How to Choose the Right Pool Table Cloth
August 26, 2015 13:59 2 Comments
Whether you own a pool table at home or you are a pool room operator, choosing the right type of pool table cloth for your needs is going to be very important.
In this regard I am not really talking about the importance of colour as that is a purely a subjective choice, but there a number of other factors to consider when purchasing a pool table cloth that can have both an impact on your pocket and on the playability of the pool table.
Pool Cloth Manufacturing
There are two types of fabric processes that are used to create pool table cloth and they produce very different outcomes that have an impact on the way the cloth will play.
The two processes are Worsted and Woollen. Many of these cloths are still produced in UK mills by companies such as Hainsworth or Strachan.
Although the terms Worsted and Woollen refer to only the textile processing of animal fibres they are now also sometimes used when a fibre blend has also been created.
You will often also hear the terms "Baize" and "Felt" in relation to pool table cloths.
In the UK we tend to use less Worsted cloth; this is the type of cloth that is often known as 'Speed' Cloth. Worsted cloth is still manufactured from sheep's wool but the manufacturing process leaves no discernible nap on the cloth so it is not directional, and as a result will play faster. Some Worsted cloths will have a mixture of natural wool and nylon. A higher amount of nylon in the mix is what can cause burn spots on a speed cloth.
Due to the process in making the cloth, Worsted is generally regarded as a stronger, finer, smoother and harder fabric. Along with pool table cloths Worsted fabrics are most commonly found in tailored suits.
Worsted cloths are generally found on American Pool tables but there are a number of pubs in the UK that like to install a speed cloth on their tables.
Read more about Worsted Cloth on Wikipedia.
Woollen cloths are much more readily found on pool and snooker tables in the UK. The majority of English Pool and Snooker events worldwide will use a Woollen style cloth.
Woollen cloths have a clear and discernible nap that is directionally arranged; when stroking the hand along a woollen pool table cloth you can actually feel the nap of the cloth. It has a velvety texture and finger marks can remain in the cloth during play. This type of cloth needs more regular brushing and ironing to keep the directional fibres running the correct way.
Read more about Woollens on Wikipedia.
There is never an easy way to measure how durable a pool table cloth is going to be. The amount of use that the table gets and how well that table is maintained will seriously impact the durability of the cloth. A pool table cloth in commercial premises will be less durable than a pool table cloth in a home environment simply down to the use it will receive. Any type of cloth will have greater longevity in the home.
One factor to consider is the wool content of the cloth - the higher the wool content, the more durable the cloth.
Another measure is the weight of the pool table cloth. This is given in an ounces per yard figure. So you will see 26oz, 29oz, 30oz and other figures quoted. A heavier weight cloth will last longer but it will also mean that it will more likely play a lot slower. The real measure would be the tightness and quality of the fabric weave but manufacturers rarely release this information.
As an example at Billiards Boutique, we sell Strachan cloths for English Pool tables. The Premier 777 is the cheapest cloth and is 26oz weight, whereas the 6811 Tournament is only 24oz. This makes the 6811 Tournament the finer, and therefore, quicker cloth, where the Premier 777 will be the slower but more durable.
I did mention something about price above but generally speaking the faster, finer pool table cloths with a higher wool content will be more expensive. What you have to do when choosing a pool table cloth is work out which compromise you want to make. Do you want a high quality and fast pool table cloth, or can you do away with some of the speed element to get a cloth that will last longer?
If you are buying for a commercial setting like a pool club or pub/bar, then you may want to consider the heavier weight cloths. These fabrics will cope with the heavier use seen in this environment.
Likewise if buying a cloth for use on your home pool table where usage is considerably lower and you will be more inclined to look after the cloth, you can afford to spend a bit more money on a faster and finer quality cloth.
If you properly maintain your pool table cloth then whichever brand or product option you go for will last longer. As a minimum the table should be brushed regularly and it is highly recommended this is done after every session to remove dust and chalk.
There are also some spray cleaners on the market that can help lift this chalk and dust much more easily from the cloth surface.
If buying a napped pool table cloth then having a table iron will also be a great help to keeping the table cloth in top condition. Regular ironing will help the cloth run faster and will maintain the direction of the nap.
Billiards Boutique Recommends:
The cloth recommendations below are really just a quick guide for you when you are buying a pool table cloth for different purposes.
Home English Pool Table - Strachan 6811 Tournament
Home American Pool Table - Simonis 760
English Pool Speed Cloth - Superpro Worsted
Commercial English Pool Table - Strachan Premier 777
Commercial American Pool Table - Superpro Worsted
If you have read through this guide into pool table cloth and are still unsure what to buy then feel free to give us a call on 01305 458071, catch us on live chat or drop us an email.