bulkier than wood and other materials; as such, slate pool tables are cumbersome and incredibly difficult to transport. This is why they are perfect as permanent installations.

Difficult to assemble

Assembling slate pool tables is not an easy task and often will require the services of a professional, which can increase the total cost of acquiring and setting up a slate table. 

What is a non-slate pool table?

Now that we know about slate pool tables, what about their alternatives to non-slate pool tables. Non-slate pool tables have table tops made from alternative material to slate rock. In most cases, manufacturers will use wood or MDF. In other instances, synthetic slates such as saltron are used.

non slate pool table advantages and disadvantages

Advantages of non-slate tables

Similar to slate tables, non-slate tables have several benefits that make them a good option for most people. The main advantages of these tables are;


When comparing a slate pool table vs. non Slate, the first thing you notice is the price difference. Slate pool tables are typically expensive, while non-slate pool tables are offered at relatively affordable price tags.

Also, there are quite a number of table options available to fit different budget segments, which makes non-slate tables more economical than slate ones.


Wood is a more lightweight material compared to slate rock as such wooden pool tables are lightweight and will not have the same transportation challenges as slate tables. Also, due to them being lightweight non-slate tables are easier to transport compared to slate tables.

A better option for beginners

For people who are learning how to play the game, non-slate pool tables make more sense. This is because they are affordable and will be easier to transport. They are also easier to set up compared to slate tables.

Disadvantages of non-slate pool tables

Non-slate pool tables also have disadvantages, and it is important to know these disadvantages when buying a non-slate table.

More prone to damage

Non-slate pool tables are more vulnerable to damage compared to slate tables. They are not ideal for competitive games and are best suited for fun or leisure play. 

Not as smooth and flat

Balls on non-slate table tops do not glide as easily and as fast as they do on slate surfaces. This becomes clear if you switch from a slate to a non-slate tabletop. This is another reason why non-slate tabletops aren’t the best for professional tournaments.

Prone to warping

These types of table tops are also more prone to warping. It is recommended that you keep them away from moisture and high temperatures as this causes them to warp. Also, they do not last as long as slate tables.

Differences between Slate and non-slate pool tables

slate vs non slate pool table

What are the main differences between a Slate vs. MDF pool table? The main differences between these two table types are.

Construction materials

The biggest difference is their construction materials. Slate tables are made from polished slate rock mixed with other minerals such as quartz. Non-slate tables are predominantly made from wood. However, other materials can be used, such as synthetic Slate and even plastic.


The process of making slate tables is more time-consuming and expensive. This translates to slate tables being significantly pricier than non-slate tables. And the difference in price isn’t small. In most cases, slate tables will cost double or even triple the cost of the best non-slate tables.

Assembly and weight

Assembling a non-slate table takes less time than assembling a slate table. This is mainly due to the difference in weight. Slat tables weigh significantly more than non-slate tables, with most weighing upwards of 600 pounds. 

Playing surface

Which has a better playing surface between Slate vs. wood pool table? Slate offers a smoother and more flat surface compared to wood and other non-slate materials. As such, the playing surface offered by Slate will be noticeably better as balls roll easily and fast.


Slate rock is a naturally occurring substance that can last for years without getting damaged. This rock is also waterproof by nature. Wood and other materials, on the other hand, are vulnerable to water damage and wear and tear due to age. This means a slate pool table will last for many years compared to non-slate tables.


As you may expect, slate tables are the least portable of the two types. This is because of how heavy slate rock is. Non-slate tables tend to be less bulky than their slate counterparts.


Slate tables do not experience warping due to humidity or exposure to water. This is unlike non-slate tables that tend to warp due to high humidity and water exposure. 

Table flatness

One of the main advantages of Slate is that it can be ground to be as flat as possible. This means slate tables are exceptionally flat with zero kinks or warps. Non-slate materials, however, cannot be made to be as flat as slate can. This means there is a difference in the flatness of these tables.

Table design and look.

Traditionally slate tables have always had better design and overall looks than non-slate. This is thanks to them being pricier. However, some non-slate options have nice designs, but most do not match the designs of slate tables.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

To know if a table is made of Slate or not, you will have to inspect it for slate screws. To do this, run your fingers under the cushion ridge and you should feel where the slate screws are or at least the screw holes.

Why is Slate the best material for making pool tables

Slate rock is the only material that can be precision ground to 1/10,000 of an inch. The result of this precision leveling is that the balls roll in a straight line on every shot. 

Which non-slate material is best for making pool tables?

Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF for short. This material offers a smooth and consistent surface. Unlike Slate, it is easier to cut and costs less and is the most common material used in the making of non-slate tables.

Are there non-slate tables that look like Slate

Permaslate pool tables are the closest to real Slate. Permaslate is a material made from particleboard covered with layers of plastics. It offers a smooth playing surface and can withstand extreme pressure and shock. However, it is not as durable as a natural slate.


Overall, slate pool tables are great for professional tournaments due to their extremely flat and level surfaces. Their price and weight make them not ideal for home and leisure use. For home use, non-slate tables that cost less and are more lightweight will be a better option.

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