When you’re looking at a pool table, the most obvious feature that stands out is the typically green material that covers its surface.
This material is known as the ‘felt’, and it has other names like billiard cloth or a pool table cover, but they all serve the same purpose.
Is there a difference between the types of felt found on a pool table, and what are they?
The short answer is yes, depending on the material used to cover the pool table you’ll likely get a different result from your ball. The type of the felt can impact the speed and spin of the ball, how long the felt lasts, and whether it’s suitable for an indoor or outdoor table, so there’s a lot to consider.
By getting an understanding of the different types of pool table felt and what each of them is best for, you can find the perfect choice to re-felt your table or purchase a new one.
We’re going to explore these different types and the fabrics used in them, as well as the many color choice you have when making this important decision.
What Is the Fabric on a Pool Table?
The fabric on a pool table is commonly referred to as the felt, but although it’s called felt it’s often made of different materials.
This felt is usually green in color to represent grass, as this is what the first billiards table was constructed around, and although the pool table felt comes in many different colors today, green remains the most common.
The purpose of having a table lined with soft material is to aid the ball in its movements.
In the game of pool, the ball is required to travel smoothly at great speeds and also spin in different directions depending on its target.
Having something soft like this felt aids in those movements and reduces the impact that the heavy balls have on the table.
The actual fabric used to make this cover can differ depending on the price and quality of the table.
Usually, the felt is made with two different mixtures of materials, being wool and polyester or wool and nylon.
Each has its own unique feel and will impact the ball’s performance and quality of the game, but within each of these categories, there’s even more to consider.
The Different Felt Types on a Pool Table
There are two main categories that the pool table felt is found in, and they vary in characteristics, price, and quality.
When shopping for new felt for a table or a brand new pool table altogether, it helps to know how these differ from each other.
Woolen Felt Cloth
The woolen cloth is made with around 60% wool in its construction and this is the standard covering you’d find a pool table made for home use.
It feels like felt and is quite thick to the touch. This is the cheaper option and one that you’ll find most commonly in public pool tables and those designed for home, but the performance of the ball will usually be a lot slower on this type of material.
The woolen cloth is also prone to pilling and may require re-felting more frequently if the fuzzy pieces of wool end up impacting the table.
Worsted Felt Wool
Worsted wool is the more expensive option and delivers a more consistent playing surface that professional pool players need.
It’s also known as ‘speed cloth’ because of how it affects the balls and it won’t pill as easily as woolen cloth.
However, it’s not usually found on home tables and only reserved for professional tournaments or serious pool rooms.
Outdoor Felt Cloth
Outdoor pool tables that use a more durable felt to keep them protected from moisture and heat, commonly made with an acrylic fabric.
This needs to be a marine-grade cloth that is weather resistant and waterproof, so having it made of wool is not ideal.
Choosing a Pool Table Felt Color
Most people think of green felt when they envision a pool table and while this is still the most popular color there are many other variations.
While the color has no actual impact on the quality of the felt or how well it helps the balls to perform, people might like to choose one that matches their decor or gives the table a professional look.
Depending on the type of the felt you choose, you’ll be given a range of colors that it comes in which you can select from.
There are some brands that can add designs to the felt surface, like your favorite sports team, otherwise, you can choose from plain colors like green, blue, burgundy, and camel.
When choosing a pool table felt color, you should also think about how well it will age and show any signs of wear.
Green is usually chosen because it hides marks better and is a good middle-ground for color, otherwise after just a few months of use you could start to notice scuffs and tears in the felt that might not be seen in other shades.
There are additional features you can choose when picking your pool table felt, with their purpose being to protect the surface.
Stain resisting products like a Teflon coating comes with some types of felt and you can sometimes choose which side of the felt you want to play on before you fit it.
Pool Table Felt Sizes
If your plan is to re-felt your pool table to give it a makeover, you can do this easily by purchase pre-cut felt.
However, you have to make sure the size you select will match the dimensions of your table.
Depending on the manufacturer and the type of felt you choose, there will usually be a few options available for size.
Standard pool table sizes are 7 feet, 8 feet, and 9 feet long, and if you have a table of a different size you might need to make a custom order to fit.
To determine what size felt your table needs, you can measure the playing area which is the entire space where the ball rolls from rail to rail.
Maintaining and Cleaning the Pool Table Felt
The only way to keep the felt in good condition and reduce the number of times it needs replacing is to follow some simple cleaning and maintenance tips.
- Whenever you’re chalking your cue, do so away from the table to prevent the residue from getting into the felt.
- Invest in a dedicated felt brush that can be used to brush out chalk residue that’s accidentally been lodge in. Brush in one straight direction towards one of the pockets being careful to avoid rubbing it in.
- Don’t let anyone take drinks or food near the pool table and set up a table nearby for this purpose to prevent spills from happening.
- Always keep the felt-covered when the table isn’t in use to prevent pet hair, mess, and dust from accumulating on the surface.
- If you have to vacuum the pool table, only ever do so on a low suction vacuum and use an upholstery attachment so that it’s gentle.
As the important playing surface where the game of pool takes place, we need to know all we can about the pool table felt.
Check out these answers to some frequently asked questions about billiard cloth for insight on why it matters so much.
How Much Does New Pool Table Felt Cost?
Prices for the new pool table felt will vary depending on the size of the table and the material chosen.
To have the pool table refelt by a professional, you can expect to spend between $300 – $500 for a standard-sized table and with woolen cloth felt.
When Should You Replace Pool Table Felt?
As soon as you notice obvious signs of damage to the felt it should be replaced.
This includes minor scratches or more obvious holes, both of which can turn bigger and will impact the performance of the ball.
Sometimes, the felt will only need to be tightened up if it’s come loose so there’s no need to completely replace it.