Pool is one of the most popular home sports around the world from the UK to the US and further afield, with variants of it being around for centuries. So it’s no surprise that the pool table choices available are extremely broad too. A change to the way we spend time at home has only meant that the options are getting better, with some of the most exciting full size pool tables entering the market now meaning it’s never been a better time to buy one and you’ll be sure it will last for years to come.
Our team of experts have spent hours searching for the very best pool tables to buy, with a huge range of MDF pool tables and slate bed pool tables to choose from, each of them from trusted retailers and approved by us. To help you find the right one for you we’ve also written a detailed buying guide covering all the features of a pool table to know about, how to pick the right size pool table, pool table accessories, delivery & installation and warranties too. This is the last place you’ll need to look to find your perfect pool table, so enjoy reading our reviews and buying guide!
How do I choose a pool table?
The three things that matter most when choosing the right pool table are the size (typically 7ft, 8ft or 9ft), the style (English or American, MDF or slate bed), and the price (quality pool tables start from around £500 or $600). In our detailed buying guide below we cover all the options available to you for these three areas, as well as a detailed summary of the pool table features worth considering including the playing cloth, pocket styles, rails, cushions and more.
The 5 best pool tables in 2022
One pool table that really does sell itself is this heavy duty table with a sturdy plywood cabinet which is a step above some of the MDF alternatives you might see, which in turn lends itself to both indoor and outdoor play, whether it's a garage, garden area, or right in the centre of a games room. What's more, the corner caps and feet are made using chrome to give the pool table even more strength.
- Size: 7ft or 6ft
- Accessories: 2x full-size cues, 1x balls (aramith reds & yellows), triangle, chalk
- Material and build: plywood cabinet and chrome corner caps and feet
- Playing surface: high-quality cloth and Super Response™ Cushion Rubber
- Other: noise-reducing ball return
One of Strikeworth’s best sellers, this 7ft pool table is built in MDF making it more affordable than some of its slate bed equivalents, but with some of the sturdiest MDF you can get (18mm thick), high quality chrome corner caps, and a unique sturdy leg structure all together making it one of the most robust MDF bed pool tables on the market. It’s a brilliant choice for relative newcomers to pool wanting to develop their game. The internal ball return system is a huge benefit that’s not often seen in MDF pool tables and with it being one of the lowest cost pool tables we’re recommending it’s a very strong choice.
- Size: 7ft
- Bed material: MDF
- Accessories: 2x spots and stripes pool balls, 2x 57” pool cues, 1x black plastic triangle, 2x chalk, 1x table brush
- Price range: £
- Other: Internal ball return system more common in slate bed pool tables than MDF (a great plus point)
With two size options the Gamesson Harvard can be fun for all the family in 6ft, or suitable for older teens, adults and anyone that’s more experienced in 7ft. It’s a traditional small American table if you go for the 6ft version, with hidden pockets and an in-built ball return system, along with all the accessories you’d need to get started right away. At less than £500 it can be thought of as a cheap pool table despite it being made by one of the leaders in pool table manufacturing, Gamesson, making it great quality that’s built to last.
- Size: 6ft or 7ft
- Bed material: MDF
- Accessories: 2x spots and stripes pool balls, 2x 57” pool cues, 1x triangle, 2x chalk, 1x table brush
- Price range: £
- Other: Automatic ball return system for easy restart, and individual leg levellers to ensure an even playing surface anywhere
One of the best-selling mid-range pool table is this slate bed English table from Supreme; tournament quality and designed for 8-ball pool - it’s even endorsed by the World Eightball Pool Federation, so you can’t get much more tournament standard than that. There are a huge amount of options with this table so you really can design it to suit your needs: choose the size (6ft or 6ft), the finish (15 options including driftwood and Italian grey), the cloth (6 options including blue and red), and finally whether it’s coin operated or freeplay. A real robust, long-lasting table to span the years. It's another slate bed pool table with woollen cloth (not nylon), and a plywood cabinet making it a long-lasting, sturdy table you can truly rely on. Complete with a good range of accessories from a highly reliable retailer in Home Leisure Direct.
