Discovering the Materials: What is a Pool Table Made Of?

Pool is a popular game played by many people worldwide. The game is played on a pool table, which is an essential component of the game. The materials used in making a pool table are crucial, as they determine the table’s quality and durability. So What is a pool table made of?

The materials used in making a pool table include slate, wood, and synthetic materials like plastic honeycomb. The preferred playing surface for pool tables is natural slate, which is dense enough to keep the table in place during play. The slate is usually cut into wide, flat pieces and placed on top of the table’s frame. The wood used in making the frame is usually hardwood, which is durable and can withstand the weight of the slate.

A pool table consists of several components, including the frame, legs, rails, pockets, and playing surface. The frame is the table’s foundation, and it is usually made of hardwood. The legs support the frame and are also made of hardwood. The rails are the cushions that surround the playing surface and are usually made of rubber. The pockets are the holes where the balls are sunk, and they are made of leather or synthetic materials. The playing surface is the area where the balls are played, and it is usually made of slate.

The Anatomy of a Pool Table

A pool table is a rectangular table with six pockets, played with cues and 16 balls. The table is made up of several parts, including the frame, legs, rails, cushions, and bed. Here’s a breakdown of the anatomy of a pool table:

Frame and Construction

The frame of a pool table is the table body that supports the playing surface. It is typically made of hardwood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). Hardwood frames are more expensive but offer better durability and resistance to warping. MDF frames, on the other hand, are less expensive and can be customized to any shape or design. Metal frames are also available, but they are less common and typically used for outdoor pool tables.

Sturdy construction is essential for a pool table to maintain its levelness and durability. A well-built table should have a solid frame and legs that are securely attached to the frame. The joints should be reinforced with bolts or screws, and the table should be level on all sides.

Bed of the Table

The bed of the table is the playing surface where the balls are hit. The premium standard for a pool table bed is slate, which is a natural stone that is mined from slate quarries. Slate is preferred for its durability, stability, and consistency. It is also resistant to warping and can maintain its shape for years.

Alternatives to slate include slatron and honeycomb. Slatron is a composite material that is made up of ground-up slate and resin. It is more affordable than slate but does not offer the same level of consistency. Honeycomb is a lightweight material that is made up of plastic and cardboard. It is the cheapest option but is not recommended for serious players.

The thickness of the bed also plays a role in the quality of play. Standard pool tables have a bed that is 1 inch thick, while custom tables can have a bed that is up to 2 inches thick. Thicker beds are more expensive but offer better consistency and durability.

In conclusion, the anatomy of a pool table is comprised of several parts, each of which plays a crucial role in the quality of play. A well-built table with a sturdy frame and slate bed is the premium standard for serious players. However, there are alternatives available for those on a budget or casual players.

Surface Materials

When it comes to pool tables, the surface material is one of the most important factors affecting playability. The most common materials used for pool table surfaces are slate and non-slate materials, such as MDF.

Felt or Cloth

The felt or cloth used on the surface of a pool table is an essential component of the playing experience. There are two main types of cloth used on pool tables: woolen and worsted. Woolen cloth is typically used on lower-end tables, while worsted cloth is used on higher-end tables. Worsted cloth is smoother and faster, which makes it ideal for professional play. Woolen cloth is more durable and less expensive.

Factors affecting the speed and friction of the cloth include the nap and weight of the cloth. The nap refers to the fibers on the surface of the cloth that create a directional pattern. The weight of the cloth affects the speed of the game, with heavier cloth being slower and lighter cloth being faster. The durability and maintenance of the cloth are also important considerations, as the cloth can wear out over time and require replacement.

Rails and Cushions

The rails and cushions of a pool table are also critical components of the playing experience. The cushions are typically made of rubber, with natural gum or synthetic rubber being the most common materials used. The profile shape of the cushions can have a significant impact on ball rebound, with K-66 profile cushions being the most popular for professional play.

Securing the rail cloth is important for both optimal play and appearance. The cloth should be tight and properly fitted to ensure a consistent bounce and prevent wrinkles or sagging. The top rail should be properly fit to the slate or MDF surface to ensure a level playing field.

In conclusion, the surface materials of a pool table are essential for optimal playability. The type of cloth used on the surface and the type of rubber used for the cushions can have a significant impact on the playing experience. Proper maintenance and fitting of the cloth and rails are also important considerations for maintaining a high-quality playing surface.


Pockets are an essential component of a pool table. They are positioned at each corner and at the center of each long side of the table. The pockets are designed to catch the balls that are pocketed during the game. There are two types of pockets: drop pockets and ball return systems.

Drop Pockets versus Ball Return Systems

Drop pockets are the traditional type of pockets that are found in most pool tables. They are usually made of leather or plastic and are attached to the table by means of screws or bolts. When a ball is pocketed, it drops into the pocket and stays there until it is retrieved.

