Many of us who dream of having a pool table in our home come up against a pretty important roadblock: we just don’t have the space. Or even if we do have a large enough room, we may not be able to dedicate it solely to playing pool. That’s where foldable pool tables come in. But before rushing out and buying one, there are plenty of common questions and concerns that need to be addressed. In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about foldable pool tables.
The main concern that people tend to have about foldable pool tables is that they might be too rickety or flimsy for a good game of pool. Just looking at pictures online, it’s understandable to think they might be more akin to a cheap card table than a pool table. But there’s more to foldable tables than meets the eye.
Are Foldable Pool Tables Any Good?
Foldable pool tables may not be as stout as traditional full-size tables, but the best models are sturdy, solid, and provide consistent gameplay. The overall quality of a foldable table ultimately depends on the brand, model, and the materials it’s made from. Cheaply made versions tend to fall apart or lose their playability more rapidly.
The last thing you want is for your pool table to shake or wobble whenever you set your bridge hand down or take a shot – or really, ever. The balls will move around and the game will become virtually impossible, or at least incredibly frustrating. But if you go for the very cheapest option, that may be exactly what happens.
Quality foldable tables are designed to be stable and durable enough to withstand the rigors of regular gameplay. And fortunately, even the high-end foldable pool tables are relatively inexpensive. We’ll talk more about cost later, but while we’re on the subject of construction quality, let’s talk about materials.
What Are Foldable Pool Tables Made Of?
Almost all foldable pool tables have a playing surface made of manufactured wood, most commonly MDF (medium-density fiberboard). The frame is typically made from either manufactured wood, solid hardwood, or alloy steel, depending on the model. Metal frames tend to be heavier but sturdier and more durable.
The best foldable tables have crossbeams or other reinforcements made of metal or solid wood under the playing surface for extra support. The legs are usually the same material as the frame on a given table – metal or manufactured wood.
Like most home pool tables, foldable tables have rubber cushions and felt made from a blend of wool and either nylon or polyester. The pockets are typically nylon nets which, although less aesthetically pleasing than leather, are surprisingly resilient. Some portable tables even have a built-in ball return system instead of net pockets.
How Long Do Foldable Pool Tables Last?
How long a foldable pool table will last depends on its quality of construction, where it’s stored (and used), and how well it’s taken care of. On average, a good foldable table will last between 6 and 8 years. But the quality of play can deteriorate faster if the table is exposed to adverse conditions.
Perhaps the most important aspect of any pool table’s longevity is its playing surface. As mentioned above, foldable tables almost always have a playing surface made of MDF. MDF tends to swell and warp when exposed to moisture and extreme temperatures, which will eventually make the table extremely difficult to play on. This is why MDF tables aren’t meant to be long-term investments.
On some larger foldable tables, the playing surface can even begin to sag in some areas, but this only happens on cheaper tables that aren’t adequately reinforced with crossbeams.
Frame & Legs
Tables with MDF frames and legs will also tend to wear out faster, especially if exposed to moisture. Frames and legs made of solid wood are a step up but are still susceptible to damage from moisture and general wear and tear.
A metal frame, on the other hand, will outlast the playing surface in most cases. The leg hinges on a metal frame may wear out or bend if too much weight or sideways force is put on them (more on that shortly).
Cushions & Felt
Rubber cushions are also quite durable and will typically outlast any MDF on the table. But humidity and extreme temperatures can cause the rubber to become brittle and lose its bounce.
Most pool table felt can last several years if it’s properly cared for. But in general, the cheaper the table, the lower the felt quality will be, and the faster it will wear out. How often you play also makes a difference – more friction means more wear and tear.
Can You Refelt a Foldable Pool Table?
If the felt on your foldable table wears out faster than the table itself, you may be able to refelt it – but it’s not recommended. Foldable tables are not designed to be taken apart and reassembled, and re-stapling the felt where the old staples were removed can damage the MDF bed.
Besides, it’s probably not worth the trouble or the cost, to begin with. Foldable tables are fairly inexpensive, and a professional refelt would likely exceed the cost of a new table. Even a DIY refelt can be fairly expensive and take hours. Either way, you’d probably be better off just buying a new table.
Proper Care For a Foldable Table
Although a foldable pool table may not last long enough to hand down to your grandkids, there are a few ways you can help make it last as long as possible. These tips are basically the same as the care and maintenance for any pool table, with a few small differences.
- Store the table in a climate-controlled environment. You may want to play outside on a nice day, which is generally fine if your region isn’t humid, but make sure you put it back inside as soon as you’re done.
- Keep the table clean. Brushing and vacuuming the felt every few sessions will help keep chalk dust and other debris from wearing out the felt.
