Pool, or as they call it across the pond – billiards, is a game that everyone loves to play whether it is in a sports bar or with your friends at home. It is a blend of focus, strategy, and moderate physical activity that all culminate in a competitive and fun experience to boost any night out on the town! If you are looking to get a table for your own place, finding the best pool tables for your money will be your biggest challenge. To help you do that, I’ve compiled this guide where we will discuss some of the top tables in their respective categories and discuss what you need to look for when buying one!
Below is a brief comparison chart I made to facilitate your choice by laying out the main features of all the top contenders I’ve chosen for this year!
Best Overall – MD Sports Billiard Table Set
For a pool table to be good it has to have a sturdy frame, flat bed, decent felt, and consistent bumper guards. The MD Sports Billiards Table Set has all of that checked plus it is also decently priced and will look great in your game room! One of the standout features of this table is its sturdiness and overall durability. It isn’t a slate pool table, meaning it will be lighter but will also have a few long-term compromises but more on that in a moment!
The table measures 89 x 50 x 31 inches, essentially making it a mid-sized 7.5ft table. That isn’t ideal for adults but, in fact, makes it more of a hybrid choice for people with kids. It also makes it quite practical for people that don’t have a lot of space to work with. Weight-wise, the table is lighter than most other tables which is great for transportation and moving it around. Still, the added weight of slate pool table beds is always welcomed when you know it will never deform or become uneven.
Materials-wise, everything is well-put-together and of decent quality considering the price. The pool bed is lined with an 18mm thick laminate felt. These types of cloth surfaces are good for rolling resistance and ensure a flat playing surface in the long-run. The frame and bumper guards made out of K66 wood, while the remaining elements of the table consist of MDF. This isn’t the best material for a table’s construction but it is lightweight and it does bring the price down quite a lot.
On top of all that, you also get quite a lot of accessories, which is what makes this one of the top deals out there right now. You get a full set of pool balls, a table brush, a wooden triangle, 2 pool cues, and two chalk cubes. As a whole, if you’re looking for a good all-in-one package for your game room, this is a solid choice with a decent price tag.
- Includes a lot of accessories
- Sturdy design
- 7.5 ft in size
- Wooden frame
- Not very heavy
- Excellent for both kids and adults
- The brand’s customer service is poor
- Difficult to assemble
- Certain elements can’t handle moisture
Best Budget Pool Table – GLD Products Fat Cat Trueshot Pool Table
Over the years, budget billiard tables have become less and less expensive all the while their overall quality has stayed decent enough for them to be a valid consideration. The GLD Products Fat Cat Trueshot pool table is one of the best options currently on the market if money is tight. It comes with all the needed accessories in the package and is very easy to deliver and assemble due to its small size and low weight.
The table features a wooden frame, completed with polycarbonate and rubber cushions. The legs are made out of aluminum and are expandable for easier storage. There aren’t many color options to choose from, so the all-black exterior might not really fit the room you wanted to put this table in. The bed is also made out of wood covered with black felt that is smooth and allows for decent ball movement. There is a full set of billiard balls, along with two pool cues, a brush, two chalks, and a ball triangle which does make things a little easier since you won’t have to buy any additional accessories. The drop pockets are another feature common with cheaper tables and they do make for easier and faster games.
One of the major downsides of this table is its size. While it definitely is playable by adults, 6ft tables are geared more towards the younger audience. In other words, if you have kids and want them to have fun on the pool table too, this is a perfect one-for-all size. Moreover, compact tables allow you to put them in all sorts of smaller rooms in your home. All in all, this table is really geared towards people on a tight budget that potentially also deal with tight spaces. Due to its compact and budget nature, this is really one of the top options for someone that wants the full pool experience at a lower price and slightly smaller footprint.
- Excellent price
- Compact size
- Easy to assemble and store
- Relatively lightweight
- Flat table bed
- The felt is of decent quality
- Comes with all the needed accessories
- Material quality and long-term durability aren’t great
- Can feel a bit small for adults
- The company has poor quality control
Best Mid-Range – Hathaway Fairmont Portable Pool Table
Mid-range pool tables have also gone a long way from being just average to actually being good and playable. Hathaway is a brand known for all sorts of sports goods and their track record for the past decade has been quite stellar. The Fairmont Portable 6-ft pool table is a compact, sturdy, and well-priced pool table that is ideal for most game rooms thanks to its smaller footprint and portable design.
