A pool table as a whole is sturdy, heavy, and might as well be attached to the floor. Considering the game of pool, it’s no surprise that tables can last decades. But there is one part of the pool table that experiences wear every time you play: the felt. In fact, the felt (or cloth) on a pool table wears out long before any other part. But this begs the question: How long does pool table felt last?
For those tables that see daily or near-daily play, felt lasts between 3 and 5 years. Those tables that only see occasional play can go anywhere from 5 to 15 years without changing the felt. Proper care and quality-made felt can help to drastically increase the life of your pool table felt.
Read on to discover how to keep your felt looking good and playing well. Plus, I’ll share some signs to look for that your pool table felt needs to be changed.
Average Pool Table Felt Lifespan
Pool table felt is one of those things that, the more you use it, the faster you lose it. It may not seem like much when you watch the billiard balls roll smoothly across the surface, but every shot creates a little bit of wear on the felt. So, here’s a list of guidelines to help you decide when it’s time to change the felt.
|Rate of Play||Years Felt Will Last|
|5 to 7 days a week - 3 to 5 hours||2 to 3 years|
|3 to 5 days a week - 2 to 4 hours||3 to 5 years|
|1 to 3 days a week - 2 to 4 hours||5 to 7 years|
|1 day a week - 1 to 3 hours||7 to 10 years|
|3 times a month - 1 to 3 hours||10 to 12 years|
|2 times a month or less - 1 to 3 hours||12 to 15 years|
The numbers on the table above are approximate. They also assume that the table is cared for using best practices and techniques, which I outline below.
How to Protect Your Pool Table Felt
Extending the life of your pool table felt is not altogether difficult. It does require that you remember a few things and put a little effort into keeping the felt clean and healthy. Here’s how.
Direct sunlight and moisture are two things that will degrade your pool table’s felt quickly. There’s nothing you can do to keep the felt’s color from fading. That will happen over time, no matter what. But, you can make sure it happens very slowly by protecting the felt from sunlight.
The best way to do this is to keep it in a room that doesn’t get a ton of direct sunlight. Or, if it does, utilize curtains or shades to limit the sunlight. Another way to do this is by using a pool table cover, which we’ll talk about below.
Unfortunately, humidity, which can prematurely age the pool table felt, is harder to control. Many people keep pool tables in garages, unfinished basements, or outside under awnings. In basements and garages, you can install a window HVAC system or a dehumidifier to help protect the table. If you keep the table outside, there’s not much you can do about the humidity— other than moving the table inside.
The best place for a pool table is in a climate-controlled room. This will help you get many years out of the felt and the table itself.
Use a Pool Table Cover
When the table isn’t in use, place a pool table cover over it. This will work wonders for the felt. A covered table is a happy table.
This pool table cover, from GSE Games, is a great, affordable option. It’s available in many different colors and sizes.
Clean the Table Regularly
Cleaning the pool table is also a great way to get a lot of use out of the felt. I suggest using a pool table brush, like this one, to clean the table after every session. Just a few quick brushes will do the trick.
After every 4 or 5 sessions, you can use a soft-bristle attachment on a vacuum turned to a low setting. Keeping the table clean this way will make for smooth gameplay and will help your felt last a long time.
Looking for other tips on keeping your table clean, check out our article, How To Clean A Pool Table
Other Tips to Preserve Pool Table Felt
Now that we’ve covered the major techniques, here are a few others to keep in mind for the sake of your felt:
- Avoid chalking directly over the table— the chalk gets in the felt.
- Keep food and drinks away from the table to avoid stains and spills.
- Keep pets away from the pool table (another great reason to use a cover).
- Clean the balls and the rails on occasion.
- Avoid scoop or jump shots unless you’re confident you won’t damage the felt.
How to Tell When Your Pool Table Felt Needs Replacing
As I said above, it’s impossible to keep your pool table felt pristine forever (unless you never play on the table). Eventually, your felt will need replacing. Here are some signs to look out for that indicate old and worn felt.
- It feels rough to the touch.
- It moves or bunches under your fingers.
- It has little runs in the cloth— little tufts of thread or lint sticking up.
- It is stained, discolored, or otherwise looks like it’s old and should be replaced.
- If you notice a difference in how the balls roll during gameplay. Loose or worn felt often makes the balls roll slowly.
Replacing Pool Table Felt
Once you decide to replace the felt on your pool table, you have a decision to make. You can tackle the project on your own or you can pay someone to do it for you. Paying someone to do it can cost you anywhere from $200 to $600. On the other hand, tackling it yourself can take many hours and can turn out less than perfect if you’ve never done it before.
Before you decide, I’d suggest watching a video of felt replacement (like the one below) and decide if it’s something you want to tackle.
If it looks like a little too much, you can always contact a professional to do it for you.
Either way, once you have the new felt on the table, you’ll have all the tools and tactics to keep it looking and playing great for years to come!