Do Billiard Balls Wear Out? (And When to Replace Them)


Having a pool table in your home is a commitment, and along with that comes maintenance. Taking care of your billiard balls ll help keep them looking good and moving like they should, but eventually, you’ll need to replace them.

Billiard balls wear out, but a high-quality set of billiard balls will last several years if you play casually. If you play multiple hours a day, your billiard balls will wear out much faster.

But why do billiard balls wear out, and how do you know when its time replace them? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about replacing your billiard balls.

Why Do Billiard Balls Wear Out?

Billiard ball wear is caused by two different things that are completely unavoidable when you’re playing: friction and hits.

The Problem with Friction

Even though billiard balls are super smooth, there is a small amount of friction that occurs between the table and the balls. Over time this friction will cause the balls to wear out to the point that they are no longer the standard size. They may become misshapen as well.

The Problem with Hits

Clearly, two billiard balls slamming into each other isn’t exactly great if you’re looking to keep them in prime condition, but it’s all part of the game, so you can’t really avoid it.

Additionally, the balls falling to the pocket, bouncing off the rail, hitting the table after a jump shot, or flying off the table (cringe) will cause the balls to wear out eventually.

How Fast Do Billiard Balls Wear Out?

Most of the time, you can expect to get at least a year out of your billiard balls and many times much longer, but it really depends:

  • How much you play: The more your play, the faster the balls will wear out, just like how much you drive determines how fast the tires on your car wear out.
  • The quality of the billiard balls: Higher quality billiard balls will last several times longer than a standard or low-quality set. We recommend the Aramith Super Pro Value Pack.
  • The condition of your pool table felt: A well maintained and quality pool table felt will create less friction and less wear and tear on the billiard balls. If you aren’t sure if your pool felt needs to be replaced, you should read our post on the topic.
  • Your tolerance for imperfect billiard balls: Professionals will have little tolerance for playing with balls that don’t meet the WPA standards. If you play casually, a slightly smaller ball won’t bother you at all. You probably won’t notice it at all.
  • The cue ball will wear faster: Because the cue ball is involved in every single shot, it is going to wear out much faster than any other ball in your set. Luckily, you can easily buy just a cue ball and replace it as needed.

Cleaning your pool balls will help keep them in good condition, even if they aren’t at their shiniest. We have a post that tells you all about how.

When Do You Need to Replace Billiard Balls?

According to the WPA, “All balls must be composed of cast phenolic resin plastic and measure 2 ¼ (+.005) inches [5.715 cm (+ .127 mm)] in diameter and weigh 5 ½ to 6 oz [156 to 170 gms].”

So, technically speaking, as soon as your billiard balls don’t meet these specifications, they’ve worn out.

Most of us aren’t quite that picky about our billiard balls, and can still play reasonably well with slightly smaller billiard balls.

Here are some signs that you need to replace your billiard balls:

  • The cue ball is visibly smaller than your object balls.
  • The numbers can be detected by feel (these wear down more slowly).
  • They are no longer perfectly round.
  • They are damaged, cracked, or chipped.
  • You have trouble making shots that are normally quite easy.

Some people can play for years with the same set of billiard balls. As long as you’re happy with your game, you probably don’t need to replace your balls.

Benny

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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