I like to compare buying a used pool table to buying a used car. It helps if you know something about pool tables to make sure you get the best deal possible. But, for those of you who don’t know much about pool tables or would like a refresher course, I’ve got you covered. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about buying a used pool table. From where to find them to how much you should expect to pay for one. And from how best to move the table to inspecting possible damage before sealing the deal. If you’re buying a used pool table, you’ve come to the right place.
Before we dive in, let’s address a common question:
Should You Buy a Used Pool Table?
The biggest factor to consider when buying a pool table— new or used— is space. Many people think they have enough space for a pool table but are sorely surprised when they get the table into the room and it suddenly looks like the walls have shrunk. This is why I implore you to actually measure the space before you shop for a table. It will give you an idea of what size table you can fit in there.
How Much Room You Need
How much room you need for a pool table depends on the size of the table.
- Most home tables are 3.5’ by 7’ for which you would need a minimum of 13’ by 16’ of space.
- For a larger pool table, like a 4’ by 8’, you would need 13.5’ by 17’ of space.
- If you were hoping for a larger one, like a pro-style 4.5’ by 9’ table, you would need 14’ by 18’ of space.
All of the measurements above assume that you’re playing with a standard 57- to 58-inch pool cue.
- How Far Does a Pool Table Need to Be Away From the Wall?
- What Size Room do You Need For a Pool Table? (With Chart)
Are Used Pool Tables Worth It?
If you know what you’re looking for, used pool tables are absolutely worth it. In fact, you can find some excellent deals on high-quality pool tables by purchasing used. However, there is likely an equal number of terrible deals on used pool tables, so it’s buyer beware.
Some people may not want to deal with the hassle of moving the pool table to their new house, whether it be across town or across the country. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see great pool tables for sale at a fraction of their worth.
On the same token, other people who sell used pool tables will try to pass a sub-par table off as a great one. This could be because they simply don’t know what they’re doing, or they could be trying to swindle some poor billiards fan out of his or her hard-earned money.
Either way, finding the great deals and avoiding the bad ones isn’t that hard. It just takes a little know-how. In fact, you can often see red flags before you even leave the comfort of your home. The first thing you need to know is how much to pay for a used pool table.
How Much is a Used Pool Table Worth?
The worth of a pool table depends on many factors, many of which you won’t be able to accurately determine until you see the table in person. But, before you decide to make a move on a table, you should know around how much a used table is worth. Before we get into numbers, we need to address the type of table.
MDF or Slate
In recent years, MDF (medium density fiberboard) tables have become a cheap and popular alternative to traditional slate tables. The technology and manufacturing process for MDF tables has gotten much better, but that doesn’t mean that they can hold a candle to slate tables.
So, if you’re looking to buy a used table, you need to determine which type you want to buy. A slate table will cost more, be harder to move, and last longer. An MDF table will be cheaper, easier to move, and won’t last as long. I won’t get into detail about the other differences between these two types of tables, but you can read my article on Slate vs MDF Tables here.
Average Slate Table Costs
Most people prefer slate tables because they play true and level for a long, long time. Which means they last a long, long time. The range for these tables is generally around $800 to $1200. At the high end, you’re looking at $1500 to $1800. But once you get around the $2000 mark, you can just buy a decent brand new slate table for the same price, so the market doesn’t generally allow for many of these. It’s always possible to get lucky and snag a nice slate table for $500, but it’s not the norm.
Average MDF Table Costs
If you’re looking to buy a used MDF table, I would advise against it. Used MDF tables go from $300 to $600, but you can get a nice new MDF table for $800, easy. If you don’t want a slate table, I’d suggest saving up a bit and buying a brand new MDF table. It will last you longer and you don’t have to worry about what the previous owner did to it. MDF tables can warp easier than slate tables and they’re generally made less sturdy. Might as well get a new one and avoid the hassle of trying to find a used one.
Where to Find Used Pool Tables and How to Spot Red Flags
Now that you know about how much you can expect to pay, let’s talk about red flags and where to shop for used pool tables.
- Craigslist – Your city’s Craigslist website probably has a few tables listed as we speak.
- Facebook Marketplace – Chances are you’ve been on the social media giant’s marketplace once or twice. It’s like Craigslist, but on Facebook.
- Billiards forums – You can always hop onto a forum and ask around. Plenty of people around you are sure to love pool and know where to get used tables.
- A Google search – This one is pretty obvious. A “Used Pool Tables Near Me” search is sure to yield some promising results.
