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Slate bed pool tables vs MDF pool tables – which one is better?

So you’ve decided that you want to get a pool table, but you’re wondering what to go for. After all, a lot of pool tables are expensive, and it’s key to get the right one for your house. But at the same time, you’ve seen some really cheap ones, and you might be wondering what the big difference is since there’s such a dramatic price change between the more expensive ones and the really cheap pool tables. What you may have found is a slate bed pool table and an MDF pool table. But what are the main differences between the two? Let’s explore what they are.

Slate bed pool tables

As you might have guessed from the name, a slate bed pool table is one that has a slate bed attached to the frame, which is then covered with the pool table cloth. This pool table cloth is stuck directly to the actual slate. This allows for a consistent playing surface, which is key when choosing what table to get. Slate can vary in thickness, from 19mm to 30mm, with the thicker slate being used on the larger and more expensive tables.

Some of the larger tables will even use 2 or 3 pieces of slate to ensure a consistent playing surface across the table, but as you might have guessed, this will cause the price to rise as well as the weight, as thanks to the slate bed in place, this means moving a slate bed isn’t an easy task due to the weight.

If you’re looking to get a pool table for a pub or similar establishment, then a slate bed pool table is the one to get, as this is fairly indestructible, apart from the cloth, which can be easily replaced if necessary. This can either be done by yourself, or by a professional depending on your skill level and how much you fancy cutting a large piece of pool table cloth and attaching it. Overall, these tables might be expensive but they’re certainly worth it.

MDF pool tables

At the other end of the price scale, you can often find MDF pool tables available for a lot cheaper than a slate bed pool table. These might seem like an attractive option for the price alone, but don’t be fooled as these can often be troublesome, to say the least. Instead of the slate bed, there’s a wooden or MDF bed in place, on which the cloth is attached to.

This has multiple effects, some of which are good and some of which are bad. The good parts are that it weighs a lot less than a slate bed pool table, which means that if you need to, you can move it around a lot more easily than a slate bed.

Additionally, the price point is a lot lower than the slate variety, so if you’re on an extreme budget and really want a pool table, it might be worth considering getting an MDF pool table instead.

However, the bad points are often a key part of why not to get an MDF pool table. For starters, unlike their slate cousins, an MDF table is susceptible to the conditions around it, such as moisture or temperature changes, especially if you put it in somewhere like the conservatory or in the basement or attic if that’s where your games room is.

This, in turn, can warp the wood slightly, which will utterly ruin the levelness of the playing surface. Whilst you might get some cool trick shots at times from this warping, if you’re wanting to play a game of pool sensibly, you won’t be able to.

Additionally, having guests over to play pool suddenly requires more rules being laid down and more care being taken, unless you suddenly fancy buying a new pool table. There’s always that one power-driver in the group, and an MDF table can end up being scratched more easily than a slate bed table if that person ends up miss-cuing and slamming their cue into the table, which then affects the evenness of the playing surface.

Likewise with the above-mentioned temperature and moisture changes, if someone spills a beer on the table (and this is a lot more common when you’re adding in a mini-fridge and bar to a games room!), the entire table is essentially ruined at that point.

On a slate bed, you could change the cloth easily enough if a drink is spilled on it, but on an MDF pool table, changing the cloth won’t change anything as the wood will begin to warp and you won’t have a level surface anymore.

So there you have the main differences between a slate bed pool table and an MDF one. Hopefully, this should help you decide which one to get for your games room. If you’ve got any further points that we’ve not covered above, why not let us know in the comments below? We’d love to hear if we’ve missed anything out!

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