There is something to be said for buying the right pool table. Buying a pool table is very similar to buying a car. In many ways you can relate the entire billiards industry to the automobile industry. It’s amazing how many lessons our pool table manufacturers and retailers can learn from the trusted automotive industry. There are dozens of different manufacturers in different countries. Next, you have to choose where you are going to buy your pool table. Will you decide to buy from an authorized dealer or a little timer in your garage? Within that, you’ll notice that there are several different designs and sizes. There is a wide range of options in the raw materials with which it is built. Even more, you need to decide what options you want including: stains, fabrics, sights, and accessories. Are you going to buy new or used? And the list goes on and on …
The recommendation to buy new is always the best. Why? Forget for a moment about the different qualities and brands available. Now really consider the disadvantages of buying a new pool table. There is just one real downside, the price. If you are considering buying a pool table and are motivated by price alone; then it may be more appropriate for you to settle for something used. However, if you can wait, if you can take some time to curb the impulse to buy now; then you will realize that you would be giving away all the advantages that come with buying a new one. Remember that there are numerous brands and qualities. You would be abandoning customization, quality, generational change, guarantees and guarantees. Does anything more need to be said? It’s obvious.
Buying a pool table is a huge expense. You shouldn’t have to simply settle for either a used one or a retailer’s stock because it’s cheaper. You wouldn’t settle for the car you don’t want just because it’s cheap, would you? Maybe, but you know what you want. You know what you like. Build it and be part of the process. This is going to be something that you can pass on to your children’s children. However, there are certain times when buying in-stock inventory or used items may make more sense. I only know what is right for you.
Alright, so what is the best pool table available? That is up for debate. I’ve worked with and seen just about everything there is over the years. Some are great others are firewood. Generally speaking, I would recommend that you buy something made in the United States, that uses hardwood in the construction, and that contains Brazilian or Italian slate in three-piece form.
As a side note: China tables just aren’t good. China slate is not good. If you think blackboard is just blackboard; then tell that to the many customers who made the mistake of buying these and needed frame rebuilds, whiteboard replacement, and new parts that ended up costing them more money than they paid for the whole new table. Chinese slate is rigid and hard and does not allow it to flex, so it cracks and breaks easily. Their pool tables are mass-produced on “the line” with stains and spray finishes. They sure look great. They may even play nice for a while, but those finishes crack and the cheap woods used warp. It doesn’t take long for that to happen either.
There is also a difference between MADE IN USA and BUILT IN USA. There are many companies in the United States that claim to be made in the USA, but in reality they only assemble here. I’m not buying someone like that. Do your research, talk to the right people, and educate yourself. I can list many American manufacturers for you, but that would be settling down and detracting from product research. Let’s try to remember that this is more of a process than an impulse purchase.
One-piece slate tables are outdated for the home. In bars they are nice, but that is not what you want in your house. First of all, who wants to move it? Nobody does it. Second, they just can’t get the same kind of level of accuracy that a three-piece slate table can get. General leveling is all you get with a one piece slate and three pieces of slate not only give you that but also add an element of fine tuning that will hold that level longer and also resist warping.
Finding the right manufacturer and retailer will take some time. Find the best ones that fit your budget, and more importantly, fit your needs. The internet can give you ideas, but you have to go out and see the product. Take your time. Find what works best. Remember it’s your money.
The size and style is completely up to you. There is nothing here that anyone can do to influence these. How much space do you have? This will help you assess what size will fit in your current home. However, think about this carefully. Remember, as Americans, we move frequently. What may fit in your current home may not fit in the next. What decoration do you have and present in your home? Does a traditional look, contemporary design or tournament style suit you and your home? There can be options on a pool table from the legs, frame (arched, non-arched, double arched) and rail edges (routed, smooth, scalloped). All of these things must be considered. Get out there and look at them!
