BUYER GUIDE FOR A USED POOL TABLE
Have you ever dreamed of owning a pool table at home but they were just too expensive? We want to make sure that if you buy a user pool table, you avoid all the mistakes possible so you can get the best table & deal possible.
If you want the quick and dirty summary, here is the simplified mistakes you’ll want to avoid:
Quick Summary of Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Pool Table
- Don’t rush your purchase because of a “Low” price and check all possible sources (Craigslist, Classified Ads, OfferUp, Facebook Market, etc.)
- No one checked the Rails or Cushion and you ended up with Dead Cushions
- You forgot to check the dimensions of your room and now the pool table doesn’t fit properly
- The cost of moving your table professionally surprised you
- You didn’t check the quality of your felt and found holes
- The material your pool table is made out of is actually poor-quality
- Your slate is made out of awful MDF and now your balls roll in weird directions
- No one told you to inspect the pockets and now your balls are flying to the ground because of the broken plastic pockets
- You let the pool mover leave before leveling your table so now your balls roll to the left a few inches
- You don’t know who manufactured your table and found out it’s actually a poor brand
- You forgot to check for all the accessories you needed and you’re missing a ball
Here below I will go into detail over 11 mistakes that buyers should avoid when purchasing a used table.
#1 You Rushed the Purchase and didn’t Check All Your Resources
Don’t rush your purchase because of a “Low” price and check all possible sources (Craigslist, Classified Ads, OfferUp, Facebook Market, etc.).
Be patient and strike when you see a good deal! Most people are looking to spend between $400 to $1000 for a used pool table so it’s important to choose wisely. That is a LOT of money! You want to check all the possible sources like:
- Local Classified Ads
- Billiard stores may sell used tables
- Facebook Market
Try your best to be patient and check every day or every few days, don’t make any big decisions unless you have found a really good deal. When I search craigslist, one of my terms I throw in the search is “Moving” because if I can find a seller who is moving by X date, they will often sell their pool table for even cheaper because they do not want to bring it to their new home or throw it away.
Things to be wary of if you go through one of these sources:
- Quality Pictures – Be sure to ask for pictures of the table from all angles
- Ask if they are the first owner (you can find tons of information on a receipt)
- How much they paid for the table
- Any existing damages you need to be aware of
- Ask who the manufacturer is or what is model number
- Find out if there is an existing warranty still in place
- Lastly, Safety! Don’t go alone, let someone know what time and place you are going to meet a person up to see the pool table in person
If you were buying a used laptop, wouldn’t you want to know where they bought it if it has an existing warranty and why they are selling it? You want to take the same approach.
#2 No One Checked the Rails or Cushion
The rails on your pool table are incredibly important because it will affect how balls rebound from them. You want rails that are made from hardwood because it will have less vibration on contact.
Cushions adhere to the rail of your table and should be made with a canvass backing. The rubber on a rail cushion should last anywhere from 30 to 50 years but can range depending on how the previous owners have taken care of it.
TEST IT OUT
Bounce a ball against the rails HARD and make sure they come back and hit other rails at least 3 to 4 times. Practice a BANK shot and see if it rolls in properly or if the ball dies out as soon as it hits the rail. This is an indicator that your rails are Dead.
If you let billiard products be exposed to extreme cold or moisture, it can damage things like your rail cushion, cloth or even your pool cues. It’s best to ask the seller how they take care of the pool table and find out where exactly it’s stored (inside the house is ideal but in a garage, isn’t ideal).
Replacing your rail cushion rubber can be expensive and cost anywhere from $400 to over $1000 depending on a variety of factors (size of the table, quality of replacement set, etc.).
#2 You didn’t Consider How To Move The Pool Table
If you want to do it wrong – just pick it up and throw it in the back of a truck, what’s the worst that could happen? (Everything could go wrong, please never do this)
We highly recommend hiring a professional to disassemble, move and reassemble your pool table for you. Professional pool movers will have all the required tools, a process on how to do the move and often offer additional upgrades like replacing felt or bumpers.
How much does it cost to move a pool table?
The price range I’ve found is you can pay between $250 to $800 for a professional pool moving company or freelancer. The average is roughly $300-400 in my area. The freelancers will often be a one or two-man group who are cheaper and use their personal truck or trailer to do the work. Be sure to do your research and ask around for referrals (talk to your local bar who has nice pool tables or call your nearest billiard store, they use movers too). I was lucky and found a friend who knew a freelancer who only charged $250. The only reason I was okay with this is that I trust my friend’s recommendation, make sure to do your homework!
