F.G. Bradley’s Used Pool Table Guide
The game of billiards has been around for many years, its popularity going through many highs and lows. Even though we find that the game’s popularity is cyclical, there is an overall increase in the number of people who play the game simply because of population increase. More people playing the game means that more people will have purchased a billiard table for their homes over the years. As billiards’ popularity changes or as people’s lifestyles change, some table owners will eventually decide to sell their pool table. Purchasing a used billiard table can be a great way of obtaining a beautiful piece of furniture at a good price, but if you are not careful it can also be a very costly way of getting stuck with a problem.
Everyone is looking for a great table at a great price. The reality is that great quality tables are most often passed down through families and friends leaving the least desirable tables to be found in your local paper’s classifieds. Also be aware that quality, brand name tables hold their value over the years and you can often find yourself paying close to retail for a used table. That being said there is the odd jewel out there to be found. If you have your heart set on finding the deal of a lifetime lick your thumb, flip to the Articles for Sale section of your paper and use this guide to help you navigate your way through the good and not so good. F.G. Bradley’s Used Pool Table Guide will help you ask the right questions and make sure you know what to look for in a used pool table.
Who manufactured the table?
Determine the make and model of the billiard table. Almost all better quality tables will have a name plate on the head rail or apron. The head rail is at the end of the table where you break from. Take that information and find out when the table was made and where. There are many differences in tables made in Canada and those made in the United States, Mexico and Overseas. The best way to be sure of a quality table is to buy a proven brand name. Watch out for low end tables made offshore. Also see if the seller has the original bill of sale. You can learn a lot from a receipt of purchase; the original purchase price, was the table sold originally at a discount, was there a warranty, and so on.
Is it a well built table?
A well built table will have a heavy solid frame supporting the slate bed. Look under the table for an “H” pattern to the frame. Look for a frame that is at least one and a half inches in thickness and is made from either solid wood, plywood, or even better an engineered sandwich board, which is constructed from a three layer laminate of two types of manufactured woods.
It is also important to know how the table is fastened together. Tables that use wood screws, or staples to hold the frame together are not durable and are not designed to be taken apart once originally assembled. The frame will lose its integrity after repeated re-assembly. One easy test is to bump the table with your hip, if it sways walk away.
Is it a Slate bed?
Make sure the table’s bed is made from slate. Brazilian or Italian slate is the best. A slate bed is the only way to be sure you have a level and consistent playing surface for playing pool. Look for at least ¾” thick slate. Many used tables on the market are made from wood, MDF, or cardboard. Some even have fancy names like “Slateron” or “Trucore”, so don’t be fooled by imitation products, only slate gives the weight and trueness needed to play a proficient game. Also be sure the table does not have a one piece slate bed. Most slate billiard tables incorporate a three piece playing surface (five pieces in a 6’ x 12’). A one piece slate table is very difficult and expensive to move and will not fit into most homes.
What size is the Table?
Determine the size of the table. This is done by measuring the playing surface from the “nose “ of the cushion at one end of the table to the nose of the cushion at the other end. Then refer to our Table Sizing Guide. The most common sizes of tables are 4’ x 8’ and 4 ½’ x 9’. Measure the space you have allocated for a table so you know what size table you want. Refer to our Game Room Planner to help you lay out your room.
Is it a Snooker or Pool Table?
Many older tables being sold in Canada are Snooker tables. Be sure to find out whether the table has pool or snooker style pockets. Pool tables have a larger pocket opening and you play with larger size balls. Pool tables are by far the more desirable style of table and this is most likely the type of table you want to buy. It is very expensive and often impossible to change a table from Snooker to Pool afterwards. Drop by one of stores and we will be glad to show you difference between snooker and pool tables.
What is the condition of the Cloth, Cushions and Pockets?
There are some parts of a billiard table that need replacing over time and a thorough inspection by a professional is recommended. Items such as the billiard cloth, rail rubbers and pockets can all wear out over time.
With heavy use, billiard cloth has a life expectancy of 2 or 3 years and should be changed after 8 to 10 years with infrequent use. We change the cloth in most commercial pool rooms yearly. Even if the cloth appears in good condition, depending on how it was initially installed or if it is an inferior cloth, it may need to be replaced. If you see any tears or holes in the cloth it should most definitely be changed. Cloth prices can range from $150 to $1000 depending on the size and type of cloth. The labour involved can range from $175 to $500 on top of that depending on the table size. It is highly encouraged that if either the rails or the bed cloth needs replacing to do both in conjunction, as cloth colour and play change over time.
Rail cushion rubber should have a life span of 25 to 50 years, but this can be shorter with either misuse or improper storage. Rail rubber can become either brittle or extremely hard from exposure to moisture or extreme cold. A re-rubber of a billiard table is a labour intensive process that can not be done on site. The rails must be taken back to a shop where they are stripped, sanded and new rubber installed. A re-rubber of a billiard table can cost anywhere between $500 and $1000 depending on the size of the table. The rubbers must be purchased as a set and even if one rubber is in disrepair, a full set should be installed.
The pockets of a billiard table are probably the easiest component for a consumer to inspect. Cracked and dried leather and ripped baskets or iron covers are clear indications that a billiard table requires new parts. A billiard table with leather pockets requires leather pockets as a replacement, the same as plastic pockets require plastic replacements. The original design and construction of the table does not allow you to switch types. A set of 6 replacement leather pockets typically cost between $200 and $500 and must be purchased as a set. Even if one pocket is in disrepair, a full set must be purchased.
It would be best to get a quote from a Certified Billiard Mechanic for all the repairs and upgrades necessary to make a used billiard table both playable and safe. This will allow you a better understanding of the true cost of a used billiard table.
Moving and Setting up the table:
It is strongly recommended that you have a professional dismantle, move and assemble your used table. You may have just snapped up a bargain and want to keep saving, but at this stage you really should use an experienced table mechanic. You can’t just recruit 6 of your biggest, brawniest friends to pick up and move a billiard table. Tables need to be dismantled, moved in component pieces and then reassembled. Most individuals do not have the specialized tools required to assemble a table properly and level it to the tolerances required. Professional installers can range from $300 to $1000 depending on the size of the table and will usually take from 3 to 5 hours depending on both the complexity and condition of a table. Any repairs or replacement parts would be priced on top of this.
F.G. Bradley’s has Certified Billiard Mechanics on staff to help you with the setup of your “new” used table. Feel free to contact us for a quote or with any questions.
What about Guarantees?
Another important issue to consider when purchasing a used billiard table is that there is no guarantee. A table may look brand new when originally installed but may deteriorate very quickly. Even if the table originally came with a warranty, that warranty would be null and void when the ownership of the table transfers to you. Always remember the old adage “Let the Buyer Beware”. There is no obligation to the seller of a used billiard table to repair or replace the whole or any part of a defective, mishandled or misused table. Once the transaction is complete that table is all yours. Be sure to inspect a used table thoroughly before making a purchase.
What about accessories?
Be sure to inspect the accessories that come with the table. Luckily if a few balls are chipped or discoloured individual replacement balls can be purchased. Keep in mind that polyester pool balls cannot be mixed with phenolic resin balls as the harder resin balls will chip the polyester very quickly. Also check that the size of the balls is the correct size for the type of pockets on the table. The seller may have unknowingly bought larger pool sized balls for their snooker table or the opposite may be true with a pool table. Pool tables require a 2 ¼“diameter ball and snooker tables need a 2 1/16“diameter ball.
Used one piece cues are almost never worth reusing because they are generally warped, dented and scratched, are missing either the tip or the ferrule or may even be broken. Some cues can be salvaged by simply re-tipping or by using slip-on tips but any other repairs would not be cost effective as the repairs would cost more than purchasing an entire new cue. Count on spending about $40.00 on a new one piece cue. There are all sorts of other accessories that are essential to play, and come with a new table, that you may not find with a used table. A triangle, chalk, cloth brush, rule book, rests and a cue rack are essential accessories that you should check for.
Understanding what hidden costs may arise will help you to determine if “that great deal” is really as good as it seems. Only paying a few hundred dollars for a table that will cost you thousands to move and repair when you can purchase a new table, delivered and installed with all new accessories, for as little as $2000, may seem ridiculous, and in most cases it is, but may be well worth it if you find a gem. An antique table or one-of-a-kinds can be well worth the investment if what you are looking for is a nice piece of furniture, an antique, or a work of art.
If you are looking for a table to simply play the game rather than a show piece, you are generally best advised to consider purchasing a new table. A new billiard table will include delivery and installation, new accessories and a warranty. Keep in mind that we have financing available to make a great table suit any budget.