Can a Pool Ball Break? (Causes, Preventions, and More)

pool balls

Pool is one of the most popular sports anyone can play, but getting set up to play pool in your own home is expensive. From the cost of the table itself to the fact that a set of billiard balls can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the pattern, It’s a good idea to check if your investment is worthwhile. Can a pool ball break?

Modern pool balls are made of either polyester resin or phenolic resin. These materials are made to handle high-impact collisions with the cues and other pool balls so they won’t split in half, but they can shatter and chip off if used improperly.

Buying a set of pool balls is an investment in entertainment and connecting with friends and loved ones. Risking breaking them can bring a quick end to the fun you’re having. Keep reading to find the ways pool balls can break and how you can avoid this happening.

How Long Do Pool Balls Last?

If you’re paying anywhere from $30 to $300 for pool balls, you want them to be high quality. If you play regularly, it’s easy to recognize that this means your billiard balls will wear out sooner.

Under regular use, playing at least once a week, your pool balls will wear out after 8 years. If you’re using a lower-quality ball, they’ll eventually start to chip and break down faster, so you’ll have to replace them more often. 

Consider whether this cost balances out for you when you make a purchase.

How Can Pool Balls Be Broken?

Although it’s nearly impossible to break a pool ball in half, it’s not uncommon to crack, chip, or otherwise damage balls, so they’re less reliable. Remember that in pool, like any game, the more predictable your tools are, the better your play will be.

Some ways your pool balls can break are:

  • Dropping the balls on the floor
  • Flinging the balls across the table by hand
  • Banging them into other balls for unnecessary trick shots
  • Cleaning with corrosive material like beach or steel wool
  • Washing in extremely hot water, like a dishwasher

Although some are simple and easy to avoid: others require you to keep an eye on who’s using your pool table. You’ll have to make behavioral changes to prevent balls from breaking.

How Do I Avoid Breaking Pool Balls?

You’re not alone if you don’t want your pool balls cracked, chipped, or broken! Nobody wants to replace an entire set because a few of the balls are chipped a couple of years in. 

To avoid this issue, take the time to pay attention to who’s using your pool table and how they’re behaving:

  • If you have kids, make it clear that although pool is a fun and exciting game, the pieces that make it possible need to be cared for.
  • If you own a bar and host a few pool tables, have a short (humorous) pool table rule board up. This rule board can have simple things like “no setting drinks on the table” and “no dropping billiard balls on the ground.”

You might think this is overkill at first, but after your fifth spilled beer on a pool table in one weekend, you’ll quickly realize these rules are necessary.

Can You Repair a Cracked Pool Ball?

If you’re attached to the pool balls you own or simply don’t like the idea of replacing and throwing these out, it is possible to repair them. 

The two main options for this are:

  • Use two-part epoxy to fill the crack and make it ready to use
  • Use putty to seal the ball and round it out

Let’s take a look at how to do it below.

Repairing a Cracked Pool ball

Regardless of how to fill in the crack, it’s a good idea to sand out any unevenness and ridges that these materials may form. 

Follow these steps:

  • Start from the largest grain, and then move smaller and smaller so you can get as smooth and perfect a result as possible. 
  • Smoothing over the finished result with a spray polish will allow the pool ball to have the same texture as the others. 

If enough cracks happen that you can’t roll the ball in a straight line, even after trying to make repairs, it could be time to replace them. Invest in a good set with great reviews to ensure it will last longer.

Don’t Let a Cracked Billiard Ball Stop Your Fun

Cracks and chips happen over time, regardless of how much you try to avoid them. Although there are behavioral changes you can make to give your billiard balls a better chance of lasting beyond these eight years, the damage is inevitable. Take the time to treat any cracks and seal them, and stretch the life of your pool balls even longer.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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