In a post pandemic world, more homeowners have drastically changed their living habits and today, we are seeing an increased number of homeowners (on TikTok & Instagram) investing in a high quality pool table for their home.
If this thought has crossed your mind, we have prepared this guide to address the many questions that you may have in mind, and get you started on the process of owning your very own pool table at home.
Here are 3 simple questions to determine before you're on your way.
1. What size should I be looking at?
The answer to this question probably depends on the amount of space you have for your table, while also depending on the type of pool that you are accustomed to playing on.
There are broadly two types of pool: English and American. These two styles of play differ mainly in the size of the tables, balls and are popularly played in many countries beyond the UK and States. English pool is played with a 7ft table accompanied with 2â€³ balls in league play, while American pool is played on a 9ft table with 2.25â€³ balls.
Balls and size of tables aren't the only difference between these two styles of tables. Pocket size and cloth type differs between both types as well, and you will find the pockets typically tighter in allowance - requiring more precision - for the English styled tables, as well as it's napped cloth being much slower. This makes a lot of sense given that the area of play is much smaller, and hence requires less allowance on pockets and speed from cloth.
Knowing these two types of tables, then it's time to visit the right sizes for them. As a rule of thumb:
English Tables: 6FT/ 7FT
American Tables: 8FT/ 9FT
The bigger of both sizes is always preferred, but this choice may not always be as simple if the table is to be placed in a tight space. With a Pool Table, ample space is required around the table to cater for the pool cues, and the way to calculate is to add 5FT around all four sides of the table.
An example for a 7FT table that measures 7FT x 4FT will require a total area of 17FT x 14FT, while a 9FT Table measuring 9FT x 5FT will require a total area of 19FT x 15FT.
With these information in mind, you are now ready to evaluate the right size of table for your space, as well as the ideal playing configurations - English or American.
Our recommendation? We would recommend that you narrow down on the size of table first, and then pick the corresponding type of table (English or American styled) dependant on the size that you are going for. Do bear in mind that it's always possible to size up the table in a tight space by using shorter troubleshooter cues, which is often a common practice for smaller homes.
The key to getting a good playing experience lies in picking the right size and configuration. A 6FT table is best played with English configurations as this retains the difficulty and challenge of a game, while a 9FT table in English configuration will be a tad bit too challenging for the average player! This is critical so be sure to get proper advise from your local pool table retailer.
2. Material of Playfield
Now that you have nailed down the size of the table that you're looking for, the next major decision is to determine the material of the playfield. This is a critical decision that will determine how well you enjoy your pool table going forward.
A quick search on the net for Pool Tables will yield you many options, of varying price point. Is that all just because of branding? No. Instead, this comes down to the construction and the type of playfield that is being used for the table.
In short, there are two playfield types in the market for your consideration,
- Stone Slated
- MDF Wood Bedded
Wood (MDF) bed tables
Wood bed tables utilise MDFâ€”a form of compressed woodâ€”for the playing field. This results in a lightweight table that is cheap to produce, although it suffers in areas like gameplay and durability. As MDF is susceptible to water-logging and humidity, it is never ever perfectly flat and hence, does not provide a true roll. When used in a large area, MDF is prone to warping as well, which causes the balls to roll lopsided to one side of the table.
- Low end priced from
$400 â€“ $1500
- Light, moveable and cheap
- Far from flat and ball do not roll true
- Susceptible to warping and lopsided ball roll.
Wood bed tables are mostly used as toys for children and are never ever used in a setting where a proper pool table is required. If you have encountered a beaten up pool table in a pub somewhere that has the playfield sponging up, now you know.
Slate (Stone) bed tables
Slate bed tables are the industry standard for pool tables and are used in pool parlours, pubs, and any professional setting. Slate or natural stone, being perfectly flat provides a true ball roll and slate is also immune to humidity and shifting weather conditions. Slates are usually 3/4â€³ â€“ 1 1/4â€³ thick and are incredibly heavy, which is why all slate bed tables are considered non-moveable.
- Industry standard
for pool tables
- Perfectly flat & smooth, while immune to humidity
- Provides a true ball roll
- Heavy and non-moveable
Our recommendations? Unless you're looking for a toy, go for a slate bed table and own a proper pool table that will last you at least a few years. Gameplay is everything with pool and if the ball doesn't roll right or play well, it's only a matter of time that the pool table becomes unplayable and the elephant in the room.
3. A Dining Pool Table or a Dedicated One?
Dining pool tables have been increasing in popularity over the last few years. They are basically fully functional pool tables that double up as a dining table when the tabletop is in place. Dining pool tables are great to play on, practical, and affordable given that you're getting two items for the price of one.
On the other hand, dedicated tables are singular in their usage and are only for playing. Regular tables also tend to be offered in bigger sizes, as dining pool tables often max out at 7ft. If you are for example, looking for a regulation 9FT sized table, then Dining Pool tables can pretty much be ruled out of consideration.
Our recommendations? In today's context where homes are getting increasingly smaller, go for a dining pool table which is highly practical for their dual-use. If you're worried about the gameplay, make sure to go for a slated bed model and try out the table in person.
One last bit. Features & Brands
Just like buying any other products in the market, brands of the products matter and not just in a superficial way. Instead, often, brands represent a stamp of reliability that good makers have amassed over the years. Some of the top brands in the pool table business includes Brunswick, Olhausen, Billard Montfort, Bilhares Carrinho and Gabriel's.
Each of these brands have very specialised niches and advantages, and it pays to check them all out to get a better idea of their offerings and style. Brunswick for instance, specialises in heritage American styled pool tables while Billard Montfort is a fantastic maker of high quality hand-crafted dining pool tables in France.
Some great features to look out for includes Ball Return Systems, Slate Levelling Points, and Diamond Sights. These are very optional but are generally good to have.
A Final Word
While there are many different types of pool tables in the market, all of them are practically covered in this short guide. It's been a long read but to sum it up, here's a simple 5 point plan to get you started.
- Determine if you'd like a Dining Pool Table or a Dedicated model.
- Determine the location, and appropriate size for the table based on the guide above.
- Decide if you would like a Slated table or a Wood bedded table.
- Explore some of the top brands to determine your favourite styles.
- Choose the optional features that you find useful for your game.
We hope that this guide have been helpful in guiding you through the process of purchasing a high quality pool table. Have fun pooling!