Is an MDF Pool Table Worth It Compared to Slate Pool Tables

Is an MDF Pool Table Worth It

When it comes to choosing a pool table, the material of the table plays a crucial role in both performance and longevity.

There are different ways to identify the type of pool table you have, however the material used for the bed is one method. Among the various materials available, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) has become a popular choice for many.

But is an MDF pool table worth it?

This article delves into the pros and cons of MDF pool tables, helping you make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • MDF pool tables are generally more affordable than their slate counterparts.
  • They are lighter and easier to move, making them a good option for casual players and those with space constraints.
  • However, MDF tables may not offer the same level of play quality and durability as slate tables.

Quick Answer – Is an MDF Pool Table Worth It?

In general the best way to comparitively see if MDF pool tables are worth it, is to compare them to slate.

Below is a quick comparison between MDF vs Slate Pool Tables.

AspectMDF Pool TablesSlate Pool Tables
Playing SurfaceProne to warpingExceptionally smooth and flat
DurabilityLess durableHighly durable, can last decades
PrecisionDecent precisionHigh precision
MDF vs Slate Pool Tables

What is an MDF Pool Table?

An MDF pool table is a type of billiards table that uses Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) for its playing surface, instead of the traditional slate.

MDF is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers, which are then combined with wax and a resin binder.

These components are pressed together under high temperature and pressure to form a dense, stable panel.

Advantages of MDF Pool Tables

  1. Affordability
  2. Lightweight and Portable
  3. Suitable for Casual Play


One of the biggest advantages of MDF pool tables is their affordability.

They are significantly cheaper than slate tables, making them a great entry-level option for beginners or those on a budget.

Weight and Portability

MDF tables are lighter than slate tables, which makes it easier when moving pool tables and setting them up.

This feature is particularly beneficial for those who might need to move their table frequently or have limited space.

Suitable for Casual Play

They are ideal for casual or recreational use, providing a satisfactory playing experience for most non-professional players.

Disadvantages of MDF Pool Tables

  1. Durability and Longevity
  2. Playability
  3. Maintenance

Durability and Longevity

MDF is not as durable as slate. It is prone to warp over time, especially in humid conditions, which can affect the playability of the table.


Serious players might find that MDF tables do not offer the same level of play quality as slate tables.

The bounce and roll of the balls can be different, affecting the precision and consistency of the game.


MDF tables may require more careful maintenance to prevent warping and damage, especially in environments with fluctuating humidity and temperature.

How Long Do MDF Pool Tables Last?

Typically, an MDF pool table can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

This is considerably shorter than the lifespan of a slate pool table, which can last for decades or even a lifetime with proper care and good pool table etiquette.

  • The more frequently and intensely a pool table is used, the quicker it may show signs of wear and tear.
  • MDF tables, in homes or locations where they are used less frequently, may last towards the longer end of the spectrum.
  • Lack of regular care can lead to the deterioration of the table.
  • Placing heavy objects on the table can damage the table beyond repair.

The initial quality of the MDF pool table also plays a significant role in its longevity.

Higher-quality MDF tables with better construction and materials are likely to last longer than cheaper, lower-quality models.

When it gets to the end of it’s lifespan, you may want to recycle your table, instead of getting rid of it. There are some amazingly creative ways to upcyle an old pool table instad of dumoping it.

Do MDF Pool Tables Warp?

One of the most significant concerns with MDF pool tables is their tendency to warp over time.

Warping refers to the bending or distortion of the table surface, which can significantly affect the gameplay.

MDF is particularly sensitive to humidity and temperature changes.

In environments with high humidity or frequent temperature fluctuations, MDF pool tables may experience warping or swelling, which can significantly shorten their lifespan. 

How to Prevent MDF Pool Tables Warping

It is very difficult to prevent warping, due to MDF’s high tendency to warp, however you can preserve the longevity of your MDF pool table with regular maintenance.

  • Avoiding Moisture: Pool tables are susceptible to water damage, particularly so with MDF. Keep your table dry and avoid placing it in humid areas.
  • Regular Cleaning: Brush and clean the surface regularly to maintain the quality of the cloth.
  • Use of Covers: When not in use, a pool table cover will preserve the lifespan of a pool table by protecting it from dust and accidental spills.

Can You Refelt an MDF Pool Table?

Some MDF pool table manufacturers produce tables with the playing cloth directly attached to the bed itself.

On these type of pool tables, the felt won’t be able to be changed, unless you replace the entire MDF bed, which is not always possible if the bed is fixed directly onto the frame.

Having said that, if the felt is attached independently of the bed, you can refelt an MDF pool table.

How Much Do MDF Pool Tables Cost?

Wood or MDF pool tables are typically less expensive than their slate counterparts.

This makes them an attractive option for casual players, beginners, or those with a limited budget.

  • The price of wood tables can vary, often reflecting the quality of materials and construction.
  • Cheaper models might be less durable and prone to issues like warping or uneven play surfaces.

MDF is regularly referred to as budget friendly because you can purchase a full size one for less than $1000 bucks. 

