The Ultimate Pool Table Buyers Guide

X-base pool table is a luxury option

Buying a pool table is not a trivial decision to be made on a whim. There are many options to contemplate carefully considering your pool table could be a permanent resident in your home for 20 years or more. Apart from the style and look of your table which will definitely change the feel of your room, there’s the playing experience to consider as well. This pool table buyers guide sheds light on everything you need to know to make an informed purchase.

Things to consider before buying a pool table

  1. Decide on the purpose of your table
  2. Choose the table type you will be playing on 
  3. Familiarize yourself with general quality guidelines 
  4. Considering new vs. used?
  5. Determine your sizing options
  6. What’s the average price of a pool table?

Decide on the purpose of your table

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself to set the tone of the purchase process is “What type of paying experience are you looking for?” This is a key aspect of your purchase because it affects two very big attributes of your table; the material of the tabletop and the price of the table.

If you’re looking for a distraction to keep your kids busy and aren’t concerned about playability then you know you don’t have to go big. Buying a less expensive table isn’t necessarily a bad purchase if it serves your purpose. 

Keep in mind, you get what you pay for.

For a table that’s worthy of the savviest of players, you will need to familiarize yourself with a few components that make a huge impact on playability and durability. Your first major decision lies in what tabletop material to choose.

Choose the correct table type

If you’re half serious about buying a good billiard table you won’t be purchasing anything other than a slate table. Slate table tops are the industry standard for all pool tables and are typically made in three sizes: ¾”, 7/8″, and 1” thickness (the tournament standard is a 1” slate table).

The fact that slate is a natural rock means the weight of a slate table is incredibly heavy. Most tables clock in at roughly 600 lbs. The weight lends to additional stability and consistency but also causes problems for shipping and shifting. To this point, most manufacturers avoid making 1 piece slate tables and opt for 3 piece slate tables.

Why is slate the best option?

Slate is a type of rock that splits into wide, flat pieces making it the perfect material to use for pool and billiards. Obviously, a flat playing surface makes for a higher-quality playing experience. The ball will roll true with no unexpected deviations caused by imperfections on the surface.

Can you imagine having to judge the slope of your table like you would on a difficult golf green?! If you enjoy a competitive game you don’t want a table that requires you to compensate for the ball breaking one way because the table is slanted.

Another reason slate is the top-choice in quality is the fact that slate will stand the test of time without warping or cracking (if you don’t abuse it). The decision to purchase a slate pool table is a decision to make a long-term investment.

Slate bed tabletop

So choose the right spot for your table because there’s a good chance it’s not going anywhere for a decade or two!

Synthetic options for slate alternatives

Let’s roll it back a few steps to reiterate a point. Informed decision-making results in smart purchases. There are less expensive alternatives if you’re not super invested in the idea of owning a pool table that lasts for more than 20 years.

If owning a table that plays at tournament quality is at the lower end of your list of priorities, consider purchasing a pool table made with a slate alternative. The most common alternatives are wood, fibreboard, plywood and plastics.

Permaslate

Your next step down from a slate table is that made of permaslate also known as slatron. This lighter material is composed of particleboard and layers of plastic. It is known to have smooth playing surfaces yet a much shorter lifespan than slate.

Permaslate does much better against changes in temperature and humidity than its slate alternative counterparts.

Honeycomb tabletop

This type of tabletop is composed of two layers of plastic (top and bottom) with honeycomb material in between. While this is considered a step down from permaslate, it’s considered a step up from Medium Density Fibreboard (particleboard or MDF). 

The honeycomb tabletop is less prone to warping over time than MDF.

Medium-density Fibreboard (Particleboard or MDF)

This type of tabletop material is at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to quality and playability. The advantages of a particleboard tabletop are mobility (because of its lightweight) and low cost. These types of tabletops will warp and wear over time-especially with changes in temperature and humidity.

Pool table made with MDF particleboard tabletop
MDF tabletop

All synthetics have the advantage of being lightweight and cost-effective. The downside to this is that they don’t last as long and do not provide the stability and consistency of a slate table.

General quality guidelines to be aware of on slate tables

While the table type may be the most important aspect of your purchase decision, it’s important to be able to recognize the quality of features you’ll find on a billiard table. Not only does each of the following play a role in the total price you pay but will also lend to the aesthetics and durability of your pool table.

pool table frame to support slate

Inspect the frame

The frame of your table is what supports the slate and keeps it securely in place. You want a frame that provides a minimum level of stability to ensure the slate doesn’t move or crack during the life of your table.

Generally, most slate tables will have two cross beams and a center beam to support their weight. It’s not to say that other designs won’t work but it may be worth researching if you don’t see this support design.

Look for sturdy legs

The next natural progression is to make sure the legs of your pool table are sturdy. This almost goes without saying for slate tables because of the enormous weight the legs are required to support. It’s common to see a central pedestal that supports the entire table if the size permits it. There are no limits to the number of legs you could possibly see on a table.

Pool table with six legs

Cushions on the bumpers and rails

Get the highest quality cushion from tables that are constructed with natural gum. Of course, you can opt for a gum blend, but natural gum lasts the longest. 

It may seem redundant but it needs to be mentioned; synthetic materials are at the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to quality. 

You know the cushions have seen the best of their days when the ball goes “dead” when it hits the rail. Synthetic material ends up drying out which reduces the amount of “bounce” the ball has when it hits the rail. So if you want more bounce to the ounce, get the gum-filled cushions.