These are the most common types of woods used to make pool tables. In general, you will see particle board with veneer and laminate over it, poplar wood (or tulip wood), oak (white or red), hard white maple, hickory, walnut, mahogany, or some other exotic wood. There are tables made of marble, car parts, metal, and other strange materials. However, their standard hardwoods will be oak or maple for most traditional models, and a laminate will typically be used on their modern tournament-style corner tables. Rule of thumb: stick to the standard woods and work your way up.
Which of these are important to you? Which are not? Generally, your domestic hardwoods are going to last a long time. Just another important note on “hardwoods”, poplar is technically considered a hardwood, but most don’t recognize it that way. It is soft and easily deformed even if you press it layered. Don’t be fooled by the seller. Tournament style tables are virtually all made of particle board with a high or low quality laminate. Don’t let that stop you from buying one because the particle isn’t that great. It’s not, but some good name brand things make a good table.
There are a multitude of different stains and finishes available these days. The stain is basically the color that they give to the wood, while the finish is what covers the protection and shine. The colors of the spots range from natural and light colors to dark and black. Finishes will typically be available in only a few different options, with the most popular being matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. These two elements are related to your personal wishes and your decoration. Check them all out, especially in comparison to your fabric color options.
Gone are the days of the traditional green cloth. There are dozens of colors available now, and you’re not limited to the greens and blues of the past. However, there are different types of fabric. They will fall into two types: wool and worsted.
Fleece cloth, or nap cloth, is your standard in home and recreational fabrics. Most retailers include this type as the standard cloth when purchasing a table. You will very rarely see it in a pool hall unless the owner is cheap. This fabric is usually a blend of nylon and wool. It is sometimes known as a nap cloth because it has microfibers that pick up similar to carpet. Pros stay away from this cloth because it doesn’t pull on the board as hard to reduce speed and accuracy, it tends to pill, the balls gouge the grooves and it gives you the “wig”.
Worsted cloth is also a similar blend with a much higher wool content. This material is the best of the best. It’s elastic enough to stretch to incredible tension, giving the game extreme precision and speed that’s consistent enough to allow professionals to hold position throughout a game. It doesn’t pill or tear like its woolen brother, and it’s heavy and durable, extending its life in most scenarios. If you have the extra money, get it! Don’t skimp on fabric, but keep in mind that there’s really only one true manufacturer and the other brands of worsted are just cheap imitations.
Sights come in many different materials and styles. You’ll see round and diamond-shaped sights made from plastic, mother-of-pearl, abalone, and metals like brass and chrome. You can have them be different colors or have a double diamond look. The most common double diamond style will consist of a view of mother-of-pearl surrounded by abalone. This gives the pool table a completely different look and feel.
Then we come to the accessories. They are what they are and in most cases you will get a kit with your table that comes straight from China and just generally sucks. It’s okay though because these are starter articles. Naturally, you want the best you can get with the purchase, but don’t let anyone tell you that your table is better because it has better accessories. Once you learn the game and become more involved, you’ll appreciate and understand the value of upgrading gear over time. Personally, if the balls are not Aramith and the signs are not of American descent; So I don’t want them. However, they get expensive and aren’t really necessary until you get familiar with the game and want better gear.
So the last thing to mention while searching for the perfect pool table is warranties and guarantees. Why is this important? Simple, if the manufacturer doesn’t back their product for life, and a retailer doesn’t back their work with a lifetime warranty; So what good is the product and service being provided? Remember that generational step? How can you be expected to do that if the manufacturer and seller don’t even believe in their product? It’s hard to find the right combination of manufacturer to dealer, but they’re there. If you can’t deliver these two simple things, then you shouldn’t be in business at all. Forget them.
If the brand is correct, call the manufacturer and tell them you want their product without involving retailers and tell them why. If the retailer is right and the brand is wrong, you may need to explore other options with them or find another brand.
This is about you and this is the perspective for your analysis. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you in terms of brand, cost, quality, and style.