Buying Used Pool Tables
That "great deal" could end up costing you more in the long run that simply buying a new table. Read this guide before making any costly and time-consuming mistakes!
Everyone is looking for the “best deal” they can find, and as the popularity of billiard games has increased in the past few decades, so too has the number of families who have purchased a pool table for their home. As people’s lifestyles change, due to growing families, long-distance moves, or change in jobs, many table owners eventually decide to sell their pool table. Some of these tables have been rarely, if ever, played on, can be in mint condition, and are, indeed, great buys. Purchasing a used table can be a great way of obtaining one of these beautiful pieces of furniture at a great price.
However, many used tables have not been so well taken care of, and if you are not careful, going this route can also be a very costly way of getting stuck with a major problem. The reality is that many heirloom quality tables and mint condition tables are generally passed down through families and friends, leaving the least desirable pool tables to be found on craigslist or in your local paper’s classifieds.
Also be aware that quality, brand name tables hold their value over the years and you can often find yourself paying close to retail for one of these tables. With all of that being said, there is the odd jewel out there to be found. If you have your heart set on finding the deal of a lifetime, flip to the Articles for Sale section of your paper, and use this guide to help you navigate your way through the good and not so good.
We also sell pre-owned tables here at Everything Billiards, or the occasional floor model, so please check out our preowned tables to view current inventory. Rest assured that when purchasing a table from us, just as with our new tables, we only sell products that we have faith in and would be willing to put in our own homes. There are certain manufacturers that we stay away from based on our personal experience with servicing their tables in the past, and we make sure that every used table we purchase from a customer has solid construction, 1” 3- piece slate in great condition, and no major defects. If we need to replace the cushions, we do so, and we generally replace the felt with your choice of color upon purchase. We stand behind our tables 100% and will offer you a one year warranty on any preowned pool table you purchase from Everything Billiards.
Below are listed some frequently asked questions about purchasing used tables, and some of the main considerations you need to make when considering different options. You should ALWAYS view a table in person before making a commitment to purchase – how many homes have you viewed that have been totally misrepresented in photos? Moreover, you should generally purchase a preowned table on the condition that everything is in good working order upon disassembly – unless the table is disassembled when you view it, you have no way of checking the condition of the slate. Please feel free to Contact Us with any additional questions or concerns about specific tables you are considering. We are happy to help and can assist you in moving and recovering the table.
Size & Style
Many of the topics we covered in our Pool Table Buying Guide are also important considerations for you to make in your search for a used table, although you may need to make certain sacrifices depending on your budget. Are you searching for a pool hall style table or a piece of furniture? Depending on your answer to this question, aesthetics or sporting factors will be more important to you. Perhaps you are looking for a true antique table? For a well-kept, beautifully restored, quality vintage or antique table, be prepared to spend upwards of $10,000 and to spend some time searching for and looking at tables.
What size is the room in which your table will be placed? The size of the room and the table’s surroundings will determine whether a 7′, 8′, or 9′ table is most appropriate. Check out our Room Requirements section for more details. Size does matter, and one of the biggest issues when buying a pool table is settling on the right size for your space. If the table is too large for your room, be prepared for cues continually marking, scratching, and banging into the surrounding walls and furniture. With that being said, there is usually some leeway if your room size is right on the cusp between a 7- and 8-foot or between an 8- and 9-foot table. If the room is simply a few inches short, you can always use a shorter cue or situate the table such that you have more space. We recommend allowing between 4.5 and 5 feet on every side of the table – more is better and less means using shorter cues. Please Contact Us to discuss your specific area and we can help advise you as to the best fit for your needs.
Model Type & Construction
Determine the manufacturer and model of the billiard table. Most better quality tables will have a nameplate on the head rail or apron (the head rail is at the end of the table where you break). Take that information and find out when the table was made and where it was made. If the table is very old, keep in mind that different construction techniques and parts may have been used at the time the table was built, even with quality manufacturers still in business. Also, if any parts need to be replaced, check to see if that manufacturer still makes a version of the table or has access to the parts used. A company like Olhausen, for instance, will be able to replace virtually any part on their older models, as their tables are all custom built in the United States. Warranties don’t transfer from the original owner, so this might be an additional cost for you to consider. The best way to be sure of a quality table is to buy a proven brand name. Watch out for low-end tables made overseas. You should see if the seller has the original bill of sale, which will tell you the original purchase price, any discount the seller received, the original warranty, and also the make and model of the table.
