Best Pool Table

If you have been following my site for some time, you’d probably know how active my life is. After getting married and having my beautiful baby girl, the fun didn’t stop, but I have to admit there are days where I’d prefer just to relax.

Let’s face it, work and family life can be quite tiring, but I didn’t want to stop being active even during my downtime.

The solution?

Get an indoor activity that fits my man cave perfectly!

I’ve put a lot of thought into this, and after much contemplation, the answer was simple; I should invest in a pool table! Granted, it was a close call between a foosball or ping pong table, but with pool, I don’t need to have someone to play with me. It’s easily a solitary recreation I can enjoy in the confines of my personal space.

Before buying my first table, I wanted to do my due diligence, which involved a lot of research. I went around and talked to people, read countless articles, and did a lot of window shopping before settling on what I wanted. And today, I’ve decided to share with you my journey, and everything I’ve learned along the way. All in an effort to help you pick out the best pool table for yourself.

What Should I Look For When Buying a Pool Table?

Before I rank my top picks, let’s learn about the basics. It is essential to know what factors you need to consider before buying your pool table. I’m not saying I’m a know-it-all expert, but here’s what I learned through my journey. By getting the hang of the key features that make or break a potentially good pool table, you’ll be able to pick out the best one in no time.

Playing Surface

Your entire game and experience relies on the quality and performance of the tabletop. There are two primary components of the playing surface, the base and the cloth.

The Base

The base of the tabletop gives you that smooth finish. Premium pool tables often have an actual diamond smoothed slate base which comes in a variety of thickness levels. They also come in different pieces or sections. According to the pros, a 1 inch, 3-piece slate is the best choice for easy maintenance and installation.

You can also find more affordable options with bases made out of other materials like slatex, fiberboard or ordinary plywood. But unlike a slate base, these might not last as long and can be prone to warping.

If you’re looking for quality but need to stay within a budget, the better choice would be a base made out of a particle fiberboard called a slatron. It has its flaws, but it definitely takes loads off the price tag yet still delivers a better experience compared to getting an ordinary wood-based board.

Regardless of the non-slate base that you choose, make sure that you keep it away from moisture as this can cause some severe warping issues. If you live in a humid place, have a dehumidifier around your pool table to eliminate the excess moisture from accumulating.

The Cloth

The actual playing surface is made of cloth. There are two different kinds of fabric used for pool tables, which typically depends on what type of pool table you get. There are two main categories: the American and the English pool table.

The type of cloth used on an English table is quite similar to that of a snooker table. It has a raised surface called a nap. With your hand, you can feel the surface going against the grain, which provides your balls with a little bit of resistance during the game.

The cloth used on American pool tables is much smoother and do not have naps, allowing gameplay to be a lot faster. The lack of resistance will enable you to play from different points and in various directions as opposed to the English table.

An ideal pool table should have a heavy-set waterproof cloth. In contrast, cheaper tables often come with a poor quality nylon blend that will wear out quickly. Try to avoid these if you can.

If it comes to it, you can change the cloth of most pool tables. While this may be a costly option, it is definitely worth it, especially if you are an experienced player.

Legs

Never underestimate the importance of legs. The best pool tables will have a set of sturdy legs. You see, the tabletop is meant to be heavy, especially if it is slated, so most of that weight will be supported by the legs. Of, course, this isn’t even taking into account the players who will be leaning on the table to make that behind-the-back shot.

Solid wooden legs are the best choice in my opinion, but if you are looking to save a little bit of money, you can go for legs that are secured with heavy-duty anchors. However, single-anchored legs do have a tendency to get loose, which makes the table unstable and possibly unsafe. So just keep that in mind while you’re picking out the right type of support options for your pool table.

Cushion And Rails

The cushion of the pool table is located on the inner sides of the wooden rails. It plays a vital role in your game. It comes in the form of rubber bands that allow your balls to bounce off, thus minimizing the loss of momentum while in play. There are various elastic materials used for this, but the best is a high-quality triple-A Malaysian gum rubber. Low-quality rubber may not have the same bounce and would lose its elasticity faster.

Over time, the rubber may lose its luster and no longer serve its purpose. The lack of bounce would be termed as a dead rail, and this can ultimately affect the output of your game. In the event that this does happen, you can have the rubber lining replaced.

