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Looking to get your first pool table or just interested in learning more?
A pool table is easily one of our most popular products, with everyone essentially spending some time growing up in a pool parlour. Now that you’re considering having a pool table in your life, this guide is designed to address the many questions that you may have in mind, and simplify the process of buying a pool table.
We’ll start with the most basic questions.
What size should I be looking at?
The answer to this question probably depends on the amount of space you have for your table, which you can look at our detailed guide on the space requirements to find out. However, this also depends on the type of pool you’re looking to play.
There are broadly two types of pool: English and American. These two styles of play differ mainly in the size of the tables, balls and of course, geographical aspects. English pool is played with a 7ft table accompanied with 2″ balls in league play, while American pool is played on a 9ft table with 2.25″ balls.
Our recommendation? We would recommend that you narrow down on the size of table first, and then pick the corresponding type of table (English or American styled) dependant on the size that you are going for. Do bear in mind that it’s always possible to size up the table in a tight space by using shorter troubleshooter cues, which is often a common practise for many of our apartment based customers.
Playing field: Slate bed or Wood bed?
You might see pool tables that are priced below $1000, to tables that are priced in the range of $3000. You might wonder, what’s the difference? Well, it lies in the type of playing field it has and this is easily the biggest decision to make when choosing a pool table. There are essentially two choices—wood vs slate.
Wood (MDF) bed tables
Wood bed tables utilise MDF—a form of compressed wood—for the playing field. This results in a lightweight table that is cheap, although it suffers in areas like gameplay and durability. As MDF is susceptible to water-logging and humidity, it is never ever perfectly flat and hence, does not provide a true roll. When used in a large area, MDF is prone to warping as well, which causes the balls to roll lopsided to one side of the table.
• Low end priced from $400 – $1500
• Light, moveable and cheap
• Far from flat and ball do not roll true
• Susceptible to warping and lopsided ball roll.
Wood bed tables are mostly used as toys for children and are never ever used in a setting where a proper pool table is required.
Slate (Stone) bed tables
Slate bed tables are the industry standard for pool tables and are used in pool parlours, pubs, and any professional setting. Slate or natural stone, being perfectly flat provides a true ball roll and slate is also immune to humidity and shifting weather conditions. Slates are usually 3/4″ – 1 1/4″ thick and are incredibly heavy, which is why all slate bed tables are considered non-moveable.
• Industry standard for pool tables
• Perfectly flat & smooth, while immune to humidity
• Provides a true ball roll
• Heavy and non-moveable
Our recommendations? Unless you’re looking for a toy, go for a slate bed table and own a proper pool table that will last you at least a few years. Gameplay is everything with pool and if the ball doesn’t roll right or play well, it’s only a matter of time that the pool table becomes unplayable and an utter waste of money.
As this is easily the most important decision in picking a pool table, we’ve prepared a more comprehensive guide on how Slate and Wood compares, be sure to check it out if you’re serious about purchasing a quality pool table.
Dining Pool or Regular Pool?
Dining pool tables have been increasing in popularity over the last few years. They are basically fully functional pool tables that double up as a dining table when the tabletop is in place. Dining pool tables are great to play on, practical, and affordable. Supplied by European manufacturers, dining pool tables are excellently finished and make genuinely sleek furniture for any living room.
On the other hand, regular tables are singular in their usage and are only for playing. Regular tables also tend to be offered in bigger sizes, as dining pool tables often max out at 7ft.
Our recommendations? In today’s context where homes are getting increasingly smaller, go for a dining pool table which is highly practical for their dual-use. If you’re worried about the gameplay, make sure to go for a slate bed and try out the table in person.
Brands and Features
Just like buying any other products in the market, brands of the products matters and not just in a superficial way. Instead, often, brands represents a stamp of reliability that good makers have amassed over the years. As the professionals in our field, we have seen dozens of makers around the world but really only just a handful that truly build quality pool tables. The likes of Brunswick, Diamond, Olhausen, Montfort and Bilhares Carrinho comes to mind. Each with their own specialisation and hallmarks that matters depending on the client’s needs.
Our recommendations? Speak to a professional, or our team to discuss your requirements and to learn more about the different brands in the market. At The Men’s Cave, our line up is made up of a diverse range of high quality leading brands with very different styles and feature offerings.
A Final Word
While there are many different types of pool tables in the market, all of them are practically covered in this short guide. To sum it up our guide, start by determining if you prefer a dining pool table or a dedicated one, then focus on finding the right size for your space. Once you have identified the right size, opt for the corresponding style that suits the size of your table.
Lastly, compare the features among the tables that you have narrowed down. Features like Slate, Ball Return System and Brand really do vary here, so do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experts to get professional advise on this matter!
Inspired to get started? Explore our range of pool tables here.