A quality construction table should have a heavy solid wood or engineered wood frame supporting the slate bed. It is also important to know how the table is fastened together – those that use wood screws or staples to hold the frame together are not durable and are not designed to be taken apart once originally assembled. Remember – if you bump into the table with your hip and it sways or does not look sturdy, then it isn’t! Don’t be afraid to test the structural integrity of the table when viewing it. Please view our Pool Table Buying Guide for more information on construction, wood types and materials, and what to look for.
Keep in mind that if a seller is advertising a cherry or walnut table, they don’t necessarily mean cherry wood – usually this refers to the finish on the table, and that finish can be done on virtually any material, from plywood to MDF to cherry wood. If a table is solid hardwood construction, that is how it will usually be advertised – this is a major benefit and selling point for the seller and one they likely won’t overlook!
Make sure the table’s playing surface is made from one inch 3-piece slate, and that the slate is good quality and in good condition – Brazilian or Italian slate is generally considered the best. Any reputable manufacturer of good-quality tables will use straight, diamond-honed and certified slate, although some do offer 3⁄4” slate at a lower price point. We believe that one inch slate is more durable and will provide a more even, better playing surface, so that is what we recommend looking for. Wood playing surfaces are not good options when purchasing used, as these will warp and deform relatively quickly and are not made to be disassembled, moved, and reassembled.
While some companies may recommend one-piece slate, it is much heavier, more difficult to level, and often impossible to navigate around homes. We do not recommend it or move one-piece slate tables; however, we can help you find someone who does if that is what you prefer.
All three of these components of the pool table are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace when purchasing and moving the table, but small expenses can quickly add up and should be given the same consideration as other components when viewing the table. If you visit one of our retail locations, we would be happy to show you what we look for when we purchase used tables and how to best inspect the cushions, pockets, and felt.
With heavy use, billiard cloth has a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years and should be changed after 10 to 12 years with infrequent use, depending on the type of felt used. Even if the cloth appears to be in good condition, depending on how it was initially installed or if it is an inferior cloth, it may need to be replaced. If you see any tears, holes, or stains in the felt, it should definitely be changed; if the color is not suitable for your home or to your stylistic preferences, during the move is a good time to change the felt, as most installers will not charge much additional labor in that case. The price of cloth can range from $150 to $600+, depending on the size and type. If the cushions need to be replaced, the felt will also have to be replaced.
Depending on the table’s manufacturer, the cushion rubber should have a life span of 25 to 50 or even 75 years; however, this can be much shorter with misuse or improper storage. Many manufacturers use cheap fillers in cushions which can quickly degrade – we have serviced some tables that need new cushions after only 5 or 10 years! The cushions must be purchased as a set, and even if only one is in disrepair, a full set will need to be installed. Both Brunswick and Olhausen offer a lifetime warranty on their SuperSpeed and AccuFast cushions, and they are meant to last for decades – it is rare that we ever have to replace cushions on these models when purchasing preowned tables or servicing them.
The pockets of a billiard table are probably the easiest component for a consumer to inspect. Cracked or dried leather and ripped baskets or iron covers are clear indications that a billiard table requires new parts. A billiard table with leather pockets requires leather pockets as a replacement, the same as plastic pockets require plastic replacements. The original design and construction of the table will not usually allow you to switch types. A set of 6 replacement leather pockets typically costs between $250 and $500 and must be purchased as a set. Even if one pocket is in disrepair, a full set must be purchased.
While Everything Billiards only charges about $400 to move an 8-foot table, this can quickly turn into a $1000-$1500 charge if you need to replace the pockets, cushions, and/or felt, making that “great deal” the same price as a new table. We are happy to quote you our best price if you Contact Us with specific details.
Some older 9-foot tables being sold are actually Snooker tables – be sure to look at the pockets to find out if the table has pool or snooker style pockets. Snooker balls will also be different than billiard balls. Pool tables have a larger pocket opening and therefore larger size balls. If you have any questions about a table you are considering, please Contact Us or visit one of our retail locations, and we will be glad to discuss the differences with you and advise you further.
Sometimes tables will come with a full set of barely used accessories, including cues, chalk, brushes, 8- and 9-ball rack, rule book, balls, and a cue rack. Many times, these accessories will be missing or damaged. Luckily, if a few balls are chipped or discolored, individual replacements can be purchased – just keep in mind that polyester balls cannot be mixed with phenolic resin, as the harder resin balls will chip the polyester very quickly.
If the table does not come with any accessories, we can offer you a few different options for play kits. Our Everything Billiards Standard Kit will set you up with the necessities (Royal Crown balls, 4 house cues, brush, rack, and wall rack) for about $200. You can also go with individual accessories or one of our premium Aramith Play Kits, which range from $400 up to $800, depending on your needs. Again, this can significantly add to the cost of what seems like a “great deal,” and something you should factor in when considering buying a used table versus a new table.
