Best Pool Table Buying Guide
Of course you love spending time with your kids. Just this morning they probably woke you up with their little giggles and smiled in appreciation at the breakfast you prepared for them. Your heart must have melted when they hugged you real tight before you dropped them off at school. And later, you beamed with pride when you picked them up and they regaled you with stories about their day. You live for them, and we know it. That’s why you have that huge spare room downstairs that you and your spouse decided should be a family game room.
In that room, you set up a wide screen TV, a gaming console, and video player to make it an entertainment mecca for your kids and their friends. But mom and dad need to have some fun too! So in one end of the room is a fold away bar and in the center of the room is space for a pool table intended for good old fashioned fun with the grown-ups. We feel you. Sometimes you crave adult company.
What features should you consider in buying a pool table?
There are so many ways a pool table can enhance your game room experience. It’s a fun game to play that will harken back to your pre-kids days when you played pool with your buddies as a past time. And who doesn’t like billiards? It is a game still popular with your peers and is the perfect way to do some entertaining when you just want to be with adults.
That said, billiards isn’t just for grown-ups. We know your children will enjoy learning to play and you will be there to teach them. It is a great game to play that will have your children moving around the table instead of just staying seated at the gaming console. It’s a win for mom and dad. And it’s a win for the kids. But we didn’t need to convince you of that!
With so many choices and such a wide price range, how do you even begin to find the pool table of your dreams? Use the following guidelines.
We know that it is almost bad form to be discussing money right away when that beautiful shiny pool table is staring back at you in all its artful glory. But pool tables can vary widely in price and quality that picking one can get a little crazy. We don’t want to have to say it, but once you’ve seen pool tables that are way above your price range, you might not like the ones you can afford and that’s a shame. We don’t want you to feel that way especially since there are so many beautiful great quality pool tables to choose from at different price ranges. You will definitely find one within budget that you would be proud to own and that could be the star of your game room. This is why we strongly suggest knowing your budget first so you could narrow your options down only to those tables which fall within it.
● Your Room Size
Pool tables come in three sizes: 7ft, 8ft, and 9ft long. To help you visualize, the width of a pool table is always half its length. You want to choose a table that gives you at least 6 feet of wiggle room all around the table. Less than that, and you will end up with cue marks on your wall or worse, end up playing with bad form due to lack of space.
Eight foot long tables are the most common tables for those who buy them for their homes. They fit nicely into most game rooms and there is enough room on the surface for a decent game of pool. A smaller 7-inch table is not bad by any means, although some feel that the balls get cramped on the surface. To each their own. But if you can fit a nine inch table at home, well, let’s just say that with enough practice playing on that huge surface, you’ll be the champion among your friends who play at smaller tables. They’d better come to your party prepared!
Of course, you’re buying a pool table to play pool! But by its sheer size alone, a pool table can really dominate a room and can serve as a conversation piece. Do you intend for the pool table to be the main centerpiece of your game room? Would you like for it to be a family heirloom? If so, then maybe you should pick a design that fits the theme of your room or, if an heirloom is what you are after, choose a beautiful hardwood piece in a classic design that will delight your family for generations to come. You will also want to pick a slate cover color to match your game room if the normal blue or green is not to your liking. Likewise, if you are buying the pool table just for your kids and their friends to learn on and not really for your entertaining purposes, you might want to get a cheaper table for that purpose and just buy the heirloom piece when your kids are older.
● Material and Stability
Even if you’re picking a pool table in the lower mid-range, it is still a considerable investment. You want to evaluate the materials used to create the pool table and see if it is worth the price. A pool table that is mounted on solid wood will definitely be more expensive than one that is made of engineered wood, but it will also last far, far longer. But keep in mind that you will want to buy a pool table with a strong and heavy frame. You will be putting your weight on the table, after all, and nothing is more of a hazard than a table that gives at the slightest pressure. So when you shop, give the pool table a good strong shove. It should stand its ground and stay solidly in place. If not, it’s not likely to withstand your leaning over the rail to make that crucial shot.
