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by David Roeder •

Pool Table Buyer’s Guide

Have you been thinking about getting a pool table for your home but are unsure where to start? Maybe you have browsed different tables and have questions about their construction. You might have questions about what features and options you have with handcrafted pool tables. Fortunately, our pool table buying guide will help answer your questions and provide you with a wealth of information to help you choose the best pool table for your home. What to Look For When Buying a Pool Table There are several different components you will need to consider for your pool table. They are broken down into different categories based on the materials used to build the table, as follows: Felt/Cloth Slate Rails and Cushions Cabinet/Frame Legs Equipment and Accessories You should familiarize yourself with each of these components and the materials used for each one. Doing so will help you determine which ones will be best for your pool table. Felt/Cloth The pool table felt, or cloth, is the material used over the playing surface. There are different materials used to make the pool table felt. However, the best cloth is made from a blend of wool or worsted wool and nylon that has been finished with a Teflon coating. Both these types of cloth are durable and last fairly long, depending on how frequently you play pool. You also want the weight of the felt to be at least 22 ounces per yard or more. This provides the best durability. Blatt Billiards Playing Cloth – This cloth is a blend of 75 percent wool and 25 percent nylon. Its weight is 22 ounces per yard. It is well-suited for beginner pool players and is very durable. Simonis 860 Playing Cloth – This cloth is a blend of 90 percent worsted wool and 10 percent nylon. Its weight is 27 ounces per yard. It is a higher-quality cloth that is best for traction, speed, accuracy, and tournament play. It is also very durable. Slate Slate is the material that is used below the pool table felt and installed to make the pool table bed. It is made from metamorphic rock composed of sedimentary rock and volcanic ash or clay. It is a highly durable material that provides superior performance when used to build pool tables. It comes in one-piece, three-piece or 4 piece sections. Three-piece slate is better because it makes it easier to move the pool table should you ever need to relocate it, reduces the number of seams on the surface and is less pliable then a single piece. . In addition, slate also comes in different thicknesses ranging from a three-quarter inch all the way to 2 inch. However, the BCA (Billiard Congress of America) requires one-inch slate for tournament tables because it provides the best accuracy. Some pool table manufacturers advertise one-inch slate, but it is only ⅞ inch thick. So, we recommend verifying that the slate used is the one-inch thick slate. If you have spent any time shopping for pool tables, you will have seen other materials used in place of slate, such as: MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) Plywood Slatron Honeycomb Permaslate Slatine Slatex However, the primary disadvantage of these materials is they do not provide the same quality of gameplay you get with slate. Therefore, slate is the best material for the pool table bed. Rails and Cushions The rails are the sides of the pool table, while the cushions are the bumpers that line the playing surface. You want to choose rails and cushions made from natural materials for superior gameplay. Natural materials also are more durable and last longer compared to synthetic materials. Cabinet/Frame The pool table cabinet and frame should be made from natural wood materials. Different hardwoods are available and can be finished in different colors to suit your tastes. You should avoid plastic and synthetic materials, as they do not perform well and cannot properly support the slate. When the slate is not supported correctly, it will gradually start to sag into the table, making gameplay difficult. Additionally, the more it sags, the more likely it will break, and your pool table will be unusable. Ideally, you want a high-quality wood frame with the proper supports and cross beams to fully support the slate’s weight. The best pool tables use a dual-beam construction with two long beams and two cross beams. Of course, some tables use fewer beams, but, at the very least, you need at least the dual-beam construction. Legs The pool table frame and cabinet are vital to the structure and durability of the table. As you can imagine, you need sturdy and durable legs to support all the weight. The legs should also account for the weight of players when they lean against the table to make different shots. Ideally, you want solid wood legs that consist of a post-like construction. There are two general types of legs—single piece and two piece. Single-piece legs consist of a single piece of wood attached under the table. Two-piece legs consist of an anchor system that is attached to the legs and provides added support. However, you need to verify a quad-anchor system is used, as it is the most secure and prevents the anchor system nut and bolts from loosening. Equipment and Accessories While you want a high-quality pool table, you will also want quality equipment and accessories for the best gaming experience. Pool Balls/Billiard Balls – You will need at least one set of pool balls to play. A normal pool ball set includes fifteen numbered balls consisting of striped and solid balls. There is also a single white cue ball. If you want to play snooker, a billiards game, you will need a snooker ball set. Pool Cues – You will want to have at least one set of quality pool cues. These can be made from wood, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or graphite. Most beginners start with wooden cues since they are the easiest to use when learning how to play pool. Pool cues will range in length from 48 inches to 58 inches long. So, you need to verify what length you need to have sufficient room to play pool. Pool Bridge Cue – A pool bridge cue is an essential piece of equipment that helps you make difficult shots. Quality bridges feature a brass head and wooden handle. Ball Racks – To play traditional pool, you will need a triangle ball rack. You will also need a 9-ball rack to play 9-ball. Ball racks are available in solid wood, carbon fiber, and aluminum. Pool Table Felt Brush – You will need a special brush to clean the felt and keep it clean after playing pool. There are different types of brushes depending on the type of pool table cloth. Cue Storage Racks – You will need either a wall or floor storage system to store pool cues, the pool bridge, ball racks, and pool balls. Bridge Cue Wall Bracket – Some storage racks feature storage space for the bridge cue, and others do not. If you select a storage rack without bridge cue storage, you will need a wall bracket. Pool Table Protective Cover – You will want to get a pool table protective cover to protect the top and sides of the pool table when it is not being used. Pool Table Inserts – Table inserts are placed over the playing surface when you need added protection. For example, you have a cat that will get on top of the pool table. A cover alone will not stop the cover from sinking into the table, but with a pool table