A pool table is a serious investment and when we buy one, we do so with the hope of keeping it around for many years to come.
Like any other serious investment, pool tables require a lot of maintenance and cleaning to keep them in good condition and for the owner, there are a few simple but regular things you can do to ensure they stay this way.
How do you clean and maintain a pool table then?
The best approach is to look at the different parts including the frame, playing surface, and other accessories as separate entities, each requiring their own attention. Depending on how often you play, how your table is kept, and the quality of its construction, each one will have its own requirements for maintenance and cleaning.
This guide can walk you through the different steps of pool table maintenance so you can keep your investment in the best state possible.
Considering how much time we spend playing our favorite game and the serious investment the represent for most people, a little bit of effort can go a long way in maintaining their near perfect condition.
How Long Does a Pool Table Last?
All pool tables were made differently, and there are many factors to consider when trying to figure out how long they’ll last.
A well-made hardwood and slate pool table has the potential to last for more than 20 years with regular use, provided they’ve receive regular care and maintenance, and the owner has taken care not to do any serious damage to it when playing.
Tables with metal frames can last just as long, but again it depends on the quality of the materials used and how well it’s been looked after.
Stainless steel frames may be better at withstanding heat or moisture and are commonly used for outdoor units, and the solidity of their construction usually means they can last at least 10 years.
Most pool tables come with a manufacturer’s warranty and this might be for the entire table or refer to only the playing surface.
A standard warranty is just one year but can vary depending on the price and quality of the table, up to 10 years or more.
However, most table owners find that with care and regular maintenance their tables end up lasting a lifetime.
Correct Play When Using Your Pool Table
The most important thing you can do for your pool table is to use it carefully, and doing so will add years to its life.
This applies to you and any other guests to your home who use it, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that people understand the rules and what’s required to play on it.
Being considerate of the table during play is imperative, but just as important is how it’s cared for when it’s not in use.
You should never use the table for anything other than pool, not even something as simple as playing a game of cards unless it’s one specifically designed to be a multipurpose unit.
The chalking of your cue tip can also impact the table, so always do it away from the table and limit the number of times you chalk.
The dust which comes off the chalk can get into the cloth of the table and damage it, making a rough surface that will impact the whole table and the ball’s performance.
Make sure that you and your guests are gentle when playing and avoid digging the pool cue into the cloth during a shot or wearing any jewelry that might catch on the felt.
A minor tear or scratch will eventually turn into a larger hole and the entire felt will need to be replaced, so prevention is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Cleaning the Felt of a Pool Table
The felt is the most used part of a pool table as this is where the game takes place.
Therefore, careful attention needs to be given to this playing surface regardless of the type of felt or cover you’re using.
In addition to making sure players respect the felt and try to avoid damaging it, you should also provide regular cleaning.
Pool table brushes are a good investment that can be kept handy during play, but only ever used to remove large particles of chalk from the table.
Brush the particles in one direction towards a pocket rather than pushing the chalk into the table further, but only if you feel confident that they won’t disintegrate and make their way into the felt.
For anything smaller or harder to get out, you can vacuum the felt of the pool table with some care.
Only ever use a low suction power and an attachment made for upholstery making sure to pick up the chalk or other debris and not to rub it into the felt.
Depending on how often you play, you might want to give your table a regular vacuuming to keep it in good condition, without going over the top.
Taking Care of the Table Frame
The frame is the next most important part to look after when caring for a pool table, you’ll need to keep it clean while also providing upkeep to the other materials it’s made of.
This includes hardwood and leather parts, depending on what your frame has been constructed with.
To clean the frame, you only need to make an effort to remove dust and dirt from around it. This can be done with a soft brush over the flat surfaces, rail, legs, and cabinet.
Follow it up with a soft cloth to polish it, and apply some wood cleaner or another suitable cleaning agent if you notice any marks or scuffs that don’t come off with the cloth alone.
If your pool table has any wood or leather parts, you’ll need to condition these further. For wood, you can use a specialized furniture polish by applying a small amount to a cloth and rubbing it on.