While not one of the following is a deal-breaker, they are things you should look out for to avoid wasting your time or paying too much for a used pool table.
Slate or MDF
The seller’s post should explicitly state whether it’s a slate or MDF table. If it’s not stated, you can ask. If they don’t know, it’s not a good sign. Unless it’s a killer deal, I would stay away from this seller. You can inspect the table yourself if the deal is that good, but make sure to look at it closely. A seller who doesn’t know what their table is made from is a cause for concern.
Age of Advertisement
One of the first things to look at is how long the advertisement or post has been up. Most marketplaces share this information with potential buyers. If something seems too good to be true and it’s been on the market for a month or more, it probably is. You can always contact the seller and ask them to lower the price, citing how long the table has been for sale. However, chances are, if they haven’t sold it yet, they’re holding out for a price no one is willing to pay.
Lack of Pictures
Look for posts with plenty of pictures of everything. The legs, the pockets, the accessories, the felt, the bumpers. Everything. A post with only one or two pictures is a definite red flag and you shouldn’t waste your time on it.
Table is Disassembled
Ask whether the table is currently disassembled. If it is, it’s incredibly hard to get a feel for how the table looks and plays. If it is disassembled, ask for pictures of the table fully assembled. If they don’t have any, don’t waste your time.
It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if the table doesn’t have a visible brand. It simply means that it’s most likely an import. However, an import without a brand should almost always be sold for cheaper than other, recognizable names. If no brand is listed, ask for as much information as possible about the make, model, and country of origin. If the seller can provide none of these things and they’re asking for a high price, I’d advise you to keep looking.
Here are some popular pool table brands you may find available.
- Legacy Billiards
Single Piece Slate
Three-piece slate tables are much, much easier to move than single-piece slate tables. If you see a listing of a single slate table, just know that it will be hard to move. I would get a quote from a professional pool table mover before deciding on the purchase, because the cost of moving the table alone may be prohibitive. Particularly if there are stairs involved.
Now that we’ve covered the red flags, let’s look at their opposite: green lights. (I know it’s not exactly the opposite, but, still. “Green flags” sounds strange.)
While a lack of pictures is something to be wary of, an abundance of them is a good sign. The more pictures, the better.
Pool tables develop blemishes with use. But these dings and scratches don’t necessarily affect playability. In fact, if the seller includes pictures and descriptions of any minor problems, you can reasonably expect that they are honest and simply trying to sell their table for the best deal possible.
The age of a pool table is neither here nor there. It’s something to take into account, but shouldn’t weigh too heavily on your decision-making process. A well-maintained table from the 80s could be in better condition than a poorly-maintained one from five years ago. It all depends. If they list the age of the table, great. If not, it’s one of those things that’s usually apparent in how the table looks.
Inspecting a Used Pool Table
There are a couple of things you can do to inspect a used pool table. Obviously, that process starts with the pictures and continues in person. Check it visually first, making sure that all of the following looks good on inspection:
- Ball Return (if applicable)
Next, once you’ve done a visual inspection (on all fours to check the underside), I suggest hitting a few balls on the table. In fact, I would clear this with the seller first before you even leave to inspect the table. If they won’t let you take 10 minutes to shoot some balls, something is up.
Hitting a few balls (if they don’t have a cue stick or balls bring some) can give you a feel for the table. Make sure to hit a ball into every cushion and every pocket to see that everything is to your liking. Pay attention to the balls as they roll across the table so you can see if the bed is warped.
Of course, some people may be worried about you putting a hole or a scratch in the felt. If so, you can refrain from trying any trick shots or getting too crazy with your stroke. If you like the look, feel, and price of the table, you may have found a winner.
Moving a Used Pool Table
Half of the problem with buying a used pool table is moving it. I would suggest hiring a professional pool table mover or a moving company that also specializes in moving tables. Doing it yourself or with some buddies is asking for a broken table and some sore backs. All the better if the seller includes the cost of delivery in the sale price. But, if that’s the case, make sure he or she is going to pay a professional to move the table.
Pro Tip: Summer is usually the best time to buy a pool table. Many people move in the summer months and the demand goes down. These factors come together to provide lower prices than in the winter months when people are looking for indoor activities.
That’s it! Now you should be able to answer the question as to whether you should buy a used table or not. Take into account all that you’ve learned here so you can get the best deal on a table. A bit of know-how goes a long way in getting you a used table you can enjoy for years to come.