One of the most crucial factors to consider when purchasing a pool table is the playing surface’s material. Slate is the standard for professional pool tables, but there are other options out there, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plastic, and slatron. In this article, I’ll be focusing on this last option as I answer the question: What is a slatron pool table?
In short, a slatron pool table is a table with a playing surface made of particle board sandwiched between layers of tough plastic. Slatron is considered the most durable of non-slate pool table surfaces, but it’s generally considered inferior to slate tables.
What Exactly Is the ‘Playing Surface’?
Those new to the pool world may be wondering what exactly ‘playing surface’ means and why the material matters. The playing surface is exactly what it sounds like. It’s where all the action happens on the pool table. The wide, flat area where all the play occurs needs to be able to remain flat and true after years of play. This is why the material matters so much.
Slate is used on most pool tables because it’s rock. It provides a flat, hard surface that is impervious to moisture, which means it won’t warp if it gets wet. The problem is that slate is expensive and extremely heavy. This is where slatron comes in.
The invention of slatron as a pool table surface is the result of a search for a durable non-slate option. MDF, the most popular non-slate pool table surface, has a tendency to warp when exposed to moisture. Many experienced players also complain that the ‘feel’ of MDF tables is lacking. The balls just don’t move the same on a wooden playing surface, they say.
Slatron is an attempt to imitate slate in an affordable, durable manner. In some ways, slatron is indeed an improvement on MDF tables.
Slatron Table Construction
Slatron tables look just like any other tables. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a slate and a slatron table unless you knew what you were looking for. However, since slatron is much lighter than slate, slatron tables don’t have to be made to hold several hundred pounds of rock.
This is not to say that slatron tables aren’t sturdy. You can absolutely find quality-constructed slatron tables that are just as sturdy as slate tables. They’re usually just lighter. At the same time, you can find slatron tables that are poorly constructed and wobbly. Purchasing a slatron table is similar to purchasing anything else. It’s buyer beware. If you’re in the market for one, I’ve done the research and I recommend a quality slatron table at the end of this article.
Slatron vs MDF
Those looking for a non-slate table have two major options: slatron or MDF. Here’s how they compare.
Cost and Durability
It’s true that MDF tables are usually a little cheaper than slatron tables. But these savings come at a cost. MDF tables are made from fine wood fibers compressed and bound together with adhesive. Most tables have a protective coating to help prevent warpage, but wood is still wood. MDF tables are more susceptible to warpage than slatron tables.
When it comes to the ‘feel’ of play, slatron has a leg up on MDF. However, neither one is close to playing on a slate table. Since slatron is made of wood covered in a layer of hard plastic, the balls seem to roll smoothly. However, this is hard to quantify. Those who aren’t used to playing on slate tables probably won’t notice the difference. Those used to playing on an MDF table will probably notice the difference, but in a good way.
For those looking for lightweight pool tables, there’s not much of a difference between slatron and MDF tables, provided they are the same style. There’s more of a selection of “portable” pool tables made with MDF playing surfaces, but in general, one style isn’t any heavier than the other.
Slatron vs MDF: Key Takeaways
At the end of the day, most people consider a slatron pool table to be a step up from an MDF pool table. They aren’t that much more expensive, they last a bit longer, and they’re less likely to warp in ideal conditions.
- Slatron tables last longer than MDF tables.
- Slatron tables are slightly more expensive than MDF tables.
- MDF tables are more susceptible to warpage.
- Slatron tables feature better playability than MDF tables.
- Slatron and MDF tables typically weigh the same and are equally easy to move.
Slatron vs Slate
If slatron is a step up from MDF, it’s still a few steps below slate. Slate pool tables are the gold standard in the billiard world. That said, not everyone wants to mess with a slate table that likely weighs around 1,000 pounds and costs upward of $1,000 dollars.
Cost and Durability
Slate tables are much more expensive than slatron tables, but they’re also much more durable. If you’re looking to purchase a slatron table to replace a slate table, you need to understand what you’re getting into.
Playing on a slatron table will take some getting used to. The balls don’t behave quite the same on a slatron table. The difference between the two is hard to put into words, but nearly all players insist that there’s a difference.
Slate tables typically weigh a few hundred pounds more than slatron tables. The average weight for an 8-foot slate table is around 850 to 1000 pounds. The average weight for an 8-foot slatron table is usually around 300 to 450 pounds.
Slatron vs Slate: Key Takeaways
I would advise you to play on a slatron table before you purchase one if it’s possible. If you don’t notice a difference, you can save yourself some money by purchasing slatron. If you keep a slatron table in a climate-controlled room and keep drinks away from it, it’s likely to last you a good long time. But, even the best slatron table under the best care won’t last as long as a slate table.
- Slate tables are more expensive than slatron tables.
- Slate tables are heavier than slatron tables.
- Slate tables feature better playability and ‘feel’ than slatron tables.
- Slate tables last longer than slatron tables.
- Slateron tables are more likely to warp than slate tables.
How Much Do Slatron Tables Cost?
Slatron tables usually cost at least a few hundred dollars less than slate tables. They’re also available at a few hundred dollars less than MDF tables.
A decent mid-range slatron table will run you between $700 and $900, but you can find them as cheap as $500.
How Long Do Slatron Tables Last?
Since slatron tables aren’t made to hold a heavy rock surface, they aren’t necessarily designed to last decades. In order to keep the costs low on slatron tables, many manufacturers use MDF or plastic on much of the frame, instead of high-quality wood that’s often used on slate tables.
A slatron table that’s properly cared for can last around 10 years. If it’s a high-end table, you may be able to get even 15 years out of it, but this isn’t likely. Since the playing surface has a core of wood, it’s likely to degrade over time. The plastic surrounding the wood will help the table last longer, but not anywhere near as long as slate tables which can last decades.
Are Slatron Pool Tables Any Good?
Slatron pool tables are great investments for some people. For others, they aren’t great. The best thing you can do is consider what you’re looking for in a pool table. Follow these easy guidelines.
A Slatron Table is Good For:
- Those buying a pool table mainly for kids.
- Those on a budget.
- Those who want to be able to move the table easily.
- Those who only play pool for fun, without any professional aspirations.
A Slatron Table is Bad For:
- Those who are used to playing on slate tables.
- Professional players or those with pro aspirations.
- Those who have the money for a slate table.
- Those who want a table that they can hand down to their kids.
Best Slatron Pool Table
After extensive research, I’ve settled on a Mizerak for the best slatron pool table. If you’re in the market for a slatron table, you won’t find one better than this.
Mizerak Donovan Slatron 8-Foot Pool Table
This sleek and stylish black and red table would make a great addition to any home. The chrome accents and wool blend cloth give this table the feel of one several times its cost.
The K66 cushions are genuine rubber for consistent rebound. The legs feature chrome leveling mechanisms so the table can be level even if the floor isn’t. It features a metal frame, metal rails, and a laminate cabinet so it’ll last for years.
The table comes with two cues, a set of balls, a triangle rack, two pieces of chalk, and a table brush.