Pool Table Cloth Buyers Guide Part 1
As I previously stated there are many different grades and types of pool table cloth or felt as the jargon goes. Felt is actually a very weak cloth which would last about an hour on a pool table. Quality pool table cloth comes in various density, weights, and materials, not to mention every color under the sun. Poor quality cloth, the type most often installed on non-slate or low end recreational pool tables consists of polyester, or some wool and much nylon woven with very low density or open stitching. Because of the quality of the material and the low density this cloth burns easily and wears out very quickly.
Burn marks most often occur when the ball is hit too hard. They appear as white spots on the cloth. The higher the density of the cloth the better it stands up to up to abuse. Standard pool table cloth is 19 to 21 oz. 75% wool to 25% nylon. Standard wool has a nap or pile which causes the ball to stagger as it slows. The ball will also not travel as far on wool with nap. It plays slower. The better the wool process the less the nap, but there is always some nap or pile to this level of cloth. Worsted wool is a higher quality cloth, usually 85% wool to 15% nylon. Worsted wool has no nap or pile. The process is more expensive than regular wool therefore the cloth costs more. The result is a smoother faster surface. Also because there is no nap. Chalk, lint and dirt will not stick to the cloth. It stays cleaner and cleans better which helps it last longer. This cloth weight is between 24 and 26ozs with around 144 stitches per inch. Due to the density this cloth last much longer than standard cloth.
A relatively new option is teflon treated cloth. Spray ons are available but don't last and are expensive. Teflon treated cloth is better but since the cloth is coated the coating eventually wears off. Finally there is cloth with a process that impregnates the threads with teflon. This cloth is guaranteed to be stain proof to cold liquid as long as the cloth is on the table. It also lasts 2-3 times longer than standard cloth. The pros comment that the teflon may have an impact on english, but for most of us the quality of this cloth makes it worth the extra cost. Quality cloth will range from $150. to $350. not including installation. In our experience the most common reason for a recover is spillage. Beer, wine, soda will cause standard cloth to stiffen and play very inconsistent. There is really no way to clean it so it must be replaced. Of course abuse and misuse can result in tears which cause the ball to roll poorly.
As I stated every color under the sun is available. Hot Pink and white don't sell well but Clemson orange and Nittany blue do. It is important to consider lighting when choosing a cloth color. The darker the color the better the lighting needs to be. Cleaning the table after each hour of play will help the cloth last longer as will the use of a break cloth. Simply put a remnant of cloth under the cue ball when breaking. This will help lessen burns. Alternate the ends of the pool table for breaking and the cloth will last longer as well.
- Patrick McGarity