Choosing the Right Pool Tables
Have you been thinking lately about purchasing a pool table? If so, consider carefully the purpose of this pool table. Are you buying something you intend to play on for years, or is this table meant for the kids to use now and then? The function of the table is the most important consideration you can have in deciding which table is right for you. Pool tables are available in a wide range of prices, from $600 for the cheapest of tables, up to as much as $15,000 for tournament quality pool tables.
If you are looking for something as cheap as possible, then you should go with non-slate pool tables. Be aware that pool tables made out of materials other than slate will not provide a very good playing surface. For a table that is used infrequently or will see lots of wear and tear from children, however, this may be the best choice. Non-slate tables are mass produced, and can be found for as little as $800. Pool tables in this range will not play very well, or have the best aesthetics. For something simple, however, a non-slate table priced just below a $1000 should function just fine.
Real slate pool tables are available for around as little as $1500. Real slate will provide for a far better playing experience than their cheaper mass produced counterparts. When it comes to real slate pool tables, however, you will have to find someone to professionally setup and install the table. When shopping for real slate pool tables, there are a couple key factors that determine their quality. First of all, take notice of how many pieces the slate surface is made out of. 3 piece slate tables provide a more level playing surface, but cost a little more. Single piece slate tables provide less of a level surface as they are harder to balance properly. The thickness of the slate is also a good sign of quality. 3/4" and 7/8" slate is usually seen on lower quality tables, whereas a 1" table is considered to be of tournament quality.
The slate in pool tables may also be classified as "over" or "under" sized. For better quality, you will want an oversized slate table. In an oversized table, the slate extends beneath the rails, offering more stability. The rails lack this support in an undersized table. When people lean against or sit on the rails of a table, they may warp over time. An oversized table will be able to support this weight while maintaining the rigidity of the rails. An undersized table, however, will result in uneven rails over time.
It is also important to know whether your table features unframed or framed slate. The bed cloth of a framed table is stretched tight and stapled to the backing to ensure that the playing surface is as level as possible. Without that backing, the bed cloth must be glued to the underside of the slate. Cloth glued in such a manner may result in irregularities in the cloth, throwing off the path of the ball in some cases.
With pool tables in the lower price range, be especially wary of the materials they are built from. Cheaper pool tables are commonly made from plywood or fiberboard, which does not hold up as well to temperature changes or humidity. Cheaper materials will warp and bend over time, leading to uneven play. Only tables made purely out of wood will provide a perfect playing surface. Be very wary of cheaply made imports that will not last, as these are flooding the market in recent years.