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Can I Afford a Pool Table for My Home? 0

A pool table is a wonderful investment for your family, providing hours of enjoyment.  It is a much needed alternative to television, video games and electronic entertainment.  Imagine the quality time spent with family and friends around a pool table and the conversations, laughter, and healthy competition that can be a part of your home. 

When you think of purchasing a pool table, you may feel you have only two options.  Most people think of the expensive and ornate heirloom quality tables or the relatively inexpensive toy tables offered at discount or department stores.  Many don’t realize there is a basic table option that provides similar quality as an heirloom table for a lower investment.

The Basic Table – Quality You Can Afford

A basic table is built to last for years in your home.  Using a solid wood construction with a sturdy frame and slate playing surface, a basic table is available typically for under $2,000.  The slate playing surface will not warp or deteriorate like plywood, making this table a quality investment for your family. 

Basic tables are plain and simple, without the detailed carving and fine finishes of an heirloom table.  Designed for durability and quality play rather than as a piece of furniture, these tables are still attractive additions to any home.  The simple lines save money without compromising function.

New versus Used

A new table offers your family the best possible value.  Pool tables tend to hold their value so a used table is often nearly as expensive as a new table but does not have the same guarantees as new.  A pool table is often damaged when moved making a used table more likely to have an uneven playing surface or other structural issues.  The small amount of money you save can be quickly used in repairs or maintenance.

Purchase a Basic Table from a Reputable Dealer

All things are not equal when purchasing a pool table.  It’s important to understand exactly the details of your purchase.  A reputable dealer will provide complete pricing.  Other dealers may not include the cloth, table installation or a warranty in the original purchase price.  These hidden costs can quickly multiply and eliminate any cost savings you anticipated.  Here are things to look for when purchasing your pool table:

  • Assembled at the Factory:  Select a pool table that is assembled at the factory.  This means that the slate is attached to the frame in a factory setting.  Why is this important?  When the slate is attached the manufacturer can ensure the playing surface is level and solid and that there are no structural defects or issues with the table itself.
  • Installation and Delivery:  Some dealers charge a separate installation and delivery fee above the price of the table.  Be sure to consider the cost of this service when buying your table and compare prices accordingly.
  • Cloth:  The cloth, known as felt, that covers the playing surface is essential to play.  You would naturally assume cloth is included in the table price, right?  Be careful.  Some dealers add the price of cloth to the quoted table price. 
  • Accessories:  Basic accessories like billiard balls, cue sticks and a rack should be included in the purchase price of your table.  Ask, and make sure you factor these items into the total pricing.
  • Warranty:  Purchasing a basic table is cost effective because of the lifetime warranty.  Rather than replacing the table after a few years, your investment will serve your family for a long time.  Make sure you purchase a basic table with this type of warranty. 


A Pool Table is Affordable for Your Family

By shopping around and making a wise and informed selection, you can afford a pool table for your home.  A basic table is a sound investment that pays off in hours of enjoyment for your friends and family.  When you consider the costs associated with other, more electronic forms of entertainment a pool table is a wise choice.

What’s the Best Deal on a Pool Table? 0

You’ve decided to purchase a pool table for your game room at home.  Great idea!  Investing in a game room that includes a pool table is an excellent way to encourage quality time with family and friends.  With thought and planning, you can select a table that meets your needs both now and in the future.

The best deal on a pool table is about more than just price.   It is about purchasing the right table for your needs.  The size, quality, and appearance of the table must be right for your home and your purpose.  The least expensive table available may appear to be a good value, but only if the table is durable enough to require little maintenance and give you the type of enjoyment you want.

Avoid a Toy Table

Be careful when shopping to understand what you are purchasing.  Department stores will often offer pool tables at a low price, presenting them as the ideal solution for your game room.  In fact, these tables are considered toy tables.

They are often constructed using a slate alternative as a playing surface.  Designed to last a few years at most, tables like these are easily damaged by players who are just enjoying a good time with friends.  People sitting on the rails or spilling a beverage on the table can cause damage that impacts the quality of play.  While these tables appear to be a good value, replacement costs make them unsuitable for more than occasional play by children in a kid’s rec room.