Ball return systems, on the other hand, are a more contemporary feature of pool tables. They are integrated into the table and are designed to automatically return the balls to a central location after they are pocketed. The construction of ball return systems can vary, but they typically consist of a series of tubes or channels that transport the balls from the pockets to a collection area.

Pocket Liners

Pocket liners are used to reduce noise and protect the balls from damage. They are typically made of rubber or leather and are placed inside the pockets. Pocket liners help to cushion the impact of the balls as they drop into the pockets, reducing the amount of noise that is generated. They also help to protect the balls from scratches and other types of damage.

In conclusion, pockets are an important component of a pool table. They come in two main types: drop pockets and ball return systems. Pocket liners are also an important feature of pool tables, as they help to reduce noise and protect the balls from damage.

Legs and Supports

Pool tables are made up of various components, including legs and supports that play a vital role in ensuring stability and weight distribution. The legs of a pool table are responsible for elevating the table to the proper height, and they are made from different materials such as solid wood, veneered wood, or metal, depending on the manufacturer’s preference. Custom pool tables may feature unique examples of leg designs that reflect the owner’s style and preferences.

Materials and Design

The legs of a pool table are typically made from solid wood, which is a popular and cost-effective option. Veneered wood, on the other hand, is a more expensive alternative that provides a more refined look. Metal legs are also an option, and they offer a modern and sleek appearance. The design of the legs is essential as it affects the overall style and functionality of the table. The legs must be sturdy and well-crafted to provide the necessary support for the table body.

Leveling Systems

The leveling system of a pool table is essential to ensure that the table is level and provides a fair playing surface. Different types of levelers are available, such as shims and adjustable feet, and they are used to adjust the table’s height and level it precisely. Precision leveling is crucial to ensure that the table body fits correctly and that the weight distribution is even across the table. Uneven tables can cause the balls to roll in unexpected directions, affecting the fairness of the game. Therefore, it is essential to use a reliable leveling system to ensure fair play.

Decorative and Functional Accents

When it comes to pool tables, the decorative and functional accents are what set them apart from one another. Whether it’s a custom table or a unique example, the accents can make all the difference. In this section, we’ll explore two common types of accents: veneers and finishes, and inlays and detailing.

Veneers and Finishes

Pool tables can be made from a variety of woods, and oak veneer is a popular choice for its durability and classic look. However, there are many other types of wood veneers and stains available, allowing for a wide range of customization options. Some pool tables even feature high-pressure laminates for a more modern look.

In addition to the type of wood used, the finish of the table can also be customized. White lacquer bases, black lacquer, and grey lacquer are all popular choices. The price range for a pool table can vary greatly depending on the type of wood and finish chosen.

Inlays and Detailing

Inlays and detailing are another way to add a unique touch to a pool table. Mother-of-pearl, metals, and other materials can be used to create intricate designs and patterns. Professional craftsmanship and custom designs can make a pool table truly one-of-a-kind.

When considering inlays and detailing, it’s important to keep in mind the overall design of the room. The accents should complement the rest of the decor and not clash with it.

In summary, the decorative and functional accents of a pool table can make a significant impact on its overall appearance. Veneers and finishes, as well as inlays and detailing, offer a range of customization options for those looking to create a unique pool table.

Environmental Considerations

When considering what a pool table is made of, it’s important to also consider the environmental impact of its production. This section will cover some of the sustainable materials and health and safety considerations related to pool table manufacturing.

Sustainable Materials

One way to reduce the environmental impact of pool table production is to use sustainable materials. This can include using reclaimed wood or wood from sustainable forestry practices. Some manufacturers also use low-impact manufacturing processes to further reduce their environmental footprint.

Health and Safety

Another important consideration when it comes to pool table production is health and safety. It’s important to use non-toxic finishes and adhesives to reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. Additionally, manufacturers should comply with safety standards to ensure that their products are safe for use.

By considering the use of sustainable materials and health and safety practices, manufacturers can produce pool tables that are not only enjoyable to use but also have a reduced impact on the environment.

The Impact of Materials on Gameplay

The materials used to construct a pool table can have a significant impact on gameplay. Different materials can affect the movement and speed of the pool balls, as well as the overall quality of play.

One of the most important materials in a pool table is the table slate. Professional-grade pool tables typically use a three-piece slate system, which provides a smooth and level playing surface. However, if the table slate is warped or uneven, it can affect the accuracy and consistency of shots.

The surface of the pool table is also crucial. The cloth material used on the table can affect the speed and movement of the pool balls. A cloth with a high percentage of wool can provide a more durable and smoother playing surface. The interplay between surface, cushion, and ball dynamics is an essential factor in determining the quality of play.

The cue ball is another critical component of pool gameplay. A properly fitted cue ball will have a consistent weight and size, allowing for more accurate shots. The ball’s material can also affect gameplay, with some materials providing more control and spin.