The table measures 76 by 43 by 32 inches making it one of the smallest models on this list. While this will be ideal for an occasional pool game with the kids, it can feel rather small for adults. Still, the overall construction is surprisingly solid for such a compact model. The frame and bed are made out of wood while the folding legs are made out of steel. On top of the bed, there is high-quality blended wool felt which is quiet, fast, and durable in the long-run. The L-profile table cushions are fast and predictable, while the chrome-plated corners ensure damage protection. There are four integrated leg levelers in the folding legs which leveling this table incredibly fast and easy. Lastly, the drop-pockets ensure a fast pace of play.
The table ships fully assembled which is a plus. All you have to do is attach the retractable legs and you are good to go. The approximate weight of the table with all of its components is around 120 lbs which is manageable if two people were to carry it inside. As with most other tables on the market, you get 2.25-inch billiard balls, 2 pool cues (48 inches each), 2 chalk pieces, a table brush, and a racking triangle. In conclusion, what sets this table apart from the rest of the budget and mid-priced tables on the market is its quality and practicality. Price-wise it could’ve been cheaper but it still is a solid choice if you’re looking for a table in this particular price range.
- Great for beginners and kids
- Decent construction quality
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Great felt material
- Good cushions
- Easy to transport and store
- Could’ve been priced more competitively
- Small for adults
- Hard to stabilize
Best Premium Model – Olhausen Billiards Belmont Pool Table
Quality billiards tables are hard to find nowadays. Finding one made in the USA is even harder. One of the best home-based manufacturers for premium pool tables is Olhausen Billiards. They’ve been on the market for nearly half a century and their tables are nothing short of superb. The only downside there is to such a table is that you will have to spend an arm and a leg to get one. Still, the choice of felt, the exquisite wood materials, and the overall craftsmanship will more than make up for the price you pay.
One of the most important differentiating factors between this and the other pool tables on this list is that it has a slate plate for its bed. While other companies use metal, wood, or even rubber, more expensive models use diamond-honed slate that provides a sturdy and flat surface for decades to come. The slate is integrated into the frame which adds a lot of rigidity to the whole table and makes everything quieter. Other construction features additionally reduce vibrations, noises, and create a smooth playfield. On top of all that, the table uses Accu-fast cushions which are some of the best on the market and have a ton of accuracy and consistency in them.
Everything in the table is held together by slow-growth hardwood lumber. The maple and fruitwood construction is complemented by the cherry finish. Colors-wise, you can choose between 10 different felt colors including dark green, euro blue, black, khaki, wine, and more. The accessories that come with this table are of equal quality. You get a two-piece cue rack, natural maple cues, grade B balls, a ball triangle, a plastic ball rack, and a rail brush. As a whole, despite the expensive price, this model does offer you an exquisite table that will not only be excellent to play with but will also look good in any room you put it in. That, combined with all the quality accessories makes for a complete package for someone looking for a premium experience.
- Maple and Fruitwood frame
- Cherry finish
- 10 different felt options
- Excellent crafstmanship
- Slate bed
- Flat, quiet, and smooth play
- Includes delivery and installation
- Comes with premium accessories
- Very expensive
- Very heavy
Best for Game Rooms – Barrington Billiards Bellevue Billiard Table
Game rooms are the centerpiece of every guest party and the better you equip them the more fun you will have inside. If you’re looking for a premium table that looks great, performs just as good, and is of decent size, the Barrington Billiards Bellevue poo table is something you should definitely consider. And if it doesn’t match your exact criteria, there are 5 more options to choose from which vary in size, looks, and most importantly – price.
