If you’re considering expanding the fun in your family room, basement or man cave, a pool table can be a great way to spend leisure time with friends and family. Billiards has been around since the 1600s and has proved to be an amusement that endures still today. Once you’ve made the decision to buy, that’s just the first step. There are several factors to consider before you plunk down your money and take home your cue ball table.
A Permanent Purchase
A pool table is a major purchase in many ways. First, they represent an investment of your hard-earned money. Second, they weigh 700 pounds or more, so you can’t just push it out of the way or fold it up when you’re done with it. Third, they take up a significant amount of space. Unlike a ping-pong table that can be wheeled out when you want to play it, a billiards table will take up a good chunk of square footage and will do so as long as you own it. Those are just a few of the concerns – also ask yourself the following questions…
How Much Room Do You Have Available?
In addition to the floor space required for the table itself, you also need clearance on each side for the cue to be placed and stroked to make your shots comfortably. The recommended space on each side is the full length of a cue stick, but you may be able to make it work in a slightly smaller space. We recommend 14 ½’ x 19′ feet of space as optimal, but some people may be able to enjoy the game in a smaller space.
Are You Purchasing as a Long Term Investment?
Some people purchase high-quality tables to enjoy now and pass on to a child when they’re grown. A beautiful pool table can become a cherished family heirloom that can be appreciated for generations to come. Racking up a game can be a great way to spend time with friends or family. Teaching your children to play can be a great source of quality family time that can provide endless hours of enjoyment.
What Materials Do You Prefer?
The heart of your table will preferably be slate that, when covered by felt, serves as the game surface. There are a number of slate substitutes on the market including plywood, slatine, slatex or honeycomb, but none of these have the same feel or playing characteristics as slate. Only slate is accepted for tournament play, so that’s what you should get for your family room if you can. Slate comes in a variety of thicknesses: 3/4” thick is heavy enough for home use, but professionals use 1”-1 ¼” thick. If you want the best table, opt for the thickest slate.
What Should the Support Structure Look Like?
Because slate is heavy, it requires substantial support to be stable enough for play. In addition to the weight of the slate, the frame needs to support players that lean on it when making shots or that sit on it to enjoy a beer between shots. When shopping for a pool table, don’t be afraid to crawl under to check out the construction and stability of the frame. There should at least be two large crossbeams and hopefully two more supports that run the length of the slate. If the frame seems insubstantial, pass on that table and look for one that’s sturdier.
What Will Hold Up Your Table?
After the frame, the legs are one of the most important parts of your table because they support the weight of both the slate and the frame (and leaning players). There will typically be a selection of legs to fit each model of table so you can choose from different styles. In addition to the aesthetics, you should consider the size and shape. The thicker the legs, the better the support will be and the safer your table will be for you and your family.
What Other Materials Can Be Customized?
Other options to consider are:
- Types of wood – maple, oak and cherry are all great choices. Less expensive tables will feature faux wood, metal or even plastic.
- Rails are the edges that go around your table and these come in different styles.
- Felt now comes in a wide variety of colors and grades. You can go with traditional tournament green or another color that coordinates with your décor.
- You can also get custom pockets in a wide variety of styles and materials to complement your style.
How Should Price Factor into Your Decision?
If you’re serious about your game play and plan to use your table regularly, it’s worthwhile to spend more. If your table will primarily be used by teenagers that are more careless and rougher, a more modest table may be a wiser choice. If you’re buying a showpiece or an heirloom, opting for the best table you can afford makes the most sense. You’ll need to find a balance between getting the table that will make you and your family happy, will serve your purpose and that is the amount you feel is affordable and appropriate for what you’re getting.