Choosing the right pool table for you
There is something to be said about buying the right pool table. Buying a pool table is very similar to buying a car. In many ways, you can relate the entire billiard industry to the automotive 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. Then, you must choose where you are going to buy your pool table. Will you decide to buy from an authorized dealer or a small timer in your garage? Within that, you will 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, fabric, sights, and accessories. Are you going to buy new or used? And the list goes on and on …
The new buy recommendation is always the best. Why? Forget for a moment, about the different qualities and brands available. Now really consider the downsides of buying a new pool table. There’s just one real downside: the price. If you are considering buying a pool table and are motivated only by price and price; then it may be more suitable for you to just settle for something used. However, if you can wait, if you can take the time to curb the urge to buy now; then you will notice that you would be giving away all the advantages that comes with buying a new product. Remember that there are numerous brands and qualities. You would be abandoning customization, quality, generational transfer, guarantees and endorsements. Do you need to say anything else? It’s obvious.
Buying a pool table is a huge expense. You shouldn’t have to just 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, right? 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 or used items may make more sense. Just know what is right for you.
Alright, so what is the best pool table available? That is up for debate. I have worked and seen pretty much everything there is over the years. Some are great, some are firewood. Generally speaking, I would recommend that you buy something made in the USA, use hardwood in construction, and contain a Brazilian or Italian slate in the form of three pieces.
As a side note: China’s charts are just not good. The Chinese slate is just not good. If you think that the blackboard is just a blackboard; then tell that to the many customers who made the mistake of buying them and needed frame rebuilds, slate replacement, and new parts that ended up costing them more money than they paid for the whole new table. Chinese slate is stiff and hard and does not allow it to flex, so it cracks and breaks easily. Their pool tables are mass produced “in line” with spray stains and finishes. They sure look great. They may even play nice for a while, but those finishes will crack and cheap used woods will warp. It also doesn’t take long for that to happen.
There is also a difference between MADE IN THE USA and BUILT IN USA. There are many companies in the United States that claim to have made in the US But they are really only assembled here. I don’t buy from 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 offset and detract from product research. Let’s try to remember that this is a process rather than an impulse purchase.
One-piece slate tables are outdated for the home. In bars they are nice, but that’s not what you want at home. First of all, who wants to move it? Nobody does it. Second, they just can’t get the same kind of level of precision that a three-piece slate table can get. Overall leveling is all you get with the one-piece slate and three pieces of slate not only give you that, but they also add a fine-tuning element that will hold that level longer and resist warping as well.
Finding the right manufacturer and retailer will take some time. Find the best ones that fit your budget and most importantly, fit your needs. The internet can give you the ideas, but you have to go out and see the product. Take your time. Find what works best. Remember that it is your money.
The size and style is entirely up to you. There is nothing here that anyone can do to influence them. How much space do you have? This will help you calculate the size that will fit your current home. However, think about this carefully. Remember, like Americans, we move often. What may fit your current home may not fit your next. What decoration do you have and present in your home? Does a traditional style, a contemporary design or a tournament style suit you and your home? There can be options in a pool table from the legs, the frame (arched, no arch, double arch) and the edges of the rails (routed, smooth, scalloped). All of these things must be taken into account. Get out there and look at them!
There are the most common types of wood that are used to make pool tables. Generally, you will see veneered and laminated particle board, poplar wood (or tulip wood), oak (white or red), hard white maple, walnut, walnut, mahogany, or some other exotic woods. There are tables made of marble, auto parts, metal, and other strange materials. However, your standard hardwoods will be oak or maple for most traditional models and a laminate will typically be used on modern tournament-style corner tables. Rule of thumb: stick with 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 smooth and easily deformed even if you press it in layers. Don’t be fooled by the seller. Tournament style tables are almost all made of chipboard with a high or low quality laminate. Don’t let that stop you from buying one because the particle isn’t that good. It isn’t, but some good brand stuff makes it a good table.
There are a multitude of different stains and finishes available these days. The stain is basically the color they give to the wood, while the finish is what covers that for protection and shine. The colors of the spots range from natural and light colors, to dark and black. Finishes will generally be available in just 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 decoration. Check them all, especially compared to your fabric color options.
They are no longer the days of the traditional green cloth. There are dozens of colors available now and you are not limited to the greens and blues of the past. However, there are different types of fabric. They will be divided into two types: wool and yarn.
The woolen cloth, or nap cloth, is their standard in the home and recreational cloth. Most retailers include this type as a standard cloth when purchasing a table. You will very rarely see it in a billiard room unless the owner is stingy. This fabric is usually a blend of nylon and wool. It is sometimes referred to as a nap cloth because it has microfibers that rise up similar to carpet. Professionals stay away from this fabric because it doesn’t pull on the board as hard to reduce speed and accuracy, it tends to ball up, the balls will mark the grooves and give you the “wiggle”.
Combed fabric is also a similar blend with a much higher wool content. This stuff is the best of the best. It is elastic enough to stretch to incredible tension, giving the game extreme precision and speed that is consistent enough to allow professionals to hold position throughout the game. It won’t crack 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 know that there really is only one true manufacturer and the other combed wool brands are cheap knockoffs.
The sights come in different materials and styles. You will see round and diamond-shaped sights made of plastics, mother-of-pearl, abalone, and metals like brass and chrome. You can make them different colors or have a double diamond look. The most common double diamond style will consist of a mother-of-pearl view surrounded by abalone. This gives the pool table a completely different look and feel.
Then we come to accessories. They are what they are and most of the time, you will get a kit with your table that comes straight from China and it usually sucks. However, that’s fine because these are starter items. Naturally, you want the best you can get with the purchase, but don’t let anyone tell you that their table is better because it has better accessories. Once you learn the game and become more involved, you will appreciate and understand the value of upgrading equipment over time. Personally, if the balls are not Aramith and the signals are not decent American; then I don’t want them. However, they get expensive and are not as necessary until you become familiar with the game and want better equipment.
So the last thing to mention while searching for the perfect pool table is the 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? Do you remember that generational step? How can you expect it to do that if the manufacturer and the seller don’t even believe in your product? It’s hard to find the right mix from manufacturer to dealer, but they are there. If you can’t offer these two simple things, then you shouldn’t be in business at all. Forget them.
If the brand is right, call the manufacturer and tell them you want their product without the involvement of 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 all about you and this is the information for your analysis. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what is right for you in terms of brand, cost, quality and style.