In addition to the material itself, the profile of the cushion is also important. A standard American pool table uses a K-66 profile, as regulated by the BCA (Billiard Congress of America). In contrast, others may sport a sharper angle like the K-55. Different players have different preferences, and it all depends on their playing style.

Cabinet

The framing or cabinet is the very foundation of the table. Secondary to the legs, this structure provides support and acts as a decorative cover to the metal frames and slate base within the table. Premium tables often utilize a metal construction at the joints for proper alignment.

The role of the cabinet is to distribute the slate top’s weight to the legs while holding it in place. For tables with a return ball system, the cabinet also houses the gutters and ball compartment.

Pockets

Traditionally, pool tables come equipped with drop pockets made of leather or netted-cloth to catch the balls during the game. This design is often seen with classic-look tables. More modern designs have an innovative ball return system that is basically a series of gutters within the table which lead the balls into a collection compartment.

The downside of having a table with the traditional catch-pocket style is the pockets can fill up quickly. This slows down the pace of the game as you have to remove the balls from the pocket. Not to mention, having a ball return system is quite convenient, especially when you are playing alone.

Size

As I have mentioned earlier, there are two main types of tables you can choose from; the American or the English pool table. The main difference between the two is size. An American pool table comes in 7, 8, or 9 ft whereas the English counterpart comes in a smaller range of 6, 7, or 8 ft. The reason behind the size difference has to do with the type of balls used. In American standards, balls are a ¼ inch larger than those used in English standards. American competitions are played on 9 ft tables. However, you likely won’t be seeing a lot of homes with that much space to spare. As such, recreational tables are typically in the 7 or 8-foot range.

When choosing the best pool table for your home, you need to break out your good old measuring tape to factor in the moving space as well as the length of the cue you will be using. This way, you can comfortably shoot a game of pool without worrying about knocking something over. Believe me, I learned this the hard way. My wife is still upset about the vase I broke.

Price

With different materials and types, a pool table can set you back anywhere from $100 to $100,000. But keep in mind that if you’re looking for a quality table – your spending budget should be at least $1,000.

Billiards is an expensive recreation, so be prepared to break the bank if you’re looking for a high-end table!

My recommendation for you is to always work within your budget. The best pool tables are not necessarily the most expensive ones in the market. You can get a good quality pool table at a reasonable price. Just be sure it ticks off the right boxes on your checklist. You may need to compromise on some of the less crucial features to make it fit within your budget though.

What Accessories Will I Need For My Pool Table?

Once you get a table, the next thing you need to do is complete the set with the right accessories. Many of the tables come with a set of balls, cues, and chalk. But you can always choose to upgrade to some higher quality equipment down the line.

With the amount I was able to save on the table I purchased, I decided to buy a bunch of accessories for my new hobby. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have buyer’s remorse for most of the things I bought though.

So, to save you from making the same mistake I did, I’ve compiled a short-list of the 10 absolute must haves!

Cues

Before investing my time and effort to learn more about pool, I always thought there was just one kind of cue. I figured it varied in length depending on your build, and that was it. I couldn’t have been more naive.

Remember how there are American and English tables? Well, the same goes for cues. Since the balls vary in size, the cues are proportionate to the ball. They also have different material-compositions and tips.

American Cues

An American pool cue is often made of maple wood, which gives it a light, lustrous color. It is usually mounted with a leather tip and supported with a plastic ferrule. The plastic ferrule is quite thick, so it can absorb the shock and vibration when striking the larger and heavier American standard cue ball.

English Cues

The English cue is exponentially thinner than the American cue. It is equipped with a smaller tip, which has approximately an 8 to 9 mm diameter. It is often made out of ash wood which shows off a noticeable grain. The coarse leather tip is secured with a small brass ferrule to reinforce its strength.

Each cue is designed for a specific type of game. Using the wrong one can cost you your game or destroy the cue itself.

Balls

Once you’ve practiced and got the hang of the game, you’ll start to notice the difference between low-grade balls and premium ones. While having the right cue is important, having high-quality pool balls is equally as essential. However, I’m not saying that you need to go out and purchase tournament-level balls right off the bat. You can actually get a good set of 16 for just a few bucks. Remember you don’t need to spend much to get quality items, you just need to shop smart.

