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A billiard table is a big investment. In order to make an informed decision, you will need to answer several
important questions. Who will be using the table, and will it be used for recreation or serious play? What price
range fits your budget? What is the size of the room where the table will be located? Our guide will help you answer
these questions and understand the features you will need to know.
Regulation-size pool tables have a playing surface that is twice as long as it is wide. Tables come in several
different sizes, the most common of which are 7' (bar size), 8' (home size), Oversized 8' (commercial size), and 9'
(tournament size). The larger tables provide for a more challenging game because the pockets are farther apart. No
matter which length you choose, be aware that minimum space requirements will change depending on the size of the
cue you select. Use the table below to find the appropriate size.
Example: If you have a 7' pool table and are playing with a 57" cue, your room should be at least 13' x 16'.
Cloth is generally a wool/nylon blend for the more expensive tables, or a synthetic nylon (Taclon® or Tadlon®)
for recreational tables. Both types provide a smooth and durable playing surface.
The rail is the top part of the table to which the cushions and pockets are attached. The rails are fastened to
the playing surface and/or frame.
Rails can be constructed from MDF/particle board or solid wood.
Particle board rails are suitable for recreational play, but they will not hold up to the frequent recovering
that will usually be done in a busy billiard parlor.
Solid wood rails form a better surface for stapling the billiard cloth and gluing the cushions. Being more
dense, they also allow a faster, more solid rebound for the ball.
The cushion is attached to the top rail and is the point of contact for the balls.
Full-profile, molded gum rubber cushions will allow the fastest rebound.
K-66 style cushions are required and approved by the BCA for tournament play.
The sights are the markers on top of the rails, used for reference points when aiming.
Cabinet/Apron and Leg Materials
The cabinet or apron is the wood between the rail and the legs which covers the playing surface, cloth, and frame
to provide a finished look.
In high-humidity areas, or rooms with large temperature or humidity changes, plywood or MDF will probably be
less likely to warp than solid wood.
Veneer/laminate surfaces give the appearance of wood at an affordable price.
Solid hardwoods are heavier, stronger, and are better able to withstand wear.
A solid wood table will be more valuable than a veneer or laminate table - decorative carving can only be done
in solid woods.
Oak is the most popular wood used in tables because it is hard, durable, and easy to match to furniture and
Most billiard tables have drop pockets, which simply means that some type of net or container is under each
pocket to catch the balls that fall into that pocket. Drop pockets can be simple or elaborate, constructed from
plastic, vinyl, or leather.
Some tables, particularly commercial tables, have an automatic ball return. A system of chutes connects to the
table's six pockets. Each chute is angled slightly downward from the pocket to the ball return. When a ball falls
into that pocket, gravity causes it to roll along the guide until it reaches the ball return.