In summary, the materials used to construct a pool table can significantly impact gameplay. A high-quality table slate, durable cloth material, and properly fitted cue ball can all contribute to a better playing experience.

Maintenance and Upkeep

To keep a pool table in good condition, regular maintenance is essential. Here are some best practices for cleaning and maintaining different materials:

  • Table Body: The table body is typically made of hardwood, veneer, or laminate. To clean wooden surfaces, use a dry cloth. For manmade surfaces, use a damp cloth with a weak detergent. Furniture wax can be used to clean railings. It’s also important to keep the table level so that players can trust the accuracy of their shots. Check for any grooves in the wood or leather if players tend to lean the pool stick against the frame when making shots. Watch out for any water spots on the wood from drinks since pool tables are often the center of the party.
  • Cloth: The cloth on a pool table must be kept clean and free of debris. Cleaning dust and loose debris off the felt surface can be done with a soft-bristled brush, especially if the table is left uncovered. Avoid using a vacuum cleaner on the felt. If the cloth becomes damaged or worn, it’s time to replace it. It’s recommended to get it replaced by a professional to ensure proper installation.
  • Cushions: The cushions on a pool table are made of rubber, which can become hard and lose their bounce over time. If the cushions become hard or cracked, it’s time to replace them. A professional should be consulted for this as well.

By following these maintenance and upkeep tips, a pool table can last for many years with regular use.


In conclusion, a pool table is made up of several materials, each with its distinct purpose. The frame, which supports the slate and provides a place for the pockets to be attached, is usually made of wood, although higher-end tables may use metal or other materials. The type of wood used will depend on the manufacturer, but common choices include maple and oak.

The slate is the most crucial part of a pool table, as it provides a flat surface on which the balls roll. Slate for pool tables is sourced from the quarry, and computer-controlled saws with diamond blades cut the slate into flat sheets. These sheets are about one inch thick and shipped in sets of three.

The felt, which covers the slate, is another essential component of a pool table. It comes in various colors and materials, but most high-quality pool tables use a wool and nylon blend. The felt is responsible for controlling the ball’s speed and direction as it rolls across the table.

For a casual player, a well-made pool table can make all the difference in their playing experience. The materials used in the construction of a pool table can significantly impact the ball’s movement and overall playability. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in a high-quality pool table made with the best materials possible.

Summary of key takeaways on pool table materials

  • A pool table is made up of several materials, including wood, slate, and felt.
  • Slate is the most crucial part of a pool table, providing a flat surface on which the balls roll.
  • The felt is responsible for controlling the ball’s speed and direction as it rolls across the table.
  • Investing in a well-made pool table with high-quality materials can significantly impact a player’s experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pool Table Materials

What types of wood are used in pool table construction?

  • Hardwoods Explained: The benefits of using hardwoods like oak, mahogany, or maple for durability and stability.
  • MDF and Its Uses: When and why medium-density fiberboard might be used in pool tables.

What is the best material for the bed of a pool table?

  • Slate vs. Alternatives: Discussing the predominance of slate and its superior playability compared to other materials like slatron or honeycomb.

What should I look for in pool table cloth?

  • Material Differences: The pros and cons of woolen versus worsted cloth.
  • Maintenance Tips: How to care for and extend the life of the pool table felt.

How do the materials of the rails and cushions affect gameplay?

  • Rubber Types: Natural gum versus synthetic rubbers and their performance.
  • Profile Shapes: How the shape of the cushion can influence the game.

Are drop pockets or ball return systems better, and what are they made of?

  • Preference and Play: The benefits of each system and suitable materials like leather or plastic.

What materials are used for pool table legs?

  • Wood or Metal: Comparing the stability and style of different leg materials.

How important is the finish on a pool table?

  • Finishes and Coatings: Discussing different finish types and their impact on aesthetics and wood protection.

Can a pool table be environmentally friendly?

  • Sustainable Practices: How manufacturers are using reclaimed wood and other sustainable materials.

What are the health and safety considerations regarding pool table materials?

  • Safe Materials: Understanding the importance of non-toxic finishes and adhesives.

How often should pool table materials be replaced?

  • Upkeep Schedules: Guidance on the lifespan of various pool table components.

These frequently asked questions aim to provide comprehensive knowledge about the materials used in pool tables, addressing concerns about quality, durability, and maintenance to help enthusiasts make informed decisions.

Related Posts:

  • Finding the Perfect Balance: How Pool Table Weight Impacts Gameplay?
  • Testing for Quality Pool Tables: How to Ensure You’re Getting the Best
  • Pool Table Felt: How to Choose the Best Quality and Style
  • 10 Things To Know Before Buying A Pool Table: Make An Informed Choice
  • Pool Snooker Table Care: Essential Steps to Protect and Preserve Your
  • What’s your Reaction?

    Author Information

    Leave a Comment