Essential Components of a Basic Table

A basic table is a sound investment, ensuring reliable play for years.  A sturdy, basic table begins at around $1,500 with design finishes and other details adding to the cost.  There are some basic components that you should look for as you select a basic table.

  • Slate not Wood – Slate is the preferred playing surface for a pool table.  Wood can warp and deform over time and are subject to humidity and weather conditions.  Slate will stay true over time and provide the best surface for play.  A one inch slate surface in three sections rather than one large piece is ideal and provides consistent play over time.
  • Frame and Cabinet – The frame supports the weight of the slate playing surface and must be strong enough to hold up without warping or allowing the slate to shift.  While solid wood is the best, there are other materials that can provide strength as well.  Make sure the slate is screwed into the cross pieces of the frame to provide the most strength and stability.  It’s best to purchase a table that is assembled in the warehouse.  This allows the manufacturer to correct errors before the table arrives in your home.
  • Cloth – A basic table has at least recreational quality (18-ounce) cloth.  This cloth, often known as felt, is relatively durable although it will wear over time.  For home use, select a table with 80/20 wool to nylon fabric and at least an 18-ounce weight.
  • Cushions – Look for rubber cushions backed with canvas.  Make sure the cushions are parallel with the table and free from warping.
  • Rails - Stable rails are crucial to playing pool.  Solid hardwood rails are preferred and are worth the additional expense.
  • Legs – Much of the visual design of a pool table comes from the legs.  Appearance is less important than stability, though.  Before selecting a table, bump up against it.  A good table should never be wobbly or unstable, no matter how pretty it is.


Basic or Heirloom – It’s up To You

A basic table will provide years of quality play with minimal maintenance.  When you design your game room, a basic table is the minimum investment you should consider.  If you want a pool table that is a piece of furniture and a centerpiece of the room, an heirloom table may be a better selection for you and your family.

An heirloom table is typically made of solid wood with a beautiful finish and lovely legs.  A table like this has the best quality materials including high grade cloth and lively rubber cushions to ensure a high quality game.  A table like this can cost thousands of dollars but is designed to last for generations.

Basic or heirloom quality, to get the best deal on a pool table you must understand your purpose for the table itself.  Selecting the appropriate table for your needs and desired play guarantees the best value and years of enjoyment for your entire family.

Billiard Table Lighting Options 0

Proper lighting is essential to a good pool game.  The light should be focused and bright enough to allow players to comfortably see the entire table without glare or distraction.  The light source should provide clear lighting without casting shadows on the playing surface.  That being said, there are a number of options for top quality lighting that enhances the overall theme and style of your game room.

Lighting Requirements for Optimal Play

A billiard table is the centerpiece of any game room.  Adding an overhead hanging light adds to the beauty of your table while also providing a well-lit playing surface.  The best position for a hanging fixture is 33” – 36” above the slate playing surface.

Consider adjusting the size and length of the lighting fixture to match the size and length of your table.  Be careful not to overwhelm a smaller table with too much lighting but be sure to provide enough lighting to cover the entire surface area of a larger table.  As a frame of reference, an 8’ table typically is best served by a fixture at least 42” long with three bulbs.

Since glare can be a distraction during play, consider using frosted incandescent bulbs of about 60 watts.  They provide a soft, warm light that is comfortable for players but still brightly illuminates the entire playing surface.

Match Lighting Style to the Theme of Your Game Room

Pool is more than a game.  It’s an enjoyable experience for you, your family and your guests.  A large part of that experience is found in the atmosphere of your game room.  The lighting you choose for your billiard table can and should be a part of the theme of your room.

