There's nothing like owning a pool table to take your cool factor through the roof. Pool tables are used for recreation or professional competition, and higher-end tables are good investments. Pool table maintenance is relatively affordable — as long as you treat the table with love and respect. Quality pool table felt, when cared for properly, can last approximately a decade. But even the most diligent pool player can have an accident sometimes and rip the felt. Pool table professionals can repair, restore and recondition personal and commercial pool tables. Replacing felt is actually one of the more frequent requests from business and homeowners.
A quality pool felt that's properly applied allows your balls to glide seamlessly across the table's surface. But if the felt shows pilling, rips, snags or loose patches, it will result in cue balls that go astray, missed shots and a rotten game for everyone. Refelting a pool table is a skilled trade that requires specialized tools, the proper type of cloth and adhesive, and the right technique to ensure a smooth application. Experienced pool table owners can do their own repairs, but if you're new to the task, it's best to turn it over to a pro. If the felt is not properly applied, the uneven table surface can lead to frustration and lost games.
Several factors affect the average cost of refelting a personal or commercial pool table.
In general, the felt on a pool table should be replaced every three years, recommends Bruce Wortman of Classic Home Billiards in Charlotte, North Carolina, although the felt can last up to 10 years if cared for properly. When re-covering a table, the pros remove the existing fabric, smooth out any nicks or chips in the slate surface of the pool table, remove old adhesive for an optimally smooth playing surface, then stretch and apply the new fabric. The average cost for Classic Home Billiards to refelt a pool table is $300-$495. One of the company's commercial clients re-covers seven 9-foot professional tables each year with tournament-grade felt. The job takes 14 hours at a cost of $450 per table, which includes a $45 discount per table because of the quantity.
Most playing surfaces of pool tables are made from slate—either a one-piece slate slab or three slate pieces set together. Wortman with Classic Home Billiards prefers three-piece slate slab tables because there is less opportunity for the table to sag in the middle over time. The thickness of the slate slabs affects the initial pool table purchase cost, with thicker slabs usually costing more. Size also determines both initial pool table cost and subsequent re-covering costs. Larger tables require more felt and take longer to re-cover. Professional pool tables are 9 feet long, says Wortman of Classic Home Billiards, while most furniture-style pool tables are 8 feet long. When buying a pool table for a home, measure the room you plan to put it in to make sure the table you want to buy will fit. A new pool table can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, depending on what type of finishes it has. Custom pool tables are the most expensive.
Time and travel fees
On average, re-covering a pool table takes between two and four hours. Some pool table specialists charge a travel fee, so be sure to clarify whether it's included in the quote or not.
Certification and insurance
Some pool table professionals are certified by various manufacturers and have experience refelting particular types of pool tables. It's a good idea to use a pro with relevant experience to protect your investment. For example, Classic Home Billiards is certified by a range of manufacturing brands, including Diamond and Brunswick. You should also verify that the company has the proper business licenses required in your region as well as insurance. Insurance can protect you and your home in case the pro accidentally damages your table or is injured on the job. Ask whether they warranty their labor against installation-related problems, and always get a signed receipt that outlines the cost of the work and any warranty details.
The type of fabric used to re-cover a pool table affects the overall cost of the job. Felt used for recovering pool tables is a wool blend that's different than the felt available at craft stores. Classic Home Billiards uses a standard wool felt with a nap for many of its customers. There is also an upgraded tournament-grade felt, which can be made with a nylon blend or pure worsted wool. This felt is more expensive and has less nap, which means the balls travel faster. For a fancy spin on the standard pool table look, you can opt for a two-tone felt application, with one color for the table surface and another color for the rails.
If you're providing commercial tables for tournament-level players or just want to play your home game at the next level, choose your felt according to the World Pool-Billiard Association tournament equipment regulations. The cloth used "must be non-directional, nap-free billiard fabric which will not pill or fluff, composed of between 80 and 85 percent combed worsted wool, and between 15 to 20 percent nylon. 100 percent combed worsted wool fabric is preferred. No backed cloth will be allowed. Only the colors of yellow-green, blue-green or electric blue are acceptable for WPA competition."
Protecting your investment
A pool table, whether for commercial use or play, is a big investment. These tips will help prevent early aging:
- Keep the color of your felt from fading by placing your pool table away from large windows. Also, use a cover or consider window tinting to protect it.
- Keep beverages off the pool table. If you think your friends or family might spill anyway, apply a fabric protector or stain repellant.
- If you have kids, Wortman of Classic Home Billiards recommends the felt with spill guard.
- Don't sit on your pool table. The most immediate danger is that you can damage the rail cushions, but over time you can also push the pool table out of balance.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right pool table professional for your project. For more, check out these tips for smart hiring.