Things to Look for Before Buying that Used Pool Table

Buying a used pool table can be a great way to bring the fun and challenge of billiards into your home without breaking the bank. However, it’s essential to know what to look for to ensure you’re getting a good deal and a table that will serve you well for years to come.

Buying a Used Pool Table

Here are key factors to consider when buying a used pool table for personal use at home.

1. Table Size and Space Requirements

Before you start shopping, measure the space where you plan to place the pool table.

Standard pool tables come in various sizes, typically ranging from 7 to 9 feet in length.

Ensure you have enough room not only for the table itself but also for players to comfortably move around and take shots. A general rule of thumb is to have at least 5 feet of clearance around all sides of the table.

2. Table Condition

Carefully inspect the condition of the table. Key areas to check include:

  • Slate: The slate should be flat and free of cracks. Small chips can sometimes be repaired, but major cracks or warping can significantly affect playability and are costly to fix.
  • Cloth (Felt): Look for tears, wear, or stains on the cloth. While refelting is possible, it can be an added expense. [More info below]
  • Cushions (Rails): Press down on the cushions to see if they are still firm and elastic. Worn-out cushions will affect the bounce and accuracy of shots.
  • Frame and Legs: Check for any signs of damage, instability, or unevenness. The frame and legs should be sturdy and level.

3. Felt Condition

The condition of the felt (cloth) on a pool table is very important. Of course, you can always replace the felt! Do it yourself, or hire a professional.

Here’s why felt is important…
  1. Playability: The condition of the felt directly affects how the balls roll and react on the table. Smooth, well-maintained felt ensures consistent ball movement and accuracy, which is crucial for a good game.
  2. Aesthetics: Worn, torn, or stained felt can make the table look unattractive, even if the rest of the table is in good condition.
  3. Cost of Replacement: Replacing the felt can be costly and/or time-consuming. If the felt is in poor condition, you’ll need to factor in the cost of re-felting the table.
Here’s what to look for
  1. Tears and Rips: Inspect the felt for any tears or rips. Even small tears can expand over time and affect gameplay.
  2. Wear and Thin Spots: Check for areas where the felt has worn thin, particularly around the pockets and the main play areas. Thin spots can affect how the balls roll and bounce.
  3. Stains and Discoloration: While stains don’t necessarily affect playability, they can be unsightly and might indicate poor maintenance.
  4. Loose Felt: Make sure the felt is tightly stretched across the slate. Loose or wrinkled felt can cause balls to roll unpredictably.

4. Consider Brand and Quality

Research the brand and model of the pool table.

High-quality brands like Brunswick, Olhausen, and Diamond are known for their durability and playability.

A well-built table from a reputable brand will likely last longer and maintain its value better than a no-name or lower-quality option. However, that doesn’t mean buy only quality, more below…

Here are some factors to consider when evaluating lesser-known or lower-priced brands:

Non-High-End Brands

  1. Build Quality: Check the construction of the table. Look for solid wood frames, sturdy legs, and a thick slate bed. Even if the brand is less known, good materials and craftsmanship can indicate a reliable table.
  2. Playability: Test the table if possible. Ensure the balls roll smoothly and the cushions provide a consistent bounce. A table that plays well can still be a great addition to your home, even if it’s not from a top brand.
  3. Condition: Inspect the overall condition. A well-maintained table from a lesser-known brand can be a better investment than a neglected table from a top brand.
  4. Reviews and Recommendations: Look for reviews or ask for recommendations from pool enthusiasts or local billiard clubs. Sometimes lesser-known brands can offer excellent quality at a lower price.
  5. Warranty and Support: Check if the brand offers any warranty or customer support. This can be a good indicator of the company’s confidence in their product and their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Advantages of Lesser-Known Brands

  • Cost-Effective: Often, lesser-known brands can provide good quality at a fraction of the cost of high-end brands.
  • Availability: These tables might be more readily available and easier to find in the used market.

When to Choose High-End Brands

  • Long-Term Investment: If you’re looking for a table that will hold its value and last for decades, investing in a high-end brand might be worth the extra cost.
  • Professional Play: For those serious about their game, high-end brands are designed to meet professional standards and provide the best playing experience.

While high-quality brands are often a safe bet due to their reputation and build quality, many lesser-known brands can also provide excellent value and performance.

By carefully evaluating the build quality, playability, and condition of any table, you can find a great used pool table that fits your budget and needs.

5. Accessories Included?

Find out what accessories are included, if any, with the table.

A good deal might come with cues, balls, a rack, chalk, and a table cover. These extras can save you money and time.

6. Buying a Used Pool Table – Price and Negotiation

Used pool tables can vary significantly in price based on their age, condition, and brand.

Do some research to understand the fair market value of the table you’re interested in.

Don’t hesitate to negotiate with the seller, especially if you find any minor issues during your inspection.

7. Transport and Installation

Consider the logistics of moving and setting up the table.

Pool tables are heavy and require careful handling to avoid damage. Ask the seller if they offer delivery and installation services or if they can recommend a professional mover.

Budget for these additional costs as they can be significant.

The house I bought had a rec room with a pool table. So, I also bought the table, which meant no moving it in or out. I also got all of the accessories with it.

8. History and Usage

Inquire about the table’s history.

Ask the seller how often it was used, if it was used in a home or commercial setting, and if it has undergone any repairs or refurbishments.

A table used primarily for home play is likely to have less wear and tear compared to one used in a pool hall.

9. Levelness

One of the most crucial aspects of a pool table is its levelness.

A table that isn’t level can severely impact gameplay. Bring a spirit level with you to check the table in multiple places. If the table isn’t level, find out if it’s adjustable or if it will require professional leveling.

When checking the levelness of a pool table, a spirit level of at least 4 feet in length is recommended. Here’s why:

Why a 4-Foot Spirit Level?

  1. Coverage: A 4-foot level provides enough length to span a significant portion of the table, allowing for more accurate readings across various points.
  2. Accuracy: Longer levels are generally more accurate than shorter ones. They can bridge minor surface imperfections and provide a better overall indication of levelness.
  3. Convenience: While smaller levels can be used, they require multiple measurements and are more prone to errors. A 4-foot level minimizes the need for multiple checks and provides a clear indication of any unevenness.

Using the Spirit Level

  • Check Multiple Points: Place the spirit level in different positions on the table, including along the length, width, and diagonals.
  • Adjust If Necessary: If the table isn’t level, you might need to adjust the legs or use shims to correct any imbalance.
  • Professional Help: For the most precise leveling, especially if the table is significantly off, consider hiring a professional to ensure optimal playability.

By using a 4-foot spirit level, you can ensure your pool table is perfectly level, providing the best playing experience.

10. Warranty and Return Policy

Even when buying used, some sellers might offer a limited warranty or return policy. This can provide peace of mind in case you encounter any unexpected issues after purchase.

Buying a Used Pool Table Recap

Buying a used table for your home can be an excellent investment in fun and entertainment.

By carefully inspecting the table’s condition, understanding the brand and quality, considering the logistics of transport and installation, and being prepared to negotiate, you can find a great deal that will bring years of enjoyment.

Happy hunting, and may your new (to you) pool table provide countless hours of enjoyment! (Mine sure has!)