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Guide to Buying a Pool Table

Some things to consider when buying a pool table. Whether new or used, you should always keep this guide in mind.

Pool, or pocket billiards, is one of the most played indoor sports. Having a pool table in your home will give a lot of entertainment to your family and friends. Being able to practice, on your own, without having to shell out coins, is always a plus as well.

Buying a pool table can get very complicated but doesn't always have to be! With this guide, and any decent authorized table dealer, making a table purchase can be very simple and stress-free.

Table of Contents New or Used?

Buying a used table can save you a lot of cash, possibly allowing you to get a much better table than you could afford otherwise. In a cases such as that, don't be afraid of buying it used! Just make sure the table is still in good condition and will remain playable for the foreseeable future (with standard maintenance of course). You should always have the table looked at by a professional, they may offer to do so for free or cheap if you promise to use their services to move the table when you purchase one. There is also always the unknown when buying a used table, you don't know what has happened to the table or what has been on it.

Buying new will always be recommended as most new tables will come with warranties, which are almost always non-transferable and voided when sold by a previous owner, and included services. Knowing your table will last you an incredibly long time with a warranty to back it up can be worth far more than the premium of buying new. Keep in mind that not all manufacturers offer warranties, dealers will answer any questions you have regarding warranties. Go see a dealer with a set amount you want to spend and a general idea of what you want. Keep in mind that as with most things, you get what you pay for. Price is almost always relative to quality in the billiard industry.

Back to Top Size

First things you must do when buying a table is decide on which size of table you want and can accommodate. We at Valley Gaming & Billiards recommend an 8' table, the standard home table size. We find that most people who can fit a 7' can get away with an 8' as well. 90% of pool tables that are sold are 8', so there will be more options when it comes to looking at tables in that size.

Make sure you the table can fit before buying! Measure the room in which you wish to put the pool table. Measure the width and length of the room in inches and use the guide to the right to figure out what size fits with enough room to play. The general suggestion is to have at least 4.5' of space between the table and the wall on all sides when using a standard 57" pool cue. Using a shorter cue will allow for a smaller gap.

A lot of people squeeze in tables with just enough room to play comfortably, however there may be an obstacle or wall that gets in the way when playing. This isn't a big issue and most people will buy a short cue stick for when they have to make a shot in that area.

Back to Top Design

Now that you know what size of pool table to buy, look at catalogs of online retailers to see what styles of tables that there are out there. There are so many different designs when it comes to pool tables. The most common design style you will see will be traditional with an arch and a cabinet.

Just keep in mind what you like, it will make it easier when buying a pool table from a dealer if you know what you want.

Back to Top Construction

Other than table size, the build quality is the most important item on this list to keep in mind. There is a wide variety of table qualities out in the market today. You can buy a table that will get the job done, but may not last you longer than a year. On the other hand, you can buy a table that plays great and will literally last you a lifetime or more! The latter will likely be substantially more expensive, but the long-term costs of owning the table will be much better. Also, a higher quality table will have a higher resale value if you ever decide to sell it.

How do I know if a table is good quality?

Things to ask about/look for:

  • Is the slate at least 1" thick? Not all pool table slate measures up to this. Olhausen, a name brand pool table manufacturer, uses 7/8" thick slate on the majority of the pool tables they sell. By reducing the thickness, manufacturers save on cost but has an adverse effect. Having thin slate increases the likelihood that it will sag overtime and will cause a table to weigh less, decreasing stability. Note that some dealers will often skip out on putting slate, opting for plywood instead, on their display tables to make them easier to move about the showroom.
  • Is the slate 3-piece or 1-piece? 1-piece slate is less common because it is usually more heavy and will usually be less than 1" thick. 3-piece slate, in addition to being easier to move, will be more able to hold its integrity and will decrease the chances of the play area becoming no longer flat. You should always check the seams of 3-piece slate tables. The seams between the slate pieces should not be noticeable nor effect play at all.
  • Does the table move? A quick bump with your hips will let you know how sturdy the table is. If it moves at all, avoid buying that table as it probably won't hold up and will ruin game play.
  • Do the pockets move? The pockets should not budge even slightly when a ball hits them hard.
  • Any gaps in the frame? The table frame should be free of gaps in between pieces. Any gap shows poor construction or some damage.
  • Less expensive tables use inferior materials, such as the rubber cushions. It is not uncommon for "budget" tables to have the cushions that will become gummy or hard after extended play. Cushion replacement be very expensive, so having a warranty cover them is a huge plus. Having the cushions looked at by a professional is highly recommended when buying a used table.
Back to Top Felt

When buying a table new, dealers usually allow you to choose what cloth to put on your table. There are a few different options to decide on. Some cloths are easier to keep clean, allow balls to roll more easily, and last longer. Inquiry about possible felt options with your dealer or read up on the details from manufacturers.

Click here to see a data sheet of popular cloth options that we carry at Valley Gaming & Billiards.

When buying a used table, take a look at the condition of the cloth. Is there a lot of pilling, markings, or rips? You're going to want to replace the felt if so, so consider that when it comes down to the purchase price. Having a reputable dealer replace the felt can cost anywhere around a couple of hundred of dollars.

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