How long your cloth lasts depends on two things: what quality was installed and what type of play it endures. If you purchased your table from or had it serviced by a well established billiard dealer with a true brick and mortar store- you probably were sold high quality, commercial grade billiard felt. If you purchased it from a warehouse or online, it’s difficult to know what quality you have received.
In my 37 years of selling billiard cloth, I’ve learned the following. In homes where the table gets very little play – I’ve seen cloth last upwards of 25 years. This is very rare but is a good indication of its longevity. However, put that very same cloth quality into a home that has hours of unsupervised play and you could see your cloth worn or damaged in a matter of months. That said, the majority of our home customers are not replacing their cloth because it has worn out but because they are moving or redecorating.
In supervised commercial locations such as Barney’s or Slick Willie’s, you will find that cloth is changed anywhere from quarterly to annually depending on the location. These tables not only see a constant stream of public play but also league and tournament play.
In unsupervised commercial locations such as apartment complexes, it’s more common to see the cloth replaced every six months to 2 years if the cloth is getting normal use. The cloth must be replaced more often when the residents mistreat it. We see the greatest occurrence of cloth abuse in these locations.
All cloth will get chalk marks. Most cloth will get “tracking” from frequent ball travel over a common path. All balls cause friction on the cloth during regular rolls. That friction is increased when using “english”. Higher quality balls cause less friction than economy balls.
Another cause of cloth deterioration is playing with billiard cues without tips. The cloth can be torn easily if it is struck with the edge of the ferrule.
Unfortunately, cloth is often damaged from Masse’ and jump shots. These types of shots are difficult for amateurs as well as seasoned players. We often see small holes where the leather tip has struck the cloth. It’s important to recognize the difference in wear and damage. Neither low nor high quality cloth can withstand the torture of Masse and jump shots.
International Billiards, Inc. stocks both the 21oz Championship Invitational cloth with Teflon and the tournament Simonis 860 cloth. You will never have to fear getting a poor quality piece of cloth from us. Come see us at our showroom 2311 Washington Avenue Houston, Texas 77007!