insert, the cover will not sink. Pool Table Set Up High-quality pool tables usually will arrive in different sections and pieces. Putting one together requires expertise and knowledge. Assembly is an intricate process, as each piece needs to be securely put together. The slate also needs to be placed correctly in the bed. In addition, the table will need to be leveled to ensure proper gameplay. As such, we recommend hiring a professional pool table installer like one of our expert installers. Pool Table Placement The location and placement of a pool table should be in a room that can accommodate the table’s overall size. It would help if you also accounted for playing space so that it is easy to move around the table and make shots. You should measure the dimensions of the room’s open space and use these to determine what size pool table will fit in the space. You do not want to use the room dimensions if there is furniture in the room. Do not forget to account for the length of the pool cues. 7-Foot Pool Table with 58-Inch Cues – You will need, at the very minimum, a room that is 13 feet 6 inches x 16 feet and 8 inches. 8-Foot Pool Table with 58-Inch Cues – The minimum room space needed is 13 feet 11 inches x 17 feet 4 inches. 9-Foot Pool Table with 58-Inch Cues – You need open room space of 14 feet 6 inches x 18 feet 4 inches. Of course, if you have shorter pool cues, your room size requirements will be slightly less. So, your first step when you are serious about purchasing a pool table is to ensure you have sufficient space in your home. Some ideal locations for your pool table are in a finished basement, large living room, game room, or dining room. Features to Look for in Pool Table Cabinets/Frames We touched briefly on some of the essential information you need to know about pool table cabinets and frames. In this section, we take a closer look at the main components. Main Beams You want a pool table with solid wood beams that run from the pool table head to the foot. These should be continuous with notching for the cross beams. Cross Beams The cross-section beams should also be solid wood and run from one side to the other side of the pool table. They are notched to fit into the main beams and provide a solid support system for the slate. Slate Framing The slate should be framed to make it easy to install into the pool table bed. Each section should fit together accurately for a smooth surface. Framing also makes it easier to secure the cloth to the slate and prevents bubbles and wrinkles. Sub Frame The sub frame is directly below the slate and should be made from solid wood. It can be placed on top of the support beams to provide additional support for the slate. Corner Brackets The corner brackets should have multiple contact points with the various panels used for the cabinet. High-quality tables should use multiple brackets placed in key locations to make the cabinet sturdy. Cabinet The cabinet should consist of natural materials, such as hardwoods, and be at least one and one-quarter inches thick. Upper Leg Design The upper leg design should be larger than the lower section that sits on the floor. Having a wider upper portion provides a larger contract area where the legs are secured to the bottom of the cabinet. Quad Anchor System Two-piece leg designs require a quad anchor system where the nuts and bolts are installed on both sides of the leg. This prevents the legs from coming loose, turning, and slipping. Transition Plate A transition plate can be used to create a larger contact area between the cabinet and the legs when the leg design does not have a large upper design. Pool Table Brands and Manufacturers Brunswick Brunswick is one of the most well-known manufacturers of pool tables and billiard tables. They have been creating high-quality tables for over 150 years. They offer a wide range of designs, options, and styles. Olhausen Olhausen pool tables are manufactured by a family-owned company in Tennessee. They are well-known for their quality, selection, and value. They have been handcrafting pool tables for almost fifty years. Presidential Presidential pool tables are famous for their cutting-edge designs. Each table is handcrafted from exotic woods from renewable sources and Zimbabwe fair-trade artisans. They offer heirloom-quality pool tables at reasonable prices. Blatt Custom Blatt Billiards is proud of our Blatt custom pool tables, which we have been handcrafting for almost 100 years. We offer a choice between our Elite Custom and Semi-Custom table to give you the flexibility to design and create the perfect pool table for your home. Each of our pool tables is made from the highest quality materials to provide years of enjoyment. Our Elite Custom tables offer the most flexibility when you want to have a broader range of customizations with your pool table. Should you desire even more flexibility, our experienced pool table designers are available to work with you to create your dream pool table. We can take your vision of what you want and transform it into the heirloom piece you desire. When we build one of these tables, we use time-honored traditions of handcrafting every piece. This is why our tables take over 400 hours to make. The result is a truly one-of-a-kind pool table you and your family will enjoy for generations.   Multi-Purpose Pool Tables A multi-purpose pool table is the perfect solution when you have limited space in your home that does not allow you to have a stand-alone pool table. These pool tables feature the same high-quality features as regular pool and billiard tables. However, when they are not in use, they can be easily converted into a dining room table by installing the protective solid wood cover over the table. So not only can you get the pool table of your dreams, but you can also use it for dining and entertaining family and friends. The Blatt Billiards Guarantee No matter what brand, style, and design of pool table you select for your home from our extensive selection of high-quality pool tables, each one comes with the Blatt Billiards Guarantee. This guarantee provides 100 percent customer satisfaction for life. We love handcrafted and quality pool tables and reflect that in our attention to detail for each table we sell or manufacture. We will be there to ensure your table lasts a lifetime, and we guarantee you will be proud to tell your family and friends your pool table is from Blatt Billiards. Why Should I Invest in a Handcrafted Pool Table? We understand that you have plenty of choices when selecting a pool table. However, when you want the best of the best, you need to look at a handcrafted pool table as an heirloom piece of furniture that you can pass down to future generations. In addition, you will not find a better pool playing experience. Once you play on a handcrafted table that uses worsted wool billiard cloth, you will never want to play on any other type of pool table again. Most importantly, you should view buying a handcrafted pool table as an investment. With the proper care and maintenance, your pool table should increase in value over time. We hope our pool table buying guide has provided you with the information you need to narrow down your selections and choose a pool table for your home. Should you have further questions or need any advice, please contact Blatt Billiards at 212-674-8855 today.