When to Change a Pool Table Cloth
Most pool tables are made of slate, which is a nearly-indestructible material that can last for decades. The cloth covering the pool table, however, won’t last forever. While it may last for over a decade under normal home use, it eventually will need replacing. Just as Astroturf on a football field wears over time, pool table felt wears with use and age.
This wear is the result of friction. While the pool balls themselves do not damage the felt, they do collect pool chalk that acts as an abrasive, like sandpaper, tearing away at the fibers of the felt. The felt can also be damaged by falling or bouncing balls. While the damage is unfortunate, it’s considered a normal side-effect of playing pool.
While it might be difficult to see if a cloth needs replacing by sight alone, sliding your fingers along the surface should help you judge. If the cloth feels bristly, like beard stubble, or if it’s easy to pick pieces of fuzz and lint off the table, then it’s time to consider a replacement. Also consider a replacement if the felt responds to pressure from your hand with movement or bunching. When replacing pool table cloth, it’s best to use a high-quality brand such as Strachan, Matrix, Hainsworth or Eddie Charlton.
If the pool table cloth has been damaged by missed shots - i.e., the cue misses the ball and scratches the table, a complete felt replacement may not be necessary. The first step would be to purchase pool table cleaner from a professional billiard shop, and clean the area to remove any marks. If there are any small holes in the cloth, patch kits are available to fix them, although any patching will leave seams behind that could hinder play.
The best way to maintain your pool table cloth is to keep it covered when not in use, and keep it clean. It’s also a good idea to try and avoid making a lot of jump shots or trick shots, as these can crush the felt and it never fully recovers.
- Ben Grant