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How to Maintain a Pool Table

Updated: May 13

Pool table in a living room with text that says, "How to Maintain a Pool Table."

A game of cunning and finesse materialized in the dimly lit parlors of 15th-century Europe. Known as "billiards," it transcended social boundaries, captivating hearts worldwide. Today, the clacking of balls and laughter of friends engaged in friendly rivalry resonate in game rooms everywhere. Yet, beneath the allure of green felt and polished cues lies a critical aspect that demands attention: pool table maintenance.

Let's discover the secrets of preventive care and upkeep, ensuring our pool tables remain a testament to the timeless game that has captured hearts for centuries. As we maintain our tables, we keep the spirit of billiards alive for generations to come.

How Can a Pool Table Get Damaged?

Even though a pool table is a durable piece of furniture, it can be damaged when exposed to certain conditions. Common factors that cause your pool table to suffer damages include:

Spills and Leaks

Water can stain or cause decay to form in the wooden parts of your pool table. Keep your table in a room without a sink, refrigerator or another source of a potential water leak. It's best to install the table away from any bathrooms.

Wear and Tear

Burn spots appear when the friction from the billiard balls rubs holes in the table's playing surface. A burn spot is a permanent mark in the felt. Prevent burn spots from appearing by using balls made of phenolic resin. This material is safe for use on the felt surface that's common to most pool tables. Tell players to be gentle with the billiard balls and avoid the improper technique of tapping the felt with the cue when they strike a ball.


The felt on your pool table will absorb the smoke from cigarettes and other nicotine products. Keep ashtrays clear of the pool table, and use a cover to keep the felt fresh if you regularly smoke indoors.


When you move your table into a different room or rearrange your furniture, try to be gentle with it. Get multiple people to carry it at either end instead of trying to slide or push it through a doorway.

Avoid sitting on the table or leaning against the sides or on its surface. Placing strain on a pool table can cause loose pins that will make it wobbly and unstable.

The importance of maintaining a pool table

Importance of Maintaining a Pool Table

Your pool table will stay functional with minimal attention, but if you use it often, you should take certain actions to ensure this special room centerpiece lasts. Reasons it's important to maintain your pool table include:

  • Smoother, more professional playing conditions: When you keep the felt and accessories in working order, playing on your table will be a better experience.

  • A sleeker appearance: A well-kept pool table appeals to guests as one of the main attractions of your game room.

  • Easier long-term maintenance: Keeping up with routine maintenance helps you avoid having to replace the table's felt prematurely or getting other professional restoration treatments.

Pool Table Maintenance Tips

Discover essential pool table maintenance tips for prolonged longevity and peak performance. From preventive care to proper cleaning techniques, ensure your table stays in tip-top condition with these handy tips for taking care of a pool table:

1. Use a Pool Table Cover

A pool table cover is essential to protect your table from dust, spills and potential damage when it's not in use. Choosing the right cover is crucial— it should fit snugly and cover the entire playing surface. Look for covers made from durable materials that provide resistance against moisture and dust.

Ensure the table is clean and debris-free before covering it. Be gentle while putting on and removing the cover to avoid accidental snags or damage to the felt. Remember to clean the cover regularly to prevent dust buildup and the transfer of dirt onto the pool table.

2. Use It for Its Purpose

Using a pool table for anything other than playing pool is a common mistake that can lead to wear and tear over time. The playing surface is designed specifically for the smooth roll of pool balls, and placing heavy objects can cause sagging, warping or ripping. If you want to use your pool table for eating, consider investing in a pool table dining top that fits securely over the playing surface when not used.

3. Store Everything in Its Proper Place

A clutter-free pool table area looks more appealing and prevents damage to your equipment. Utilize racks and holders to keep cues, balls and other accessories organized and safe from accidental damage. Encourage players and guests to return items to their designated places after use to minimize the risk of misplaced or damaged equipment.

4. Try to Keep the Table in One Spot

Moving a pool table is a complex task that requires professional expertise. Frequent or improper moving can lead to misalignment of the slate, leveling issues and damage to the table's structure. Once you have placed your pool table in its desired location, try to keep it there. If you need to move the table for any reason, ensure it is done correctly and carefully.

5. Smoke Away From the Table

Cigarette smoke contains harmful particles and chemicals that can seep into your pool table's felt, causing stains and odors that are difficult to remove. Avoid smoking near the table, or designate a separate smoking area away from the playing surface.

6. Sit Near the Table, Not on the Table

Sitting or placing excessive weight on the pool table can cause structural damage and negatively impact the table's level. Discourage anyone from sitting or leaning on the table to prevent accidental damage.

7. Place Your Drinks Somewhere Else

Spills are among the most common causes of damage to pool tables. Liquids can seep through the felt and into the table's inner components, causing warping, mold growth and staining. Enforce a strict no-drinks-on-the-table policy, and provide players and guests with separate tables or drink holders nearby.