- Keep the table covered. Whether the table is set up or in storage, it’s best to keep it covered with a cloth or pool table cover (some come with their own bags).
- Keep food and drinks away from the table. Nothing ruins an MDF playing surface like a spill!
- Don’t sit, stand, or lean on the table. Foldable pool tables aren’t designed to hold much weight. Even leaning against it can strain the leg joints and cause them to wear out over time. The only pressure you put on the table should be what’s necessary to line up your shot with your bridge hand.
How Much Do Foldable Pool Tables Weigh?
Foldable pool tables typically weigh anywhere from 40 to 150 lbs, depending on their size and the materials they’re made from. The more high-quality tables tend to weigh more (100+ lbs.), giving them greater stability and a gameplay “feel” closer to that of a regular table.
Heftier folding tables are still much more portable than even the smaller traditional MDF tables – but they still may require two people to move around and set up.
What Size Foldable Pool Tables Are Available?
Foldable pool tables come in several sizes ranging from around 3.5-foot at the miniature end to 7-foot at the large end. By far, the most common sizes are 4.5’, 5.5’, and 6’. Foldable pool tables typically are not measured the same way as traditional tables, however.
Foldable Table Measurements
Traditional tables are measured primarily by their playing surface, but most foldable tables are measured by their full dimensions (the distance between the outer edges of the rails). As such, you can usually expect a foldable table to be almost exactly as big as advertised (within an inch or two), while traditional tables will always be a bit larger than their official size due to the width of the rails.
For more on this, check out my article on how pool tables are measured.
The height of most foldable tables is very close to the height of a traditional table, but like the length and width, it is measured by the table’s actual dimensions – whereas traditional tables are measured from the playing surface to the floor, foldable tables are measured from the top of the rail to the floor.
Typically, the height of a portable table is between 27” and 32” depending on the model (traditional table height is between 29 ¼” and 31”).
Generally, smaller tables are intended mostly for kids and tend to be shorter, but that’s not always the case. If you’re used to playing on a full-size table, switching to a foldable version probably won’t feel too much different in terms of height.
How Level Are Foldable Pool Tables?
Virtually all foldable pool tables are made with built-in leg levelers which owners can easily adjust to make the table as level as possible. You won’t be able to level it with the exacting precision of a 3-piece slate table, but it will be level enough for accurate and consistent gameplay.
How Much Do Foldable Pool Tables Cost?
Foldable pool tables generally cost anywhere from $95 to $600. Most miniature tables (4.5-foot and under) are about $150 on average, while most larger tables (5.5’ to 7’) are about $375 on average. The price ultimately comes down to the size, brand, and quality of the table.
Size certainly does affect price (you’re unlikely to see a 6-foot table under $250) but there are other factors at play – the most important of which is the quality of the materials and construction.
Manufactured wood is inexpensive, which is why so many foldable tables are made almost entirely from MDF. Metal is more expensive, and that increased cost gets passed on to the consumer. Higher-quality tables also take longer to manufacture, which further increases the price.
The good news is, like with anything else, you tend to get what you pay for. A more expensive table will almost always last longer and hold up better to regular use.
Some foldable pool tables are multi-game tables, which means they can be converted into a ping-pong, air hockey, or foosball table using included components. These are generally a little more expensive due to the added features.
Do Foldable Pool Tables Come With Accessories?
Virtually every new foldable pool table comes with a set of basic accessories. This typically includes a set of billiard balls, a triangle rack, two cues, chalk, and a felt brush, but some tables have extras like bags for easy carrying. The size and quality of the balls and cue sticks vary by table.
Ball Size Variations
The standard ball size for American pool is 2 ¼ inches. Most 6-foot or larger foldable tables come with balls of this diameter. But in most cases, as the size of the table goes down, so does the ball diameter. 5.5-foot tables often have 1 ⅞-inch balls, while 4.5-foot or smaller tables typically have 1 ½-inch balls.
Cue Stick Variations
The cues included with foldable tables aren’t always the best quality but tend to be accurate and should hold up fairly well if properly cared for. Most 5.5-foot, 6-foot, or 7-foot foldable pool tables come with either 57-inch or 48-inch cues. Most 5-foot or smaller tables come with 42-inch cues.
Of course, every table is different, so it’s always best to look closely at the specifications of the accessories before buying a foldable table.
Do Foldable Pool Tables Come With Warranties?
Many foldable pool tables come with a manufacturer warranty, but typically only those made by bigger-name brands. The coverage and length of the warranty vary by brand but some sellers offer additional protection at extra cost.
Nearly every warranty covers replacement parts or an all-new table if the table arrives damaged or missing components. Naturally, they won’t cover damage that occurs from misuse of the table.
