5 Expert Tips To Choose A Pool Table

Choosing the right pool table requires some knowledge about the available types, styles, materials, and sizes. Read these tips and make an informed decision. Go ahead, get a pool table that will fulfill your requirements and will blend with your home environment, as if it's made just for your family!

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1. Which Types of Pool Tables Should I Check Out?

Outdoor pool table

It is a myth that pool tables are meant for game rooms. Today, families enjoy a game in their patio or garden, as much as they do in their game room. Outdoor pool tables cater to this urge to game it out in the open. Besides, they also save precious indoor space.

These pool tables are built to last and to withstand the harsh outdoor environment. Direct sunlight, heat, moisture, rain, and snow, they can take it all and yet provide you with an enjoyable gaming evening year after year. They have rust-resistant metal or light-weight aluminum chassis with a treated marine plywood bed. Adjustable feet can provide a level bed on uneven ground. Most manufacturers provide a rain-cover, and high-end models come with built-in lighting for nighttime games.

Looks-wise, they match the outdoors with their sturdy body and finishes in white, gray, green, soil, brick, and ochre shades. However, make your choice mindfully so that it blends with your type of patio or garden setting.

Outdoor Metal Pool Table in Brown
Water Resistant Outdoor Pool Table
Metal Outdoor Pool Table
Outdoor Water Resistant Pool Table

Mini pool tables

It often happens that billiards enthusiasts don't have spacious game-rooms to accommodate standard-sized pool tables. This does not mean they have to forego their love for billiards. The mini-sized pool tables are made for such people. Having a length of 3' to 6', these pool tables can fit cozily in smaller rooms or even in the corner of a living area. They can be placed equally comfortably in an outdoor setting.

What's more, children and adolescents can also have fun playing pool on these tables.

2.1' Mini Pool Table
Golf Indoor Family 6' Pool Table
Wooden 3' Mini Pool Table
3.4' Mini Slate Pool Table
Mini Pool Table with Accessories
Wooden Mini Pool Table with Full Accessories

Traditional (Classic)

They are built in the Colonial or Victorian style. Made from solid wood, they have deep carvings on the side panels and ornate paw legs with inlay work. A rich leather top and leather drop pockets complete the royal, classic looks of such tables.

Made of wood, these tables are available in endearing finishes that augment any décor:

  • Stain finish
  • French polish
  • Lacquer
  • Shellac
  • Varnish

Traditional pool tables will best match like-minded interiors. Their rich, cultural feel is enhanced by elements such as dark walls, a dimly lit side-bar, ornate chairs, and wood-finish vinyl flooring.

Traditional Billiards Table with Accessories
Wooden Traditional Billiards Table with Accessories
Wooden Classic Professional Pool Table
Decorative Traditional Brown Pool Table
Rustic Wood Traditional Pool Table
Classic Pool Table in Olive

Modern 

This is the counter style of the traditional pool tables. Its youthful, contemporary, and non-conforming character reflects in the many fancy shapes. Another feature of modern pool tables is their designs that do away with the pomp and grandeur of traditional varieties. This is best observed in their light-weight aluminum or wood-panel frames that are simplistic yet elegant.

Do you love the Bauhaus design approach - sharp cuts and blunt angles and straight lines and the natural finishes of wood or metal furniture? Then go for a modern pool table.

Modern Brown Wood and Metal Pool Table
Modern Farmhouse Wooden Billiard Table
Modern Mini Pool Table
Modern Billiards Table with Accessories
Modern Black and White Pool Table

Foldable/portable

These are not tables, but just the pool beds meant to be laid out on the floor like a carpet. You step on it and play your pool game standing! They are more playful than serious. As such, children will enjoy them, and also adults who want to be child-like at times! You can fold these billiards table-tops and carry them anywhere, so gaming while on a picnic is a doable idea.

Regular pool tables in smaller sizes - typically 6' tables are also available in light-weight, foldable designs. They can be collapsed and stored conveniently when not in use or moved outdoors for a game in the garden.

Metal and Wood Foldable Pool Table
Black Foldable Pool Table
Pop up Foldable and Portable Pool Table
Small Foldable Pool Table
All Black Foldable Billiards Table

Conversion tops

These are tables on which you can play two different games; typically, pool and table-tennis. How do you do this? The manufacturer provides a separate top for table-tennis, complete with a metal apron, along with the pool table. So, when you are in the mood for table-tennis, just place the ping pong top on the pool top and start playing. It is available in adoptive sizes that fit on different pool table sizes.

