Restoring Old Pool Table: Bringing Back the Shine and Style

Restoring old pool table can be a fun and rewarding project for anyone who loves the game of pool. Whether you have inherited a vintage pool table from a family member or found one at a garage sale, restoring it to its former glory can give you a sense of satisfaction and pride. However, restoring an old pool table can also be a challenging process that requires patience, attention to detail, and some specialized knowledge.

The restoration process typically involves several steps, including inspecting the table for damage, repairing or replacing any damaged parts, and refinishing the table’s surface. Depending on the age and condition of the table, the restoration process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. However, with the right tools and techniques, anyone can restore an old pool table to its former glory.

In this ultimate guide to pool table restoration, I will provide you with a step-by-step overview of the restoration process, along with tips and tricks for restoring antique pool tables and using restoration hardware. Whether you are a seasoned pool player or a beginner, this guide will help you get started on the rewarding journey of restoring an old pool table.

Assessing the Condition of the Table

When restoring old pool table, the first step is to assess its condition thoroughly. This initial evaluation is crucial in identifying the areas that need work and determining the appropriate restoration plan.

The following steps can help you evaluate the condition of your antique or old pool table:

Identifying the Make and Model for Replacement Parts

If you have an antique or old pool table, it’s essential to identify the make and model of the table. This will help you find replacement parts if needed. You can usually find this information on a label or plate attached to the table.

Checking for Structural Integrity: Frame, Legs, and Slate

It’s crucial to check the structural integrity of your antique or old pool table. The frame, legs, and slate must be in good condition to ensure the table’s stability. If any of these components are damaged, you may need to replace them.

Identifying Areas That Need Work

After checking the structural integrity, you need to identify the areas that need work. Here are some common areas to check:

  • Surface Wear: Cloth, Cushions, and Pockets Check the playing surface for any tears, stains, or wear. The cushions and pockets may also need to be replaced if they are damaged.
  • Cosmetic Concerns: Woodwork, Paint, and Detailing Check the woodwork, paint, and detailing for any damage or wear. You may need to refinish or repaint the table to restore its original appearance.

By identifying the areas that need attention, you can create a plan for restoration that includes the standard restoration hardware.

Planning The Restoring Old Pool Table

Restoring old pool table can be a daunting task, but with proper planning, it can be a rewarding experience. Before starting the restoration process, I set a budget and estimated the costs for materials and professional services. This helped me avoid overspending and kept me on track throughout the project.

In addition to setting a budget, I created a step-by-step plan and prioritized tasks based on complexity and impact. This helped me stay organized and made the restoration process more manageable. I made sure to tackle the most critical tasks first, such as leveling the table and replacing any damaged parts.

When planning the restoration sequence, I also considered the timeline. Depending on the extent of the restoration, it can take several weeks or even months to complete. I made sure to factor in any time constraints, such as upcoming events or gatherings, to ensure that the table would be ready in time.

Disassembling the Pool Table

As I began the process of restoring my old pool table, I knew that the first step was to disassemble it. However, before doing so, I made sure to follow safe disassembly practices to prevent any damage. I used a socket wrench to remove the bolts and screws holding the table together. Before dismantling the table, I cleaned the playing surface with an all-purpose cleaner to remove any dirt or debris. I also used plastic bags and labels to organize and keep track of the various parts and hardware.

One of the most important components of a pool table is the slate. I was careful to handle the slate with care, using techniques for removing and storing it safely. I made sure to have a few extra hands to help me lift the slate since it can be quite heavy. I also used moving blankets to wrap and protect the slate during transport and storage.

As I disassembled the pool table, I made sure to inspect each component for any damage or issues. I took note of any worn-out cushions or cracked slate that needed to be repaired or replaced. I also made sure to save any original design or restoration hardware pool components that were still in good condition.

Organizing and labeling the parts for reassembly was critical to the success of the restoration project. I made sure to keep all the hardware and small parts together in labeled plastic bags. I also kept a detailed inventory of all the parts and their location to ensure that I could easily reassemble the pool table later.

Restoring the Wood Components

When restoring old pool table, the wooden components of the table should be taken into consideration. These components include the legs, rails, and frame. These parts of the table are usually made from hardwood, such as oak or maple, and can last for many years if they are properly maintained.

Repairing Damage: If there are any chips, cracks, or structural weaknesses in the wooden components of the table, it is important to fix them before refinishing the wood. Techniques for dealing with water damage or warping should also be used to ensure the wood is in good condition.