The length of the warranty depends on the manufacturer – some offer a 90-day, others 180-day, and others 1 or 2-year warranties. One manufacturer, RACK, even offers lifetime warranties on all of their foldable tables.
Do Foldable Pool Tables Come Assembled?
The vast majority of foldable pool tables come fully assembled. Some models may require very basic assembly to get the legs set up, but this is rare. Typically, the only thing you need to do is unfold the legs, set it up, and level the table using the built-in leg levelers.
Some heavier tables are delivered by a two-person team due to their weight, but they don’t need to be professionally installed like a slate pool table would. As long as you have a buddy to help you lift it onto its feet once it’s out of the box, you should be able to get rolling right away.
Who Are Foldable Pool Tables For?
Foldable pool tables are perfect for those who want a pool table in their home but don’t have enough space to occupy an entire room with a bulky table. But due to their relatively low cost, portability, and ease of use, they can also be great for people in a variety of other circumstances.
A foldable pool table can be endless fun for the whole family. No matter the size, it can be a great (and affordable) way to spend time together and have a little light-hearted competition. It’s also a fantastic way for kids to learn the game and build confidence before they graduate to a larger table.
For those who aren’t necessarily interested in turning pro or becoming a pool shark but just want to have some fun, a foldable pool table is a great option. That being said, if you do dream of competing in tournaments one day but you’re living in a one-bedroom apartment, a foldable pool table is better for sharpening your skills than no table.
Players On the Move
Moving is already an enormous hassle without dealing with the bulk of a full-size pool table. A foldable table is perfect for people who move around regularly and want to take their favorite activity with them – without paying hundreds to a moving company.
Players On a Budget
The cost of a slate pool table can be prohibitive for many people. Even traditional MDF tables can be too expensive for some. Foldable tables are an affordable alternative for those who don’t want to spend money at a bar or pool hall but can’t bring themselves to shell out for a traditional table.
Are Foldable Pool Tables Worth It?
Since they have a relatively low price point, foldable pool tables are worth the investment for people with limited space, families, and those who want a fun way to pass the time and entertain guests at home. More serious players with their sights set on tournament play may be better off going to a billiards hall or saving up for a slate table.
Foldable pool tables are often referred to on billiards forums as “toys” – which, in a sense, is true. They don’t offer the precision or durability that a slate table does. And since they’re made no larger than 7-foot, they also don’t offer the same kind of challenge as an 8-foot or 9-foot table.
But playing on a foldable table does require plenty of skill. Most adults – even those with some experience under their belts – will still find it challenging enough to keep things interesting and have fun.
Since they are convenient, fairly inexpensive (as far as pool tables go), and last nearly as long as traditional MDF tables, most people will be able to get their money’s worth out of a foldable pool table. Ultimately, whether or not a foldable table is worth it will depend on what your aim is and how much you’re expecting to get out of it.
Once you’ve decided to get a foldable pool table, the next step is to pick one out. To make things easier, we’ve done some research and comparisons and landed on the best overall table in terms of price, quality, and features.
The Best Foldable Pool Table
- Sturdy Alloy Steel Frame
- Easy-Fold Steel Legs
- High-Quality Blended Wool Billiard Cloth (Red)
- L-Profile Rubber Cushions
- Chrome Corner Caps
- 115.5 Pounds
- 76” L x 43.25” W x 32” H
- 66” x 33” Playing Surface
- Sleek Modern Design
- Designed & Engineered In America
- 180-Day Manufacturer Warranty
The Hathaway Fairmont is an excellent mid-range foldable table for families and those tight on space. At 76” x 43.25” x 32” it’s small enough for kids to learn on but large enough to give adults a challenge.
The Hathaway Fairmont comes with the following accessories:
- 48-inch 2-piece Cues (x2)
- 2 ¼-inch Standard Billiard Balls
- Racking Triangle
- Chalk Cubes (x2)
- Felt Brush
- Rip-Resistant Nylon Carry Bag
This 6-foot table has the size, heft, and high-quality metal construction to make it feel like a traditional pool table, yet it’s lightweight enough to be portable. The MDF playing surface, blended-wool felt, fast-action rubber cushions, and standard-size resin billiard balls give it the smooth, consistent, and responsive gameplay dynamic that you’d expect from a much more expensive table.
The 48-inch cues are lightweight and perfect for tight spaces. The included nylon carry bag makes transporting, storing, and protecting the table so much easier – this is one very handy accessory that most foldable tables lack.
Another attractive feature is Hathaway’s 180-day warranty, which guarantees that the table will arrive undamaged and with all of its components and accessories – or they’ll give you a replacement at no cost. With a price point that falls right in the average range for tables of its size, the Hathaway Fairmont is hard to beat for the value.