Most pool tables today are made of slate, a nearly indestructible material that lasts long. However, on the other hand, the cloth covering the pool table, also known as felt, doesn’t last forever. Even though it can stay for more than a decade in everyday use, you will eventually need to replace it over time. The pool table felt wears out over time, just like the grass on a football field.
This wear is caused by friction. Even though the pool balls do not harm the felt, they collect pool chalk, which acts as an abrasive, like sandpaper, tearing away the felt fibers.
While it may be difficult to tell if a cloth needs to be replaced simply by looking at it, running your fingers along the surface will help you decide. If a fabric feels a little bit bristly, like stubble beard, or if it’s easy to pick fuzz and lint off the table, then it’s time to replace it.
You can also consider replacing it with the felt moves or bunches when you apply your hand pressure. It’s always best to use a high-quality cloth when changing it.
Signs When You Need to Change Your Pool Table Cloth
1. When You Start Noticing Lint or Fuzz
It might be hard to think about replacing the pool table cloth just by looking. However, you can slide your fingers across the surface; if you notice any lint or fuzz being picked off, it’s time to replace your pool table’s felt. Other than that, you can also replace the felt if you feel that the service is very bristly.
2. The Color Fades
Even though the pool tables are good to have, they gradually wear out over time because of continuous shooting, friction caused by balls, and moving tables from one place to other. So if you notice that the felt of your pool table is worn out and the colors are fading, you should change it without wasting time; otherwise, it can cause problems later on.
3. Gets Exposed to Moisture and Sunlight
When the pool table is exposed to sunlight, it causes the felt color to fade rapidly. The prolonged exposure to it can make the fabric very hot, prematurely aging it. Moisture is far worst in this case. Even though the moist cloth deteriorates faster, the balls also roll slowly over it, worsening the effects of friction.
4. Chalk Residue
Chalk is one of the key components when playing pool, as it helps add friction to your cue tip. Chalk residue can also be the cause of this problem. It grinds against the cloth fibers and slices them with ball friction because it has an abrasive texture. Dust and other grit that accumulates on the table also act similarly.
5. Nicks and Scratches
Even though this is more of a tear than a wear issue, misdirected cue tips can rip the cloth. When you start noticing more nicks and scratches, you know it’s time to change the felt.
Steps for Changing the Pool Cloth
Step 1: Disassembling
To change the pool felt, the first thing you need to do is disassemble it. You need to remove the pocket liners from each pocket if there are any. Next, you need to find the bolts on the table’s underside keeping the railings in place, and remove them. Shift the railing carefully to a safe storage space to avoid getting damaged and hindering your movement around the pool table.
Step 2: Removing the Old Cloth
To change the old felt, you need to remove and replace it with the new one. You can use a staple remover if it is stapled to the table. If it is glued, you can take off the felt, but be very careful not to damage any cloth in the pockets unless you want to replace them as well.
Step 3: Leveling the Table
Step 4: Cleaning the Slate
You can use a dry and clean cloth to remove the dust from the slate. Don’t use water or cleaning solutions. If the old glue or other residue has accumulated, scrape it out with a putty knife while paying attention to the areas where it may have clogged pockets.
Step 5: Using Beeswax
A majority of pool tables are made from three pieces of slate. The seams on an old pool table may have lost some wax filled in to provide a smooth surface. If the wax has to be refilled, use a propane hand torch to heat the slate around the seams, then drop wax into these seams.
Put the wax evenly across the seam line, allow it to cool for no more than thirty seconds, then use a paint scraper or putty knife to scrape the excess wax down to the level of the tabletop.
Step 6: Measuring
You have to measure your pool table before purchasing a felt. When purchasing a pool table cloth or felt for your table, make sure it is at least 12 inches long. This makes sure that you will have plenty of cloth for the railing as well as the table surface.
Step 7: Stapling
This is the essential part of refelting a pool table. Even though each phase in the refelting process is necessary, the primary parts are felt replacement and stapling. Usually, the felt comes in a large piece and includes removing portions to fit each railing. You should follow these instructions very carefully, or the cut pieces may not fit into your table.
Step 8: Checking Whether It’s Layered or Not
Pool tables usually have a layer of a board or hardwood particle layer beneath the slate. It allows for simple stapling of the felt to the table. You can use a hand stapler or a staple gun to staple the felt to the table. You can always verify underneath the slate by taking a look at the table’s vertical edge.
Step 9: Trimming
The fabric for a pool table is usually sold in a single piece. However, you can cut it into pieces using the instructions that come with the felt. You can cut some felt with a sharped razor blade or a box cutter, and with some felts, you can make a one-inch cut and then rip it off in one straight line with your hand.
Step 10: Rolling
It’s is essential to know which side of the felt is up because you won’t like to go through refelting only to find out later that you have refelted the wrong side up in the end. There are usually some stickers or pointers to help you, but if there aren’t, consult an expert.
Step 11: Cutting and Stapling/Gluing
Start from the head side after you’ve put out the felt on the table. Staple the felt with the staple gun. You should have support to help you stretch the felt. You should pay special attention to the last side. If you cannot pull the felt enough and there still are a few wrinkles or loose felt on the table, the foot side of the table is the last resort to avoid or remove all felt wrinkling.
If you don’t want to staple the felt, you can directly apply glue to the slate.
Changing your pool table cloth depends on how often you play pool and where you’ve kept and placed your table. Due to the high playing volume, many pool clubs have their tables refelted every 3 to 12 months. If you take proper care of your table cloth, it will last longer and won’t give you much trouble or the need to change it as often.
And if you already have a worn-out felt, it is recommended that you change it sooner rather than later to improve your game experience.