There are two different definitions of what a cheap pool table is: there’s a pool table that’s inexpensive, economical and well-designed, and then there’s the kind that’s poorly made and designed and which can be a big money waster. We’ll quickly go over some of the things that you should be on the look out for when buying inexpensive yet quality billiard tables so you can be sure that you’re getting the best for your budget.

New Versus Used Tables

The first way that a lot of people try to cut corners is to buy a used pool table. Buying a cheap pool table that’s been sitting in someone’s garage for the past 10 years may appear to be a bargain, but buying a new table is almost always the best way to go. Just as with buying a used car, there are a lot of things that you need to be on the lookout for when buying a used table, so unless you’re extremely familiar with pool tables and have been working with them for a number of years, you may end up with a pool table “lemon” that will end up costing you more than a new table.

Check Out the Bumpers

The first thing you should check out on a pool table is the quality of the bumpers. These “cushions” that you find along the rails of the pool table should have a rubbery feel. They shouldn’t feel stiff and hard, and they shouldn’t appear cracked or rotten (poor rubber is a sign of the pool table being stored in poor conditions, such as hot, cold, or wet climates). Feel along the entire rail, as oftentimes the rubber will feel soft and pliable in one area, but it will feel hard in another.

Test Out the Pockets

Unless you’re looking for a professional WPA pool table, you should generally be looking for pockets that are distanced equally apart on the table. Professional tables should have corner pocket mouths that are between 11.43cm (4.5”) and 11.75cm (4.625”) and the side pocket mouths should be between 12.7cm (5”) and 13.0175cm (5.125”). But if you’re looking for a beginner or novice table to have in your home, try to find a table that has side pocket mouths that are around 1.27cm (1/2”) wider than the mouth of the corner pocket.

Type of Material

You can find a pool table made with a variety of different materials: from solid wood to veneer to laminate to plywood to MDF. When it comes to looking for an inexpensive but quality-made pool table, MDF is a great choice. A cheap pool table made of MDF is far less likely to warp than both plywood and solid wood, and is less expensive than veneer and laminate.