Chalks

The purpose of the chalk is to increase the contact friction between the cue and balls. When the cue hits the ball, the quality and amount of chalk on the tip can determine the intensity of impact. This affects your overall efficiency throughout the game. Which is why it is good practice to chalk your cue before shooting.

You can get a decent box of chalk in a variety of colors. Typically each box holds at least a dozen pieces and would cost less than $10. Each brand varies in terms of consistency and quality. As such, some chalk requires more applications than others.

At this point, what I can tell you is that poor-quality chalks have the tendency to flake and not catch on the tip of your cue. Be on the lookout for those, especially when you’re buying them online.

Tip Shaper and Spare Tips

After a while, the tip of your cue can get misshapen. This is especially common with poor quality cues. With a tip shaper, you can keep them in the right shape for a more extended period of time.

When I first started out, I didn’t really know how important the cue tip actually was. I was under the impression that the cue stick itself played a much more significant role. In reality, it doesn’t matter how expensive your cue stick is, if your tip is not making the right sort of contact with the ball, your performance in games will fall off drastically.

The tip is responsible for transferring the energy of the ball to impart the desired speed and accuracy. The material and its hardness plays a vital role in assessing a tip’s quality. According to the pros, the 8-layer pig skin tip is the best. So be sure to stock up on spare tips to avoid having to hobble through each round of pool with a dud-cue.

Cue Cleaner

If you have purchased a premium cue, the last thing you want is to be replacing it after a short time. With the proper care, they can last a while. You can easily buy a cue cleaning set at a local sports store or online. A regular set often comes with a liquid-based cleaner and microfiber cloth. Be sure to read the instructions before actually using the cleaner on your cue stick as some coatings are sensitive to the chemicals in the cleaner, which could remove its shine.

Gloves

I remember the day I went to buy my first pair of gloves, my wife laughed and ridiculed me for looking like a pro but not really being one. The truth of the matter is, professionals know the importance of having gloves during gameplay, and it’s more than just looking the part. I, for one, have incredibly sweaty hands, and having a glove on while I play helped me out a lot!

You see when the temperature is too cold, or the air is too humid, the movement of the cue gets restricted due to the friction or sweat on your fingers. Gloves help solve that problem. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it just takes a little time to get used to them. And before you know it, you’ll not only look like a pro, but you’ll play like one too!

Talc Powder

Aside from having a pair of gloves handy, a bag of talc powder is another must-have. Most pool halls have this readily available, and if you’re setting up your own table at home, it would be a good idea to get some. However, be careful with how you store the talc powder.

It’s best to store it in a bag or a deep-set box that sits a nice distance away from the table. The last thing you need is getting powder residue on your playing surface.

Felt Brush

Proper maintenance of your playing surface is of utmost importance, especially when your goal is to prolong the life of your pool table. Although most tables’ playing surfaces are easily replaceable, it’s always best to keep the original cloth in tip-top shape.

Be sure to clean the tabletop religiously before and after every game. A special brush with soft bristles is used to remove debris like powder particles and chalk residue from the playing surface. These brushes are designed specifically for pool tables as not to damage the cloth.

Extension and Bridge

Regardless of height, there are times your ball will get into a position that you are unable to reach. Extensions and bridges are tailor-made for these exact situations.

A bridge allows you to reach a ball without moving another ball that is in the way. Hence the term bridge. It basically forms a bridge with the help of an extension. Whereas an extension is an attachment placed at the end of the cue to increase its length. It is often used when you want to take a long shot.

Table Cover

A common mistake most pool table owners make is not investing in a table cover. Some pool tables will come with a cover, but if they don’t, you can easily get one for about $10.00. Using a table cover is an easy way to maintain the playing surface when it is not in use. The felt cloth can be quite challenging to clean, especially when left in a dusty room for an extended period of time.

The 7 Best Pool Tables In 2020

Barrington Urban Professional Billiard Pool Table

Let’s talk about convenience. I don’t know about you, but I prefer getting all my equipment from one place. This way, should I need to have anything repaired, it is easy to get everything fixed up at one spot. No-fuss, no muss.

