Pool Table Buying Guide

The West State Billiards Pool Table Buying Guide


Pool tables are one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Dating back to the 16th century, they were used by kings, nobles, commoners, and people from all backgrounds. It has become a staple in socializing with friends, family, and coworkers alike for hundreds of years.

Purchasing a pool table, with all its refinements and options, can become a daunting task for those starting to look for that perfect billiards table. This is an introductory guide from West State Billiards to get you started on the right path. After all, a pool table is an important investment and the last thing you want is ordering a pool table that doesn’t fit your wants. The style and size are important, but you must also consider the materials and design specifications of the pool table. The overwhelming list of decisions that need to be made are simplified and explained in this guide.

What to consider

Outside vs Inside

Before you look at pool tables, consider where the pool table will be. Will the pool table be inside or outside? Your options will be different due to varying material requirements. If you place an inside pool table outside, it may quickly deteriorate and you may lose the pool table altogether after just a couple of seasons.

Size of room vs size of pool table

At West State Billiards, we offer 3 different sizes of pool tables: 7ft, 8ft, and 9ft. Each size has different size standards based on play space. For example, the 7ft table is commonly used in bars or smaller spaces. 8ft is considered the professional size, and 9ft tables are more for televised tournaments or sports tournaments

Table Size Measurements Playable Surface Good For
7ft 3.5’x7’ (42”x84”) ~39”x78” Bars, lounges
8ft 4’x8’ (48”x96”) ~44”x88” Leagues, tournaments, home standard
9ft 5’3”x9’5” (64”x113”) ~50”x100” Professional setting

Each brand has different measurements for each size. Listed above are the regulated standards for the 7ft, 8ft, and 9ft pool tables. These standards are held by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA); however, the regulated size is more of a guideline. As long as the width and length are a 2-to-1 ratio, the WPA gives the above range of dimensions to refer back to. The stipulation is that the playing table must be rectangular and symmetrical. The only measurements the WPA are strict about are the table bed, the slate top, and rail width.

  • The height of the table bed must be between 29.25 inches and 31 inches tall.
  • The slate top much be at least an inch thick.
  • The rail width (with cushions) much be between 4 inches and 7.5 inches.

In the world of pool tables, size truly matters. For smaller pool tables, the balls tend to group together. Larger pool tables allow you to utilize your striking skills and develop an effective stroke while you play. For recreational or at home purposes, choose the size that best fits your space.

Slate vs Other Materials

One of the most important parts of a pool table is the top. There are different materials such as the standard slate, or more synthetic materials like particle board (MDF), honeycomb, and slatron. Synthetic tables are often not as durable as slate, a heavy flat rock.

  • Particle board is also known as MDF (medium density fiberboard). This material is very malleable and changes according to the weather and warps if wet.
  • Honeycomb Plastic—This material doesn’t warp as quickly as particle board does, but it has a rougher surface than the standard slate pool table.
  • Slatron, also known as Permaslate, is a mix between particle board and honeycomb plastic. It is condensed hardened plastic covering particle board. This material is the most expensive and resilient synthetic slate alternative on the market. If you’re looking for a high-quality alternate to slate, Permaslate should be your go-to. It is crucial to note that, while Slatron is the sturdiest option, it does not meet the same lifespan expectations as slate.

These alternatives are all trying to replicate the smoothness and durability of slate. At West State Billiards, we believe in maximizing the lifespan of your pool table and want to ensure it surpasses the highest quality. Therefore, all our tops are 1-inch diamond honed slate.

Internal vs External Pockets

Pool tables come with the option of internal or external pockets. This choice can have a significant effect on the final appearance of your pool table. They may also be called a drop or enclosed pocket (internal) or a standard pocket (external).

Internal pockets are by far the most popular style. This style of pocket presents a clean silhouette around the table and a more modern appearance overall. As its name implies, an internal pocket has the leather hidden within the table. Internal pockets can be easier to keep clean as the surface of the table is more uniform.

External pockets, also known as standard pockets, are visible from the outside. They are made with a leather net and decorative shield. The external pockets form the corner of the table and are connected to each wood rail via an iron rod. The overall look is more traditional and busier, since it interrupts the flow of the wooden blinds and rails. However, external pockets provide the pleasant ‘click’ sound people associate with playing pool, as the ball drops into the pocket after a well-placed shot.

Types of Pool tables

Once you have found your size and top material, you may now choose what type of pool table is best for you. We’ve mentioned outside and inside pool tables, but there are plenty of variations inside that category. There are different design styles that may suit your outdoor or indoor entertainment space.

Dining Combo

A dining combo pool table is exactly as it sounds. This type of design is perfect for smaller entertainment spaces. This type is converted from a dining table to a pool table within minutes. It’s great for entertaining your guests inside or outside with exceptional style and function.

Traditional Style

Some people prefer the traditional look of a pool table. It’s a simple way to get what you want without wondering if it will suit your space. There are plenty of simplistic designs that give that traditional feel but still are more personalized to your taste.

Modern Pool Table Style

A modern style focuses primarily on design, combining the wood, the cloth, and pocket style, to create a beautiful congruent design for your home. Modern style is the style of choice for a hobbyist who wants to play with flair.

Accessories

Once you’ve purchased your pool table, you can then think about accessories. Accessories often include:

  • Pool balls
  • Cue sticks
  • Cue racks
  • Ball racks
  • Chalk
  • Table covers

Out of all the accessories, the cue sticks are worthy of the most research due to the availability of different pool cue stick sizes and styles. Your cue sticks expand your playable space around your pool table. If you buy the wrong cue stick, you may soon realize your pool game is unplayable because of too much or too little reach. The standard adult size cue stick is 57”, but they can go as short as 36” for smaller players or spaces. The “adult” cue stick is fitted for people 5’8” and taller. Consider your body proportions as well as the space around you before you purchase any pool cue stick. It will greatly affect the way you play your game.

Can I Add Casters/Wheels To Move My Pool Table?

Sometimes, you might want to move your table. While adding casters or wheels may seem like the sensible option, in reality it will undermine the structural integrity & playability of the table.

The most important reason for not adding casters is that, when moving the table, the legs of a pool table may move inward or outward. Pool tables are extremely heavy and exert a large amount of force on the legs, which is what causes them to lean inward or outward as the table is moved. This can damage the table and compromise the structural integrity of the entire piece.

Adding wheels can also affect the playability. When first installed, a pool table is carefully leveled to ensure that the surface is flat. This ensures the balls do not run toward one side, giving an unfair advantage to players and making fair play more difficult. Adding wheels can impact the level surface of the table tremendously.

Casters can also ruin the visual appeal of the table. Once attached, there is no way to hide the wheels from sight. Most pool table manufacturers caution strongly against adding any form of wheels to your pool table.

Contact Us

This introduction guide is just a small taste of the information available to you. If you have any questions, West State Billiards will be happy to answer any concerns you may have about your buying experience. With three convenient locations, you can come visit us any time!

We are here to help you receive the best pool table experience, with exceptional customer service and the best prices in town! We will even provide you with wood and cloth samples on request. We understand designing the perfect pool table can be difficult and we want to make sure that you are happy with the final product. We’ve been helping people entertain since 1946 and we guarantee you’ll be satisfied with us. Call us today for more information at any of our locations!

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