Pool table basics
There are different kinds of pool tables, including:
• Slate bed. This is the standard pool table, and the most common, with a playing surface made from a slab of slate. This type of table is very heavy and should be placed where it will stay for a long time.
• Folding. These pool tables have a playing surface from lighter materials and folding legs so the table can stored when not in use.
• Coin-operated. These are typically found in nightclubs or game rooms. A coin-operated table is typically a standard table, made with wood and a slate top.
• Outdoor. These pool tables are made from weatherproof materials.
The standard pool table is 96 inches, or 8 feet, long. However, tables are also available that are 7 feet or 9 feet long.
Be sure to choose a table that will work in the selected room. For an 8-foot table, the room should measure about 14 feet by 18 feet. For a 9-foot table, the room should be at least 15 feet by 19 feet.
At the very least, a pool table will require a room that allows for the table, plus 6 inches for pulling back on the cue.
The more expensive pool tables are made of wood. Wood choices include ash, maple, oak, cherry, poplar and mahogany.
Tables made from vinyl laminate or mica laminate are typically less expensive than those made with solid wood. A mica laminate table usually has a slate top that is about three-quarters of inch thick and unframed. The slate thickness on a vinyl laminate table is about three-quarters to 1 inch and can be bought framed or unframed.
The type of cloth used on the table affects the rolling resistance and sliding friction. A slick cloth will allow the cue ball to spin longer or will draw back on the ball. A fast cloth has less resistance to rolling, so the balls will roll farther before stopping.
If considering adding a billiard table to your home, decide whether you want to purchase one or have one custom built to fit your space and needs. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Lucy M.)
Buying a pool table
Pool tables vary greatly in price. A standard table starts at around $1,000 and can go to as high as $20,000, depending on the brand and materials.
New or used?
It may be best to buy a new table, because used tables may be off-balance or have unseen cracks in the slate top beneath the cloth. A used table may also become unbalanced when it's moved.
Be aware of the warranty that comes with your billiard table. Some economy-priced or outdoor tables may only come with a short-lived manufacturer's warranty on materials used to make the table. A brand-name table typically has a lifetime warranty that covers the main components, such as protection against the wood cracking, splitting or warping. A warranty generally is only valid when used by the original owner and does not cover repairs or replacements when damage is caused by neglect or natural disasters.
When you buy a pool table, it typically does not come with the accessories, so you will also need to buy the following items:
• Cue sticks
• Balls and rack
• Cue stick rack
• Pool table protective covering
Pool table care
To keep your table clean and in good condition:
• Cover when not in use.
• Don't let people sit on the rails or have sharp objects near the table.
• Don't allow food or drinks near or on the table.
• When chalking a cue, hold the cue away from the table to prevent a build-up of talc, which causes the balls to not roll correctly.
• Brush the table after each use and wipe rails with a clean, damp cloth.
• About once each month, vacuum the felt. Always remember to brush with the grain of the cloth.
• Periodically wash the balls in warm, soapy water, rinse and dry completely.
Moving a pool table
Moving a pool table can cause it to become unbalanced, or could lead to the slate top breaking. You can ask a general mover, but make sure whoever does the work is experienced at moving a pool table.
Your best bet is to hire a professional pool mechanic or other experienced expert to take down, move and set up your table. To find an expert, check with your local billiards service center or pool and spa store.
Consider also how Angie's List can help. Members have access to local consumer reviews on billiard table repair and sales pros, as well as service providers in more than 550 other categories.
What to expect:
• It takes about an hour or two to dismantle a table and another three to six hours to set it back up.
• The price to move a pool table varies, depending on the size of the table and the distance moved. The average price for a standard table can range from $200 to $600, which includes disassembling, transporting and setting up. Many companies charge an extra fee if you're traveling more than 50 miles and if there are stairs at either place.