Opt for quality cloth

Felt is made up of wool and nylon blends. In some cases, there are blends of Teflon mixed in to make it stronger. Choosing the cloth on your table resembles buying a suit. The best table felt you can use is a blend using worsted wool (Simonis 860 uses 90% worsted wool and 10% felt). This type of blend gives the cloth the smoothest and most durable playing surface. 

4 type of pool table felt

Do I buy a new pool table or buy a used pool table?

One of the first thoughts that may come to mind as a conservative Canadian is that you could save money buying a really nice used pool table. While this may be true, there are many caveats to buying a used pool table that you should be aware of. 

In fact, when you break it down to the pros and cons of buying new vs. used, there really is no argument. Unless you’re a shark when it comes to pool table construction, don’t buy used UNLESS you can buy from a friend or someone you trust.

The problem with buying a used table is that it’s difficult to tell exactly what you’re getting. People get rid of things for a number of reasons but among them is the fact they want a newer version. You risk buying a table with cracked slate, warped legs, worn felt or dead bumpers (rails).

The truth is that a quality pool table can last 20 years or more. If you’re buying used you need to know:

  • The exact age of the table
  • The condition of the slate
  • Any accidents or mishaps that have reduced playability
  • How to assess the wear and tear on the important features
Ugly beat up used billiard table

Compare the savings on a new vs. used pool table

If you can get an accurate assessment on all of the things listed above (or you trust the person you’re buying from) it may be worth it to purchase a used table.

Before you purchase a used pool table add up the following costs:

  • Replacing cloth
  • Replacing pockets
  • Replacing bumpers
  • Moving cost (slate tables should be moved by professionals who will disassemble and reassemble the 600 lb. piece of furniture).

Compare this with the cost of a new table. In most cases, it isn’t worth the difference. Having said that, somewhere out there is probably an incredible deal to be had.

Determine your sizing options

Pool tables come in a variety of sizes. Regardless of whether you want the most professional experience ever-it may not be possible if you don’t have the space in your home.

Not only do you need to consider fitting the pool table in your basement or spare room but you also need to consider the space you need around the table to play the game. You need to be able to walk around comfortably, line up shots with the proper stance and have space for a backswing.

So let’s start with the official pool table sizes that are sold in stores.

Regulation pool table sizes

  • 12-ft (snooker):  140″ (356.9 cm) x 70″ (177.8 cm)
  • 10-ft (oversized):  112″ (284.5 cm) x 56″ (142.2 cm)
  • 9-ft (regulation size table):  100″ (254 cm) x 50″ (127 cm)
  • 8-ft+ (pro 8):  92″ (233.7 cm) x 46″ (116.8 cm)
  • 8-ft (typical home table): 88″ (223.5 cm) x 44″ (111.8 cm)
  • 7-ft+ (large “bar box”):  78-82″ (198.1-208.3 cm) x 39-41″ (99.1-104.1 cm)
  • 7-ft (“bar box”):  74-78″ (188-198.1 cm) x 37-39″ (94-99.1 cm)
  • 6-ft (“small bar box”):  70-74″ (177.8-188 cm) x 35-37″ (88.9-94 cm)

Now consider the cues and areas around your table. Here’s a general guide:

Pool room space required based on the size of the table and size of the cue

Seven foot table: 3.5’ x 7’

  • A – 11′ x 14′
  • B – 12′ x 15′
  • C – 13′ x 16′

Eight foot table: 4’ x 8’

  • A – 12′ x 15′
  • B – 12′ x 16′
  • C – 13′ x 17′

Nine foot table: 4.5’ x 9’

  • A – 12′ x 16′
  • B – 13′ x 17′

What size pool table is the right one for me?

At the end of the day, you have to be realistic about the space you have in your home. For the ultimate playing experience, you’ll want to go with a larger table. If you can fit a tournament-sized table (9-foot table) then you should because not many other people can fit one in their living space. Plus it means you have the money to buy one because you undoubtedly have a pretty big house!

When it comes to deciding between a bar-sized pool table and an 8-foot table, the choice becomes personal. If you go to bars quite often to play pool, you may want the same experience in your home. Why change things up when you can become the ultimate champion on a bar-sized table?

Most homeowners go with an 8-foot table because it’s the closest to regulation and it fits comfortably in your living space. Keep in mind that larger tables present a bigger challenge. If you’re going to have you table for 20 years, you might be something to consider as well.

What is the average price of a pool table?

The average price of a pool table can range between $1200 to $3500 but you can easily find tables outside the average price range. One major factor in the price of a pool table will depend on the table type (slate or synthetic). Other factors that directly affect the cost of the table are how well the table is constructed and designed.

For example, you can easily find a cheap pool table with a synthetic tabletop for $1000.

cheap pool table from walmart

You can also seek out a professional-sized, beautifully designed custom billiard table for as much as $15000.

Luxury pool table custom built

Luxury tables can run you as much as you’re willing to spend.

Custom designed pool table by Vincent

How much should I spend on a pool table?

Being the billiard enthusiasts that we are, we say don’t spend anything if the table isn’t slate! At Canadian Home Leisure, we specialize in the medium range of slate pool tables. An entry-level slate pool table (post-COVID-19 shortages) will come in somewhere around the $2500 price point.

If you think about it, that’s a little more than $100 a year for having the luxury of a beautiful centrepiece in your entertainment arsenal that’s worthy of league players and veterans.

That doesn’t mean we can’t find you a sweeter deal though! If you’re in the market for a slate pool table we can get one to your home at a price you can get excited about. Choose from our Legacy Line or Heritage Collection and bring home one of the best pool or billiard tables in the industry.

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