- Size: 6ft or 7ft
- Bed material: Slate bed
- Accessories: 1x Aramith red and yellow pool balls, 2x 57” or 48” pool cues, 1x black plastic triangle, 2x chalk
- Price range: ££
- Other: Choice of finish (15 options), and choice of cloth (6 options)
This American pool table from PureLine takes playing quality and style to a new level, it’s one of the more expensive pool tables but for more advanced players it’s more than worth it and our recommended premium table. It’s built with perfectly honed Brazilian sectional slate with in-built slate adjusters for fine tuning, and a solid beech timber frame. With two large sizes to choose from and free installation & levelling, it’s the most convenient option to take pride of place in your room of choice and you’ll be ready to play in no time. The PureLine LA Pro is made to APBU tournament specification so the quality of play really is unparalleled.
- Size: 8ft or 9ft
- Bed material: Slate bed
- Accessories: Wide range of add-ons including 1x Aramith spot and stripe pool balls, 2x Maple pool cues, 1x 9-ball diamond, 1x box of chalks, 1x cue rack, 1x dartboard with darts, and more
- Price range: ££££
- Other: Choice of finish (3 options), choice of elite pro cloth (24 options), and free installation & levelling worth £400
Bonus: Mancaves HQ’s favourite luxury pool table
There’s no need for us to explain why the Olympus Slate Bed Pool Table is our favourite luxury table, but we will anyway… Let’s start with the build, it has a calibrated sectional slate bed, with a modern cabinet made from high quality wood composite and an in-laid trim in a mirror-polished chrome style. On top of that, it has more options to personalise than any other table we’ve recommended here, including endless finish options (over 100), three sizes to choose from, and a choice of world-class cloths from Hainsworth. This table really is the all singing, all dancing top choice.
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The list of what to look for when buying a pool table can feel endless at the start, but it’s very easy to narrow your search by answering a few easy questions about the space you have available, the type of pool table you’re interested in and your budget. We’re here to make the decision starting with some simple jargon busting to help you make sense of all the options available to you.
Important features of a pool table
1. Bed material
The two most common materials used for building the main structure of a pool table are MDF and slate, known as the pool table bed. Pool tables made with these materials differ greatly in price due to the cost of the raw material. Slate bed pool tables command a higher price as there’s no disputing they offer far superior performance and playing quality, at an inch think (making them extremely heavy) these slate beds are mechanically honed to create a perfectly flat surface. That’s not to say you can’t achieve a good quality playing surface with MDF, of course you can, and for many people the difference in price makes MDF the right choice. In essence, if you’re a more serious pool player and have the budget for a slate bed pool table go for it, but if you’re just starting out, play for fun, or don’t have the budget for them, choose a less expensive MDF pool table.
2. Playing cloth
The type of playing cloth determines the speed at which the ball rolls along the surface, and the two options are typically English pool table cloths and American pool table cloths. If you run your hand along an English pool table you’ll know straight away as the surface will feel slightly rough or fuzzy to touch, as the fibres used are directional. Although just slightly, this makes the ball run slower on the surface and so can be easier for players just starting out. American pool tables on the other hand are typically woven and non-directional, creating a much smoother surface and faster ball speed. For most players the playing cloth won’t make a huge amount of difference, but for the more astute you may end up adjusting your game play ever so slightly.
3. Rails and cushions
A common preconception amongst new pool players is that the material used to create the cushion is the same for all pool tables, and whilst they are typically made from rubber the type and ever so slightly the shape does in fact change. It’s also fairly easy to change the cushion of a pool table as they do wear down. The rubber cushion affects the speed at which the cue ball or object ball bounces from it due to differences in their elasticity. Pool table manufacturers are great at using the right cushion to make the general speed of the table, so it’s always good to replace an old cushion with the same type of cushion if you ever need to.
The two types of pool table pockets to think about are drop pockets and ball return pockets. If you’ve ever played pool in a local bar or club, or perhaps on holiday, it’s like you’ll have used a coin operated pool table with an in-built ball return system. These work using a series of tracks and gutters, and whilst they’re great fun to play with as it gives that professional feel, it makes them bulkier and heavier compared to typical drop pocket pool tables. This also makes drop pockets the cheaper option. You can find a third option that’s a hybrid between the two: drop-down ball return systems. These tables capture the balls under the base of the table as opposed to by each pocket. There’s no real impact on game play of the different pocket styles so it comes down to preference and budget.
