Shopping for a pool table can be a daunting task. Between the myriad brands, styles, and sizes to choose from – not to mention whether to buy new or used – finding the right one for you is not always a simple matter. Further complicating things, quality pool tables aren’t exactly cheap. Ranging in cost from several hundred dollars to several thousand, a pool table is a big investment. And like any other investment, you want to be sure it’ll pay off. That’s why I’m often asked the question, “Do pool tables hold their value?”
Ultimately, it depends on the brand, style, and quality of the table and how well it’s cared for. With very few exceptions, every new pool table loses some of its value the moment it’s sold. But some high-quality, well-maintained tables will retain a relatively high resale value for many years after purchase.
If you’re wondering whether it’s worth the investment to shell out for a high-end pool table, you want to avoid overpaying for a used table, or if you’ve inherited an old table and want to know if it’s worth anything, this article has the answers you need. Read on to discover why some tables hold value better than others, how to help prevent depreciation, and why, in some cases, you may simply be at the mercy of the market.
Which Pool Tables Have the Best Value?
Pool tables can be divided into two main categories based on the material of their playing surface – slate bed or MDF. Slate bed pool tables are more expensive but retain their value much better than MDF tables – primarily because they are more durable, longer-lasting, and generally better-constructed.
For a detailed comparison of the two types, check out my article on Slate Vs. Wood Pool Tables. For now, let’s examine the key aspects that help determine the long-term value of certain pool table types.
MDF Pool Tables
MDF (medium-density fiberboard) tends to warp and deteriorate after a period of several years, especially if exposed to humidity, extreme temperatures, or direct sunlight. This can have a major impact on the table’s playability. Most MDF tables are not typically expected to last more than a decade, which is why they tend to be more affordable. They typically have very little resale value, particularly beyond 5 to 7 years of use.
Slate Pool Tables
Most adult-sized pool tables are slate bed tables. Since slate rock is very tough and virtually immune to warping, this kind of pool table can last for decades and play just as well as when it was made – provided it’s properly cared for. Slate pool tables also tend to be well-made in general. The durability and quality of construction make for a heftier price but also a more valuable pool table in the long term.
A Note On Slate Table Designs
One-Piece Slate – Some older tables feature one solid piece of ¾”-thick slate for the playing surface. One-piece slate beds are difficult to properly level and even more difficult to transport – the slate piece itself can weigh 450 pounds or more. As such, they are a turnoff to many buyers.
Three-Piece Slate – Most tables are made with three separate pieces of slate, which makes leveling and transporting them much easier. Additionally, the felt is stapled into the wooden backing under each slate piece, rather than glued to the slate itself – which makes refelting considerably easier. These tables are more desirable than one-piece models and will therefore have a higher resale value.
Best Pool Table Brands
Pool tables made by trusted big-name brands will usually hold their value longer than cheaply-made knockoffs or generic imports. The best manufacturers build their tables to last and to have consistent, smooth playability for many years before the bumpers and felt need replacing.
Many brands even offer extended or even lifetime warranties on their tables. While a warranty would, in most cases, be voided by a resale, it can act as a testament to the table’s quality and serve to verify brand authenticity.
A few respected brands whose tables are highly valued on the used market include:
- Golden West
- Spencer Marston
Decorative and Vintage Pool Tables
Some pool tables are highly coveted not just for how they play or their overall quality but also for their history, style, or aesthetic beauty. A pool table is meant for playing, yes, but it can also be a beautiful and stylish piece of furniture that adds to a home’s interior design.
Traditional Style – These usually feature frames built from solid wood, with parlor-style leather pockets. Some are carved in ornate patterns, with a clawfoot design; others have a simpler, more reserved look. These elegant yet long-lasting tables typically come at a very high price. However, a few brands offer affordable alternatives in this style that have relatively high resale value despite their less durable materials – such as this Fat Cat Reno 7.5’.
- Accuslate playing surface is covered by burgundy wool cloth and is engineered to resist warping over time; Includes seven-year warranty on the Accuslate playing surface
- Equipped with K66 rubber bumpers, 6" rails with white diamond inlays and beveled legs with maple wood veneer and a cherry finish
- French-style drop pockets accentuate the classical design of this table
- Feet of table equipped with hidden leveling pads to move that corner up or down, making it easier to play on un-even ground
- Accessories include two 57" two-piece hardwood cues, one rail brush, one set of 2-1/4" billiard balls, one resin triangle, and two pieces of performance chalk
Vintage Coin-Operated Style – These sturdy tables are usually found in bars and pool halls but are becoming increasingly popular for home use. They are quite expensive but very durable, so one that’s in good shape should hold its value for quite some time. Unfortunately, if the ball return malfunctions or parts need replacing, a professional technician will need to perform the work to avoid damage.
The Antique Angle
Regardless of the style, many antique dealers will pay a premium for a genuine classic pool table in excellent shape. Even one in decent shape can fetch a pretty penny from the right buyer. If you have an old table that you’re looking to unload, it’s a good idea to get it appraised by a billiards supply seller or antique expert.
Steps for Maintaining a Pool Table’s Value
It’s unlikely that the value of your pool table will remain very close to its original price over time, let alone appreciate – unless it reaches antique status, of course. But there are ways you can help prevent it from needlessly losing its worth. My articles How Long Do Pool Tables Last? and How to Clean a Pool Table contain in-depth guides to proper pool table care, but here are the basics:
- Keep the felt brushed and vacuumed.
- Avoid putting food, beverages, and random junk on the table.
- Use a pool table cover whenever you’re not playing.
- Keep the pool table in a climate-controlled room.
- Make sure the table is not exposed to humidity or direct sunlight.
- Replace the felt every 3-5 years or when it begins to look worn.
A quality brand-name pool table that’s been well maintained can provide excellent gameplay for decades and retain a significant portion of its original value. However, in the end, the value of a pool table is what people are willing to pay for it.
For instance, if you’re buying used, it’s best to wait until the summer, when more people are moving or spending time outdoors and the demand is low. If you’re looking to sell an old table, you’ll probably get a better price around the holidays.