I’m Stephen Rodgers. I have been around the home game room business my whole life. I’m a working 4th generation member of my great grandpa’s home game room business Robertson Billiard Supplies. He started the business in Tampa FL back in1930.
I have been selling, building, designing, & restoring pool tables almost everyday of my business life. Over my time here I’ve learned the answers to all the questions you have, as well as some info you may not have thought of. The most important thing you need is space for a table. Next, you need a budget. Billiard tables range anwhere from $0-$20,000 or more. Finally, you need to know what to watch out for.
The most Important thing you need to be thinking about is ” Do I have the room for a pool table?” Below is a chart that will help you figure out what size billiard table you can use with the space you have.
Don’t listen to anyone who says it is practical to use a stick shorter than 48″. If your room can’t fit a 48″ cue, it may be better to consider purchasing other gameroom items. Pool tables smaller than 7′ are usually (not always) not slate and are very poor quality. Just know that if you are buying a table like that, it may never be level for long. If the felt rips you may not be able to replace it due to the construction design in really cheap pool tables. Make sure you don’t spend to much on a cheaply built pool table like.
When setting a budget, the first thing you have to decide if you want a new or used table. Usually the cheapest you are going to get a playable used pool table from a dealer is going to be in the $800 vicinity. That is to say, by the time you have it delivered professionally. If you find something cheaper than that, it is highly likely it is going to have bad functional or aesthetic problems, maybe both. Even when buying a used table from a very motivated home owner, it will cost you at least $400 for something halfway decent. You still have to factor in the cost of getting it moved and (if the cloth is bad) recovered. Our company does the lion’s share of local Tampa Pool tables service work, so I can tell you even people that get a “free” table from friends or family members end up spending 250-650 dollars or more on it by the time they have it moved, re covered, and if the rails are bad, re rubber cushioned. Be sure to test the bounce on the rails before you buy. Never buy a table that is torn down and unplayable unless you personally know and trust the owner. Used… doesn’t always mean cheap. Flawlessly restored antique billiard tables regularly go for $10,000+. Even really high end non antique pool tables can sell for around $6,000.
New pool tables can start around $1,300.00 for a basic black light duty (plain) standard style slate pool table, maybe a little less if you wanted to try to set it up yourself. Ocassionally you can get traditional furniture style tables at this price (1300) if they are scratch and dent or on closeout. For a good quality traditional solid wood import (not Made in America) pool table with a few leg styles and limited finish options, you can budget $2000 by the time you pay for delivery tax & decent playing equipment. Your price goes up or down step by step from there based on, quality of the wood, finish, location of manufacture, brand. Price can be affected by warranty, rarity of the table, materials, dining tops, amount of carving, and quality of cloth and rubber as well.
Finally, you have to know what to look out for. If you are buying new there not too much to worry about other than two basic things. Number one is the rubber. The charge to have someone come out and fix rubber is $250 or more. There is no reason to have to deal with expensive maintenance just 5 years after the purchase of a new table weather you use it or not. Live gum based rubber has a life of 10 – 15 years. The cheaper silicone rubber maybe 5 years. The second thing you should look out for is how the slate is attached to the frame of the table. A large screw should be attached into solid wood. Not particle board. Make sure you dont have a screw going into particle board floating out over the edge of the frame. This is a little hard to explain with text but if you bring it up to a pool table dealer they will know exactly what you are talking about.
When buying used tables there is much to look out for. First off check the action on the rubber. Not just in one or two spots, every inch of every rail. Rubber does not die all in the same time and places. Sometimes it starts as a couple of dead spots and it takes up to 2 years for the hardness to spread everywhere. Next, check the age of the table. If it is over 10 years, just know you are going to have to spend $250 or more within the next couple years (more than likely) on new rubber wether it is good now or not. After that, check the legs for flood damage and cracks under the cabinet. Cracks will show high up under the pool table if the table was slid or moved improperly. Finally, keep in mind that if you buy a used table it costs $250 for a move $150 for cloth and $250 for new rubber, that can turn a $700 table into a $1350 table quickly. Amazing…That is the price of a new table on sale, with warranties!