2. Is There a Size-Guide for Pool Tables?

Yes, and interestingly, it's not just about pool table-to-room size ratio.

Remember, you have to take your shots with the long, 58" pool cue. So, you need adequate space around the pool table to maneuver the cue, manage the backhand stroke effectively, and take a winning shot.

So, how do you accommodate all these considerations while deciding on the pool table size for your room?

The rule of the thumb is - leave about 64" (5'-4") on all the sides of the pool table for a comfortable playing field. This will give you an adequate elbow room while taking a shot. Hence, for instance, if you want to purchase a standard 7' (84") pool table with 42" width, your gaming area will be 12 ¼' (148") x 8 ¾' (106") x 12 ¼' (148") x 8 ¾'. Add to this the optimum floor space for the pool cue rack, sitting arrangement, and movement space.

The math becomes a bit overwhelming, right? That's' why we have simplified it for you in the below ready reckoner.

Standard pool tables' dimensions                  Ideal game-room plan

7' (84" x 42")                                                           17 ½' x 14'   

8' (96" x 48")                                                           18 ½' x 14 ¾'

9' (108" x 54") (regulation size)                        20' x 15 ¼'

3. What Are the Materials I Should Check Out?

While wood is the most commonly used material in the construction of pool tables, manufactured wood, metal, ABS plastic, and wood-metal combination are the other materials used to produce pool tables.

Black Laminate Manufactured Wood Pool Table
Black Wood Pool Table
Dark Brown Wood Pool Table
Decorative Rattan and Wood Pool Table
Black Manufactured Wood Pool Table
Black Wood and Metal Pool Table

4. Why Is The Material Of The Playing Surface So Important?

When you strike a ball, its speed, velocity, direction and smoothness of the roll depend on the quality of the playing surface (bed). It can make the difference between winning and losing a game. Hence, it is essential that the pool bed be absolutely flat and does not warp or otherwise deform with time. Choose a pool table with any of these playing surfaces:

  • Slate - the best pool bed surfaces are made from slate, a type of stone that can be finished immaculately to give a smooth, level, and dimple-free striking surface. The standard thicknesses are ¾", 1", and 1 ¼". The Billiard Congress of America (BCA) has approved 1" as the competition-grade slate thickness.

  • Felt - a fabric made from wool and nylon, is also an ideal surface material for pool tables because it does not warp or deform, offers a smooth rolling surface, and is very durable. Look for Teflon-coated felt for spill and stain-proof surfaces. Worsted felt because its fibers are combed before they are spun. Hence, they offer speed and accuracy to the strikes. Green and red are the most commonly used colors.

  • Medium-density fiberboard or MDF is used for smaller, portable pool tables. It is warp-resistant and affordable.

Slate Pool Table in Mustard Brown
Slate Pool Table in Light Blue
Woden Slate Pool Table in Blue
Modern Slate Pool Table in Brown
Grey Wood Slate Pool Table
Outdoor Slate Pool Table in Grey

5. Which Features Should I Examine Before Getting a Pool Table?

These are the important ones:

  • Frame. It could be wood or metal but sturdy enough to hold the playing area firmly so that it does not sag. In particular, slate surfaces should have solid wood cross-bar frames to support it firmly.

  • Top rails. Wooden rails are better than particle board because they are long-lasting, they hold the cushion material more firmly, and offer a better rebound to balls.

  • Rail cushions. Ensure that they are A-grade K-66 natural gum rubber bumpers, the industry standard for an excellent rebound of balls. Also, check if they are lined with canvas for an added layer of cushioning.

  • Pockets. Depending upon the type of pool table you want, look for:

  • Drop pockets. These are net pockets from which you have to manually collect the potted balls. They come with the smaller pool tables and the portable models.

  • Ball return. It is a system of sloping tracks and gutters under the playing area. It rolls the potted balls from all the six holes to a central collection point, which is often a cabinet under the slate-top. This system is installed in the larger pool tables.

  • Eco-friendly wood. If you are opting for a wood-dominated pool table, it is a good idea to check out whether the wood is responsibly sourced. This means that the wood used in the pool table is sourced from responsibly managed forests that ensure environmental, social, and economic balance. For this, there is a Forest Stewardship Council FSC US National Standard for forest management certification. This compliance will help conserve the forests as you enjoy billiards year after year.

Lily is a modern designer with great appreciation for sleek architecture, a love for art in its many forms, and a passion for sharing her experience with people. If you’re looking for advice on how to modernize your old-fashioned place or make your new restaurant a visual blast, she’s definitely the one to ask.