Before you buy a pool table, you should kick the tires and Look under the hood. Well, at least look under the hood.
Buying a pool table is not much different than buying a car– or any product you want to last for a long time. The closer you look, the more you’ll see which features are important to you and what will fit your lifestyle. And although you can’t test drive a pool table, you can visit a dealer’s showroom to check out the variety of models.
But before you go, it’s important to be a knowledgeable buyer. That’s where this “how to buy a pool table” guide comes in handy. Here you’ll find all you need for making an informed decision.
Do you need a work truck, a family wagon or a luxury car? The same considerations should be made before deciding what pool table to buy. Some tables are made for the constant use of professionals. Others are built with the family budget in mind, yet can still hold up to the abuse kids give to all your furniture. Other tables are beautifully ornate in design and a real showpiece for any home. But whatever you’re personal needs or taste, there is a style for you.
LIFESTYLE AND ROOM CONSIDERATIONS
Pool tables are available in a variety of materials, styles and colors. Traditional solid hardwoods can be stained in colors ranging from whitewash to dark mahogany. All our pool tables can be covered in the cloth color of your choice. So consider your existing room decor. You may even want to bring a picture of the room or your fabric and carpet samples with you when you shop. Many dealerships have experience helping customers discover the perfect table for them.
Before buying a pool table ask yourself, “Will it fit in our room?” You wouldn’t buy a large SUV and expect it to squeeze into your one-stall garage. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure your table has ample playing room around it. An approximate five-foot perimeter is suggested, so measure your space to ensure a good fit. If you’re concerned a large slab of slate won’t fit through your doorway, tables built for the home use three-piece slate. Almost the only time one-piece slate is used is on coin-op tables.
For a pool table to be considered ‘regulation size’the length of the playfield is twice the width—and most regulation-size pool tables are built in 7’, 8’and 9’lengths. No matter which length you choose, be aware that minimum space requirements will change depending on the size of the cue you select.
For specific room sizes, use the following measurements:
Use [A] for 48″ cue
Use [B] for 52″ cue
Use [C] for 57″ cue
• For a 7’ Pool Table
[A] allow for an 11’6″ x 14’6″ room
[B] Allow for a 12’x 15’room
[C] Allow for a 13’x 16’room
• For a 8’ Pool Table
[A] Allow for a 12’x 15’6″ room
[B] Allow for a 12’6″ x 16’room
[C] Allow for a 13’6″ x 17’room
• For a 9’ Pool Table
[A] Allow for a 12’6″ x 16’6″ room
[B] Allow for a 13’x 17’room
[C] Allow for a 14’x 18’room
Veneer wood pool tables offer the appearance of solid wood without the cost. They are built strong to last, yet remain very affordable.
Solid wood pool tables are the best value in traditional designs. Because they are solid wood throughout, these tables often offer more intricately carved cabinetry and legs.
Heirloom pool tables are crafted in the traditional method of building furniture using solid one-piece legs and thick-walled cabinetry with mortise and tenon joinery.
Professional/Tournament grade pool tables are preferred by pros and advanced league players. These tables are built to the tightest industry specifications for the most challenging play.
ANATOMY OF A POOL TABLE & WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A POOL TABLE
Solid Hardwood and Veneer.
What’s the difference?
Veneer is a thin layer of solid hardwood bonded to a laminated wood sub-core. The advantage is its value. It has the appearance of solid wood without the cost.
Solid hardwoods are heavier, stronger and are better able to withstand stresses and wear common to pool tables. They come with a higher price tag, and can be intricately carved. Compare table weights, as weight reflects the quality, design and materials that went into the construction.
Interlocking frame and slate support.
A better built table has center beams that run the length of the table and interlock with the cross members. This stabilizes the slate and cabinet of the table with substantially greater support, and distributes the weight evenly throughout the table. Cross members are necessary to ensure the best support for each piece of slate. Note that some main beams are purely cosmetic—drop-in vs. full length—offering little or no support to the slate.
Cabinet & Leg Joinery.
Look for a securing system that ensures an exact cabinet fit. Two examples of the strongest systems are MLD (Machined Locking Dowels) and the more traditional method of building tables (and most fine furniture), with mortise and tenon joinery. Check out how the legs are mounted to the cabinet. Some manufacturers use corner leg joinery made of stamped sheet metal. Using more securing bolts will provide much greater stability.
Details and craftsmanship.
How is the table put together? Is it just stapled and glued together, or is it glued, screwed and bolted for greater strength? Is the table designed with minimal structural support? Tables that last are those that are built to withstand the rigors of years of play.
Get on your back and crawl underneath the table. This is where one of those mechanics’creepers would come in handy. Look up and notice the slate. Either Brazilian or Italian slate will offer an acceptable playing surface. Italian slate is recognized as the finest playing surface and is used in sanctioned tournament play. High-end tables use slate backed with 3/4″ engineered wood. It provides better slate protection and sound absorption.
Take a close look at the wood. Make sure the rails, blinds, cabinet and legs are made using the same type of wood. Some manufacturers use different, cheaper wood components leaving you, for instance, with a table whose legs look different than the cabinet.
On contemporary styled pool tables, look for the use of metal hardware on the cabinet and rail corners vs. plastic. Feel the pockets. Hard plastic can crack with wear. Make sure the pockets are made of leather. Unless the design prohibits.
Check out the rails. Look at the width and profile. Ask what technology is being used in the cushion. K66 full profile cushion is the industry standard. The cushion should also be canvas-backed. This helps the rubber adhere the cushion to the wood rail for durability and more accurate and consistent play.
Rails and Cushions
Check out the rails. Look at the width and profile. The use of laminated maple core rails is preferred on pool tables. It minimizes rebound vibration and produces exceptional ball response. Where as rails with a soft core won’t give you the same fast play.
Ask what technology is being used in the cushion. K66 full profile cushion is the industry standard. The cushion should also be canvas-backed. This helps the rubber adhere the cushion to the wood rail for durability and more accurate and consistent play.