The Bellevue is, in my opinion, the best out of all the models from the company. It is 7.5 ft long which makes it good for both kids and adults and has quite a lot to discuss in terms of build quality and materials. The rails are coated in a scratch-resistant material that prevents chuffing the wood frame and sides which are made of reinforced wood grain apron. The top rail also has a wood grain finish that looks very good combined with the red wool blend cloth. The felt lies on a 3/4″ thick playfield which has double-side lamination for added longevity and smoothness. The K818 bumpers are made out of polyurethane and have a consistent bounce and return. The legs are also wooden and feature a traditional ball and claw design that will outshine almost any wooden furniture in your game room.
With this table, you also get a full set of 2 1/4″ inch pool balls, two cue sticks (57 inches each), a triangle ball rack, two chalks, and a rail brush. The table itself is quite heavy and the installation process isn’t the easiest, as you will need at least 4 people to roll the table over once it’s done. Moving it around is also not an option due to the weight, so make sure you bring friends along when you get it. As a whole, the table will definitely prove its worth over the years thanks to its stable and durable construction.
- Parlor style drop pockets
- Unique looks
- Excellent build quality
- Smooth playing field
- Comes with all the accessories you need
- Great bumpers
- Red wool blend felt
- Very heavy
- You will need at least 3 people to install it
- A bit expensive
Best Conversion Pool Table – Rack Scorpius Pool and Table Tennis Multi Game Table
As most game rooms aren’t big enough to house two full-sized tables, people often resort to choosing a pool, ping pong, or other game that will take up most of the space. That’s why conversion tables are becoming increasingly popular. Whether it is pool and ping pong or other games like air hockey and foosball, these tables save space and money. The Rack Scorpius Multi-game table is one of the nicest ones on the market and features a full-sized 7.5 ft billiards table combined with a conversion top that turns it into an equally large ping pong table.
Materials-wise, the table’s frame is made out of solid wood which adds a lot of weight to it. While that is great for stability and long-term durability, it definitely does add a ton of weight to the table making it hard to move around and even harder to install. The pool bed is made out of 3/4″ MDF covered by a red woolen blend felt. The K-66 bumpers have a good and consistent bounce to them and the cushion padding at the side of the table is made out of EVA foam. The leg levelers are 5 inches wide and are relatively easy to adjust in order to level the table properly. The table tennis top sits below the pool table in a hidden storage compartment that eliminates the need for a separate place to store the ping pong top.
With this table, you also get two full sets of accessories including nets, paddles, balls, post, pool cues, and more. Additionally, there is a lifetime warranty on all the parts of the table which is quite rare at this price point. In conclusion, you should definitely shortlist this multi-game table if you’re looking for a good two-in-one solution for your game room that will come with all the necessary accessories and will be durable enough for years to come.
- Comes with accessories for both sports
- Ball-return pockets
- Easy to level
- Lifetime warranty on all parts
- Relatively well-priced
- Very sturdy
- Very heavy
- Difficult to install by yourself
Best for Kids – Costzon Folding Billiard Table
Last but not least on this list is the Costzon Folding Billiard Table. Unlike all the other models on this list, this one is far smaller in size as it is meant to be played by kids or adults that want to play billiards but don’t have the room for a full-sized 8ft table. One of the main advantages of such a table is that it is very small, extremely practical, easy to move and store, and above all – it costs a fraction of what the other pool tables cost. On top of all that, this particular model comes with all the necessary accessories to start playing pool the day you get it!
At 33 lbs of weight, this table isn’t going to impress you with its sturdy frame or superb build quality, as most of it is made out of solid MDF and MDF is known mostly for being lightweight. In the long-run, this table won’t match the durability of a slate or wooden pool table. The expandable legs have a triangular bracket and additional parallel bars that will add to the overall rigidity. They are the only elements made out of metal here. The pool bed is also MDF covered with regular green felt. All the pockets have drop-style nets that will catch any ball that goes in them.
This table comes in two color options – black & green and white & blue. Both versions come with a set of 15 resin balls, one cue ball, 2 cue sticks, 2 chalks, a table brush, and glue in case you need to repair something. Everything comes pre-assembled except for the legs, meaning you won’t have to spend time or call additional people to help you set it up. When you aren’t using the table, it can be folded to quite a small footprint, making it incredibly easy to store in your apartment.
