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Types of Billiard Tables Based on the Make, Material and Mechanism
Billiards is one of the popular games that has been around for many years. Many of the pool enthusiasts want to have their own table at home to spend time with their family and friends playing their favorite game.
One should choose pool/pool table wisely to get the best out of the game. Today, a large variety of pool/pool tables, designed to suit the needs of different individuals/groups, are available in the market.
You can make a better buying decision if you have knowledge (at least basic) about them. In this article we have tried to give you some basic information about different types of pool tables separated according to the brand, material and mechanism.
Basic types of pool tables
Basically, there are two types of pool tables that are used to play pool. They are the English pool tables and the American pool tables.
• English pool tables – The English pool tables are usually 6 to 7 feet long and are mostly used in clubs and pubs. The balls on these tables are small in size measuring between 1.5-2 inches and so are the pockets. The center pockets are open allowing players to pot even from tighter corners, while the corner pockets or the “jaws” are narrow.
• American pool tables – Compared to English tables, American pool tables are larger, usually 7 to 9.5 feet long. Even the balls and the pockets are big; they can easily accommodate balls as large as 2¼ inches. Unlike jaws on English tables, the jaws here are wide making it easier to play shots along the cushions. The center pockets are not as open, favoring a straight cut style rather than angular shots.
Pool tables based on the brand and the material
The game surface that lies under the fabric of a billiard table, typically called like the “bed”, is the main component that decides the playability and accuracy of the game. Different materials are used to make these beds, based on which the cost and durability of the table varies. Following are three popular types of billiard beds.
• Slate bedside tables – These tables are made of thick slates, the thickness of which varies from 19mm to 30mm. Slate beds are used on larger and more expensive tables that sometimes contain 2-3 beds. These tables provide an excellent even playing surface that makes it easy for the balls to roll smoothly in precise directions and that is why they are the only table tops used in tournaments.
Slate beds are more durable than some other tops and withstand water and moisture. The fabric glued to this top can take extra work, but it can be easily replaced. The only disadvantage of these tops is that they are very heavy, so the transportation and installation becomes inconvenient.
• Slatron bed tables – Slatron bed tables, made of a synthetic material called slatron, are a synthetic alternative to slate beds. Slatron is composed of a plastic layer that surrounds a particle board. Although the quality of slate beds is far below that of slate beds, they are more durable than some other synthetic beds. These beds are less expensive, light and thus easy to transport and set up.
The downside of slatron table beds is their tendency to decay over time causing the table to sag. Furthermore, because they are light, the pool table can tip over when someone leans on it with force. However, good quality slatron tops last a long time and cost less compared to slate tops.
• MDF bed tables – The medium density fiberboard (MDF) bed is another type of synthetic bed used as an inexpensive alternative to slate beds. MDF surfaces are made by compressing small pieces of wood or sawdust together under heat and pressure. They are just like particle boards used in slatron beds. MDF beds are also lighter and the repairs are also affordable.
If you want to buy a pool table with a low budget, these synthetic boards are good choices. In addition, they come in small sizes, thus, can fit in small rooms. However, to protect them from deformation and use, care is enough – they should be kept away from water, moisture and very humid environments.
Billiard tables based on the mechanism
Some pool tables will have a built-in mechanism that makes it easier for the players to pick up the balls or control the game. Generally, they are of two types –
• Drop mail tables – No mechanism is used in these tables. The balls just go and sit in the pockets. After each game players must take them from the pockets. American pool tables usually have drop pockets.
• Ball return tables – In these tables, after the balls are potted, a built-in system sends all the pocketed balls to the collection chamber, where the balls will line up according to their number. All balls remain in the room until the next game begins. There are two types of ball return tables available –
— Free play tables – After the pot, the balls return to the holding area, which is at the end of the table. These tables are ideal for use in homes, workplaces and clubs.
– Coin Operated Tables – These tables are similar to free play except for one simple built-in mechanism. The player must insert a coin to retrieve the balls to play a new game. The mechanism could be either electronic or mechanical. Coin operated tables are usually found in commercial areas.
Pool tables designed for homes
In addition to the traditional and commercial pool tables, there are some tables specifically designed to suit the home environment.
• Pool dining table – If you are short on space, a pool dining table helps a lot. As the name says, it is a table to eat and also play billiards. It is specially designed in such a way that it can be used for both purposes. By simply adding the table top, the pool table transforms into a dining table. To play pool you can easily remove that table top.
• Folding pool table – You can play the game wherever you want if you have a folding pool table. The folding leg system of these tables helps you to fold them when not in use. Folding tables are generally made of MDF, which makes them lighter and thus easy to move.
• Outdoor pool table – If you want to have your pool table in your garden or lawn, then you can go for outdoor pool table. These tables are made with weather resistant material like marine plywood which can withstand extreme weathers.
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