8. Be Careful When Using the Table

Playing pool involves handling cues and balls, and it's essential to be gentle to prevent damage to the felt and accessories. Avoid tearing or wrinkling the felt by refraining from aggressive shots or forcefully slamming balls into the rails. Prevent warping of cues by storing them properly in a rack when not in use.

9. Keep the Table in a Moisture-Controlled Environment

Maintaining the right humidity level is vital to preserving your pool table's condition. A controlled environment with a stable humidity level helps prevent the felt from becoming too damp or dry. Excess humidity can lead to stretched felt, wrinkles and mold growth, while low humidity can cause the wood to shrink, leading to structural issues.

Signs Your Pool Table Felt Needs to Be Replaced

The green canvas where cues glide and balls dance is essential to the game. Over time, however, even the most well-cared-for felt may show signs of wear, signaling the need for replacement:

  • Thinning areas, bald spots and uneven wear: Look for thinning areas, bald spots and uneven wear on the felt.

  • Large tears or rips: Large tears or rips that cannot be repaired are also clear indicators that it's time for a fresh felt installation.

  • Faded color and excessive pilling: If the once-vibrant color has significantly faded or you notice excessive pilling — where small balls of fiber accumulate on the surface — consider replacing the felt for a smoother playing experience.

How to Clean a Pool Table

If you're concerned with how to take care of a pool table, the process is simple and can be completed routinely. Maintain your pool table by:

Cleaning the Felt

Clean the chalk and dust from the pool table's playing surface with a pool table brush. For how to brush the pool table, make sure you use gentle strokes directed toward the pockets. The glue on lint rollers could leave a sticky residue on the felt, so avoid using one to clean up animal hair or debris.

Wiping up Spills

If you spill a liquid that could leave a stain on the fabric, try patting the area dry and spraying it with a blend of vinegar and water. Avoid using bleach or heavy-duty cleaners on the felt, as these may remove a stain at the cost of leaving a large bleach spot.

Replacing the Felt

The playing surface of your pool table will eventually need to be replaced, even when you play using a good technique and follow all maintenance guidelines. If you regularly use the table, anticipate replacing its felt at least once every two years. If you're an infrequent player, you might need to replace the felt in about five years. Always have a trained professional replace your pool table felt for correct application.

Cleaning the Wood

Use a lightly damp cloth to wipe visible dust or stains. The cloth should be a suitable material for the treated wood and incapable of leaving scratches. Occasionally, use a citrus-based polish appropriate for fine wooden furniture to maintain the shine.

Cleaning the Leather Pockets

Use a lightly damp cloth and leather cleaner to wipe out the pockets. Only use products labeled specifically for use on leather. If your table came without leather pockets and has a ball return system instead, clean the balls regularly to avoid going underneath the table to wipe out the return tracks.

Caring for the Billiard Balls

Clean your pool balls using warm water and mild soap only. Scrub each one using a washrag, and dry them completely before returning them to the pool table. Leftover moisture from freshly washed pool balls can leave water spots in the pockets.

Using a Cover

A pool table cover has many benefits, especially if you have furry pets or small children. Put the cover on the table after each game to keep the felt safe from spills, clutter, dust and debris. The cover also keeps your pets from lounging directly on the table, so you will have less hair to clean up.

How to Clean Pool Table Balls

Your pool balls deserve proper care to maintain their appearance and performance. Regular cleaning is essential to remove dirt, oils and chalk residue that can accumulate over time, ensuring consistent play and preserving the aesthetics of your game. By investing a little time in regular cleaning, you can enjoy countless satisfying games with friends and family, free from distractions caused by dirty or sluggish balls.

1. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

To clean your pool balls, prepare a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. The warm water helps dissolve and lift dirt or oils, while the mild dish soap ensures a gentle yet effective clean. Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaners, as they may scratch or damage the surface of the balls.

2. Wipe With a Soft Sponge or Cloth

Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the soapy water and gently wipe each ball individually. Pay special attention to any areas with stubborn stains or chalk buildup, using light pressure to avoid scratching the balls' surface. As you clean, periodically rinse the cloth or sponge to prevent transferring dirt back onto the balls.

3. Dry and Buff for a Sparkling Finish

After cleaning, dry the balls thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth. This step helps to prevent water spots or streaks from forming on the balls' surface. Buff the balls with a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining streaks or smudges for a polished shine.

Reach Out and Preserve the Legacy: Contact HB Home Today

As the custodians of the game's legacy, we at HB Home invite you to embark on a journey of dedicated pool table maintenance. Our passion for billiards drives us to offer you the finest products and expertise to preserve your playing experience. Let us be your guide in upholding the essence of this timeless game.

Join those who uphold tradition and excellence, and browse our selection of pool tables today!

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