- Lightweight and small
- Easy to move and store
- Comes in two color options
- Comes with a lot of accessories
- Ideal for apartments
- Excellent choice for kids
- Long-term durability isn’t great
- Not very sturdy
- Hard to level
Pool Tables Buyer’s Guide
While there are some pool tables that are clearly built for a specific place and purpose, others are quite versatile and can be found in home game rooms or at your local bars. There are different dimensions, felt and bed materials, frames, legs, cushions, and a ton more features that you need to look for if you’re really set on finding the perfect match for your needs. That’s why, in this section, we will take a closer look at each of the individual features that define a good pool table, as well as give you some more info on the various types of tables out there.
Types of Pool Tables
There are a few factors that pool tables are classified by. First off, pool tables are classified by their bed materials or the material used in most of the table’s structure. Based on that, there are:
- Slate pool tables – Slate is extremely efficient for a pool table mainly because it is very flat and rigid and it won’t deform over time. It is very heavy, though, and a bit on the expensive side.
- Wooden pool tables – While wood was the classic option up until recently, it is quite expensive and it tends to warp if the table isn’t treated properly. Wood can add a nice touch of class when used on the exterior of the table but it still requires regular maintenance.
- Synthetic pool tables – Tables that use synthetic materials most often use different kinds of plastics and rubber. Those materials make the pool table cheaper and allow more bounce for the balls within the playing surface. The tables are also lightweight and super portable.
- Metal pool tables – Metal pool tables are easy to maintain and are often made out of aluminum or stainless steel. They are very durable but also heavy and sometimes expensive.
Additionally, pool tables are classified by the location they are meant to be used at. There are:
- Commercial pool tables
- Home (Game room) pool tables
- Pool tables for shared spaces
There are also English pool tables and American ones. The main difference between them is the size. English tables are often 6 or 7 ft in length with pool balls that measure around 2 inches in diameter. The cue ball is 1 1 7/8 inches. American tables are often larger and range from 7 to 9.5 ft in length and around 50 inches in width. The pockets of the American tables are also larger and the pockets are wide and easy to use. American pool tables also have faster cloth materials making games go faster than their English counterparts. The cloth, slate, cues, and balls of both the American and English pool tables are also different but we will discuss that further down.
Lastly, there are convertible pool tables that can either act as a dining table or multi-game tables that can be converted to a ping pong table or another type of game table. These are usually cheaper and offer a great amount of flexibility for people on a tight budget and with space limitations.
Features to Look For
Pool tables are incredibly diverse in a lot of ways and picking the right model often takes some knowledge. This is why we will now go over all of the important features that you need to pay attention to when picking your next table. These are:
- Materials and Durability
- Frame and Legs
- Bed materials
- Repair options and Warranty
- Additional Accessories
The sizes of pool tables vary greatly and that depends mostly on the type of table and its price. Cheaper tables tend to be smaller, although English pool tables are by default smaller than American ones measuring around 7ft. American pool tables can also be 7 ft but there are also 8 and 9 ft options. English tables range from 6 to 8 ft with most being 7 ft. This doesn’t paint the whole picture, though. If you’re trying to determine how big of a table you can fit in your game room, you will need to take into account one more important thing – the average length of the pool cue you will be using.
For a traditional 8 ft table played with a 54-inch cue, you will need at least 16 ft of space from end to end. Of course, the more the better but this measuring will serve as the bare minimum. Larger American tables with average-sized cues will need upwards of 18 ft of room space. Width-wise, you will need around 13-14 ft for the smaller tables and around 16-18 for the bigger ones.
If you’ve run out of space but also wanted to get a table tennis table in the room, you can also consider 2-in-1 convertible options. These tables also double as wooden dining tables if you also want to have dinner with your friends in there.
Materials and Durability
The overall durability of the table is primarily determined by its materials and overall build quality. As I will point out further down, slate is an excellent choice for the table’s bed as it is durable and very long-lasting, and it will essentially never need replacement. Wood tables are usually very sturdy and durable but aren’t as resistant to nature’s elements as metal or even plastic models. That makes them less than ideal for outdoor options. Their frames, however, are very sturdy, especially when reinforced with cross-beams and additional frame-strengthening parts.
