There are few home improvement projects more exciting than planning out a new basement game room. Planning a billiards room or game room is a renovation project strictly dedicated to family fun, and one of the best parts is choosing a pool table for your room’s starring role.
What some people don’t realize is that purchasing a pool table can be a big commitment. Tables can range anywhere from $600 for a small starter table with a wood bed and laminate rails, all the way up to $10k for a professional grade table with 1-inch slate and intricate carvings. Some tables can be easily moved, while others are so heavy that they pretty much become a permanent part of the house.
The question is, how do you choose the right size and type of table to suit your needs? To help you out, here are some of the most important attributes and options to consider:
Pool tables come in a few different sizes. Typically, you can find a seven-foot table (3.5’ x 7’), an eight-foot table (4’ x 8’), and a nine-foot table (4.5’ x 9’). Seven footers are considered bar size tables and eight footers are pro size tables. Nine-foot tables are the most challenging and are best suited to serious players (with a lot of space at home).
“If you have the space, we recommend the larger size, it generally provides a better playing experience. A seven-foot table can be a great addition to a smaller room, however. The smaller table may also the preferred option if you regularly play pool in a bar, and want the same size field when practicing at home.” (Legacy Billiards)
Keep in mind, that table size isn’t the only factor that determines the best fit for your table. You will also need to consider the length of your cue. If you play with a 58” cue you’ll need far more room to take a shot than if you play with a 48” cue.
Slate vs. Wood
Anyone shopping for a pool table is going to come against the question of slate vs. wood. Although, for billiards purists this really isn’t a question at all. Slate is the traditional, professional-level choice for your pool table bed aka playing surface. It is also the most recommended by pool table retailers and game room furniture companies.We asked the experts at Canadian billiards and game room specialists, F.G Bradley’s for their thoughts on slate tables vs. wood pool table beds. Here’s what they had to say:
“Slate is used in quality pool tables to maintain a level and true playing surface, [which is] impossible to obtain with a wood bed. A slate bed also adds weight to the table making it more solid and allowing livelier rail bounce.” (Brad MacIntosh, F.G Bradley’s)
However, this doesn’t mean that wood/MDF table beds are without their advantages.
Here are some of the pros and cons of each option:
Slate Pool Table Bed
- PRO – Allows better cue ball control and performance
- PRO – Will not warp
- PRO – Not damaged by spills
- CON – Slate is very heavy, making table placement permanent
- CON – Slate tables are more expensive
Wood Pool Table Bed
- PRO – Considerably more affordable than slate
- PRO – Lighter than slate, making it easier to be relocated
- CON – Given to warping over time
- CON –Can be negatively impacted by heat and humidity
- CON –Wood absorbs liquid. Spills can change table performance
Pool tables are manufactured all over the world, but Canadian-made tables are best suited to the whims of our climate. You will also find that down the road if you need parts and service, that Canadian tables cost less to maintain.
Pool tables are available is a wide assortment of styles, from traditional, to ultra-modern. Some tables are extremely ornate, featuring gorgeous corner mouldings and net pockets, turned legs, and decorative rails, while others are streamlined and clean. Ensure that you visit a billiards expert that offers a wide variety of table styles. You may end up with something unexpected.
Due the trend toward smaller space living, many billiards companies now offer multi-use tables. For example, the La Condo Series by Canada Billiards. These tables are in fact a pool table and dining table in one. Available in 7-foot, 8-foot, 9-foot, and ultra-compact 6-foot sizes, these tables are built to suit condo life and other smaller spaces. So, you can have your pool table and dinner party too.
While green might be the felt colour most people are seeing, you can select pool cloth in pretty much any colour imaginable …even fuchsia. Just keep in mind that some of the more “exotic” colours will cost more than the traditional colour options.
Transportation and Installation
Two of the most important things to consider when selecting your table are how you will get your table home (and down to the basement), and who will put it together.
One of the major benefits of purchasing your table through an established billiards dealer is that they deliver, and typically have certified billiards mechanics who will come to your home to install, repair or re-cloth your pool table.
If you purchase a table with a wood bed from your local sporting goods store or discount department store, or even pick up a used table, chances are you’re going to be completely on the hook for getting it home. Even if you order your table from an online retailer, you might be able to have it delivered to your front door, but will you be able to get it into your basement (or other desired space) after that? Then of course you’ll need to put it together and level it yourself.