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Feb 26

Pool Table Buying Guide

A pool table could constitute a great addition to your game room, but like for all gaming appliances in this category, whether they are ping pong tables, foosball tables, etc., there are rules that can ensure you are making a wise purchase decision. And, of course, there are guidelines to follow in order to be certain that you are buying the best pool table for your particular room specification, playstyle, users, so on and so forth.

It can happen that you invest in a top grade pool table only to find out that it is not quite what you were looking for or that you cannot take advantage of all the features it includes. Let’s start off by discussing the method that can help you determine the optimal dimensions of the table.

How to Find Out Whether My New Table Will Fit in The Room?

Pool Table Buying GuideThis is a tricky question because you will not only want to be certain that the pool table alone does not exceed the size of the room, but also due to the fact that it needs to allow you sufficient space to aim your cue and shoot. In other words, if you hit the wall in your back every time you position your cue, then the game quality will be considerably diminished.

Before presenting the general guidelines concerning the dimensions of the table, be advised that these specs do not take into account the size of the rails, which can vary between 4 and 6 inches. At the same time, even though the standard length of cue is 57 inches, you can still order shorter ones – E.G. 42 inches, 48 inches, 52 inches – to account for the lack of space. Back to the topic at hand, let’s evaluate your options, considering that you are utilizing a standard length cue:

  • 7 feet tables (39 inches by 78 inches) require at least a room of 13 feet and 3 inches by 16 feet and 6 inches
  • 8 feet tables (44 inches by 88 inches) require at least a room of 13 feet and 8 inches by 17 feet and 4 inches
  • 9 feet tables (50 inches by 100 inches) require at least a room of 14 feet and 2 inches by 18 feet and 4 inches

It is also necessary to point out that you need to consider the particular architectural specifications of the room, potential furniture pieces that could get in the way, etc. However, as mentioned, you can supersede space shortcomings to a certain extent by utilizing shorter cues in difficult situations, such as the ball hugging the rail.

What Are The Components of The Pool Table to Consider?

Pool tables consist of the following:

  • Legs
  • Frame
  • Slate
  • Rails
  • Pockets
  • Felt

In order to be able to evaluate the quality of the pool table, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics of each module as well as with the more intricate aspects involved. Let’s start with the beginning.

Legs

There is not really a lot to say about the legs of the pool table, but most experts consider that the best material for this part is solid wood. Certain tables have legs carved into various shapes, but that is really more related to your aesthetic preferences and will not affect the precision of your shots.

Frame

A pool table’s frame is important because it constitutes the structure that binds together all the other components. In the earlier days, the only material utilized in the construction was also solid wood, but today medium density fiberboards are rapidly making their way onto the market. While it is fairly true that the debate between manufacturers who prefer hardwood frames and the supporters of their MDF counterparts is far from over, the gameplay is overall similar for both materials. The situation is similar for tapered frames and straight ones: no difference whatsoever in terms of stability or durability.

Now, as far as the structure of the frame is concerned, the optimal pool tables support the slate via a central beam (reinforced by two additional crossbeams) that runs throughout their full length. On a side note, certain manufacturers advocate the double central beam as superior in terms of stability, but most expert installers view this approach as nothing more than a marketing gimmick. To put it simply, it doesn’t hurt to have double central beams, but it won’t do much for you either.

Slate

The slate of the pool table provides the actual play area. Originally, the slate consisted of a singular piece, a practice which still persists today. However, the slates that are constructed from three components have proven superior in terms of accuracy and individual leveling adjustability. Even though they come in various thicknesses (3/4 inches, 7/8 inches, 1 inch, etc.), it is advisable to purchase an 1 inch slate for optimal results. The ¾ inch slates are slightly less expensive, but also less durable and accurate. Whether or not you want a wood backing for it is completely up to you.

Rails

In addition to ensuring that the rails are constructed from solid wood – this material provides the perfect bounce – the rails also have to be fastened into place with bolts that run through the frame and the slate. This installation method guarantees that the rails are firmly fastened so that the cushions confer an excellent response. In regards to the cushions, the accepted standard is K-66 BCA approved. Furthermore, the tack strip should be present on the railings, because this component is the best way to tighten the felt to the table.

Pockets

The only aspect that truly matters here is the material of the pocket. You have three categories to choose from, as following:

  • Plastic, main option of inexpensive and poor quality pool tables
  • Rubber, frequently utilized for commercial pool tables
  • Leather, typical selection for residential pool tables

You will notice that you can also improve the aesthetics of the pockets via fringes and shields, but experts state that the gameplay benefits of these additions are quite limited. Overall, you could go for the rims if you don’t mind spending a bit extra.

Felt

You can typically choose between wool-blended fabrics and a worsted version of this material. The latter one seems to be a better option and it has been gaining more popularity because of superior gameplay consistency, better resilience and the fact that it can be cleaned easier. As mentioned in the section discussing the railings, the best way to attach the felt to the slate – irrespective of the type – is via the tack strip. However, if the felt presents folds, they can be addressed by a table mechanic, whereas holes in the texture entail that it needs to be replaced.

A Final Word

Hopefully by now, you have understood what makes a great pool table and therefore able to make a wise decision when the time comes for your pool table purchase!

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