Refinishing the Wood: To refinish the wood, I begin by stripping the old finish using a finish stripper. Once the old finish has been removed, I choose a new stain or paint that will complement the overall look of the table. After the stain or paint has dried, I apply a clear lacquer to protect the wood and provide a durable and attractive surface.

Replacing the Felt

When restoring old pool table, one of the most important steps is to replace the felt. The felt is the playing surface of the pool table and can greatly affect the quality of play. Here are some tips on how to replace the felt on a pool table.

Choosing the Right Cloth

Before replacing the felt, it is important to choose the right cloth. There are different types of billiard cloth available, and each has its own characteristics. Some of the most common types of billiard cloth include woolen cloth, worsted cloth, and speed cloth.

Woolen cloth is the most common and affordable type of billiard cloth. It is suitable for casual players and can come in a variety of colors. Worsted cloth, on the other hand, is a higher quality cloth that is smoother and faster than woolen cloth. It is more expensive but can provide a better playing experience. Speed cloth is the fastest type of billiard cloth and is commonly used in professional tournaments.

When choosing the right cloth for your pool table, it is important to match the cloth quality to the table’s age and style. For example, if you have an older table, you may want to choose a woolen cloth that matches the original color and style of the table.

Felt Installation

Once you have chosen the right cloth, it’s time to install it. Felt installation involves properly stretching and securing the new felt to the table. Here are some instructions on how to properly install the new felt:

  1. Remove the old felt from the pool table. Use a screwdriver or staple remover to take out the staples holding the old felt in place.
  2. Thoroughly clean the surface of the pool table to remove any dust or debris.
  3. Lay the new felt over the pool table, making sure it is centered and straight.
  4. Start at one end of the table and staple the felt to the table. Work your way around the table, pulling the felt tight as you go.
  5. Once the felt is secured to the table, trim off any excess felt with a sharp knife or scissors.

By following these tips, you can successfully replace the felt on your old pool table and improve the quality of play.

Refreshing the Rails and Cushions

When it comes to restoring old pool table, refreshing the rails and cushions is one of the most important steps. The rails are an essential part of the table, as they provide the necessary support for the playing surface. Meanwhile, the cushions are responsible for the bounce of the balls, so they must be in good condition to ensure that the game is played correctly.

Cushion Replacement

Before you start the cushion replacement process, you need to determine if the cushions need to be replaced. Over time, the cushion rubber can become hard and lose its elasticity, which will affect the bounce of the balls. The easiest way to check if the cushions need to be replaced is to press your finger into the rubber. If it feels hard and doesn’t bounce back, it’s time for a replacement.

When selecting new cushion rubber, it’s essential to choose the right type for your table. There are different types of cushion rubber available, and the type you choose will depend on the type of table you have. Once you have the right type of cushion rubber, it’s time to install it. This process involves removing the old cushion rubber, cleaning the rails, and attaching the new cushion rubber with adhesive.

Rail Restoration

The rails of your pool table can become worn over time, which can affect the appearance of the table. Sanding, painting, or staining the rails can help to restore them to their original condition. However, before you start any restoration work on the rails, you need to remove them from the table frame.

Once you have removed the rails, you can sand them down to remove any old paint or stain. If you want to change the color of the rails, you can paint or stain them. Finally, you need to reattach the rails to the table frame. Make sure that the rails are level and secure before you start playing.

Updating the Pockets

One of the most important parts of restoring old pool table is updating the pockets. The pockets of a pool table can be made of leather or synthetic materials and can be either drop pockets or continuous.

When it comes to restoring antique billiard tables, it is important to match the pockets to the era of the table. For example, if you have an antique table from the early 1900s, you would want to use leather pockets that match the style of that time period.

If your table has damaged pockets, you may need to repair or replace them. Repairing damaged pockets involves using a strong adhesive to attach new leather to the pocket. Make sure to evenly distribute the adhesive to avoid any sagging or unevenness in the new leather. Once the new leather is attached, use a shoehorn or another blunt object to push it into the pocket.

If the pockets are beyond repair, you may need to replace them entirely. When installing new pockets, make sure to match the style and era of the table. Blatt Billiards is a great resource for finding authentic replacement pockets for antique tables.

Reassembling the Table

Now that I have disassembled the pool table and repaired any damaged components, it’s time to reassemble the table. The following steps will guide me through the process of reassembling the pool table:

Slate Installation and Leveling

The first step is to lay the slate on top of the frame. It’s important to ensure that the slate is perfectly level, as any unevenness can affect the ball’s movement on the table. I will use shims if necessary to level the slate and eliminate any gaps.