The material used in the pool table’s bed is also important but it deserves a section of its own so we will discuss it in-depth further down the guide…
Frame and Legs
The table’s frame and legs are some of its major structural components that will keep the table’s bed flat and even. Slate beds are very heavy and will require quite a lot of support from the frame and legs and that is why some pool tables have post legs that are built into the fixed frame in order to have fewer moving elements. These legs aren’t connected to the frame via bolts and give more rigidity and long-term durability to the table. They are, however, harder to transport and get into the desired location.
Two-piece frames and legs, as the name suggests, are detachable from one another. Their connection can be either through a single nut or four-nut system. Four-point attach systems are often much more stable and won’t come loose over time. On the other hand, they are harder to set up than the single-bolt legs.
The legs of the table can also serve a decorative purpose and are often commonplace for beautiful woodworking. Tables that have their woodwork morph into the body and frame tend to be much more expensive but are a compliment to any room you put them in.
The felt of the table (or the cloth) is designed specifically with the ball’s rolling speed in mind. Different felts apply different rolling resistance to the ball and therefore have different speeds. Most tables nowadays are divided into two groups:
- English pool table felt
- American pool table felt
English pool tables have a slower napped wool that doesn’t allow for very high ball speeds. That typically gives you more control over the ball’s spin and trajectory. American tables, on the other hand, use fast napless synthetic felt that gives you better speeds but less overall control over the ball’s path.
The cushions of your table are very important, especially as you begin using them for advanced plays. Again, English and American tables have different sorts of cushions where the American ones are far more responsive and are therefore more common on the market. They are triangular in shape and more pointed compared to the English ones which have a more moderate bounce and an L-shaped profile.
Almost all cushions have a special type of rubber inside them, that can, unfortunately, get damaged or warped over time. Don’t worry, though, as that is one of the easier parts of a pool table to be replaced. Some pool tables even include cushion swaps in their warranties.
The bed of a pool table is arguably one of its most important components. A solid and perfectly flat bed ensures that the quality of the game will stay consistent through the years. That’s why the most common bed is slate which is a type of rock that is fine-grained and perfectly homogeneous. One of its main advantages is that it will essentially last forever and won’t bend or twist over time. Other materials such as wood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), metal, and rubber can’t brag with this exact benefit. Still, all these materials are cheaper. Wood and MDF are a common choice among cheaper tables. While they will shave off a few hundred bucks from the price, they are more susceptible to moisture and temperature variations.
Metal and rubber table beds are rare and metal ones often add a lot to the overall weight of the table so they aren’t great for tables that are moved around frequently.
Another interesting thing to mention here is that American pool tables have sectional slates with a 20-30mm thickness, while English tables use a single piece with slightly slimmer thickness.
There are a few things we need to discuss when it comes to the pockets of a pool table. Firstly, you need to know that there are two main types of pockets out there:
- Ball-return pockets
As their names suggest, the ball-return systems allow you to get the balls from a single central place where all the pockets lead via a tube system. The drop pockets are common on cheaper tables and have a mesh below the pocket that allows you to easily get the ball out of the pocket once you’ve put it there.
Additionally, American and English pool tables have differences when it comes to the angle of the central and corner pockets. The corner pockets of the American table are straight cut and often bigger than 4.5 inches, while the ones on the English tables have a rounded shoulder and are an inch smaller (or more). The center pockets are the same shape but the American ones are at least 2 inches bigger than the ones on the English tables.
The installation process is definitely something you should consider before buying any pool table. Pool tables with slate beds are extremely heavy and will require a special type of delivery that will most likely cost an additional sum of money. Tables with MDF beds are much lighter (and cheaper), and can come in a single box with assembly instructions. As I mentioned earlier, you should also consider the dimensions of the table when it comes to installation and the room that you will put it in. 8 ft pool tables are also hard to carry around different rooms in your home due to their size. Some unassembled tables will have their bed come in three individual pieces that are put in place on the spot.
Depending on the price of the installation process, it is often a good idea to just pay the additional fee instead of doing it yourself, as the assembly process can be challenging to most people.
