Pool table "felt"?
I had a recent request to explain the differences in pool table "felt" available now at Southern Billiards. Pool table cloth is certainly a widely misunderstood subject-so let's clarify some things.
Pool table felt is not really felt even though it consists primarily of wool. Billiard "fabric" or pool table "cloth" are really more correct terms. Even a cheaper grade of billiard cloth is still manufactured to much higher standards than most textile products. I have gone on jobs to do a recover and the homeowner had attempted to install a standard wool felt from a fabric store!! What a mess! Sometimes it's best to let the professionals do some jobs.
Let's examine the biggest difference between billiard table cloth types-standard "fuzzy" cloth and worsted wool. Both standard and worsted cloth have a little bit of nylon to allow for "stretch" and makes it easier to upholster the corners and pockets with the cloth. A good mechanic is able to cover the bed and rails quickly with no wrinkles or loose spots on the table.
Fuzzy cloth is just that. The manufacturing process for this cloth is cheaper and leaves fibers of the yarn sticking up creating a thicker, slower playing surface. Because of this it is necessary to train the cloth after it is installed on your table. This is accomplished by brushing the table with a pool table brush from the head of the table toward the foot in a straight line. It is common knowledge in the billiard industry that the table should always be brushed in the same direction as the break. This hopefully helps to alleviate any chance that a person would try to brush a table in the wrong direction after it has been trained. I find that it takes quite some time to completely train the cloth in this manner but once you get the job done the cloth typically plays pretty well. Certainly well enough for the average homeowner who only plays occasionally. For obvious reasons you NEVER want to use a vacuum cleaner on this type of cloth. There will be some pilling but avoid the desire to vacuum-brush, brush, brush. Back years ago I used to recover the tables for The Green Room on LaVista Rd. in Atlanta. Paul Turner always had me use Mali 821, a directional and pre-trained wool blend cloth. It played great and everybody loved it but I haven't seen it around in years. I do wish it was still available.
Many salesmen will tell customers that the standard cloth does not last as long in an effort to upsell to the worsted cloth. I have not found this to be true if the cloth is well maintained and covered when not in use- a good idea for any table with any type of cloth. Southern Billiards stocks this type of cloth in 42 different colors with matching chalk available for each.
Worsted cloth is also woven but is slick on the surface (the underneath still has some nap). Serious players love it because it allows the balls to roll very fast and true right from the start. Years ago in Atlanta the favorites were Simonis 860 and Granito Basalt, but recent history has shown the 860 to be the favorite by far. 860 Simonis is the cloth we install on the tables of all the finest pool halls in ATL. Simonis also supplies other grades of cloth designed specifically for carom, snooker, etc. The cost is higher but every serious player I know wouldn't want to play on anything else.
Almost every supplier now offers "teflon" to make the cloth resistant to spills. I have my doubts as we have tried several comparisons at our workshop and I can't tell any difference between the teflon treated and the standard. I can tell you that it is NEVER a good thing to have a drink spilled on your cloth! I also feel that if you did actually spray teflon on the cloth it would negatively affect the play qualities. Just my opinion. In the billiard world I am always wary of the "better mouse trap".
One new product that I am very impressed with is "Quick-Clean". Quick Clean is a dry foam cleaner that works great and your table is ready for play within minutes. Just spray the whole table top and wipe it off with a lint-free cloth. It is effective on all types of billiard cloth and is available at Southern Billiards, It's one of our best sellers and has a proven track record. Whether it's for a home table or a pool hall, try it. I think you'll love it!
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