So, you’ve decided to buy a pool table for your home. Your family loves to play pool, does so together at your local community center, and perhaps at the local arcade. You’re thinking a pool table at home would be a great way for the family – perhaps including the youngsters – to gather together at any hour or day that’s convenient. However, you don’t know how to choose the right pool table.
There are several things to consider before making your purchase including the right size table, the right components and construction of that table, and the best choice of features. Let’s look at the options and a few of our recommendations for the best pool tables on the market right now.
Top 10 Best Pool Tables For The Money (2018)
What Size Do You Need?
Perhaps the most critical element, the size of your pool table is not just based on whether it will fit in the room you’ve chosen. What folks tend to forget is that there needs to be room to maneuver and effectively move the cue. If you don’t leave enough room for each player to aim and shoot his or her cue you’ll not only impede play but might as well damage your wall coverings when impacted by the player’s cue stick.
There are three standard pool table sizes. The smallest, a seven-foot table, is 39 inches wide and 78 inches long. An eight-foot pool table is a bit bigger – 44 inches by 88 inches. The largest table, the nine-foot, is 50 inches wide and 100 inches long.
Cue sticks come in various sizes, as well. While the standard length is 57 inches, there are shorter one for smaller adults or children. These can be as short as 42 inches. The length of your preferred cue stick is definitely a factor to keep in mind when choosing table size.
If you’d like to buy the largest pool table option, the nine-foot, the ideal size for the room it’s to be in is 15’x19‘, with an exact minimum of 14 feet, 2 inches by 18 feet, 4 inches. This assumes a cue stick of standard size. Opting for an eight-foot table would reduce the required room size just a bit – ideally 14’x18‘, though it could fit into a space that is 13 feet, 8 inches by 17 feet, 4 inches. If you’re happy to choose the smallest pool table, the seven-foot option, you’ll only need a room that is ideally 14’x17‘. The exact minimum is 13 feet, 3 inches by 16 feet, 6 inches.
Table Construction and Components
The array of component options in a home pool table might well astound first-time buyers. A buyer would need to decide on the materials available for the table’s frame, the covering of its play area, its rails, its slate and pockets, and even the table’s legs.
The two most important components – and the ones with the most options to consider – are the table’s frame and its slate (that is, the covering of its play area.)
Without a durable frame your table’s other components aren’t going to hold up well. Its slate might crack or sag, for example. The frame can be made either from solid wood – for many years the only option – or the newer medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Each choice has its proponents, and perhaps the only decider between the two would be cost. Each would be fine for your pool table.
The pool table frame needs one central beam reinforced by two crossbeams. While some manufacturers offer two central beams, there is no additional stability or durability as a result of that second central beam. If that second central beam adds to the table’s cost, just say no.
Generally, you’ll find pool tables with one piece of slate for the entire play area. The newer option, however – and the preferred for accuracy and durability – is a slate with three components. For the latter you can choose from three different thicknesses. The thickest, 1 inch, is your best choice.
Features To Look For
While durable frames, legs and rails are crucial, there are additional features that might be of interest as well.
If, for example, you’d like to occasionally use the room for other purposes, or even transport your pool table, the ability to fold up your pool table could be quite attractive. While smaller, less costly, and lighter than their more permanent counterparts, these folding pool tables are as well less durable.
For the convenience of gathering and re-racking pool balls for the next game, a ball return is a nice feature. It’s a rather simplistic concept that is managed by a series of internal gutters under the table’s felt. As each ball drops into a pocket it is returned to a central pocket for all balls, at the end of the table. Should you not wish a ball return your pool table would be equipped with drop pockets, and players would need to retrieve balls separately from the pockets they were dropped into. The disadvantage of a pool table with a ball return is in the additional cost due to the increase in internal components.
Many tables also offer dock levelers, to assure that the entire play area of the pool table is always even. This is especially important in older homes, where the floors might not be even.
Other Things To Consider
In choosing a pool table the other important considerations are your budget and your technical skills – that is, can you afford your ideal pool table, and can you assemble it on your own?
The price range for pool tables is vast, with some well under $1,000 and others in the $10,000 range. You might well create your pool table wish list, price the various pool tables offering all those features, and then need to start whittling away at your choices to come up with a table you can actually afford. The best way to do this, then, is to create a two-column list, with the must-haves in one column, and the nice-to-haves in the other. Somewhere in the middle might well be the best table choice for you. In general, the smaller the size, the lighter the weight and the fewer the features, the lower the cost. Keep in mind as well the cost of delivery of your pool table. While the local merchant might charge a bit more for the same table, your having a truck big enough to pick up and deliver that table to your home might be the more affordable option than paying delivery fees to an out-of-area vendor.
Some tables – especially those with fewer components, or the folding variety – are easy for the handy or even not-so-handy homeowner to put together. Others will require you to hire someone to come to your home and put the table together. Your budget as well as your frustration level and time are important factors here.
In summation, your pool table decision should be determined by the size of the space in your home for the table, the size and ages of the people who will be playing pool (that is, what size cue sticks they’ll be using), whether you wish the table to reside permanently in one spot or if moving it would be attractive, if you’re willing to spend a bit more for some effort-saving features, if you can pick up and transport the table, if you are able to assemble it on your own, and how much you want to spend for your pool table.
Once you’ve made all these decisions, you’ll have your perfect pool table choice for the family game room at home.