The jury is out. Slate is the surface of choice for a billiards table and no other. Slate is durable and heavy which adds to the weight and, therefore, to the stability of your table. It is the best for getting a smooth roll out of your ball and is the only material approved for tournaments. You don’t have to go for too thick a slab. Many experts agree that a 1” slate is enough to make a great pool surface. Thicker than that is redundant and just more expensive. Don’t be deceived by other surfaces called slate core or wood slate. Slate core is slate mixed with cement while wood slate is plywood. These are cheaper surfaces and are inferior. Slate is solid stone. If you’re investing in a pool table anyway, go for slate – we just can’t specify it enough! Like, did we mention that you should go for slate?
A pool table may have a lovely slate surface but if its frame is flimsy, you might want to consider a different one. A good frame is of paramount importance because it holds the slate in place. Basically, everything on the pool table is hinged on that frame, so sturdy construction is important. In addition, you want to check that the frame is level. You will definitely want to buy from a reputable store that stocks tables from the best and most trusted manufacturers of pool tables.
● Rails and Sights
The rail is where the cushion or edge is mounted. And sights are the dots that you see all around the rail. The sights actually guide players when they are making a shot and helps them when they need to bump the rail to create an angle towards a pocket. But aside from that, sights are a way to decorate the rails to make them really attractive. They could be made with scallop shells, ivory, cow horn, and other beautiful materials.
The cloth that covers the slate can be made of a variety of materials. Tournament quality tables are covered in a blend of wool and nylon. Although there are other materials in a variety of colors to match your game room. Tournament quality, of course, is the most durable, but some recreational quality cloth covers can last a long time if you take care of it.
● Installation Crew
So you’ve found the pool table of your dreams. Does the store have a crew to help install it in your game room? A pool table is definitely not a DIY project and you want to make sure that you have people who specialize in assembling a pool table to help you. If the store doesn’t have installation personnel, it is a good idea to look for another store who sells the pool table that you want.
Tips for maintaining your pool table
A pool table is a considerable investment and definitely something you can pass on to your children as an heirloom. This is possible if you conscientiously maintain and take care of your table. Here’s how:
- Brush the surface of your pool table after every use to remove talc. Brushes can be bought at pool supply stores.
- Don’t allow anyone to put food and drinks on top of your table, whether on the surface or on the railings. This is the quickest way for spills to happen and stains to form on your table.
- The frame of your pool table can be sensitive and can be prone to scratches. Discourage wedding rings, bracelets, and watches from getting close. Of course, we understand that you don’t want to be a party pooper, and sometimes you can’t avoid guests with jewelry approaching the table. So just maintain the leather and wood surfaces with oil based furniture protectants which you can find at furniture stores.
- The sun can be harmful to your pool table. So position it where there will be little or no sun exposure which can cause warping and fading. If you like natural light, make an effort to position the table out of direct sunlight and use a table cover to protect your pool table when you’re not using it.
- Keep your billiards balls clean. Balls that are covered in chalk makes for a dusty table cloth later.
- Pay attention to moisture levels in your room. If you live in a super dry climate, your table can get brittle as the moisture gets sucked from it making it brittle and prone to cracks. So if you live in a high altitude or in the middle of the dessert, make sure to have humidifiers in your game room.
- Teach the kids how to play pool! The better they know about the game, the better they know about taking care of the game equipment. This will ensure that they care as much about the pool table as you do.
- Play often. A pool table actually needs to be played on to keep it in good shape. Also, playing more often lets you interact with the table so you can easily see areas that need maintenance and get it taken care of right away.
We know you are super excited to shop for your pool table and welcome it to its special place in your game room. We tried and tested some of the top rated pool tables and let us tell you, there are a lot out there that will make your heart race. But you will want to know which we ranked the Top 5 Best Pool Tables and read about why we believe they deserve a place in your home. We absolutely adore the 19th century inspired Olhausen Huntington Pool Table. Steeped in tradition, the Huntington pool table is 100% American made by the master woodworkers of this family owned company. Read about why this pool table captured out hearts and is our top pick for the best pool tables to add to your game room.