Pool and snooker tables can be made out of a variety of materials which impacts the durability, price and playing experience. In this article, I’ll take you through each part of the table and the best materials to look for as well as some more affordable options.
Pool and Snooker Table Materials
Pool and snooker tables often have a wooden frame and legs which are typically made from oak or walnut. The table cloth is made from either nylon or wool, and the bed of the table which is placed on the frame and covered by the cloth is usually made from slate but can also be made from MDF.
American pool table cloth is made from nylon, whereas English pool table and snooker table cloth is made from wool and either nylon or polyester. Common blends include a 60%/ 40% ratio of wool/ nylon, but some cloths will be 100% wool.
American and English pool table cloths differ in terms of their feel. English pool and snooker table cloths have a nap to them, which means they feel slightly fuzzy. The cloth must be brushed in the same direction for the best playing experience. American pool table cloth does not have a nap to it and you can see the weave instead.
This results in a slightly different playing experience as English cloth feels slower in comparison to American cloth because there is more friction. However, the extra acceleration of the balls on American cloth creates more heat and can actually lead to “burn marks” on the table which are usually small white spots.
Outdoor pool tables use a different cloth to indoor tables. The cloth on an outdoor pool table is water-resistant and is usually made from acrylic, with one of the most popular options being the “Sunbrella cloth”. This cloth will not sag and ruin when it gets when like indoor cloth will and it is also treated so it will not bleach in the sun. However, it does feel slower in comparison to indoor cloth because it is rougher which creates more friction so the balls do not move as quickly.
Popular Pool and Snooker Table Cloth Brands:
Pool and snooker tables have a bed which sits on top of the frame and is covered by the cloth. The bed is responsible for providing the table with a smooth, flat and hard surface, so it’s characteristics largely impact the playing experience and durability of the table.
Pool and snooker tables can either have an MDF or slate bed.
MDF (medium density fibreboard) is seen on more affordable tables under $1000 and is made by breaking down hard or softwood into fibres and combing it with wax to form panels using high temperature and pressure. MDF tables are usually quite low-quality and do not offer as much durability as a slate-bed table because wood is prone to warping over-time which means the table won’t be completely flat. The main advantages of MDF-bed tables are that they are cheaper and lighter than slate-bed tables so can be easily moved.
Most pool and snooker tables have a slate bed. The slate is farmed from a quarry and cut into flat sheets using diamond blade saws. The slate pieces are usually 0.75-1.0 inches (19-25 mm) thick. Slate-bed tables are not prone to warping and offer a very durable playing surface. However, they are very heavy and difficult to transport, as well as quite expensive.
Slate bed tables can either be in a single piece, or in sections, the most common 3-piece sectional slate, but you can also get 5-piece sectional slates as well.
|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|
Frame and Leg Materials
Most pool and snooker tables have a wooden frame, but they can also have aluminium, stainless steel and fibreglass frames. More affordable MDF-bed and some slate-bed pool tables will usually have an MDF frame which is not very durable.
Good-quality tables typically have a frame made from solid wood such as oak, poplar, mahogany, cherry, and walnut. Outdoor pool tables typically have either aluminium or stainless steel frames which are weather-resistant. On very high-end pool and snooker tables you may see some unique materials being used for the frame and legs such as glass or fibreglass.
Check out my complete guide to pool equipment to make sure you get everything you need to get the best playing experience.
Here are the materials used for other smaller components of pool and snooker tables:
- The pocket liners are usually made from either leather, plastic or rubber.
- The cushions are primarily made from rubber.
- The ball-return systems are often made from polyethylene or aluminium lined with rubber.
How are Pool and Snooker Tables Made?
Traditional slate-bed pool and snooker table parts are produced separately and then the table is constructed fully during the installation process. Here’s how pool and snooker tables are made and installed:
- The wooden panels, slate and cloth are cut to size.
- Edge liners of wood are glued to the bottom of the slate and around the edges.
- Rubber layers are applied to the rails which are then covered in cloth.
- During installation, the frame and legs are assembled.
- The table is then levelled.
- The slate is placed on top of the frame, screwed in and then levelled.
- Wax is used to seal sections of the slate together.
- The surface is then covered in cloth and then stapled to wooden strips under the slate.
- The pockets are attached to the rails.
- The rails are then attached to the frame.
Here are some more articles you might find useful: