Buying Used Pool Tables – 15 Things to Keep in Mind

When buying a used pool table, it’s essential that you consider a few factors, such as quality, age, felt condition, and price. 

You should also think about where the pool table will be used and how often it will be used.

All these factors will impact the buying decision you ultimately make.

Who Manufactured the Pool Table

A good first step in choosing a used pool table is to find out its make and model. Higher-quality pool tables come with a nameplate on the apron or rail.

The headrail is located at the end of the table, which is also where you break from. Use the information on the plate to find out where and when the table was made. 

You will find all types of differences in pool tables made in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and overseas.

One of the best ways to determine the quality of a pool table is by purchasing a reputable brand name. 

Try to avoid purchasing lower-end tables made overseas. It’s also a good idea to ask the seller if they have the original bill of sale. 

You can learn more information about the pool table on the original purchase receipt, such as the original sale’s price, year of manufacturing, etc.

Pool Table Frame

The pool table’s frame determines how strong it is.

A well-built table would usually have the beam designed in an “H” pattern. There is a center beam and then two cross beams that provide support for the slate.

Be sure to look for frames with a minimum of an inch of thickness made of sandwich boards, MDF, or solid wood. 

While you may feel hesitant, it’s best to get under the table and inspect it too. Remember, you are investing, so you need to make a smart purchase.

Also read: How are Pool Tables Made?

Overall Construction of the Pool Table

While the table’s frame is an important part of it, you should inspect the overall construction of the table, as well. 

Touch and feel the table to see how sturdy it is. There should be no movement when you apply pressure to a certain part of the table.

As mentioned above, crawl under the table to see what supports are holding the slate. Are they quality wood beams? 

It is best to have two-to-four-inch wood (or metal) supports under the table, and they should run from one side to the other.

It’s also a good sign if support runs from one end to the other or if you have both support options present. Be sure to inspect the leg braces to determine if they have plenty of support. 

Look at the feet and legs for signs of water damage and defects, as well.

Also read: How Much Does a Slate Pool Table Weigh?

Inspect the Cushion or Rails

The rails on a pool table are important because these have a direct effect on how balls will rebound. 

It’s important to have a pool table with rails made of hardwood. That’s because there will be much less vibration when the ball comes in contact with them.

The cushions adhere to the table’s rail. Ideally, they should be made with a canvas backing. 

The rubber present on the rail cushion should last for around three to five decades, but this varies based on how well the prior owner maintained and cared for it.

When looking at the used pool table, be sure to test the rails. 

To do this, bounce a ball against the rails as hard as you can. Be sure the ball comes back and hits the other rails a minimum of three to four times.

It’s also a good idea to practice a bank shot to see if it rolls in properly or if the ball dies when it hits the rail. That’s an indication the rails are dead.

If billiard products are exposed to moisture or extreme cold, damage can occur to the rail cushion, pool cues, and cloth. 

It’s a good idea to ask the seller how the pool table was cared for and how it was stored. Inside the house is good, but in the garage may lead to hidden damage.

If the rail cushions are dead, it’s worth noting that replacing the rubber can be expensive, costing between $400 and $1,000. 

The actual cost depends on things like the quality of the replacement, size of the table, and more.

Inspect the Bed

It’s important to ensure the table’s bed is made out of slate. Italian or Brazilian slate is best.

Slate is the only material that provides a consistent and level surface for playing pool. It’s a good idea to find a slate bed that is a minimum of ¾” thick. 

Some of the used tables on the market may be made of cardboard, MDF, or wood. They may even have fancy-sounding names, such as “Trucore” or “Sateron.” 

Don’t be deceived by these imitation products.

Slate is the only material that provides the trueness and weight necessary to play a proficient game of pool. You also need to check to ensure that the bed isn’t a single piece. 

Slate billiard tables should include a three-piece playing service (or five pieces for larger tables). 

One-piece slate tables are expensive and challenging to move. Also, they won’t fit in most homes.

Size of the Pool Table

This is an important factor when buying a used pool table. That’s because it’s one of the details that are most overlooked. 

You need to consider how much space you have in your home and the pool cue length you plan to use while playing. This should help you figure out the proper size for your pool table.

The most common size for these tables is a seven-foot bar table, eight feet standard and professional tables, and nine-foot tournament size tables. 

Pool cue length is typically 57 to 59 inches. Keep this in mind when taking measurements.

Make sure you measure carefully before purchasing a used pool table to ensure it will fit in the space where you plan to have it. 

To plan properly, measure the area where the pool table will go, both length and width. Don’t forget to also measure the cue.

Now, with these measurements, you can make a smart decision regarding the size of the pool table you can and should purchase. 

After all, the last thing you want is to purchase a nine-foot table just to play using kid-sized cues.

If you are going to look at a pool table you are interested in purchasing, be sure you take your tape measurer with you. 

Knowing all the measurements and sizes will help you get the right pool table for your available space. 

To ensure complete comfort, you should have enough space for the length of the table and the length of two additional pool cues on each side of the table. 

If you use this rule, you should have plenty of room to play with any cues you choose. You’ll find it’s easier to be flexible about the cues than the size of the table. 

The Felt

One of the easiest parts of a pool table to evaluate and inspect is the felt

Visually inspecting the felt will let you know if it is in good condition or not. If a table has ever been played on, it will likely have drink stains and a few scuffs in some places.

While scuffs and stains don’t impact gameplay, things like thin spots, holes, or tears will cause problems. 

If serious damage is present, it may be necessary to replace the felt on the table. Be sure to factor this cost in when making an offer for a used pool table.

Also read: How Much Does It Cost to Refelt a Pool Table?

Moving the Pool Table

If you want to move the used pool table the wrong way, just pick it up (with help, of course) and load it into the back of your truck. 

Unfortunately, quite a bit can go wrong if you choose this moving method. It’s always better to play it safe in situations like this.

Instead, consider hiring a professional to come and take the pool table apart, move it, and then reassemble it for you. 

A professional mover will have the tools necessary for the job and understand the right way to do it. 

They will also be able to ensure your pool table (which is likely a significant investment) is not damaged in any way during the moving process. 

Pool Tables vs. Snookers

Some of the older tables that are being sold today (particularly in Canada) are actually Snooker tables.

You need to find out if the pool table has snooker style or pool style pockets.

A pool table will have larger pocket openings, and you use larger balls while playing. Most people want a pool table, so you need to find out what you are buying. 

In most cases, it is expensive and usually impossible to change a table from Snooker-style gameplay to a pool table. 

If you aren’t sure what the difference is, it’s best to find out before you try to buy a used pool table.

Also read: Snooker vs Pool Difficulty – Which Game Is Harder?

Pool Table Condition

Usually, people will take good care of their tables.

That’s because even used ones don’t come cheap. You should always thoroughly check out any used table before buying, though.

If there are a few scratches on the legs, this should not impact the table’s playability. It shouldn’t be a red flag of a problem, either.

However, if the table has been mistreated and chunks are missing from the wood in several spots or stains and scratches on the felt, you can assume the owner did not provide the proper attention or care. 

If you notice these types of issues, it’s safe to assume there are problems with the table you can’t see, too.

If you find a table in poor condition, you should proceed with caution. A few of the things you need to check when you go to see the table include:

  • Mechanics: Is the table coin operated? Are the hopper and collection mechanisms working properly? Will the balls get stuck? Open the table to see how everything works.
  • Frame: Look at the entire frame and under the table. Check for any signs of mistreatment or lack of proper care.
  • Felt: Are there any stains on the felt? Is it torn or uneven? Does it appear to be thin or piling?
  • Warped: If it is an MDF table, try hitting a ball. Don’t hit it too hard, and make sure it goes in a straight line. Check to make sure the ball moves in a straight line.
  • Cushions: Feel all the cushions. Do they have the same elasticity? Try hitting some balls off them to see how well they bounce.
  • Bed: Rub your hand over the entire playing surface on the table. Take note of any inconsistencies or bumps on the surface.
  • Pockets: Put your hand in each pocket. Are there any problems? Does the ball have any problems going into it?
  • Rails: Feel all four of the rails. Make sure they are in good condition.

While these things may seem like obvious steps, if you are excited about the prospect of a new table, you need to make sure you are getting a quality option.

Characteristics like the cushions, pockets, and felt can all be replaced for a fair price.

Pockets and Ball Return

If the table you are thinking about buying has a ball return, be sure to test the return tracks. You want to ensure they are functioning properly. 

If the table has plastic or leather pockets, make sure there are no signs of tearing or cracking.

As mentioned above, replacing pockets is a more affordable pool table repair.

Also read: How to Replace Pool Table Pockets

Accessories with the Pool Table

When you are ready to play your first game on your new, used pool table, you don’t want to discover that you are missing several balls and the Triangle Rack. 

It’s a good idea to check and see what accessories are included with the pool table when you plan to purchase it. The accessories that you should ask about include:

  • All 15 balls
  • One white cue ball
  • A triangle and diamond rack for nine-ball
  • Pool cue rack (optional)
  • Chalk
  • Cloth brush
  • Minimum of two playing cues (two-piece cues are better quality than one-piece options)

It’s also a good idea to check the quality of the accessories. After all, if the tip of your pool sticks has started to fall off, it’s another cost that you will incur.

While you can purchase these accessories separately, this should be factored into what you pay for the pool table.

The more accessories that are included, the better.

Warranty or Guarantee

It’s a good idea to see if the seller will offer a warranty or guarantee with the table. If you are buying from a private individual, this will likely not be possible.

However, if the table has an existing warranty, it may be able to be transferred.

While this is not a must-have to purchase a pool table, it is something that is nice to have if something happens to it or if the damage is noticed once you get it home and set up.

Cost

You will likely have a set budget for the used pool table you purchase.

Some of the top things that will impact the cost of the used pool table include:

  • Maker of the pool table
  • Type of bed
  • General condition

You can also do some comparison shopping to ensure that you get a good deal on the table that you ultimately purchase. 

Taking time to shop around will let you know if there is a better deal out there, as well.

Who Purchases Used Pool Tables?

You may be surprised to learn that purchasing used pool tables is actually more common than it may seem.

While buying a pool table can set you back a few thousand dollars, a used pool table can often be bought at a fraction of the new table cost.

People buy and sell for multiple reasons.

It doesn’t matter what reason you have for purchasing a used pool table, be sure to keep the tips here in mind, which will help you get a good value for your money.

Make Sure You Get a Quality Pool Table

If you are in the market for a used pool table, be sure to keep the information found here in mind. It will help ensure you get a quality table that still has many years of life left in it.

When you evaluate these factors, you can feel confident that you have found a quality table and that it will provide you with the hours of enjoyment you were hoping for. 

This is true regardless of where you plan to put and use the table.

Being informed is the best way to find a quality used pool table and have confidence in the purchase decision you make. 

Summary

Buying a used pool table is appealing for several reasons. One of the biggest is cost. After all, used pool tables are typically less expensive than new ones. 

However, this varies based on age, condition, and manufacturer.

If you are ready to “bite the bullet” and purchase a used pool table, use the tips and information above to find the one that best meets your needs and budget.

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