This should be done fairly regularly to clean it and keep it looking polished.
Any leather parts like the pockets or cushions can be conditioned with an oil based cleaner to keep their suppleness and prevent them from drying out and cracking.
Maintaining and Cleaning the Balls and Other Accessories
Anything you put on the table has the potential to do it damage, which is why we need to take just as much care of the pool balls and other accessories as we would the table itself.
Here are some ideas for keeping the other parts of your pool table setup in just as good condition.
Even a clean pool table can still be damaged by dirty pool balls, so you should give them a wipe down after each game.
Game balls pick up a lot of dirt, chalk, and debris and spread them around the table even if you can’t see it happening.
The residue from these can end up doing more damage to felt and usually aren’t necessary.
A simple microfiber cloth is all you need to clean them, and you should avoid any other cleaners if possible.
A simple wipe down of the pool cue stick at the end of each game will keep it in good condition and prevent it from doing damage to the table.
Every few months you might want to polish it with a wood cleaner and replace the cue tip as required.
The pockets of a pool table vary on each model, but you need to keep them just as clean as the rest of the table.
In addition to conditioning the leather, if they’re made with it, you should clean the inside of the pockets out with a vacuum and give them a wipe down.
General Tips for Keeping Your Pool Table in Good Condition
Looking after your investment and ensuring that your table is always primed and ready for play is all part of having your own pool table.
Here are some general tips you can keep in mind that will let you do just that and provide ongoing maintenance for your favorite piece of furniture.
Know the surrounding conditions
Take some time to think about where your table is located in the home and what impact it could be having on it. Is there any sun shining on it? Is it a damp or dry area? Does it have adequate protection?
Humidity levels of around 40 to 60 percent are ideal for hardwood and somewhere out of the sun is best.
Avoiding burn spots
Burn spots are the little white marks that you might notice on your pool table, created by friction from the ball, and they have the potential to create holes in the felt.
To prevent this, stick to balls made with phenolic resin to minimize the damage done and avoid leaning or stroking the cue against the rail of the table.
A moving table is one susceptible to damage, so avoid doing anything that could cause it to move.
There should be no sitting on the table, pushing it, or leaning on it, as this can cause the pin that holds the housing to come lose and the entire table will start to wobble.
Keep it covered
Whenever your pool table isn’t in use, you should put a cover over it.
This prevents dust, debris, pet hair, and general mess from reaching the felt and also stops people from resting drinks on the surface or using it for anything other than playing pool.
Simple Maintenance Checks You Can Do
A professional pool table repairman is something you might need to call upon through the years of owning one, but there are simple checks you can do for yourself that can reduce the likelihood of this.
These are some of the areas they might examine during a service that you’re able to check for yourself at home.
- Use a machinist’s level or device to see that the pool table is level, and make adjustments as needed.
- Check the table and its surroundings for any surface cracks and make sure the slate hasn’t moved out of place.
- Check the felt for any obvious tears or holes and make sure that it’s still pulled tight with no loose parts.
- Make sure the rubber cushions are firmly attached to the sides of the table and feel the cushions for any obvious dimples or marks.
As one of the biggest investments you’ll likely ever make, it’s imperative to take care of your pool table so it lasts for many years.
These are some frequently asked questions and answers about pool table maintenance that can make caring for one easier as an owner.
How Do You Clean Stains Out of a Pool Table?
If the felt has become stained you can try to clean it with a mixture of vinegar and water after blotting the stain dry.
Gently blot the area with a damp cloth and small amount of this mixture, then allow it to air dry before playing again.
How Often Should Pool Table Felt Be Replaced?
Depending on how often you play, you can expect to replace the felt every few years on a pool table with regular daily use.
For more casual players who game once a week or less, a quality felt cover should last at least five years.
Can You Use a Lint Roller on Pool Table Felt?
Although it might seem easy to use a lint roller to pick up debris from a pool table, the glue from these cleaning devices can stick to the felt and end up doing more damage.
You should only ever use a specialized felt brush for cleaning or vacuum when required.