Professional pool moving companies will charge anywhere from $350-800+ but they will often be much more organized and have an open schedule. They will take care of your pool table when transporting the equipment, offer similar upgrade services and will more than likely go by the book.
Just make sure you factor in the cost of moving your pool table! Finding a jewel of a table for $400 is great, but if you end up paying $600 for the move and new felt (Total $1000) – you may just want to consider buying a new pool table because there are some decent ones around the price range $1000-1500+.
This whole disassembly and reassembly process usually takes between 3 to 6 hours depending on your table, the method of pool table assembly/reassembly and location distance.
#4 You didn’t check if there was enough room for the pool table
The last thing you want is to find out you don’t have enough space for your pool table.
Here are the room sizes to judge if you have the required space for a pool table:
- 7 foot (3’ ½ x 7’)
- 12’8” x 15’10”
- 8 foot (4’ X 8’)
- 13’2” x 16’10”
- 9 foot (4.5’ X 9’)
- 13’8” x 17’10”
#5 You accidentally bought a pool table with bad material
If you find a really great deal on a pool table – make sure it’s not made of crap.
Really good pool tables are usually made of solid hardwood and are heavier but higher-quality. The pool table should have High-pressure laminate material on the other surfaces of your pool table (not including the felt).
Be mindful that if the seller has posted a description that is a walnut or cherry table, they may not actually be referring to walnut wood. It may actually refer to the “Finish” on the pool table and this can be applied to any material from plywood to MDF (More on this later). Best to stick to a table made out of real hardwood.
#6 No one told me to worry about the Slate
What is SLATE and why is it so important?
Slate is referring to the hard material that is mined out of the ground and will be placed in the core of the pool table. It provides the foundation to give you a level playing surface while still staying intact when you accidentally bump into it. There are some really bad “slates” or imitation slate material you want to avoid at all costs. More information on that a little later.
Slate can come in different pieces
Slates can come in different “pieces”. There are:
- 3-piece slates
- 2-piece slates
- 1 piece of slate
You generally want to stick to 3-piece slates if you can and 2-piece slates if you must. 1-piece slates are not a great choice because they are usually very big and won’t fit in most homes when trying to transport it. It is also a lot heavier as one giant piece and just an overall hassle.
Matching 3-piece slates are ideal, there is generally a marking on all 3 slates to make it obvious they were originally all part of the same piece but broken into 3 for this purpose. You don’t want different pieces of slate made from different material.
Diamond-honed slate surfaces are the best quality you can get.
Lastly, you’ll want your slate to be ¾ of an inch thick – this is standard.
What to avoid
#1 MDF’S are your nightmare
MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard and it’s made from breaking down hardwood or other woods into small wood fibers. They mix it together with wax and resin binder under high heat and pressure. This results in giving you a really bad material for pool tables. They generally will warp very quickly and give you an unlevel playing table which means your balls will roll in crazy directions because of your warped MDF material.
MDF material is more prone to be damaged over time or due to extreme heat/cold conditions more quickly
The reason why they are popular is that it is generally cheaper to produce. This is why pool tables made out of MDF are cheaper. They are also lighter in weight (compared to slate).
There are slate imitations like “Slateron” or “Trucore” – STAY AWAY FROM THESE!!
#2 No Cracks in the Slate
What if I can’t get the table disassembled to check the slate?
The best method is to “Knock” on it with your knuckles. You will be able to hear a difference when knocking on cheap MDF wood vs. real slate. The slate will feel harder and have a thicker sounder whereas the MDF wood will sound more hollow and soft.
Good qualities of Slate:
- ¾ of an inch thick
- 3-piece matching set
- Italian or Brazilian slate if possible
- Diamond-honed slate surfaces are the best quality you can get.
#7 You didn’t inspect the felt properly
The felt on a pool table is like the tires to your car. It is where the rubber hits the ground and it will determine how well your balls can “drive” on the road.
You will want to pay close to attention to the close and make sure it is not damaged. Felt with holes, tears or bad stains are felt you want to avoid. If you still want to purchase the pool table because the rest of it is in great condition, then you need to factor that into your cost and hopefully negotiate to a much lower price.
