Pool tables come manufactured in a variety of sizes, materials & designs, but one thing that truly matters when choosing a new billiard table is what kind of play surface it will have. If you are a professional pool player, you most definitely will choose slate over any other option, but if you are a recreational player who doesn’t have an extra $3000 for a slate pool table, you may want to explore a non-slate option. The problem with non-slate tables is that they have been known to warp and bend over time due to either humidity or other moisture. For obvious reasons this is not acceptable. No one wants to play on a billiard table that doesn’t roll “true”. The options for non-slate tables seem endless with every manufacturer having their own name for their “new, special, innovative” playbed. Accuslate, Slate-core, Durabond, Precision SL8, MDF and the list goes on and on. Which non-slate surface is the best? Which slate substitute can outlast the others? More or less they are all the same with a few minor differences between each one. The only ones that truly stands out are the Precision SL8 and Accuslate.
Most if not all slate substitutes for billiard tables have a MDF (medium density fiberboard) base. This is basically comprised of resin/glue, a paper-like substance, and EXTREME pressure. These materials get pressed down from sometimes 15 inches thick down to ¾” thick play surface for pool tables. Over the years this table top technology has advanced from its previous models that involved basically particle board, but isn’t always ideal in certain humid environments as it is still prone to some warping when in contact with moisture of any kind. If you spill ANYTHING on these tables, it will almost immediately ruin them. This is why two specific companies have developed another option.
Accuslate is a very nice substitute for slate billiard tables. Accuslate starts with a HDF (high density fiberboard) core but is coated in a PVC coating that makes it much more resistant to moisture. It also comes with a whopping 7 year warranty against warping and defects! This warranty shows the confidence that the manufacturer has in their pool tables.
A third and final option for a non-slate playing surface could be the Precision SL8 billiard slate substitute. This substance is patent pending, but does not contain ANY wood, fiberboard or paper whatsoever. It is a synthetic substance that is made to look, sound & feel like real slate but without the weight or cost. If you go to the PrecisionSL8 website, you’ll find videos that compare the different pool table surfaces to Precision SL8 and I must say it seems pretty incredible. There is even a portion that shows them pouring water directly on the SL8 and it doesn’t soak in; it just sat on the table waiting to be mopped up by a towel. This non-slate surface is featured exclusively on Minnesota Fats Pool Tables for now but I expect that many billiard table manufacturers will be featuring this play surface in the next few years.