Buying a pool table is not a decision to be taken lightly and buying cheap pool tables can prove to be costly if you are not sure what to look for. In this article I will try to cover the main things you should look at when planning to buy a cheap or used secondhand pool or billiard table.
The three main components that you need to check out are the slate, the rails and cushions and the table felt.
Let’s look at each one of these and give you some tips on what to look for.
We will start with the slate which of course is the most important component of any pool table. Slate for pool tables can come in a variety of thicknesses and grades (quality) and it is important to make sure that the slate you have on any cheap pool tables you are purchasing is free from any chips or cracks.
To easily test this out you should first spray the felt with a specialist cleaning solution and then brush the felt to see if their are any areas of the felt that are damaged. If the felt is damaged or worn it will show and this is the most likely place you will find chips or cracks in the slate.
Of course the easiest way to test a slate for any damage is to play some balls up and down and across the table to see if their are any jumps. If the ball jumps or skips from the table then it is likely the slate is damaged. If it is chipped then you can get a special adhesive to actually repair the slate bed
The rails and cushions on a pool table are extremely important and if they are not set at the correct height or are badly worn then the bounce from the cushion will be dead. A good table felt and good cushions should allow you to hit the ball around the table off of all four cushions without using your hardest cue stroke. If you cannot hit four cushions then there is a problem.
Cheap Pool Tables often have lower quality cushions and rails, however you can replace them.
You will find various materials and different design principles applied with rubber cushions. The cushions are usually made from an elastic material such as vulcanized (gum or synthetic) rubber.
To make sure you have well fitted cushion rubbers you should take into account that the top part of the cushion where your billiard/pool ball rebounds from should be 1 7/16″ from the slate surface if you are using a standard regulation set of billiard balls (2 1/4″)
Standards on US pool tables are the K-66 cushion rubber profile, which is defined as having a base of 1-3/16 inches and a nose height of 1 inch. This causes the balls’ rebound to be predictable during your game.
New or used pool tables really do play pretty similar but one element which can make a real difference in the performance is the tables felt.
Pool table felt, also known as “cloth” will cover the top of the playing area, the rails and slate bed are normally covered with a high quality woven 21-24 ounce billiard cloth.
If your table is running slow, the balls don’t appear to roll fast enough, you can take off the cushions and the rails to re-stretch the cloth to speed it up.
Below are the top four tournament quality felts you may wish to look at:
Tour Edition 3030 Titan 21oz Woolen Mercury Ultra Simonis 860
So what are the pros and cons of purchasing cheap pool tables???
1. Well number one is the cost!!! You can get a cheap pool table for anywhere between $200 – $600 if you shop around (A new table can set you back anywhere between $1500 – $3000)
2. Having your own table at home makes it cheaper in the long run. Your not paying table hiring fees to play so you have a cost saving there.
3 You can invite friends and family to play and this makes for a lot of fun.
1. Your cheap table is more likely going to be a used table so you will probably need to arrange transport to get it delivered. (When you buy a new table this is normally included in the price)
2. If you are not an expert you could be buying a table which has some defects (can cost more in the long run if you have to replace any parts of your table)
3. Some older pool tables are prone to slate damage which is the most expensive component of your table (A new table will come with a good guarantee)
So if you are looking to buy cheap pool tables then take into consideration the pluses and minuses
To summarize, getting a new or used pool table does not make much difference to your playing experience if you have a level slate bed, good rails and quality cloth.
Enjoy your next rack.