Buying a pool table can be a difficult task. This page has been written in order to help you understand the key differences when making your decision. Pool table’s are big and bulky which means you really want to make your first decision, the right decision!
The first thing to note is that nothing is set in stone when it comes to buying things. You’ll find varying opinions about nearly everything these days and it really just comes down to who you are and what you’re after.
In this article I’ll only be referring to the important factors. Other personal preferences like colour, shape, design, etc are really up to you as an individual.
Simply put, there’s no point having a large pool table if you don’t have the space for it. There’s nothing worse than the ball landing at the edges and you’re having to raise your cue almost vertically to hit the shot.
As a general rule of thumb you’re going to want at least 1.5m clearance around each side. You could get away with 1m clearance but you’re going to need a half sized cue.
How are tables measured?
Traditionally pool tables are measured from felt edge to felt edge. This is an international standard. All slate pool tables should be measured this way otherwise they do not conform to correct sizing. Board tables on the other hand are measured from the outside edges of the table. It is done this way as the particle board used in the manufacturing process is measured this way.
TIP: A 7ft board top table is smaller than a 7ft slate pool table.
Material – Slate vs Board?
The material of the playfield bed is another very important factor to consider. Different surfaces will offer a different feel when playing a game.
When playing pool we want to see the ball gliding with ease. We want the surface to be smooth and level, so that our shots are straight down the line.
- Solid stone
- Used in all professional tables
- Smooth flat surface gives the ball the best roll
- Does not warp or wear
- Is not affected by moisture of weather
- Lasts a lifetime
- Creates a much more durable table
- Much more expensive to produce
- Extremely heavy which makes moving the table difficult
- Requires a sturdy frame to support the extra weight. (Be mindful of slate tables with a weak structure. If the structure fails, the table fails)
- Typically made from MDF, or particle board
- Significantly cheaper to produce
- Much more convenient and practical
- Surface is not as smooth so the ball doesn’t roll as well
- Can warp over time as the table ages
- Board has a tendency to be affected by weather which can reduce a tables life span
- Smaller than their equivalent slate counterparts
- We don’t recommend board tables larger than 7ft due to the risk of warping in a short period of time.
Slate vs Board Conclusion
Usually your budget will determine which type to choose. There’s no doubt that if money or space weren’t an issue, 99.9% or people would prefer to play on a slate table.
But you have to consider how much you want to spend. You also want to remember that a slate table is usually a permanent fixture in your house. So if you’re needing to move the table often then slate may not be the best choice for you. Here are list of things to consider:
- How much do you want to spend?
- Who are you buying this for, and for what reason?
- Do you want to be able to move the table in some situations?
- Are you going to be moving places soon which means the table will also need to be transported again?
- What level of quality do you want?
- Are you placing the table indoors or under a patio?
Like anything, if the supporting structure is not strong, the product is not strong. Having made your decision on slate vs board, you need to make sure the supporting frame is suitable to handle the load. Not providing a solid support frame is a common tactic used by manufactures to reduce costs.
Slate tables need a 5 slats across to support the weight of the table. The supporting frame and legs also needs to be of a hard wood construction. Purchasing a slate table with a soft frame such as MDF is a good trick manufacturers use to make the table cheaper. The end result is that the table will sag over time as the frame cannot hold the weight over a long period of time.
TIP: Slate tables with hardwood supporting frame should have 6 legs to eliminate chance of sag
Board top tables require 3 slats across and are usually made with MDF which is fine to support the light weight.
TIP: Avoid board tables where you have to screw the framework yourself at home.
Slate: 1pc vs 3pc
This section applies only to slate tables and is a common debate both with valid arguments. The argument is that a single piece of slate is significantly heavier than 3 pieces. The problem with 3 pieces is that you’d need to get it professionally installed otherwise it’s extremely difficult to set up correctly. The 3 pieces of slate need to perfectly align or you’ll have ridges and bumps in the table which defeats the purpose of getting a slate table.
In a standard household or office our personal choice is 1 piece slate. While you may need assistance when you want to move the table, this is much easier to achieve. If you had a 3 piece slate table and you wanted to move the table to another room, the felt would need to come off and the table dismantled. Then you’d have to set it up all over again. There is also the argument that slate tables can sag but this brings us back to the supporting frame and ensuring the table has 6 legs.
This pretty much wraps up our important factors to consider when purchasing a pool table. Always choose the right table for your household and budget. A pool table is something you want to last so it’s always best to get it right. There are of course smaller factors like rubber, felt, pockets, etc which is why we always recommend checking the pool table out before purchasing.
Buying online is so tricky these days and quite often something that seems like a fantastic deal almost always comes with a few strings attached. It’s easy to take a nice photo followed with empty promises. Inspect the table yourself… Ask about complexity or installation and difficulty of transport. These are things you want to know which are going to benefit you in the long run.
Lastly, if you have any further questions… Please, contact us. We’re here to help!