The search for a pool table can be troublesome, to say the least. Whether you’re looking for a table on which to play casually, or you’re serious about upping your game, you’ll still want the best table available for your money. And that table should last long, resist warping, and fit any other personal preferences you may have. So, if you’re considering a wood-bed pool table, we’re here to help. Read on to find out the answer to this common question: Are MDF pool tables any good?
In short, MDF pool tables are great for some players but not for others. They last longest when kept in a temperature-controlled room so as to limit their exposure to humidity, which can cause warping over time. They’re also much cheaper and lighter than slate-bed pool tables, making them ideal for those on a budget or people who plan to move the table one or more times during the life of the table.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about MDF pool tables, and whether one is right for you.
What is an MDF Bed Pool Table?
An MDF bed pool table, often referred to as an MDF pool table, uses Medium-Density Fiberboard as the playing surface. These small fibers are bound together with a resin and then compressed to make a flat and true surface.
Other pool tables, like those used in professional tournaments, use slate (a type of rock) as the playing surface. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two at a glance unless you know what you’re looking for. In a showroom or online, the best way to tell the difference between a slate and an MDF pool table is the price tag.
How Much do MDF Pool Tables Cost?
One of the reasons pool tables are made with MDF is they’re much cheaper to make than slate tables. Thus, the savings are passed on to the consumer, making the price of an MDF bed significantly lower than a slate table.
The average range for a quality MDF pool table is between $700 and $1500. You can get an MDF pool table for around $500 but it’s generally best to tack on a few hundred dollars and get something a little more sturdy.
For this reason, MDF tables are great for those on a budget. They’re available in the same sizes as slate bed tables, and you can get several years of excellent play out of an MDF table when you take the proper precautions.
How Much Do MDF Pool Tables Weigh?
Aside from cost, weight is a big concern for many potential buyers. Pool tables, no matter what they’re made of, are large, awkward, and hard to move. Luckily, MDF pool tables are generally easier to move than slate tables because they don’t have the extra weight associated with slate rock.
Most MDF pool tables weigh between 100 and 300 pounds. However, the larger, tournament size tables can weigh around 500 pounds. Some MDF tables are made with aluminum, hardened plastic, or plywood structures since they don’t have a lot of weight to support. This can make them much easier to move. If you plan on getting a pool table but you know you’re going to move homes once or twice in the next 5 to 10 years, you may want to consider an MDF table.
Of course, you can hire professional pool table movers to transport heavier tables, so it’s not the only consideration. You may even be able to get five or six friends together to move the thing.
If moving the table isn’t a concern for you, spending the extra money on a slate table may be the best choice.
Can MDF Pool Tables Warp?
One of the biggest complaints about MDF tables is that they can warp fairly easily. They are, after all, made out of wood. Once the playing surface warps, even if it’s not noticeable to the human eye, the dynamic of the game changes.
This can be nice for you, the owner of the table, once you get used to the warpage. It may give you the upper hand over people who don’t play on the table as much. But, if you want a level playing surface (literally), then you’ll want to avoid warpage.
This is why many people prefer a slate table because they don’t warp. They can, on occasion, crack or break, but it’s not common and usually the result of an accident while moving the table. However, with the proper placement and care of an MDF table, you can avoid warpage.
Best and Worst Places to Put an MDF Pool Table
This is one of the most common questions I get, “Is it okay to put a wood bed pool table in the garage?” And it’s a very good question. Unfortunately, the answer is, “It depends.”
If you live in a dry climate, like the southwest, it may be okay to put an MDF table in the garage. If you’ve transformed your garage into a man-cave complete with an AC system and insulation, a wood table out there is most likely fine.
But, I don’t recommend that you chance it. It still rains on occasion, even in the desert. Although the uptick in humidity that comes with occasional rain probably won’t do noticeable damage at first, the table can only resist warping for so long.
The best place to put a wood table is in a temperature-controlled room. And, if you want to protect it even more, keep drinks out of that room. Drinks spilled on an MDF table can warp it pretty quickly.
The worst place you can put a wood table is pretty much anywhere outside. There are some MDF tables that proclaim “weather resistance” but I don’t think the technology is there yet. Even a slate bed outside isn’t the best idea, but it will definitely last longer than an MDF bed when exposed to the elements.
Can You Replace an MDF Pool Table Top?
If you do wind up with a warped MDF pool table, you may just want to replace the warped piece under the felt. However, many MDF tables are not designed to be taken apart to have the playing surface replaced like slate tables are. Most aren’t even designed to have the felt replaced.
Those that do offer the option of replacing the MDF bed will often be cost-prohibitive. Meaning it will cost you almost as much as you paid for the table, if not more, to have someone remove the felt, replace the warped MDF bed, and then re-felt the table. For this reason, people often just purchase a new pool table and use the old one as a storage area or send it to the dump.
How Long Do Wood Pool Tables Last?
How long a wood pool table lasts depends on how much it’s used and where it’s stored. A mid-range MDF pool table can easily last you 10 years when it is cared for properly and stored in a climate-controlled room. Who plays on the table will also help determine its lifespan.
If you have kids, the table is bound to take a bit of a beating, which can reduce its lifespan significantly. Particularly if drinks or other liquids are spilled on it, and if it’s used as anything but a pool table.
In the end, an MDF pool table is like anything else. It will last a long time if it’s taken care of. But it’s hard to get a wood pool table to last nearly as long as a slate table, no matter how well you care for it.
Pros of MDF Pool Tables
- Lightweight (compared to slate tables).
- Great for beginners or casual play.
- Easy to transport.
Cons of MDF Pool Tables
- Can warp when exposed to humidity and liquid.
- Short lifespan when compared to slate tables.
- Aren’t as sturdy as heavier tables.
- Should only be used in temperature-controlled rooms.
MDF vs Slate Pool Tables
When it comes to deciding on a pool table, you have two major options: slate or MDF. Slate tables are sturdier, heavier, and more resilient than MDF tables. They’re also significantly more expensive and harder to move.
A slate table will last you 20 to 25 years with proper care, whereas an MDF table typically won’t last more than 10 years in ideal playing condition. Still, for the price you pay for an MDF table, many people are fine with getting a couple of good years out of it and then purchasing a new one when the time comes. For a more in-depth look, check out my other article on MDF vs Slate pool tables.
Is an MDF Pool Table Right For You?
To find out if an MDF pool table is right for you, ask yourself these questions:
- How serious am I about developing as a pool player?
- Where will I be putting the table?
- How much am I willing to spend on a pool table?
- Will I need to move the pool table any time soon?
- Who else will be using the pool table?
If you’re serious about developing your skills, you may want to save up for a slate table. The same can be said if you only have a garage or an outdoor area to put the table. In that case, slate is the best choice.
But, for some, the most important factor is the price. If you don’t have the money to spend on a slate table, then an MDF table is the way to go. Moving the table is also a big consideration. An MDF table is relatively easy to move, whereas a slate table is not.
And, finally, consider who else will be using the table. If you have kids that will be using it, you may want to get a tough and sturdy slate table to stand up to the wear and tear that kids tend to provide. You can always have the felt replaced, which is not usually an option on most MDF tables.