So, you have decided to buy a pool table
So, you have decided to buy a pool table for your game room! First and foremost, congratulations! You are making a great choice by embarking on this billiards journey. We hope to make the process easier by providing this PoolTable Buying Guide. It is packed with many promising benefits for you and for those you care about. Whether you are considering buying one pool table or are planning a complete recreation room it will no doubt provide you enjoyment for many years to come.
If your purchase is for your home, office or school here are some of the benefits that you can expect to enjoy:
Increased social interaction and team building – Playing pool creates and strengthens interpersonal bonds. It also builds lasting memories among family, friends and coworkers.
Fun for all ages – Some activities have natural age limitations and require certain skills for them to be fully enjoyed. A fast paced video game or sinking a 3-point basketball shot may not be for everyone.
Playing pool on the other hand does not have such limitations and can be enjoyed by a larger range of people overall.
Improved eye-hand coordination
Builds cognitive skills –
During game play you have to develop an ever changing strategy and approach to your next shot.
In playing billiards there is a lot of problem solving involved. Calculating a shot’s angle, distance to travel and the required strike force (hard or gentle) has to be thought out. It is also a cognitive exercise to evaluate the relationship between other balls and holes while finding the best shot to take. What spin (back, side, top or combination) should you apply, if any? You have to do all this while also considering how to set up (thwart) your opponent’s next shot. This takes some level of shrewd thinking.
Increases movement and burns calories –Playing pool is not purely a cognitive exercise but it also has some physical demands. You have to bend, balance and stretch to play the game. Also there is probably more walking involved to play than most people think. For many pool games a player could walk over a quarter mile per game. (A quarter mile equals 1,320 feet. The perimeter distance around a standard pool table is 27 feet. So (for kicks) if the average distance a player walks is 22 feet per shot, it would only take 60 shots to walk a quarter mile during a game.)
Anti-aging –Is playing pool like finding the fabled “fountain of youth”? Unfortunately …..NO! But by promoting movement and together with the brain benefits from planning strategy, it may have some anti-aging effects. You can read about the connection between movement and brain circuits here.
Last but not least: Thousands of hours of enjoyment!
This is what we will cover as we discuss finding the perfect pool table:
- What pool table size is right for you?
- Pool Table Construction
- Pool Table Styles
- Your Pool Table Budget
Which pool table size is right for you?
Regulation means the pool table length is twice the width.
7 foot, 8 foot and 9 foot are the most popular sizes and refers to the length of the table.
If you are thinking of getting an indoor pool table, how do you know what size to get?
We have 2 approaches to calculate pool table size for a given room.
- Measure 5 feet (60 inches) from the inside bumper to the wall
You need 5 feet of stroking distance measured from the inside of the bumper to the wall.
|Room size based on adding 5 feet from the inside bumper to the wall
|7 foot table
|39” X 78”
|13’ 3” X 16’ 6”
|8 foot table
|44” X 88”
|13’ 8” X 17’ 4”
|9 foot table
|50” X 100”
|14’ 2” X 18’ 4”
Pool cues come in different lengths so if the space measures much less than 5 feet you may have to go with smaller cue sticks to make it work. That is where the formula method comes in.
- The formula method based on cue stick length
Play Area Length = playing surface length + (cue length *2) + 4 inches
Play Area Width = playing surface width + (cue length *2) + 4 inches
The extra 4 inches is for a 2 inch extra stroke space on each side of the table.
So for an 8 foot table and using 52 inch cues that would be calculated as:
Play Area Length = 88 + (52 *2) + 4 = 196 inches (16 feet 4 inches)
Play Area Width = 44 + (52 *2) + 4 = 152 inches (12 feet 8 inches)
Minimum Room Size Based On Cue Stick Length
|48” CUE STICK LENGTH
|52” CUE STICK LENGTH
|58” CUE STICK LENGTH
|39” x 78”
|11’7” x 14’10”
|12’3” x 15’6”
|13’3” x 16’6”
|44” x 88”
|12’ x 15’8”
|12’8” x 16’4”
|13’8” x 17’4”
|12’6” x 16’8”
|14’2” x 18’4”
What you can do if the area around the table is not quite big enough:
- Buy a less than standard size 7 foot table
- If a shot is obstructed bend the rules to allow the ball to be repositioned
- Use shorter cue sticks where an obstacle like a post or wall is limiting play
|57 to 59 inches (standard size cues)
|48 inches and some even shorter
For a more complete discussion on cue stick history, weights and materials click here.