On the lower end of the market, MDF pool tables cost on average between $500 – $800.

How Heavy Is an MDF Pool Table?

The weight of an MDF pool table can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the table, the thickness of the Fiberboard used, and any additional features or materials incorporated into the table’s design.

In general MDF pool tables usually weigh between 180 to 600 pounds. 

Standard pool table sizes are 7, 8, and 9 feet in length.

Naturally, the larger the table, the heavier it will be.

For instance, a 7-foot MDF table will be on the lighter end of the spectrum, while a 9-foot table will be heavier.

Slate Vs Wood Pool Tables – The Differences


Slate pool tables are the choice of professionals, tournaments organizers and serious enthusiasts for a few different reasons, mainly for the better quality. 

  1. The primary reason to use slate is the uniformity and flatness of the material, which ensures a consistent and true ball roll. 
  2. This material is resistant to warping and can last for decades if properly maintained.

MDF, while offering a decent playing experience, may not match the precision of slate.


Slate’s density and weight contribute to its stability and vibration absorption, enhancing the overall playing experience.

These tables are less likely to be affected by humidity or temperature changes, maintaining their level surface over time.

MDF tables, on the other hand, are easier to set up and relocate but may require more care to prevent warping.


Slate pool tables are generally more expensive due to the materials used, and the craftsmanship involved in their construction.

  • The cost can vary widely depending on the brand, size, and design features.
  • Despite the higher initial cost, slate tables are often seen as a long-term investment.
  • Their durability and consistent playability mean they can last for decades without significant degradation in quality.

If a slate table does need repair, particularly re-felting or leveling, it can be more expensive due to the need for professional service.

Repairs and maintenance for wood tables are generally less expensive than slate tables, but they might be needed more frequently.


MDF pool tables are generally lighter than slate tables, which can weigh anywhere from 500 to 1,200 pounds or more, depending on size and type of table. 

  1. It means MDF tables easier to move and more suitable for locations where a heavy table would be impractical.
  2. Due to their relatively lighter weight, MDF pool tables are also easier to transport, however, they still require careful handling to avoid damage.

Features like ball return systems, elaborate leg designs, or additional decorative elements can also add to the overall weight of the table.

For instance, coin operated pool tables, typically employ ball return systems and have a single slate bed, are extremely heavy.

How to Tell If a Pool Table Is Slate?

Aside from the differences above between slate and wood pool tables, there are distinct ways to identify slate pool tables.

Physical Characteristics

Slate tables are significantly heavier than MDF pool tables, and if your table is exceptionally heavy, it’s likely to be slate.

If possible, inspect the underside of the table.

  • Slate tables will have a slate layer visible from below.
  • Slate is cold to touch compared to the warm feeling of wood.

Look for visible seams where the slate pieces come together. These are often filled and covered with cloth, but you can usually spot them upon close inspection.

The Sound Test

A simple yet effective method is the sound test.

  1. Drop a ball on the table and listen to the sound.
  2. Slate tables produce a distinct, solid sound compared to the hollow echo MDF playing surfaces.

MDF vs Non Slate Pool Tables

Plywood Pool Tables Compared to MDF

  1. Durability: High-quality plywood can be more durable than MDF and less prone to warping.
  2. Weight: Generally heavier than MDF, making it less portable.
  3. Cost: Can vary widely; higher-quality plywood tables can be more expensive.
  4. Playing Surface: Can offer a good playing experience, though variations in quality affect consistency.
  5. Lifespan: With good maintenance, can last longer than MDF tables.

Particleboard Pool Tables Compared to MDF

  1. Durability: Less durable than both MDF and plywood. Prone to damage and warping.
  2. Weight: Lighter than MDF and plywood, which can be an advantage in terms of portability.
  3. Cost: Typically the cheapest option available.
  4. Playing Surface: Offers an inferior playing experience compared to MDF and plywood.
  5. Lifespan: Generally has the shortest lifespan due to lower durability.

Plastic Honeycomb Pool Tables Compared to MDF

  1. Durability: Varies by design, but generally offers good resistance to warping and moisture.
  2. Weight: Often lightweight, comparable to particleboard.
  3. Cost: Can be more expensive than MDF and particleboard.
  4. Playing Surface: Provides a unique playing experience; some designs aim to mimic slate.
  5. Lifespan: Can be quite durable, but depends heavily on the quality of construction.

Are MDF Pool Tables Any Good?

When deciding whether an MDF pool table is worth it, consider factors like your budget, space, playing frequency, and climate.

MDF damages easily, and is also a material that is heavily influenced by its environment, so if you are a serious player, who plays competitively, slate is the best option as it sits currently as the gold standard of pool table’s.

MDF is definitely not suitable for everyone, however it is a great choice for a lot of players. 

  • If you are on a budget, it is a great choice.
  • It’s also a good option if you are only interested in a table to play on casually with friends in your downtime.
  • The fact that it is so lightweight, it also makes a lot of sense if you know you will be moving it around a lot.


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