We generally purchase all the available accessories when we buy used tables, and will include those accessories in the cost of the table. If it doesn’t come with accessories, or they are not in usable condition, we typically include a standard play package with the table.
Installation & Warranty
We strongly recommend that you use a professional, trained, and certified billiard mechanic to help dismantle, move, and assemble your used table. This is an important cost to factor into the private purchase of any used table. We include delivery and installation in the cost of our used tables for sale; however, this is something you will need to discuss with the seller should you find a table in the local paper or on craigslist. Sometimes, they will be willing to either cover this cost or split it with you.
Tables must be dismantled, moved in component pieces, and then reassembled and leveled. One-inch slate will weigh about 600 pounds, and a pool table can weigh upwards of 1000 pounds. The table breaks down into no less than 20 pieces, each of which must be properly protected for transport – we have specially modified vehicles to move each of these pieces safely, securely, and efficiently. Many owners have hurt themselves trying to move the slate, or cracked the slate, which can be extremely costly to replace.
Perhaps the best example of why it is necessary to hire a professional to move your pool table comes from another group of professionals: professional movers. Everything Billiards has contracts with many professional moving companies, disaster restoration companies, and flooring companies to move pool tables that they encounter. Professional movers, by definition, are the people you pay to move things that are too heavy or too complicated for you to move. Disaster restoration specialists have crews of employees on their payroll who dismantle and reassemble your house. And flooring companies also employ carpenters and people who know how to work with their hands. There is a reason that these professional tradesmen call us when they see a pool table: there is much more to moving a pool table than you can ever imagine.
Most individuals do not have the specialized tools required to assemble a table properly and level it to the tolerances required. There is a formula to proper pool table placement in your house, and there is another specific process that must be followed to correctly reassemble the table. Once the pool table is properly placed, the frame must be leveled, and then the slate must be leveled to within 1/5000th of an inch (.0005”). The rails and pockets must be reassembled, the slate seams must be sealed, and the felt must be put back on. Like anything else, that last sentence seems pretty short, but there is a LOT more to it than that!
Everything Billiards generally charges around $400 to move a table, with that price increasing based on mileage, difficulty of assembly, and time required (some antique tables are much more difficult to disassemble and reassemble). Please Contact Us for pricing your specific move.
Another important issue to consider when purchasing a used billiard table from a private seller is that there is no guarantee. Warranties do not transfer from the original purchaser, and even if the manufacturer will help you out by replacing or repairing a part, you are still responsible for the labor costs involved. Moreover, depending on the manufacturer and the age of the table, there may not be any parts available to replace a broken one. Always remember the old adage “Buyers Beware.” The seller has no obligation to repair or replace any part of a defective, mishandled, or misused table unless part of the original agreement. Once the transaction is complete, that table is all yours – be sure to inspect it thoroughly before finalizing any deal.
Everything Billiards will offer you a one-year guarantee on any used table purchase, and we are sure to check each table for any defects, whether cosmetic or structural, and divulge that information to you. We will never sell you a table with cracked slate or degraded cushions. We want you to be happy with your table purchase, and while we’d love to see you again, we’d prefer to see you when you’re ready to upgrade your table or add other games into your entertainment room, not because of the problems you’re having with your table!
There are definitely some great deals and hidden gems to be found out there. But if it seems too good to be true, then it is! Finding that “mint condition, solid hardwood, ornate and beautiful” pool table for only $200-$300 just isn’t going to happen. In our experience, when paying that little for a table, you will end up paying close to a thousand or more to move and repair the table. Understanding what hidden costs may arise and what to inspect when looking at tables will save you the experience of buying a problem table or “money pit.”
If you are simply looking for a recreational playing table rather than a showpiece, we generally advise you to consider purchasing a new table – this will typically include delivery and installation, accessories, and a lifetime warranty, as well as a few more choices of finish and leg options. If, however, you are looking for a unique, custom, or true antique table, it can be well worth your time and investment to search for that exceptional piece of furniture or work of art. Especially as families move out of the area for work or look to downsize, there are some beautiful heirloom-quality tables to be found, if you are willing to be patient and to pay for the true value of those tables. If there is a specific make or model you are searching for, we are happy to keep an eye out for you, as we get many requests from owners in the area looking to sell their pool tables.
Again, if you have any questions or concerns, we are happy to advise you in any way we can. Having moved and serviced tables for over ten years, we have considerable experience with most major manufacturers and are happy to discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and specifics of particular models with you.