Unless you’ve seen a pool table assembled or re-felted, how the felt is secured can be quite the mystery. It’s impossible to tell by just looking at the fully assembled table. The surface underneath the felt, or cloth, is so smooth it may not seem like there could be anything under there holding it down. This makes people wonder: Is pool table felt glued down?
The answer is yes, pool table felt is often glued down. But that’s not the only way to secure the felt to the table. Staples are sometimes used instead of glue. But pool table glue is not the kind you’re likely to have around the house. The best pool table glue is designed to work on pool table felt.
Note: Although pool table cloth is often called felt, that is not strictly true. It’s usually made from a combination of worsted wool and nylon. As a result, I’ll be using “felt” and “cloth” interchangeably throughout this article.
What Kind of Glue is Used on Pool Table Felt?
The Super 77 is a spray adhesive while the Scotch-Weld needs to be applied with a brush or a roller. They’re also designed to work on cardboard, plastic, metal, and wood. These glues don’t solidify for several minutes, meaning if you make a mistake putting the felt on, it’s possible to correct it before the glue dries.
However, both of them are considered permanent glue, so making a mistake that you don’t notice until the glue is dry can be a costly one.
Staples vs Glue
Both glue and staples are used to secure pool table cloth to a table, but which is best to use? Does one do a better job or last longer than the other? Read on to find out why one is used over the other.
Most pool table manufacturers use staples if the table has a wooden backing under the slate, as is often the case. However, some tables don’t have the wood backing, making staples impossible to use on the hard slate surface.
Although both staples and glue get the job done, many people prefer glue these days because it provides a uniform adhesion all along the felt whereas staples only provide pressure at intervals. The assumption is that glue holds the felt tight for longer, whereas staples can cause the felt to loosen slightly, which can affect play. However, for casual players either option is likely fine.
Finally, when re-felting, staples put more holes in the wood backing underneath the table, which can make future re-felting difficult. For this reason, many people prefer to use glue even if the manufacturer used staples, although it would take many re-feltings for this to actually affect the pool table in any significant manner.
For those who have tables with no wood underneath the slate, their only real option is to use glue when re-felting.
How Felt is Glued Down
While you may think that glue is used on every part of the felt to glue it to the table, this is not quite true. In fact, the cloth over the playing surface doesn’t typically have any glue on its underside.
When applied properly, the glue only touches the felt at the edges of the table. These parts are then covered by the rails, so when you actually play pool on the table, the balls don’t encounter any places where glue has been used. The reason for this is twofold:
- The table cloth needs to be stretched tight during installation. Gluing only the edges allows the installer to properly stretch the cloth tight over the playing surface.
- Second, the cloth doesn’t actually need to be glued down on the playing surface itself. Doing so would only make changing the cloth in the future more difficult.
Glue on Wood and Slate Tables
Most quality pool tables are slate. But it’s important to note that wood-bed pool tables are cheap, widely available, and easily mistaken for slate tables. These wood tables are made of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and not all of them are designed to be re-felted. While most people prefer to play on a slate bed table, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing an MDF table if that’s what works for you.
Generally, by the time an MDF table needs to be re-clothed, it’s better to get a new table. Since they are so cheap, the cost of getting the table re-clothed is only slightly less than the cost of a new table. And MDF tables have a shorter lifespan than slate tables.
So, if you are considering an MDF table, or you have one you want re-felted, check to see if it’s possible by inquiring with the manufacturer or a professional pool table service company. If an MDF table can be re-felted, it’s likely that you can use either glue or staples, depending on the type of table.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to use whichever technique the manufacturer used to felt the table in the first place.
Glue is often used to glue down pool table felt. Some people prefer it over staples because it doesn’t tear up the wood backing that is often found under slate tables. Tables that don’t have the wood backing use glue exclusively since there is no place to fasten the staples. In terms of actual playability, there is no clear winner when it comes to glue vs staples.