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10 things you need to know when buying a pool table

posted 24 Feb 2013, 14:16 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Feb 2013, 14:18 ]

When it comes to buying a pool table, there are a few
things to consider first. What size is your "games" room
and do you go for the cheap wooden tables or the slate bed
version like in the pub. Also what size table should you
get and what sort of pool cues to go for. The game of pool
has a few variations and the equipment you need depends on
which of these variations you want to play. So I have come
up with these top 10 tips you should be aware of before you
take the plunge and get your own pool table for the home

1/ There is American pool and English pool. The difference
is in the size of the equipment. American pool is usually
played on larger tables, up to 9 ft. You will see these in
pool clubs like Riley's. The balls used on these tables are
2 ¼ inches in diameter. American tables start in
size from 7 ft up to 9 ft. English tables on the other hand
are smaller at 6 or 7 feet and they use 2-inch diameter
balls. They were developed for the pubs in the UK so they
did not take up so much space. Most of the tables in the
pubs are 6 ft with some 7 ft tables as well.

English pool is now very popular with its own association
the EPA (English Pool Association) and they hold
tournaments all over the UK. The tournament size of pool
tables for EPA tournaments is 7 ft.

2/ The room size for pool tables is determined by adding 10
ft to the dimensions of the table, so a 6 ft table should
be in a room 16 ft by 13 ft to allow for the cues as well
as the table. A 7 ft table would need 17 ft by 13 ft 6
inches. The pool cues being 57 inches long.

3/ The pool cues have different tip sizes too. For American
pool, the tip size for the pool cue is 12 or 13 mm and for
English pool, the tip size is 8 to 9.5 mm the same as in

4/ The cheap pool tables like the folding pool tables and
the fixed leg wooden tables are made from MDF which is
basically fine wood dust compressed with a resin to produce
very strong flat sheets, ideal for a pool table surface.
The down side is being made of wood they are prone to
warping after a while. They are available in sizes up to 7
ft and some of them are very good indeed and are certainly
not cheap, like the black cat from BCE which has an 18 mm
MDF table bed which is less prone to warping and the
Phoenix from SCI that have steel rods inserted into the MDF
to extend the life of the table and resist warping the best.

5/ If you can afford it, the best table to get is the slate
bed version, either 6 or 7 ft English tables or the
magnificent 8 and 9-foot American pool tables. These are
more expensive with a starting price of around
£600-£700 for the English tables and up to
£4000 for the top of the range American tables. These
definitely give the best game and will last longer than you.

6/ The pool balls come in different colours, 8 ball pool,
which confusingly is played with 15 pool balls, can have 7
reds and 7 yellows and a black no 8 ball or the spots and
stripes version has 7 striped balls and 7 solid coloured
balls and a black no 8 ball. Just get the set, you like the
look of.

7/ Also bear in mind the rack or triangle for 8-ball pool
comes in different sizes depending on the size of pool ball
being used. A rack for 2 ¼ balls is a different size
to one for the 2-inch balls. Another type of game more
commonly played on American pool tables is 9-ball pool,
which this time is actually played with 9 balls numbered 1
- 9. You need a special diamond shaped rack for the nine
balls. To rack 9-ball pool, the one ball goes on the spot
and the 9-ball in the middle. All other balls are racked at

8/ Pool table cloth is usually nap free or "speed ball"
cloth and you can get it in many different colours with red
and blue being the most popular. There are even some cloths
with logos on and naked ladies etc, but bear in mind you
could probably do without the distraction, go for a solid
colour and green is still the best to play on.

9/ Why not consider an outdoor pool table for your decking
if you are short of room in your house. These come in wood
and fibreglass. The wooden table is made of pressure
treated wood the same as your decking and have a slate bed
covered with water resistant cloth. The fibreglass models
have fibreglass frames and slate beds, again with water
resistant cloth. These models are designed for outdoor use,
and the wooden model comes with a full cover for the winter.

10/ When buying a pool table check on delivery costs. The
slate bed variety of pool table is very heavy and is
usually delivered by specialist companies, which means they
are expensive. Expect a price of £120 + for delivery
and maybe an extra £50 or more (much more for the
multi slate American tables) to do an installation in your

I hope you can now make a more considered decision when
buying your new pool table. Good luck and enjoy!

About the Author:

Written by Steve Porter a keen if rubbish pool player. See
the tables at