How to Buy a Pool Table
Nothing makes a classic rec room work quite like a pool table. There’s something classic about the look of hardwood and green felt, the sound of balls clacking into each other, and the feel of a cue stick as you line up a shot that’s defines cool in a way little else can.
Get your hands on a good pool table and your house will be the place to be.
However, a pool table, like any large, quality piece of furniture, is a pretty big investment. A good pool table easily set you back a few thousand dollars. You don’t, especially during difficult economic times, want to just throw some money at a classified ad. You might end up with an uneven, ugly table that’s more trouble than it’s worth.
You need to approach buying a pool table the same way you would any large purchase – by doing research. Fortunately, in the age of the Internet all the information you’ll need is easily at hand. You don’t need to be an expert to know how to buy a pool table. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
- Know your performance level
- Buy the proper size
- Get fancy with the features
Keep all this in mind and you’ll have the perfect pool table in your rec room before you know it.
Know your performance level
What type of pool table you buy depends on what type of pool playing you want to do. You should make sure and only buy a pool table that matches the level of your intended play. There’s no need to spend three thousand dollars on a Custom-level pool table so that your teenager and friends can hang out on school nights.
It’s better to know how to buy a pool table that matches your needs. There are four basic levels of pool table quality you’ll want to know about: Basic, Economy, Mid Range, and Custom.
Basic: A Basic pool table will cost you under one thousand dollars. The playing surface of the table will usually be made of a synthetic material such as particleboard or permaslate. Basic tables are designed for you to assemble and tinker with yourself, and will be perfectly suited for a household with kids.
Economy: An Economy level pool table usually costs between one thousand and fifteen hundred dollars. These tables will have a playing surface made of slate. However, the cabinet and rails of the table will still probably be made of a synthetic material such as laminate or MDF. An Economy table will be perfect for informal games between adults.
Mid Range: Priced between fifteen hundred and three thousand dollars, these tables offer excellent playing characteristics, with a playing surface made of extremely stable three-piece slate. The cabinet and rails will usually be made of attractive laminated hardwoods, with cushions made of blended gum rubber. These tables are a lifetime investment, and are perfect for the serious player who is not necessarily interested in fancy extras that won’t really improve gameplay.
Custom: Priced at three thousand dollars and higher, Custom tables offer all the excellent playability and construction of a Mid Range table, but with the highest quality of materials available. You should expect unique, designs such as intricate wood inlays and beautiful finishes on the cabinet and rails. Like Mid Range tables, a Custom table is a lifetime investment and should be cared for appropriately.
Buy the Proper Size
Chances are you already have a room in mind to place your pool table. One of the most important parts of how to buy a pool table is to make sure it will fit inside the room you intend to use. It would be extremely disappointing to choose your perfect table just to get it home and find that you’ll have to punch holes in your drywall in order to make any shots.
So, make sure and consider the size of the room your table will be in before purchase. A regulation pool table will always be twice as long as it is wide with regards to the playing surface. Pool tables most commonly come in several sizes: bar size (seven feet long), home size (eight feet long), commercial size (between eight and nine feet), and tournament size (nine feet).
Larger tables naturally provide a more challenging game, since there is more distance between the pockets. So, if you’re looking to improve your game, choose a larger table. The minimum amount of space you require will also depend on the size cue you use. A larger cue requires more space. Any room that is at least fourteen feet by eighteen feet will fit any combination of cue length and table size.
Get fancy with the features
If you want to know how to buy a pool table without paying for a lot of stuff you probably don’t need, then you need to know what the various features of a pool table are. This will go a long way towards knowing what bells and whistles you want and which ones you don’t want.
Playing surface: This will either be a synthetic material in your more affordable tables or slate in your higher-end tables. Slate provides a more stable surface, but synthetics such as permaslate are fine for causal playing.
Fabric: Synthetic nylon provides a perfectly fine performance; higher end wool blends are pure luxury.
Rails: The upper portion of the pool table against which you brace your cue when making a shot, rails made from MDF will not last as long as those made of hardwood.
Cushions: The cushions attach to the top rail and are the point of contact for the balls. Regulation tables require K-66 style cushions, and molded gum rubber will offer the best rebound.
Sights: The reference points on the top rail, used for help in marking, on your fancier tables sights will often be unique in design or made of ornate inlay.
Cabinet and legs: Comprising the body of your pool table, the legs are usually made of MDF or other synthetic materials in cheaper tables or solid wood in pricier versions. If you live in a high humidity climate, then go for a synthetic material, as it will be less likely to warp in the long term.
Pockets: Drop pockets usually consist of a hanging net or cup and may consist of any material from plastic to leather. Some commercial tables have a ball return system, which connects each pocket via a series of angled tubes to a ball return near the base of the table.