  • Traditional– Is your table traditionally styled with ornate turned legs and beautiful woodwork?  Does your game room have the appearance of an exclusive gentleman’s club?  If so, consider traditional lighting.  Beautiful hanging billiard lights with a bar and three to four lamp shades are available in many styles including etched or frosted glass, tiffany style stained glass, or crystal.
  •  Modern – Perhaps your game room is modern, full of contemporary furniture and a sleek lined billiard table.  Consider lighting that uses either a bar and three to four polished metal shades or a single long shade with the same sleek lines as the rest of your room.  If your room is ultra-modern you may even consider track lighting mounted on the ceiling with targeted lighting directed on the playing surface.
  •  Sports or Hobby Themed – Tiffany style lighting is easily customizable to reflect your favorite team, sport or hobby.  If your game room is a reflection of your favorite football, baseball or basketball team you can find a stained glass billiard light that carries on the theme.  In fact, a customizable shade is available for branches of the military, hobbies, or any other theme you choose.  You can even have one specially made to display your name if you choose.
  •  Rustic – Some game rooms are rustic, giving the appearance of a hunting lodge or old western pool hall.  Billiard lighting is available in this theme as well.  Stagecoach lanterns, billiard lights made from antlers, and wagon wheels are just some of the options available.

The lighting over your billiard table is a wonderful way to tie your game room theme together and create a total atmosphere of fun and relaxation.  No matter which theme you choose, coordinating your lighting to the billiard table itself and the other features and furniture in the room gives your game room a decorator’s touch.


Why Should I Get High-Quality Billiard Balls?

Why Should I Get High-Quality Billiard Balls? 0

One billiard ball is just like another one, right?  Wrong.  The quality of the billiard balls you use has an impact on the quality and accuracy of your game.  In fact, most experienced players will tell you it isn’t always a defect in the table that makes a shot go awry.  Sometimes it’s the fault of the billiard balls themselves.

History of Billiard Balls

Billiard balls were originally made of stone but were eventually replaced with balls made of wood and clay due to the weight of the stone itself.  These balls were used until the 1600’s when ivory billiard balls became popular.

Ivory billiard balls were expensive and time consuming to make.  Each tusk yielded only 4 or 5 balls.  The balls themselves had to be cured for years to make them durable enough to withstand the stress of play without cracking or chipping.  Many balls were rejected due to inconsistent density or defects in the ivory itself.  As the elephant population in the world thinned it became obvious that billiard balls from another material were needed.

Today billiard balls are made from a combination of resin and plastic.  This material is moldable and uniformly dense, perfect for high quality billiard balls that offer top quality play.  The best balls are made in Belgium by Saluc and are made of phenolic resin.

Important Factors in Billiard Ball Selection

There are three main factors that affect the quality of a billiard ball.  The first is the diameter tolerance held by the manufacturer.  The diameter tolerance determines the perfect round shape.  As a ball is machined, the diameter of the ball is set.  High-quality balls are held to a strict tolerance, meaning variations are not tolerated.  You can count on these balls to be as close as possible to perfectly round.

The same is not true of lower quality balls.  Instead a tolerance is set for the diameter. These balls are machined to appear round and to approach perfect roundness.  Their shape, however, is not guaranteed to be perfectly round.  There is a tolerance for error that is allowed in the interests of saving costs during manufacturing.

The second factor is consistency of density.  A billiard ball with a consistent density rolls true and straight.  The weight of the ball is evenly distributed allowing the ball to roll evenly no matter where cue strikes it.

Billiard balls with an inconsistent density play erratically.  They don’t bank properly.  They zigzag while rolling at times because the weight is unevenly distributed.  When you notice a ball rolling strangely it may not be the fault of the table, although it is often blamed on table roll.  More often it is uneven weight distribution that causes erratic ball behavior.

The third factor is elasticity.  Elasticity is the transfer of energy from the strike ball to the object balls during play.  Ideally a ball will transfer 100% of its energy to the next ball during a stop shot.  In fact, a stop shot gets its name from this elasticity factor.  If you notice your strike ball continuing to travel after striking another ball evenly you are noticing a lack of elasticity.  While this can be caused by wear and tear, it is more common with lower quality billiard balls.

Select High-Quality Balls for Optimal Play

High-quality billiard balls are a worthy investment for you and your family.  A fine set of balls costs between $100 - $200 but lasts much longer than the $20-$50 set you find at the local department store.  The high quality balls withstand enthusiastic play without losing elasticity or damaging the cloth of your table.  They roll true and allow your entire family to learn skilled shots without having to compensate for ball roll caused by uneven weight or dimension.