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Foosball Table Buyers Guide Part 1

Welcome to part one of our guide to understanding and purchasing a home foosball table.  With tables ranging from $99 to $2,000 it is hard for the average shopper to easily see the differences.  Very few stores stock foosball tables and even fewer have "demo" tables to try before you buy.  That leaves most people buying a table at the local sporting goods store or somewhere on the Internet sight unseen.  As specialty retailers with years of experience here is our expert advice on picking out a Foosball table.

Remember, first quesiton you always ask before buying any game room game is "who will be using this and how long do we plan on keeping it"?  If the answer is "just kids and we are getting rid of it as soon as they get sick of it", then go for the $99 model at Target or Walmart.  This guide is for families who expect everyone to use the table and don't want to have to replace it every few years.

Note:  Ask About The Warranty on Your Foosball Table
Foosball tables should be durable, and built with strong materials for a long life span. If you buy a quality foosball table, it may well last you for the rest of your life. Most foosball tables come with some sort of warranty. One year of coverage is pretty standard for the industry, the only exception is with furniture style tables. Because these tables are more decorative, they tend to carry shorter warranties, but can still be built just as tough.  Remember the key parts of the table and try to comparison shop:  Rods, Men, Play Surface, and Cabinet.  It is also important that you can purchase parts down the road years from now when the table is no longer under warranty!

This Furniture Foosball Looks Good and Carries a 1 Year Warranty, not bad.

Steel Rods
Make sure your foosball table has steel rod construction. They come in three types, hollow, solid, and telescoping. If you’re buying a mid-model foosball table, solid steel rods are a better option. If you’re buying a high end brand, like the one of our Olhausen Games foosball tables, hollow rods are an advantage. The lighter rods will speed up your game play by reducing the weight. Tornado foosball tables also have machine-trued hollow steel rods for lightning fast shots.  The best steel is machine grade cold rolled steel and costs about $10 a foot before machining, so you are not going to see these on sub $600 foosball tables.  Telescoping tubular steel rods are a high end feature designed to protect small children who stand too close to the table and might be hurt by the rod sliding through from the other side.  This is a nice feature but less durable and more expensive than either hollow or solid rods.

Composite or Wood Construction
Foosball tables are made out of one of two things; solid wood or composite.  Composite is also known as MDF or HDF but not all types are the same density or thickness.  The key component made of composite is the play surface and "side wall" where the rods ender the bushing.  Cheap "pressed wood" play surfaces will warp over time because they tend to absorb moisture. Composite doesn’t absorb moisture as easily, so as long as it’s at least an inch thick, composite will be durable, dent-resistant and not nearly as subject to humidity. Most of the tables on this site are composite and use at least 1" on the side walls and play surface.

This Tornado Sport is the benchmark for a Heavy Duty Composite recreational foosball table

Particle Board
Some very cheap tables use a very thin particle board, which is cheaper than quality composite. Over time, particle board can weaken. The material dries out and crumbles, causing screws to work loose and break out, until the table literally falls apart. You’ll know your table is made of particle board if it weighs less than 100lbs, or has less than a 1/2 inch thickness. Avoid these tables like the plague, unless it is just a "toy" for the kids...

Laminated Foosball Tables
When you buy your table, be sure that any patterns on the table are actually imbedded in the laminate. Some foosball table manufacturers make cheap tables with stick-on designs. These low-quality “sticker” designs often peel, making your table look old and worn out. A high quality laminated composite foosball table will not fade like the cheaper models, so your foosball table will stay looking like new.  Very nice Heavy Duty Recreational and Tournament Foosball tables will feature solid wood furniture style veneer cabinets and stainless steel as a nicer looking alternative to the more common laminate.  Remember, this is just the "look" of the table and just because it looks good does not mean corners were not cut on the features we already went over, especially the rods and men.

Foosball Table Markings
The field markings on your foosball table help you line up the ball during play and are an important part of your table’s appearance. Just like other patterns, some foosball table manufacturers use a low-quality stick-on process to apply the field markings to their tables. These markings often wear off, making your foosball table look old and beat up. High quality tables will have permanently dyed laminates, with the design built right in. Make sure you have durable laminated designs on your foosball table.  Some high end commercial tables even feature play surfaces that can be replaced if they ever wear out.

The Torando T-3000 is the absolute top of the line in US made Commercial Foosball Tables

Foosball In Slow Motion?
Foosball tables have various “speeds”, depending on the surface that the ball rolls over. The smoother and harder the table’s surface is, the faster the ball will travel. For the most part, foosball tables in the US have hard finishes that are quite fast. Some European tables that are made with wood tend to have slower play. The best players in America play only on extremely “fast” tables, like the models from Olhausen Games and Tornado foosball tables, so the best way to improve is to play on this type of table.  This allows passing from line to line, angled shots on goal, and the most important feature of all:  The ability to get better at the game over time!

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Barry - December 3, 2013

If I am looking to purchase a foosball table for a high school rec room knowing that teens will play hard and a lot (like teens), which is my best bet-value/quality for the dollar form all the brands out there?

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