When choosing a pool table, the thickness of the slate is one of the most important factors to consider because it impacts the playing surface, installation and cost of the table. In this article, I’ll take you through the most common pool table slate thickness (and the ones to avoid) so you can decide which is the best for you.
The Quick Answer
Most pool tables have a slate-bed thickness of either 3/4″ (19 mm) or 1″ (25.4 mm). Thicker slate bed pool tables are less likely to sag or move once installed due to the added weight. Most sectional slate tables have a 1″ thick slate whilst most single-piece slate tables are 3/4″ thick.
Slate Bed 101
Let’s start by getting clear about exactly what the slate is and where it goes, so you can understand why its thickness is so important. In a very basic sense, a pool table has three main components:
- The frame
- The bed
- The cloth
The bed sits on top of the frame and is then covered in the cloth.
This means that the bed material is very important in dictating the playing surface characteristics, i.e. how the balls move on the table. The cloth is also of course important, but the bed is responsible for creating a surface which is hard and flat, two important characteristics for a pool table.
How Thick are Pool Table Slates?
Pool table slates are usually either 3/4″ or 1″ thick, however some slates may be only 1/2″ thick. The World Pool Billiard Association states that the slate must be at least 3/4″ thick for use in competitions, but most tables are 1″ thick. The thicker the slate, the better the pool table will be.
|Slate Thickness||Type of Table|
|½” (12.7 mm)||Budget low-quality|
|¾” (19.05 mm)||Average quality|
|1” (25.4 mm)||Highest quality|
As well as considering the thickness of the slate, you should also look at whether the slate is sectional or consists of a single piece.
- Single piece slate pool tables usually have a slate thickness of 3/4″
- Three piece sectional slate pool tables usually have a slate thickness of 1″
- Five piece sectional slate pool tables usually have a slate thickness of at least 1″
The guidelines above are often the case, however it is definitely still possible to get thicker single piece slate beds than 3/4″ and thinner sectional slates.
The main advantage of sectional slate bed pool tables is that they are much easier to transport and move up stairs and through doors compared to single piece slates which are very large and heavy. Three-piece tables are also easier to level more accurately. However, sectional slate tables must be installed by professionals to ensure they are levelled perfectly and cannot be moved without re-installation once they are in-place.
Make sure you consider the pros and cons of single and sectional slates when choosing your pool table.
|Single Piece Slate Bed||Sectional Slate Bed|
|Heavy piece||Lighter pieces|
|Difficult to fit in a home||Easy to fit in a home|
|Professional installation is recommended||Requires professional installation|
|Can be moved once installed||Cannot be moved once installed|
|Usually uses thinner slate||Usually uses thicker slate|
Which Thickness is Best?
Now we’ve been through the basics of slate bed pool tables, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the different slate thicknesses.
Thicker slate bed pool tables are more difficult to install than thinner slate bed tables because they are much heavier. This is assuming you are comparing two tables of the same type e.g. sectional or single piece slates. The weight becomes much more of an issue when installing a single piece slate pool table as it can get incredibly heavy.
|Slate Thickness||Weight of a Single Piece Slate Bed||Weight of a Piece of a Sectional Slate Bed|
|½”||250 lbs||83.5 lbs|
|¾”||375 lbs||125 lbs|
|1”||500 lbs||167 lbs|
The balls will move pretty similarly on a new 1/2″ thick slate bed compared to a 1″ bed, what may differ is how they move over the life-time of the table. Here I’m really talking about levelling. Thicker slate bed tables are less likely to sag or move out of place, meaning that if the table is perfectly level when installed, it’s likely to stay like this for a very long time.
Anything 3/4″ thick or above is enough to make sure the surface stays flat so you can get the best playing experience, but tables with a 1/2″ thick slate may develop problems over time.
Durability and Sturdiness
As mentioned above, thicker slates are less likely to sag or move out of place, hence increasing the durability of the table. However, thicker slates are also move sturdy and less likely to break if you need to move the table. If you have a sectional slate bed table, it will need professionally re-installing if ever you want to move it, even if the change is very slight. Thicker slates are less likely to break under these circumstances.
The thicker the slate on a pool table, the more expensive it will be. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the cost of a 3/4″ and 1″ slate bed pool table and there is a lot of overlap between prices when comparing slates of these thicknesses. However, 1/2″ slate bed tables are often cheaper than 3/4″ and 1″ slate bed tables because the quality is lower as most “good” tables will have a slate thickness of at least 3/4″.
|Slate Thickness||Average Starting Price of a Table|
Check out my complete guide to pool equipment to make sure you get everything you need to get the best playing experience.
Which Thickness Should I Choose?
For most buyers, a 3-piece 1″ thick sectional slate pool table is the best option as it is durable, offers a consistent surface, is easy to carry and offers good value for money. This is usually the most popular option selected and most brands offer this as standard. For example, at the time of writing, Brunswick Billiards, who are one of the leaders in the pool table business only sell tables with a 1″ thick slate bed.
The other option is a 3/4″ one piece slate bed table, however this is difficult to carry and doesn’t offer any real advantages over the 1″ thick sectional slate. Anything over 1″ thick is pretty unnecessary for most situations and tables with this slate thickness are actually very rare.
Stay away from any pool tables with a slate bed which is less than 3/4″ thick as these are quite low quality and will not be as durable as thicker slate bed tables.
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