A dart board can be a great addition to any home game room or garage space. Having become very popular over the past few years, a game of darts brings fun to any gathering. But with so many options, how do you choose?
Below, we share some of our favorite options for the best bristle dartboard, the best electronic dartboard, the best dartboard cabinet and even the best soft tip dartboard. We also give you tips on what to look for when shopping. Our buying guide covers the different types of dart boards, features and options to look for, and other things to consider when looking to purchase a dart board.
Best Electronic & Bristle Dart Boards for the Money (2020)
|BOARD||EDITOR NOTES||WHERE TO BUY|
|Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard||Best Bristle Dartboard For The Money||Amazon, Wayfair|
|Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 Electronic Dartboard||Best Electronic Dartboard||Amazon, Walmart|
|Winmau Blade 5 Dual Core Bristle Dartboard||Best Pro Quality Dartboard||Amazon, Jet.com|
|American Heritage Billiards Cavalier Dart Board Cabinet||Best Dartboard Cabinet||Amazon, Wayfair|
|Doinkit Darts - Magnetic Dart Board||Best Magnetic Dartboard for Kids||Amazon, Walmart|
|Gran Board 2 Bluetooth Electronic Dartboard||Best Bluetooth Dartboard||Amazon|
Types of Dart Boards
As you compare the best dart boards on the market right now, you will notice that they are not all the same type. Below we’ll give you a breakdown on the types of dart boards that you can buy for your home.
Electronic Dart Boards
Electronic dart boards have become increasingly popular in the last few years. The playing surface of an electronic dart board is covered in thousands of tiny holes which, when hit with a dart, automatically record your score. These boards use soft tip darts, but some accommodate steel tip darts (more on darts later). The playing surface is typically larger than other kinds of dart boards, which makes it easier to play on for beginners. All electronic dart boards offer multiple different kinds of games, so be sure the dart game you like to play is included in its offerings.
Bristle Dart Boards
Bristle dart boards are probably the kind you’re most familiar with. These boards are made of compressed sisal fibers glued to a backing board, surrounded with metal banding. The primary advantage of this type of board is that the material and construction allows the hole to close when the dart is removed. For this reason, it is also one of the longer-lasting dart boards available. When shopping, look for a competition level board. Cheaper bristle boards will not be as tightly packed and therefore will not last as long. Also, look for what material is used to separate the scoring sections. Those that use wire and staples are usually cheaper, but these materials can cause bounce out when hit. Going up in price means the board is manufactured using very thin wires with triangular edges and is staple free, reducing or eliminating bounce out. Of course with these and all the other types listed below, you will need to keep score manually with this type of dart board.
Coiled Paper Dart Boards
If you are a beginner and just want to try out darts, or if you’re looking for something inexpensive for your kids to play with, coiled paper could be a good option for you. While they are cheaper than electronic or bristle dart boards, they do not last as long as their counterparts. The idea behind coiled paper dart boards is similar to that of bristle dart boards, in that when the dart is removed from between the layers of paper, the hole will close. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case and you’ll most likely end up damaging the playing surface when you remove the darts.
While dart boards used to be made out of elm or poplar, wood is not as popular a material nowadays, with bristle and electronic board more mainstream. Some companies still make wood dart boards, but instead of being made out of one crosscut piece of wood, they’re assembled by hand from pieces of end grain basswood. An interesting feature of these dartboards is that the scoring areas can be individually moved within the frame. That way, when areas that are hit the most get worn down, they can be rotated to less popular areas on the board. Additionally, the numbers are usually printed on both sides so the board can be flipped if one side becomes too worn.
Cork dart boards, like wood, used to be more popular than they are now. These boards wear out quickly, so they are cheaper than bristle or electronic dart boards, but are not recommended if you play frequently. Note that some people call bristle boards cork boards, so be sure when shopping that you know the material of the boards you’re considering.
Magnetic dart boards are toys and not meant for serious dart play. They’d be a good option for young children who should not use sharper darts. Be aware, however, that the theory that they’ll stick to the surface of the board when thrown is not always the case.
Features & Options To Look For
Now that you know about the available types of dart boards, let us give you a few tips on what features and other things you need to consider before making a selection on the perfect dart board for your home game room, basement, garage or office.
Dart Types and Features
Taking magnetic darts out of the equation, there are two types of darts: soft tip and steel tip. Soft tip darts have flexible plastic tips and are used primarily in electronic darts. Steel tip darts are best used on bristle, coiled paper, or wooden dart boards. Since they are significantly sharper than soft tip darts, these should not be give to young children to play with unless supervised while playing.
Size of Target Area
The playing surface or target area of a dart board can vary, usually based on the type of board you purchase. Electronic dart boards range from 13.5 inches in diameter to 15.5 inches (regulation size) in diameter. Bristle boards are typically 18 inches in diameter with a 13.5 inch target area. Since electronic dart boards are available with a larger target area, they are more popular for beginning dart players.
This is just a feature to consider with electronic dart boards, which have many options for display areas. LED displays are vibrant, colorful, and easy to read; LCD displays can be more muted and therefore more challenging to read from a distance. In terms of scoring displays, some electronic boards offer one display which changes when the player changes. Other boards show all players scores, making it easier to compare your score with your competitors’.
Again, this is more specific to electronic boards, which offer many different special features. As mentioned above, electronic dart boards often come with many options for the type of game you wish to play. Additionally, some boards offer voice recording, special sound effects, and even a “heckler” feature which makes fun of bad throws. Other features include bilingual capabilities and handicap options.
Most dart boards come with the darts appropriate for the board. If you’re new to darts, this is a good place for you to start. If you’re a more advanced player, you may want to consider purchasing your own darts, based on your preferences. Dart boards also usually come with dart throw line marks that you put on the floor to mark where the player is to stand when they throw. Some electronic dart boards project this onto the floor for you, which means no measuring for you.
Depending on where you plan to hang your dart board, you may want to consider purchasing a cabinet for your board. Cabinets are hung on the wall with the dart board mounted inside. When not in use, the dart board is concealed by the cabinet. Additionally, cabinets can offer space to store darts and other equipment; helpful to keep all of your equipment in one place. Cabinets also help protect your walls from dart damage. Offered in many different styles and colors, you’re sure to find one that fits your space best.
If you don’t purchase a cabinet, consider buying a backboard for your dart board. This will prevent damage to your walls from bad shots. These can sometimes be a cheaper option compared to a cabinet, depending on the kind of backboard you purchase.
Age/Ability of Players
Who will be using the dart board? What is their skill level? Knowing the answers to these two questions will help you determine which board is best for you. If you’re looking for something that anyone, regardless of age, can play, consider selecting a board that uses soft tip darts rather than steel tips, since the latter are much sharper. A more serious darts player may consider a bristle dart board, since this is a more traditional method of play. Electronic boards can meet the needs of many different levels of players, since these boards offer game options, a larger target area, and soft tip darts. Make sure the dart board you purchase best meets the needs of those who will be playing. Or level up your game with these tips to throw darts consistently.
Number of Players
The number of players is important to consider, but only if you’re planning on purchasing an electronic board. Check and see how many players can be entered at a time. Some boards limit to only four players. If you think you’ll play with more than that, make sure you get a board that can handle a greater number of players.