- Buy a bumper pool table instead
- Buy an outdoor pool table instead
Outdoor pool tables are solid durable tables that are made to withstand the elements.
Regal Rec Rooms favors method #1 (5 feet from the inside bumper to the wall) because of the higher quality of the tables that we carry. We could never fully recommend that an heirloom quality table that will last for many years be played with only 48 inch cues and repositioning balls to bend the rules! We included method #2 to give our customers more options to make the final decision.
Pool Table Construction
Playing Surface – Slate vs Non-Slate
Pool Table surfaces are made out of plywood, plastics or slate. The non-slate tables are cheaper than slate bed tops but the long term quality of play is diminished. All high quality pool tables are made with slate.
Slate naturally forms into layers that are easily split into sheets. They are then ground down and polished into a perfectly flat surface. The larger slate bed tables are usually made out of three pieces. Where the smaller tables are made out of one. Professionals prefer the 3 piece tables because they tend to be about a quarter of an inch thicker than one piece tables. When it comes to pool table quality, the thicker the pool table slate the better.
Slate thicknesses vary but are usually found in 3/4″, ⅞”, 1″ and 1-1/4″. The Billiard Congress of America (BCA) requires at least 1″ slate on tables used in its competitions. It has been known that some dealers sell ⅞ inch thick slate tables and still advertise them as being 1″ slate. Make sure that you ask if the slate table is really 1 inch thick and not 7/8.
There are two main choices when it comes to pool table construction materials. You can go with either laminated or wood veneered pressboard or with solid wood. I bet you can guess which is our recommended choice here. If you said “solid wood” then you are right! Solid Wood is what the highest quality tables are made of. There are some higher priced tables out there that are made out of laminated or wood veneered pressed board so be aware and make sure that you do your research.
If the slate is ¾ of an inch thick, then two cross beams are required. For a one inch thick slate or more requires 2 cross beams and 2 long beams. This is called a quad-beam construction. Be sure to ask about how the beams are constructed when you buy your table.
The legs of the table do a lot of work when you think about it. Not only do they have to carry the table top with the heavy slate but they also have to handle players leaning and even sitting on the table. You need to understand what type of legs and anchoring system your table is made with. It does not matter much if someone buys a cheaper table. But when buying an heirloom quality piece you should be aware of the choices involved.
post legs vs two-piece
|Quality (workload ability)
|Perfect or post legs
|This leg type is made from a solid piece of wood.
|Highest quality and can handle the most weight.
|industry standard or two-piece
|single anchor system
|Prone to loosen over time
|industry standard or two-piece
|quad anchor system
|Much stronger and more reliable than the single anchor system
Though green has undoubtedly been the most popular felt color over the years some believe that is because billiards was originally played outdoors so the green resembles grass. Others argue that green helps the balls to stand out and is easier on the eyes. Today it is possible to get a billiard table felt in dozens of different colors. Besides the well known green , we have also seen billiard table fabrics in red, burgundy, black, purple, olive, khaki, blue, gold, white and lime to name a few.
Billiard felt is usually made out of a nylon and wool blend that is coated in teflon.
Cushions are certainly not a detail to overlook when buying a high quality table. Good tables stay away from synthetic rails and especially synthetic rails that have clay fillers that tend to dry out over time. A standard K-66 profile that uses natural gum is our recommendation.
Pool Table Styles
As there are many ways in which pool tables are constructed there are also many different styles that they come in to fit most any taste and decor. Here is a sampling of a few different styles. The durability of the cloth is determined by its weight per yard. A durable high quality felt has a weight of around 18 to 22 ounces per yard.
- Classic (Antique Reproduction)
Pool Table Accessories
- Balls and Ball Rack
- Cue Sticks
- Bridge Sticks – Since it is a foul to not be touching the floor when a shot is made, some shots help to support the pool cue as the shot is made without having to lie on the table.
- Wall Rack
- Pool Table Light
- Table Covers
- Table and Rail Brushes
- Decorative Wall Art – to set the playing mood
Your Pool Table Budget
The pool table is the anchor piece to any good recreation room. It sets the standard and the mood of the rest of the room. Only you know the budget that you can afford for the table but here are some general guidelines of what each level will give you.
Toy Grade Tables: $700 to $1,300
Economy Grade Tables: $1,300 to $2,100
Mid-Range Grade Tables: $2,100 to $3,500
Heirloom Quality Grade Tables: $3,500 to $16,000
Download from the (World Pool-Billiard Association): Rules of Play