Barrington is your ultimate one-stop-shop. The company makes it incredibly easy to get started as they provide you with a complete billiard kit, from the table to the wealth of accessories that come with it! You also get absolutely everything you’ll ever need, and all at a fantastic price as well. This pool table comes with a full set of chip-proof billiard balls, 2 cues, a triangle, cleaning brush, and chalk.

Now, let’s talk about the table itself. The Barrington Urban is built with an elegant birchwood frame that features an oak finish and comes supported by ultra-stylish concrete pillars, which add a more contemporary twist to the entirety of the design. It sports fancy leather pockets and has a competition-grade playing surface made out of black felt.

Honestly, at a first glance – everything about this table screams top-grade! However, there is one (potential) downside. The entire tabletop comes in one piece. Why is this an issue? Well it weighs a whopping 400-some-odd pounds!

Pros:

  • Stylish contemporary design that is sure to add a nice aesthetic accent to any interior decor palette
  • Comes with everything you need to start playing pool, including the basic accessories
  • High-quality materials used in the making of this table, so you can expect is to last practically a life-time with a bit of maintenance

Cons:

  • The table is a little on the expensive side

Fat Cat Reno 7.5 Pool Table

I am a man who loves the finer details, and I genuinely appreciate the woodwork and craftsmanship of this particular pool table.

It comes in a beautiful dark cherry finish with accents in a lighter shade. The table is complemented with a crimson cover which really deviates from the classic green felt, in terms of style. And to really put the “cherry on top” – this table is equipped with french-style drop pockets that give off this amazing vintage feel. The Fat Cat Reno definitely looks high-end with its attention to detail and unique finish.

Aside from being visually appealing, the table is made with an accuslate base and is covered in a wool top. And if you’re wandering whether or not it’s durable – let me tell you a thing or two. This tabletop is specially engineered to resist warping, and they have provided their customers with a 7-year warranty on any natural defects (not covering the typical wear and tear that occurs with regular use). One cool added detail is the fact that not only are the legs of the table super-sturdy, but they’re adjustable as well.

Being an odd feature for most tables – many of you are probably wondering what the secret it?

It’s all about the hidden levelling pads! These pads are essentially purpose-built to make it easier for you to play on uneven surfaces. The table is fixed with a K-66 cushion mounted on a 6-inch rail with white diamond inlays.

Additionally, this table comes with a set of accessories; 2 hardwood cues, one set of American-sized billiard balls, a resin triangle, and 2 pieces of chalk.

Pros:

  • Easily adjust the height of the table without sacrificing any sturdiness
  • Premium quality materials ensure that this table will last you a lifetime given that you take care of it and follow a regular maintenance routine
  • Luxurious look and feel, with a high-quality material-composition and a great overall design – this table is sure to become a great game-room centerpiece

Cons:

  • Difficult assembly process without the help of a professional

CHH Quality Products Inc. Mini Folding Pool Table

Being a family man myself, I know how great it is when your children take up the same hobbies as yourself. It makes for a great bonding experience. I have a little girl, and I know someday, I want to be able to share these hobbies with her and create some beautiful memories.

For all the dads out there, here’s a fantastic buy for your budding pool players! In my opinion, this is one of the best mini pool tables money can buy. It is a free-standing 29-inch table, which is modeled after the real thing. It is made out of solid hardwood, covered in good quality felt and is equipped with 6 netted pockets.

And being only just over an inch under regulation standards, it makes for a nice ultra-compact option as well for the die-hard enthusiasts living in incredibly space-limited circumstances.

The legs fold in for easy storage, and it comes with a complete set of size-appropriate accessories and equipment; 2 wooden cue sticks, 15 phenolic resin balls, a triangle, a cleaning brush, and two pieces of chalk. Which is just about everything that you’ll need to get started playing pool on this cool mini-sized table.

As I always say, start them young! You’ll never know what hidden talents your kids have until you try. And as I mentioned earlier on, it’s also not a bad option for those of us looking to add a little fun to their apartments or other space-limited environments.

