When you’re still fumbling your way around the game of pool or billiards, you’re probably used to going to bars or specific pool hubs. As you begin to progress and enjoy the game more, you’ll feel the urge to get a pool table in your home. You’ll be simply overwhelmed by the many options available in the market. Even if you’re mainly interested in getting a billiard table as a piece of decorative furniture, you’ll find different varieties and classes. You need to make up your mind on a few specific things to be able to get a billiard table that’s useful for whatever purpose you have in mind. To help make this process more streamlined, we’ve gathered the most important qualities you need to be on the lookout for when buying a billiard table.

Slate Pieces

When you’re gauging the quality of the table, you should never ignore the number of slate pieces. A pool table without any slates is pretty much a useless one, so you need to keep in mind that slates, in the case of professional usage, equate to quality. There is a common misconception that 3-piece slate pool tables are inferior to 1-piece options, but it’s actually the opposite. The standard design of a 1-piece slate table consists of 4 legs and a conventional frame, and the only way to adjust leveling is through the table’s legs. This means that you’ll have to place something under the legs to level it. 1-piece slate tables are infamous for their saggy drop in the middle of the table, which messes up with the ball’s direction and movement.

3-piece slate pool tables are your go-to choice for convenience and functionality. They come with different variations in style but most of them are composed of 3 independent pieces that are attached to the table’s frame with screws. It’s possible to level the table by using wedges between the frame and the slate, giving you a more accurate leveling system. The accuracy of a 3-piece slate pool table is about 7 times more than its 1-piece counterpart.

Commercial and Furniture Tables

Commercial-style billiard tables are the ones you see in pool halls, bars, tournaments, professional clubs, and other areas where there is considerable traffic on the activity itself. Even though these pool tables are very good for playing, they are almost never used as decorative pieces. The lack of aesthetic appeal and glossy finishes make them cheaper than their furniture counterpart. If you’re a little tight on space, it’s possible to get a smaller-sized one. You’ll want to look for the top 6 foot pool tables that can save you space while being enjoyable. This is why you need to make sure that you know the purpose for sure before venturing out to the market to buy a pool table.

Furniture or décor billiard tables are designed to give a fancy and classy feel to the room. They are often designed with features that make them look good, yet not very great for those who are going to actually play pool. They are also noticeably more expensive than professional pool tables, so it’s not an investment you should take lightly if you’re not sure whether you’re going to play or not. Keep in mind that they are 1 inch smaller than commercial tables, but you can find some models that are designed to be the same size as professional designs.

Frame of Slate

Framed slates are often the common choice for a reason. A framing made out of MDF or plywood will be glued or screwed to the slate. The cloth on the table can be easily stapled, which isn’t possible in the case of unframed slates that only use glue to attach the cloth. This also allows hardwood wedges to be used while still giving enough support for the slate.

Unframed slates are often 1-inch thick or less. It’s less popular but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a design that works. The slate uses the frame as its sole support, but using an adhesive like glue to attach the felt to the slate often comes with a few disadvantages. If there is a problem with the adhesive used, noticeable lumps of glue can throw the entire balance of the pool table off, making playing pool a nightmare.

Buying your first pool table can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t what you’re looking for, but you’ll definitely enjoy the process as you get to see the different types available in the market. A pool table is a worthy investment, so you should never rush its purchase. Make sure you know what you want to get out of it and start planning from there.