The greatest surface of felt will be glued down and eventually be screwed into the correct positions. Make sure that when you get it reassembled there is no felt sticking out of the pocket and there are no bumps. You want to make sure the felt is stretched evenly and not loosely in any locations.
Quality felt is important so be sure to check if it is 80% wool and 20% nylon. If you want to purchase new felt to be replaced on the table, I recommend Simonis cloth because they are the best of the best.
How longs it last?
- 2-4 years with heavy use
- 8-10 years with the infrequent use
If you can find out if the table is less than 5 years old – this is a good age to purchase a used pool table.
How much does it cost to re-felt your pool table?
The price can cost $200-$500 but it’s most cost-effective to get your pool table changed when paying for a pool mover to disassemble/reassemble because they are already going to put your felt back on your table.
#8 You found out too late that your pockets are cheap and broken
You never want your pockets on a pool table to be damaged or have broken material. It may result in a ball flying off the pocket and into your ground.
Pockets are usually made of a rubberized plastic that is soft. If you have a hard plastic pocket, it can be easier to break/crack from heavy use. This is one of the easier components to inspect because they are obvious when looking.
Normally a replacement of pockets will be a set of 6 plastic or leather pockets and can cost around $150-$600 or more. This all depends on the quality of pockets you prefer.
If your pockets are damaged, be sure to bring that up and negotiate a lower price.
#9 You forgot to check if your pool table was leveled
A leveled pool table is vital for a proper playing surface. Many tables will actually have adjustments on the legs to allow an individual to adjust the level.
If you don’t have legs that adjust, you will need to use a thin piece of material to slowly get the table to level; You can use something like playing cards or thin pieces of plastic or other material from the hardware store.
You’ll want to make sure that when your table is being assembled at your home or bar, that the table installer double/triple checks the level in different areas of the table. Buy yourself a level if you can and check it yourself before they pack up and leave (or better yet, use theirs).
#10 No one checked who manufactured the table
The manufacturer of the table is very important because you can trace back the brand to identify the quality and cost of the table. Even more important is if you can determine if there is an existing warranty in place which may replace any damaged or worn out parts of your pool table.
A majority of high-quality tables will have a nameplate somewhere on the table like the Apron or Head Rail.
Apron – The long sides of your table will have long pieces of wood coming down to hide the interior of your table
Head Rail – One end of the table on the short side, usually the side where you will break from
If you need tips on how to identify a pool table, check out my post here that describes it in detail.
Reliable Pool Table Brands
A good tip is if you can stick to US brands or well-known brands like Olhausen, Diamond, Legacy Pool Tables, Connelly, Gold Crown, American Heritage, Brunswick, Minnesota Fats and more. I urge you to do your own research here because the list of brands can seem endless but if you stick to all the advice in this post, you will be fine.
If you can find out which manufacturer and model table you have, be sure to cross reference the price by calling the dealer or looking online. It is always better to be sure of the accurate price tag the seller actually paid for it and how much the local dealer is selling it for.
#11 You forgot about all the accessories
The last thing you want to do is finally begin playing your first game on your new (used) table and come to find out you are missing the 4-Ball and the Triangle Rack.
You’ll want to double-check this list to make sure that the seller has these accessories included:
- All 15 balls
- A triangle (and diamond rack for 9-ball)
- 1 White Cue Ball
- At least 2 playing cues (2-piece pool cues are better if it’s a 1-piece they are generally lower quality)
- Cloth brush
- Pool Cue Rack (Optional, but nice to have)
Lastly, you’ll want to check the quality of the accessories because if the tip of your pool sticks is falling off, that is another cost you’ll have to worry about. If you want some good recommendations for accessories, here is a post I made about some accessories I suggest.
There are a lot of advantages to purchasing a used pool table. Most people looking to purchase a pool table are usually considering used first. Getting an idea of any hidden costs up front will help you figure out if it’s a great deal or not.
In the end, you may change your mind and consider purchasing a new table for the warranty and peace of mind. This is okay too and it is totally normal. If you still haven’t made up your mind – check out my full post on the Pro’s and Con’s of purchasing a pool table New vs. Used.
If you do decide to purchase a brand new table, the Barrington Springdale is a good choice on Amazon. This is perfect for someone who just wants to shoot around casually with his friends and family. No tournaments in your foreseeable future.
I know purchasing a pool table overall includes a lot of moving factors but I promise the patience will pay off. Good luck on your journey to owning a pool table.