Pros:

  • Ultra-portable, this pool table is not only a few inches under regulation standards, but it folds up for easy storage as well
  • High-quality materials and attention to detail, so despite the potentially flimsy initial outlook – it’s actually quite durable and the gameplay is a total breeze
  • Great value for the money you’re spending

Cons:

  • Not really suited for adults unless you’re all going to huddle over it during a game

MD Sports Billiard Table Set

The classic colonial pool table may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is where the MD Sports Billiard Table Set comes in. The sleek and sporty design is something quite appealing to the younger crowd, it’s definitely hip and vibrant to say the least.

The playing surface sports an MDF base covered with a wool-blend cloth, which may not be as high-end as a slate base, but it is still level and smooth. The table is also equipped with a K-66 profile cushion that produces a moderate bounce. With its metal framing and finish it is built to last a lifetime.

One feature this pool table has that truly caught my attention is the fact that the legs are adjustable with a 6-inch leveller. This allows you to modify the height of the table to compensate for uneven flooring or for other customization options. If my little girl was old enough to play, I’d probably get this table to start teaching her. Who knows, I might be raising the next Jeanette Lee.

The only major downside of this table is the fact that the table’s felt cannot be replaced. If you’ve been playing for a while, you may notice the difference between a wool blend and how it plays slower than pro-level surfaces. With that said, as long as you properly maintain your table, this likely will not be an issue for you.

Pros:

  • Sleek and sporty design that does away with the traditional woodwork and embraces a more modern aesthetic
  • Metal framing so the table is incredibly durable and will last practically a lifetime if maintained well
  • Ability to modify the height of the table, making it a perfect option for shorter folks, or even a great way to get your kids involved

Cons:

  • Can’t replace the felt, so you have to put a lot more care into maintaining it
  • Wool blend cover, which means that the table plays slower than pro-level surfaces.

Rally And Roar Tabletop Pool Table Set

When I saw this mini pool table, I immediately thought this would’ve fit nicely in my college dorm room. I’m not kidding! Imagine the missed opportunities, if only I had access to getting this baby back when I was studying.

However, even though at 37 years old – my youth has long passed, it’s not too late for you. You can still buy this super-compact table and use it for road trips or family parties. This table is also incredibly light-weight, which means that traveling with it would be a total breeze.

What I appreciated about this mini pool table the most is its premium build. It’s quite realistic if you’d ask me. It comes with a smooth gray tabletop and is framed with a durable deep brown wood cabinet. The metal accents give it a nice and stylish modern twist. And it is equipped with authentic rubber cushions that can actually give you the same bounce and feel that you’d expect from a nice K-66!

Being a tabletop model, the last thing you’d want is to have it damage your furniture. Well, Rally and Roar has built it with foam-padded legs to prevent scuff marks. Whether you decide to mount it on a dining table, counter-top or even wooden flooring, you never need to worry about scratching the surface.

The package comes with size-appropriate equipment and accessories; 15 balls, 1 cue ball, 2 cue sticks, a triangle, a cleaning brush and 2 chalks.

Pros:

  • Light-weight and portable, allowing for easy storage and even easier setup when you feel like playing
  • High-quality materials which ensure a good degree of durability and longevity
  • Padded feet to protect surfaces, so you can forget about scuff-marks and scratches on any of the surfaces you use to support this table

Cons:

  • Challenging to get it level, as it is a table-top model, practically everything depends on your furtniture and supporting table

Diamond Pool Tables

I was not really out to spend more than $1,000 on a pool table, but I do want to share a bit of information I learned about high-end tables. Choosing the best high-end pool table will depend and lean heavily on your skill and style as a player. Some professionals say certain brands even affect their gameplay (both positively and negatively).

Each high-end brand has its signature style, material, and unique functions. However, I’d like to talk about Diamond Pool Tables in particular!

The company is a US brand whose primary goal is to create a pool table that would surpass all its competitors in both the craftsmanship and quality departments. And let me say – so far, they’ve been doing a great job. They have been in business since 1987 and have served hundreds and thousands of professional billiard players worldwide.

They work closely with the pros, and they incorporate their personal opinions on how the table should work for them to improve their overall performance. Things like how the big the pockets should be, how the balls bounce off the cushion, and more, are taken into account when tables are built. Each table manufactured by Diamond is individually tested for quality purposes. This goes to show how much they invest in product development and quality.

