What to expect for wear and tear on your billiard table
Wear and tear on your pool table is similar to the wear and tear that happens to your car, home, clothes and other furniture. How long your pool or game table lasts, is directly linked to the kind of use it gets. If you take care of and maintain your table, you could conceivably have it for many decades.
As part of our standard service quote questions, we ask “is your table more than 60 years old?” We do this because tables that old are considered antique and use specialized tools. But we also do this because there are still so many 60 year and older tables out there. Those tables are normally in homes where they have not been misused or abused. Giving your table the care and maintenance it needs will help insure its longevity. Here is a list of some of the things you will see in your table’s lifetime.
Cloth. Billiard cloth is considered a consumable item. Just as you have to replace your shirts and shoes, you will eventually replace your cloth and pockets. How quickly you need to do so depends on how often you play and how you play. For instance, if you play once a week at home with your family and no one uses masse or jump shots, you might redecorate and change colors before your cloth is worn out. If your table is in a pool hall or apartment complex where there is no one overseeing every moment of play, you may need to replace your cloth every six to twelve months. Additionally, if someone plays with a cue missing a tip, or is playing using masse or jump shots, you could potentially need to replace the cloth after the first night of play. Billiard cloth is a blend of wool and nylon which has been woven and finished for the truest ball roll. It is not meant to be mistreated either by hard play or laying boxes or tools on top of it.
Pockets. Pockets, like your shoes – last longer than cloth/shirts but eventually wear out. The leather web portion of the pocket will soften over time and can eventually tear. You may see this happening after 20 years or so in normal play. You may see tearing more often if you move your table often. This is because the leather is stapled to the slate backing. The top portion of the leather pocket is subject to damage caused by stroking the cue across it, setting boxes or tools or other objects on it, and wildly enough – scratches from belt buckles. But you won’t see the softening happen to the top leather like you will the web.
Rail Rubber. While most manufacturer’s have “lifetime warranties” on their rail rubber, you have to understand the fine print. Rubber is affected by heat, cold, play and the lack thereof. If your table is in the garage where it gets too hot or too cold, or if it’s upstairs and the kids have moved out and no one has played in 3 years, or if you play all the time but have a habit of sitting on the edge of the table…. Your rail rubber isn’t covered under the warranty. Under normal circumstances, you can get more than 20 years of play from your rubber. If you have your original invoice, the manufacturer will sometimes send you a new set of rubber, but you will have to hire someone to install it. This particular piece of propaganda started in the late 80s when everyone and their grandmother started building or importing pool tables. Unfortunately, most of the companies who started saying rail rubber lasts forever are no longer in business but those who still do, have held onto the claim. We don’t see rail rubber go bad as often as that it has come loose from the rail. If one person sits on the rail at the right angle just one time, they can separate that area of the rubber. This is easily fixed at the same time as the table is recovered for a small additional fee. Just let service company know that your rails seem loose or “dead”.
- Wood portions. If there is something wrong with part of the structural portion of your table (and you bought it from a reputable dealer) the installer will see it and wait to finish the job with a good part. If there is something wrong with a decorative portion of your table, the installer will see it while he is still in your home. Because the table is so heavy, it will stay level unless it gets moved. We have the customer sign off for the finished job before the installer leaves so that they can check for the levelness of the playfield as well as for scratches or dings in the finish. The reason we do this is because the rails can be easily scratched from cues or belt buckles, and the legs can be dinged by vacuum cleaners and chewed on by new puppies. Think of the top of your dining or coffee table…. The more they are used, the more susceptible to scratches and dings they are. Where smoking is allowed in commercial settings, we have also seen cigarette burns on the top rails.
Now, let’s talk about commercial use. This includes but is not limited to tables in bars, pool halls, apartment complex game rooms and community centers. From my 38 years of experience, I can usually look at damage and tell you exactly how it happened. In a home, moms and dads usually have more control over their children than a bartender over a customer or an apartment manager over a tenant. We have seen cloth stained by security before the complex had their first tenant. We have seen cloth cut or torn because one player wants to practice their masse shots. We have seen tables damaged by residents who think the table should be moved 3” to the left. We have seen table destroyed by an angry customer who somehow flipped the table. This is abuse and no table can withstand this sort of treatment. Most pool table manufacturers do not warranty their products in commercial settings for those reasons. I recommend commercial locations get recommendations for the table they need in whatever setting they are using it in as opposed to staying within a limiting budget. What you save at the initial time of purchase will cost more in repairs later.
At International Billiards, Inc., we will find out how your table will be played at the same time we find out what design you like and what size room you are putting it in. We want you to have your table for many years and be able to pass it to your children and grandchildren. We feel like you deserve that.