Pool Table Buying Guide

When choosing a pool table there are a number of factors to consider. Price probably being the main factor for many people. However, it is worthwhile knowing what pool table you are purchasing, so that you can make an informed decision. Below is a list of the main features of pool tables

Size

There are two sizes used in UK for pool tables, 6ft and 7ft tables, which are used in pool tournaments and found in the British pubs. Tables of these sizes will have 2-inch ball sizes.

Smaller tables can be found, but these are mainly junior kids tables, and will likely have smaller balls and pockets.

The 7ft table requires more skill, but also more space. So buy the one that will fit your room. Also note, that space is required to fully extend the cue when the white ball is on the edge of the table. The play area row in the data below gives an idea of the room size required.

Dimensions 6ft 7ft
Height: 0.835m (32.9 inches) 0.835m (32.9 inches)
Width: 1.139m (44.8 inches) 1.226m (48.3 inches)
Length: 1.913m (75.3 inches) 2.141m (84.3 inches)
Playing area: 1.6m x 0.826m (63 x 35.5 inches) 1.829m x 0.914m (72 x 36 inches)
Slate Thickness: 19mm (0.75 inches) 19mm (0.75 inches)
Weight (coin-op): 215kgs (474 lb) 255kgs (562 lb)
Weight (freeplay): 204kgs (450 lb) 244kgs (534 lb)

American Pool Tables

American pool tables are bigger than UK pool tables and are in the range of 7 - 9.5 foot. The pockets are also bigger, to accommodate the larger 2.5 inch balls.

Pool Diners

Pool dining tables are dinner tables that convert into pool tables. They are popular because a dedicated room is not required for the pool table. The pool dinners are the typical height for dining, and when the top is removed, the height becomes the required 30.5-inch pool playing height.

Materials

Slate Bed

Slate bed is what the professional players play on, and is made of slate, a fine-grained sedimentary rock, that is easy to make into perfectly flat surfaces. Making it a strong, long-lasting material, ideal for pool tables. Typically the slate thickness is about 19mm thick, but maybe as much as 30mm on more expensive tables. The slate will outlast the fabric glued onto it, but the fabric can be replaced. Slate bed tables are heavy, and carry a premium price, starting at £600 for a new table.

MDF

MDF is a type of hardwood, where wood fibres are glued together under heat and pressure. Tables made of MDF, have a different response to their slate counterparts, and also tend to warp. Prices start at around £300, for new tables, and should be stored non-humid environment to reduce warping.

Ball return vs drop pockets

A ball return is the mechanism of the table, where a pocketed ball is deposited in a collection hole at one of the table, using a series of gutters, tracks and gravity. The prime advantage of a ball return system, is that the balls only have to be collected from one end of the table when the frame completes. However, the mechanism can be problematic if some foreign object drops into the hole, such as a childs toy. It may require dismantling the table to remove the blockage.

Drop pockets are simply nets attached to each pocket, that collect balls that are pocketed in that particular hole. Drop pockets tables tend to be cheaper as there is less material required, and are more elegant than ball return tables. Some drop pocket tables are also designed to function as a dining table, useful for homes where a dedicated pool playing room is not available.

The only disadvantage to drop pocket tables is that players have to collect the balls from each pocket to reset the table.