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Slate - The Material Of Choice For Pool Table Playing Surfaces
Italian Slate Vs. Brazilian Slate
For the serious pool player, of all the components that go into making a quality pool table, the most important of these is the quality of the playing field. If you're looking for an inexpensive pool table, chances are the material under the cloth or felt is going to be of cheap construction, most likely particle board or plywood. However, if you really want to play on a quality pool table, then there's no substitute for a slate playing surface.
Slate is a hard metamorphic rock made of many minerals including quartz, clay and mica with a fine grain. There are many different varieties of slate with various mineral compositions and as a result, slate can be found in many different colors. But what makes slate the material of choice for quality pool table manufacturers is its toughness and longevity and will not warp due to moisture absorption.
Slate can be found in many areas of the U.S. and around the world but the slate that pool table manufacturers use the most and is of the highest quality is from Italy and Brazil. The reason being that the mineral makeup of the slate makes it superior because of its flat surface and when you're talking about pool table playing surfaces, there's nothing more important than an absolute flat surface.
For years, Italy has been the dominant source for slate used on pool tables around the world. In Italy, slate is taken from underground mines and tends to be softer than slate from Brazil. One drawback with Italian slate however is that it's not a good material for use on outdoor pool tables. A benefit to using the softer Italian slate is that it's more flexible and easier to work with.
Slate from Brazil on the other hand, is considerably harder and is quarried from open pits. Despite the fact that Brazilian slate is more difficult to work with due to its hardness, it is more durable and will withstand years of heavy use and won't bend as with slate from other parts of the world. Also because Brazilian slate is so hard, it's almost impossible to break. But the most important benefit is that Brazilian slate has an extremely flat surface. This is due to its mineral makeup. As long as the slate and other components are properly maintained, a pool table with an Italian or Brazilian slate playing field will provide many years of trouble free use.
So as you're looking at pool tables in retailer show rooms, be sure the playing fields under the cloth or felt is made of high quality durable Italian or Brazilian slate. A slate playing surface is your assurance of a quality pool table