After checking out their products, I learned that they make two major types; the commercial and home tables. Each of these types are subdivided into different categories, such as the smart table, professional, pro-am, and paragon. The pro-am is the top-of-the-line in the home pool table category. It can be purchased with their “No Excuse” program that allows you to deposit 50% of the total value and pay for the product monthly. Seems like an excellent investment, especially for those of you planning to go pro.

The pro-am table itself is equipped with a 1-inch slate, that you can cut into a 1 or 3 piece set. The Pro-am includes premium features such as a patent-pending bi-level pocket design. The tables are easily customizable according to your needs and preferences, but they may come at a hefty price. If you have the budget to purchase one of these gems, go for it!

Pros:

  • Beautiful and luxurious with ultra-quality materials used to ensure optimal gameplay along with total durability and longevity
  • Easily customizable to your personal needs, playstyle and preferences
  • Payment program that allows you to defer 50% of the costs

Cons:

  • Very expensive

Barrington Belmont Claw Leg

If you are in search for a high-quality and budget-friendly pool table, this is the right one for you, my friend. In terms of pricing, it’s pretty mid-range and is quite practical to buy for your home. It has an elegant and classic look that will make it a conversation piece at your next dinner party. Overall, it looks and feels expensive, but thankfully, it is rather gentle on the pocket.

The base of this unit is made out of MDF covered in a tricot polyester felt, it may not play as fast as a felt-covered top. But really, it’s ideal for beginners and recreational players like myself. I think the downside of this table would also be the MDF base, since it would be prone to warping, especially when exposed to moisture. But with the proper conditions and maintenance, I’m not too worried about it’s longevity.

You can choose from a variety of colors, and I picked the dark wood with a tan playing surface. This is a nice touch as it deviates from the regular green felt top and light wood palette to add a bit of aesthetic variation. And did I mention that the detailing is absolutely gorgeous?

Pros:

  • A perfect entry-level option for beginners, casual players and hobbyists alike
  • High-quality material-composition that provides for a great deal of sturdiness and overall longevity
  • Looks stylish and luxurious, featuring a great non-traditional color-palette and intricate detailing all around the table
  • Great value both in a functional and aesthetic sense

Cons:

  • MDF base may be prone to warping, but the solid composition and overall sturdy build make it an unlikely issue

Final Thoughts

If you’ve stuck with me up until this point, you’ve now got all of the bases covered when it comes to having a solid understanding of what you need to look for in a good pool table. We’ve covered all of the important aspects that will make or break your entire experience, while having also spelunked through 6 of the best pool tables on the market in this day and age.

However, when it comes to the cream of the crop – one pool table reigns supreme in my eyes!

In my opinion, the Barrington Belmont is the best overall pool table. It not only has a stunning luxurious look, crafted with high-quality materials – but it also has a shockingly affordable price tag. This is why I decided to purchase this particular pool table for my modest man cave.

I was so excited to get this baby home that I completely forgot to ask about the installation fee. So at the end of the day, I opened it up and decided to build it myself. It comes with a complete set of instructions and as I’ve managed to prove, the whole process can undoubtedly be done by yourself. It took me about 5 hours to complete, and I did need a little help from a few friends to flip the table over once I was done building it. It weighs about 200 lbs, and that’s a bit heavy to carry on your own.

This pool table comes as a complete package. It includes 2 cues, 2 chalks, a triangle rack, a soft-bristle brush for cleaning, 15 American-sized billiard balls and a cue ball. And after owning it for a while, I still think that it is quite a bargain considering that I didn’t have to shell out extra cash for any accessories.

And performance wise – I also couldn’t be any happier!

Choosing the best pool table for your home can be quite tricky. I know I had my fair share of indecision during the whole process. Before purchasing your pool table, make sure you understand the type of table would best suit your needs. Are you planning on going pro? Do you need something portable? What sort of space-constraints are you dealing with? These are some of the most important questions you should ask yourself before you even start your search. Because while the Barrington Belmont is definitely my “crown jewel” of sorts, based on your personal needs – the best table for you could be something else entirely!

All in all, I’m glad that I was able to share my experience with you, and hopefully, this will help you narrow down your search. Remember, information is your best friend, use it to your advantage!

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