Repair options and Warranty
The warranty of a pool table is an important aspect, as some tables can warp or deform over time making playing them impossible. Slate tables rarely have any issues when it comes to the table bed but can suffer from frame bends or have their cushions/rails go bad. The felt material can also wear out over time, which will require it to be swapped. While most companies will require you to pay for the actual felt, the swapping process is often free. The same goes for the cushions and other parts of the table that are prone to deterioration in the long-run.
One of the best advantages of cheaper tables is that they are often quite modular and thus much easier to repair and have their parts replaced, especially when compared to bigger more expensive pool tables.
The accessories that you need to look for are:
- Triangles, chalk, and others
Most free sets of pool balls that you will get with your table will be made out of hardened plastic. These are cheap and quite replaceable in the long run. If you plan on playing a lot, I suggest getting balls made out of phenolic resin which makes them even harder and faster than plastic ones. They are also easier to control and spin. Resin balls also look better and have more vibrant coloring to them.
There are pool tables that come with full sets of accessories including balls, pool cues, triangles, and more. Still, in most cases, these don’t have the best quality so you will be better off buying additional new cues. There are certain tables that are a bit more expensive and come with decent cues, though. These cues have quality wraps, solid materials, and you can sometimes even choose the butt diameter.
To find out more about some of the best cues for beginners, click here!
Triangles, chalk, and others
While these additional accessories are easy and cheap to get, it is always nice to have a complete set, especially if you’ve paid a good price for the whole table. Some other accessories which aren’t necessarily put in every pool table set are table covers, custom felts, and pool lighting.
When it comes to the price of a good pool table, the general rule is that the higher you go the more you will get out of the table. Still, there is a point after which tables just become exponentially more expensive due to the craftsmanship and woodworking involved in making them. At that point, they become a beautiful piece of furniture on top of just a regular pool table. These premium tables will usually set you back at least a few thousand dollars. Average-priced models that will bring all the features you need for casual game-room type of playing, will cost you around a thousand dollars, sometimes a bit less. Whatever price you pay, look for models that are covered by a proper long-term warranty in case some of their parts begin to deform.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is a good pool table?
While you can get a decent pool table in the mid-1000s dollars, the quality that is really fitting for a game room and that will withstand multiple years of frequent usage typically costs around 1500 dollars and more. These tables are still considered mid-range compared to other very expensive models but they offer enough durability, quality, and even looks to match their price tag and be a worthwhile investment.
How big is a full-sized pool table?
Professional pool players play on 9 ft tables and you will find that most pool tables on the market follow a regulation standard of 8ft. This is around 88 inches in length and 44 inches in width. There is also a 9ft regulation standard table which is 100 inches long and 50 inches wide. Additionally, most table sizes can also be considered fitting by these standards if their dimensions match the two I listed above.
Are slate pool tables better?
There is a reason slate tables often come with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. They are smoother and much more durable than wooden or synthetic ones. While they are heavier, they rarely cost a lot more than other alternatives making them a solid choice for a table that won’t be moved very often. Still, consider that mobility will really suffer in a slate pool table, while tables with synthetic surfaces will be far easier to move around your house or bar while also being cheaper. Still, wooden and synthetic surfaces are more prone to warping compared to slate.
What is the difference between billiards and pool?
Without getting too much into the origin of both words, “billiards” is a term used by the French and most of the world for a game that is older than what we call pool in the USA. While in their core both games are different, the terms “pool” and “billiards” are used interchangeably nowadays.
Do pool balls wear out?
One would never think that a pool ball can wear out but the little friction that happens when a ball rolls and hits other balls allows it to slowly wear out over time, ultimately decreasing its size down from the original (standard) one. This can lead to the ball not being suitable for official games and will require the set of balls to be changed entirely. For everyday purposes, you won’t have to change your pool balls for a long time.
When shopping for the best pool tables you will need to pay attention to features such as the table’s size, felt material, bed material, overall build quality, legs, adjustability, how easy it is to get into your game room, and how easy it is to set up. And while there are some cheaper models out there, I generally recommend spending a little extra, as good tables will last you much longer and will have fewer issues.