Pool table sizes and dimensions
All pool tables are measured in feet and typically range from 6ft to 9ft, though you can find smaller ones too but that are better suited to kids. Full size pool tables in the UK are most often 7ft pool tables, whilst in the US they tend to be a bit larger (8ft pool tables) as a lot of American houses are open plan which isn’t as common in the UK.
To work out the amount of space you need for a pool table, simply take the length of your cue (usually 54” or 57”) and add that on to the end of each side of the table - this will give you enough space to maneuver your cue with ease. For more information on this have a look at our Pool Table Size Chart and Room Dimensions article that covers US and UK sizes. Below are two very simple diagrams for the most common pool table sizes, a 7ft British pool table and a 8ft American pool table.
Pool table accessories
1. Pool cues
Some pool tables will come with one or more pool cues but these are likely to be lower quality than what you’d otherwise be able to find on-line. It’s important to find a pool cue that’s the right size and weight for you, keeping in mind that different sized cue balls and object balls are used in English pool versus American pool use, so the size of the cue tip does vary. A standard pool cue will be between 54” to 57” long, weighing 19oz to 20oz, and with a cue tip that’s 9mm to 10mm wide. If you’re looking to buy a pool cue read our guide on How to Choose a Pool Cue: Top 10 Pool & Snooker Cues for more!
2. Pool balls
All quality pool tables will come with a set of pool balls thrown in for free. With most tables you’ll receive standard balls made with a hardened plastic shell that are easily replaceable. For something more professional and long-lasting, Aramith pool balls are what you want, typically made in Belgium with a phenolic resin making them tougher offering better playing quality with less friction between the balls and the playing surface. The aesthetic difference is noticeable too with their impressive shine and strong colour. You can play 8 ball pool or 9 ball pool on any pool table so it’s up to personal preference, the main difference is the game play - with 9 ball pool you have to pot the balls in numerical order but with 8 ball you pot you’re going after spots or stripes and in no particular order making it easier for newcomers.
3. Other pool table accessories
It’s easy to go all out on accessories as the options to take your game play to the next level really are endless, but it’s always good to start with the essentials and build yourself up (luckily most expensive pool tables come with all of this). What you need is a set of pool cues, a set of pool balls, a pool triangle or diamond, and cue chalk, everything else is optional. Once you’re set with those items you can have a look at pool table cloths (the custom ones are great!), pool table covers and other table care items, as well as pool table lighting to create an even more professional feel.
Delivery and installation
The delivery and installation of your pool table is certainly worth thinking about before making a choice over the type of table you want. Due to their weight and the way they’re built, slate bed pool tables are more difficult to deliver and usually require a two-person delivery team, whilst MDF pool tables can be sent in various boxes to be built and installed at home. The slate bed is the most challenging part of the table to move and is usually wheeled into the home. Always check with the retailer how delivery works and make sure you have the space to get all the parts of the table to the room you want to set it up in - you may need to share any hallway or passageway dimensions with the seller. As far as installation is concerned it’s often worth paying extra for the slate bed pool tables as they are a lot heavier and damaging them during installation won’t be covered with the warranty, though for MDF pool tables this aren’t too hard to install on your own with the right tools.
Warranty and repair
Always read the warranty information from your chosen pool table seller as these are different for each company. Generally, most high quality retailers will offer a 12 month warranty which covers you for any defects in the table but usually does not include general wear and tear such as friction marks or scuffs in the cloth. As with most warranties any damage caused by you as the buyer won’t be covered either. Some of the more specialist retailers such as Liberty Games who we often recommend due to their quality and expertise, will offer a returns guarantee too meaning you can send the table back for a full refund within a certain time-frame (90 days for Liberty Games) as long as the table is unused and in its original packaging, so it’s worth looking at each part of the table before assembling it to make sure you’re happy with the quality of the material, the size and shape.
There we have it, a comprehensive list of the best pool tables on-line with our own in-depth reviews, all from trusted retailers, and an extensive buying guide to make it easy for you to choose the best one for you. We have a great mix of MDF pool tables and slate bed, English or American, and in all the typical sizes to choose from. Our favourite mid-range slate bed table is the Supreme Winner Pool Table as reaching that playing quality at a relatively price really is tough to compete with, and the opportunity to customise and make it your own is unbeatable. But really the choice is all yours. We also have a wide range of review articles on other pool table types such as outdoor pool tables and pool dining tables. Take a look at the Pool & Snooker section of our website for so much more.
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