Once the slate is in place, I will secure it to the frame using screws. I will make sure that the screws are tight enough to hold the slate in place but not so tight that they crack the slate.

Final Assembly

With the slate secured in place, I can now attach the rails to the slate. I will ensure that the rails are aligned correctly and securely fastened.

Next, I will reattach the pockets to the rails. If any of the pockets are damaged, I will replace them with new ones.

Finally, I will reapply any decorative elements, such as the felt covering. I will make sure that the felt is stretched taut and secured in place, as any wrinkles or bumps can affect the ball’s movement on the table.

If I have any leftover slate, I can repurpose it for other projects such as coasters, cheeseboards, or even wall art. Overall, reassembling the pool table requires patience and attention to detail, but the end result is well worth the effort.

Finishing Touches

After restoring the structure and components of your old pool table, it’s time to focus on the finishing touches that will bring back its classic charm. Here are some tips on how to make your restored pool table shine like new.

Detailing and Aesthetics

One of the most important aspects of restoring an old pool table is bringing back its original aesthetics. This involves restoring or replacing any metal and wood inlays that may have been damaged or lost over time. It’s important to choose materials that match the original design of the table to maintain its classic charm.

Once the inlays have been restored, it’s time to polish and clean all surfaces of the table. This includes the rails, pockets, and slates. A good cleaning will remove any dirt, grime, or stains that may have accumulated over the years and will bring back the table’s original shine.

Accessories and Equipment

In addition to restoring the table itself, it’s important to update or restore the accessories and equipment that come with it. This includes cues, racks, and balls. Updating these accessories will not only make your table look better but also improve the overall playing experience.

For a more modern game, consider upgrading to high-quality cues and balls that are specifically designed for professional play. A good rack will also ensure that your balls are set up correctly for each game.

Maintenance and Care

As a pool table owner, I understand how important it is to keep my table in top condition. Regular maintenance and care can help extend the life of your billiards table and keep it looking great for years to come.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a pool table is to keep the playing surface clean. I recommend using a vacuum to remove any dust or debris from the felt. Avoid using a brush, as this can damage the fabric and cause it to wear out more quickly.

In addition to regular cleaning, it’s important to keep an eye on the condition of the felt. If you notice any tears or fraying, it may be time to resurface the pool table. John Bennett, a professional pool table resurfacing expert, recommends replacing the felt every 5 to 7 years for heavily used tables in commercial settings, and every 10 to 15 years for well-maintained tables in residential settings.

When it comes to repairing pool table felt, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Attempting to repair the felt yourself can result in further damage to the fabric and may even affect the playability of the table.


The restoring old pool table journey has been challenging, but it has been worth it. I can now enjoy playing pool on a revitalized table that looks and performs like new. I encourage anyone who has an old pool table to consider restoring it rather than replacing it.

By restoring your pool table, you not only save money but also preserve a piece of history and encourage the enjoyment of the revitalized pool table.


How much would it cost to resurface a pool table?

The cost of resurfacing a pool table can vary depending on the size of the table, the type of cloth used, and the condition of the table. On average, you can expect to pay between $300 and $600 for a professional resurfacing job. However, if you are handy and have the right tools, you can resurface the table yourself for around $100 to $200.

How do you restore an old pool table?

Restoring an old pool table involves several steps, including re-leveling the table, replacing the cloth, repairing or replacing the pockets, and ensuring that the rails are in good condition. It is important to assess the damage to the table and create a plan for restoration. If you are not experienced in pool table restoration, it is recommended that you hire a professional to ensure that the job is done correctly.

Can you sand and refinish a pool table?

Yes, you can sand and refinish a pool table. This process involves sanding down the old finish, repairing any damage, and applying a new finish. However, this should only be done by someone who is experienced in woodworking and has the proper tools. It is important to note that refinishing the table can reduce its value if it is an antique or collectible.

What is the life expectancy of a pool table?

The life expectancy of a pool table can vary depending on the quality of the table and how well it is maintained. A high-quality table that is properly cared for can last for decades or even generations. However, a poorly made table that is not maintained may only last for a few years. It is important to keep the table clean and covered when not in use, and to have it professionally serviced on a regular basis to ensure that it stays in good condition.

Additional Resources

Websites and Online Forums

  • AZBilliards Forums – An online community where enthusiasts discuss everything from pool ball selection to maintenance.
  • Billiards Forum – A platform for billiard players to discuss various topics, including pool ball comparisons and experiences.

Professional Organizations

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