The 8 Best Slate Pool Tables
This wiki has been updated 8 times since it was first published in June of 2019. Slate has long been the standard of excellence when it comes to the playing surface on a good pool table. While wood-derived alternatives risk warping after a few spilled drinks, a slate top can stay true for generations. Our selection of recommendations vary in style, with looks from sleek to rustic, but they all promise to deliver an excellent playing experience and terrific craftsmanship. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
June 20, 2019:
Picking the perfect pool table can be a difficult decision. Their imposing size means they're likely to become a focal point in any room, so you want to make sure you select just the right style. At the same time, they're heavy enough to make relocating them arduous, at best, and they can require professional installation – all great reasons to do everything you can to get this decision right the first time. Before you travel any further along your journey to purchase, here's a few considerations to make sure you keep top of mind:
Firstly: size. While a beautiful, tournament-sized, nine-foot table might make a grand statement in your game room, you want to make sure that you don't wind up with too much table for your space. In a perfect world, you want to make sure you have enough space for a full cue length the whole way around your table – typically between 57 and 59 inches. People have certainly gotten by with less, keeping a stubby cue on hand for those tight situations, but there isn't much as frustrating as a gorgeous billiard table without enough room around it to play. So, if you're on the fence about whether or not to go up a size, don't get greedy.
Most the tables we ranked are standard eight-foot tables, but many manufacturers will also offer tournament-style, nine-foot options, as well as bar-style, seven-foot options – for close quarters. A pool table's size is determined based on the size of its play field, from bumper to bumper, and regulation models will maintain a 1:2 width:length ratio.
Secondly, the table top. While slate has long been the professional standard in this arena, favoured over wood-based alternatives like slatron and MDF – for its resilience toward humidity and direct moisture (spilled drinks), there are still some considerations to make when it comes to picking the slate top that's right for you.
Thickness is one consideration. Though thicker slate will be heavier, and thereby more cumbersome, it is also less prone to bending and breaking, and by and large considered to be a better option. So, think thicker's better, but also be aware that one-inch slate is approved for tournament play by the American Billiards Congress, and will likely suffice so far as your needs will go. You can source quality slate from a variety of origins, but Italy is one name that often comes up when when discussing where to go for the best. Italian slate will typically be marked OIS: Original Italian Slate. Brazil is another country that's known to export excellent slate, with its product being well-reputed for its hardness.
Another consideration is whether you want a single-segment or three-segment top. Most often, slate tops are cut into three pieces, which not only makes transportation and installation a little more physically forgiving, but also decreases the chances of the slate fracturing during transit. Though it might seem detrimental to your playing experience to have a table top made of multiple pieces, a skilled professional can have that slate properly installed and precision-levelled, and have your balls rolling just as smoothly as they would over a single-segment. Single-segment slate is often favored by owners of bars and restaurants, who know they're likely to be moving this table repeatedly in the future.
Lastly, cloth. Typical felt for a billiard table will either be woolen or worsted. Though woolen felt is often much more affordable than its worsted alternative, it's also prone to handprints and pilling, and is therefore not permitted in any tournament play sanctioned by the World Pool Association. Worsted cloth, which can be much more expensive, is a woven alternative that allows balls to roll faster, tends not to pill and is generally considered to be the superior option.