The Differences in Pool Table Cloth

Pool table cloth, or billiard fabric, or whatever name you might associate with it, has taken a serious evolution since its very first inception back in the 1400′s. Cotton was the primary material used for pool table covering and it wasn’t until the 1700′s that wool had replaced this cotton cloth. Today, you can find all kinds of brands, materials, colors and choices.There are really only three types of pool table cloth on the market. In the industry we refer to them as worsted or woolen and the third uncommon is backed (which is most typically a woolen cloth). What do these mean, how will they perform and what is the best choice for you?Worsted cloth, also known as, “nap free” cloth or tournament grade fabric, is your top choice. There are a few different makers of worsted cloth with Simonis being the authority on the cloth since they have been around hundreds of years. Worsted cloth has a tight wool blend that has no fuzzy naps for inconsistency and pulls the tightest giving it the fastest most accurate play, allowing a professional to maintain position and consistency throughout their game. It wears slower as well. There are also new “high resistant” styles on the market that resist friction burns and marks. It doesn’t pill and rip, like its brother woolen, and it’s heavy and durable which extends its life in most scenarios. If you have the extra cash, get it! Don’t skimp on cloth, but know that there really is only one true manufacturer and the other brands of worsted wool are just cheap knockoffs.Woolen cloth, or nap cloth, is your standard in home and recreational cloth. Generally, there are more colors associated with it, and most retailers include this type as the standard cloth on a new pool table purchase. Very rarely will you see it in a pool hall unless the owner is cheap. This cloth is usually a nylon and wool blend. It’s sometimes referred to as nap cloth because it has micro-fibers, or small fiber bundles, that stand up similar to carpet. This cloth will wear faster and shows friction burns more predominantly. While these inconsistencies are usually minute enough that most recreational users won’t notice, professionals stay away from this cloth because, it doesn’t pull on the slate as tight for less speed and accuracy, it tends to pill, balls will indent grooves and is prone to the “wiggle.”The wiggle is an inconsistent roll of the ball on the playing surface. What happens on woolen cloth is when the ball slows down it will, sort of, wiggle. Sometimes it makes the table look un-level, but the keyword is inconsistent. A consistent roll one way or the other means the pool table is un-level, not an inconsistent roll. So why does it do this? Well, the ball is actually trying to find the path of least resistance through this nap and it becomes so evident because as the ball loses its kinetic energy as it slows, it tends to find the right place to settle upon stopping, thus, the wiggle.Backed cloth probably really isn’t a different type of cloth, but it is worth mentioning. Backed cloth, usually woolen, has a backing on the bottom making it more durable and more resistance to chalk and dust build up. This is typical for commercial use and very rarely will you see it anywhere anymore. Not really necessary to own unless you really think you need it.There has been some debate on the use of waterproofing chemicals on pool table cloth lately. We will recommend to most clients to use waterproofing on woolen cloth and non-waterproofing on worsted cloth. Woolen cloth doesn’t have long enough life span for elasticity problems to occur over time.There are also considerable arguments out there in regards to color. This is all heresy. There is no “scientific” proof that one color is better than the other. This is personal choice and should be considered for your specific needs. There is one argument that remains consistent though. That is the brighter the cloth the shorter amount of time your eyes will allow you to play. True? That’s up to you.So there is some basic information on the differences in pool table cloth. There is more specific information regarding these types at the manufacturer’s online websites that you can use to feel more comfortable in the purchasing process. Like most anything, sticking to a brand name will save you money down the road and give you a better billiard game in the immediate time. Remember, it’s your break, make it big!

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