Most pool tables are hefty pieces of furniture. If you’ve ever bumped one with your hip or leaned against it between shots, you’ve experienced how heavy tables really are. It’s nice to accidentally bump a table and have it stay put, but is that the only reason why tables are heavy? To keep them from moving around when someone bumps them? Questions like this come up often, and so I decided to tackle the question: Why are pool tables so heavy?
Pool tables are heavy because they have playing surfaces made of slate, which is a type of rock. Not only is slate heavy itself, but the pool table must be constructed to withstand that weight for many years. It’s a nearly unanimous consensus that slate tables are the best, longest-lasting, and smoothest tables to play on, so it’s not going anywhere!
How Much Do Pool Tables Weigh?
Okay so we’ve established that pool tables are heavy, but how heavy exactly? Well, it depends on the size and materials used. On average the slate of a pool table weighs 450 pounds all by itself. When you add to that the wood frame, the legs, railings, felt, pockets, and other decorative design elements, you’ve got a table that easily weighs around 1,000 pounds.
Most home pool tables come with a 3-piece slate and are 8’ x 4’. These tables typically weigh somewhere between 700 and 1000 pounds. However, some tables can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds or more.
So far we’ve been talking about slate tables because they’re the most popular, but there are other, much lighter pool tables out there made of wood in the form of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
Since MDF tables don’t use slate, they’re much lighter and cheaper than slate tables. But, they don’t last as long, aren’t as sturdy, and have a tendency to warp over time, affecting gameplay. MDF tables weigh between 100 and 300 pounds, on average.
Why Slate? A Brief History
You may be thinking that, given all the technological advances in our modern age, someone would have come up with a better material than slate for pool tables. A hard, lightweight material would surely work better, right?
Not necessarily. In fact, there are several different types of imitation slate, with MDF the most popular of the non-slate materials. But, the general consensus is that none of them beat slate.
It all started back in 1826. Until then billiard tables used wood, but it had a tendency to warp, drastically changing how the balls moved on the table. John Thurston, the man credited with using slate the first time in a billiard table, was tired of wood and determined that flat rock would work better. Now, nearly 200 years later, slate is still the best material around. Some seasoned players won’t even consider playing on an MDF table. The feel just isn’t the same, they say.
3-Piece and 1-Piece Slate Tables
Among slate tables, there are two different kinds. One-piece slate tables are often found in bars and pool halls because they’re actually designed to be easier to move in one piece, unlike other tables, which shouldn’t be moved this way. Usually these are coin-operated tables that are essentially surrounded by a heavy-duty shell.
Three-piece tables are more common in homes and tournaments. Whereas one-piece tables usually have ¾” thick slate, three-piece tables have 1” slate. You may think that the thinner one-piece slate is lighter, but this isn’t always the case. If the table is coin-operated, it’s usually heavier and harder to move because of the heavy-duty construction and the ball return mechanisms.
Plus, one-piece slates, although thinner, are harder to move when the table is taken apart. Three-piece slates are easier to move because you can do it piecemeal without wrestling with a huge, 450-pound piece of slate.
Durability and Longevity
As I’ve mentioned briefly already, slate is miles above any other materials for pool table surfaces in terms of durability and longevity. This is easy to see when you realize that slate is just a big piece of rock, often mica, quartz, and clay. While it’s not unheard of for a piece of slate to break when dropped during transport, when slate is cared for, it will outlast the wood holding it up.
MDF and other types of imitation slate can’t compare to slate, which is why pool tables use it— and why tables are so darn heavy!
One of the major problems with non-slate tables is warping. MDF tables have a tendency to warp when exposed to humidity. And even a slight warp can change the dynamic of the table. A flat and level pool table is a requirement for a good game of billiards.
And, pool is a sport often accompanied by beer, refreshments, and food, you can imagine what happens to MDF tables when a drink is spilled on them. If you spill a drink on slate, you simply have to clean it up and maybe replace the felt. But the slate will remain unchanged.
Moving Pool Tables
If you’ve ever moved a pool table by yourself, you’ve likely cursed the gods of slate and the manufacturer in one breath. Moving slate pool tables is a difficult process best left to those who know what they’re doing. The best way to move a slate pool table is to take it apart and transport it that way. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging the table or damaging your back! A disassembled table is much easier to manage, and it’s how professional pool table movers do it.
Safe For the Second Floor?
While we’re talking about how heavy pool tables are, let’s talk about putting a table on the second floor. This is a common question, but one that need not worry you.
Provided your home is built to code, there’s no risk in putting a pool table on the second floor. Of course, if your house is very old, you may want to consult a professional before you drag the table up the stairs. Check out our article for more about putting a pool table on the second floor.
The Best Lightweight Pool Table
Now, even though most pool players agree that slate is the best, it’s definitely not for everyone. People who don’t want to deal with a heavy table but still want to enjoy billiards can get the best of both worlds.
The fact is that slate pool tables are heavy and a bit pricey. But you can save money, enjoy a sturdy pool table, and get several years out of a non-slate table.
I recommend the Fat Cat Frisco 7.5’ Pool Table for this purpose.
This table is made from sturdy wood and features an Accuslate playing surface that comes standard with a seven-year warranty. It’s not slate, but it’s the next best thing. And, the main attraction for this pool table, at least in regards to this article, is the fact that it only weighs 231 pounds! It’s heavy enough to be sturdy, but light enough to make moving it much, much easier.
I hope this article has answered your question as to why pool tables are so heavy. I try to give my readers as much information as possible and offer a solution to the heavy-table problem.
Thanks for reading!