New Year, New Table
Whether you're looking to get your billiard table fresh and clean for the new year or ready to take the plunge and finally invest in that home billiard table you've always dreamed of (before, however, you set up a weekly pool league in your basement, you should know the ins and outs of keeping that new table in pristine, fit-for-a-pool-king condition), let us guide you in basic pool table maintenance.
Trust us, it's not as daunting as it may seem and a little TLC here and there will go a long way. The purpose of your pool table is for enjoyment and use, not to be an additional bullet point on your never-ending "Honey Do" list. So, we've summarized the important elements to be aware of and have broken down the perfect table cleaning strategy.
In brief, remember this list for proactive maintenance cleanings:
1.) Remove balls from pockets
2.) Brush table thoroughly
3.) Vacuum residual debris, chalk, and dust
4.) Spray felt cloth with appropriate table cleaner
5.) Polish wooden table frame
6.) Clean and polish billiard balls
The golden rule of chalk: less is better when chalking a cue stick and keep it as far away from your table as able to in order to keep dust off your table as much as possible. Not only is chalk an abrasive element that will slowly eat away at your table felt, it can also sabotage your winning streak. It's said that up to 1/16th" of chalk is able to settle between cloth and slate, which can have a devastating effect on that winning shot. So, let's try to keep it at a minimum.
While brushing the table seems imperative to the cleanliness and maintenance of your billiard table, just remember that every time the table is brushed, roughly half of the chalk is brushed into the cloth itself, which can eat away at fibers and compromise the integrity of the cloth over time. When brushing, always use straight strokes- do not brush in a back-and-forth motion or circularly. Perform two passes over the table in a proper brushing: during the first pass, start at the center of the table and brush in short, light strokes (to avoid stretching the felt cloth) and brush out toward the edges. In the second pass, begin at one end of the table, still using short, light strokes, and brush to the opposite end.
While using a vacuum with a light suction setting and an upholstery tool, vacuum the remaining debris up and off the table, focusing on the edges you initially brushed to. Don't forget the pockets!
Not only will sunlight fade the rich color of your table's cloth, the sun can also discolor the finish of your table itself. Though we enjoy the romanticized idea of playing in natural sunlight, it will quickly discolor cloth and dry out the wood of your table's frame. With that said, the moisture or humidity of the environment that holds your pool table is also key to table longevity. Dry climates and arid, heated rooms make your table susceptible to surface cracks. 40-60% humidity is ideal, just as you would with any other piece of finer, high end furniture or antique.
I hate to burst your bubble, but while you may think you look like Marlon Brando, sitting on the rail of the pool table with a lit cigarette and whiskey, you're hurting your table and will soon hurt your checkbook.
The worst thing you could do to a table is sit on the rails, though that's typically the number one thing people tend to do with their tables. Rails are usually only secured with strong adhesive and will fall come loose under prolonged given weight. Also, prolonged weight on one particular area of the table will upset the foundation and create a lean and misbalance.
Have a table available nearby for ashtrays (if necessary, though exposure to smoke overtime will discolor felt cloth and create more dust and debris to clean up, not to mention burns…) and drinks. Do. Not. Place. Drinks. On. Rails. Ever. Stains will give an aesthetic age to the look of your table and you also can't play on a wet stained table, either. Speaking of spills, do also be sure to keep your pups away from your table, as wooden legs will soak up urine, which is the most corrosive element you could possibly expose your table to and will tear apart the legs of your table fairly quickly.
Cleaner Balls = Cleaner Table
Keep it simple and use a microfiber cloth to wipe down balls from time to time, or even after every use (the more frequently you clean them, the less they will carry dust, dirt, chalk, and debris across your table). Occasionally or after heavy use, be sure to wash your billiard balls with a billiard-specific cleaner and microfiber cloth.
Finishing Frame Touches
If your billiard table is wooden, a light citrus-based all-purpose natural cleaner is your best choice during maintenance clean-ups.
***AVOID USING PRODUCTS SUCH AS PLEDGE, AS OVER TIME IT WILL COMPROMISE THE INTEGRITY OF THE WOOD ON YOUR TABLE AND THE OVER-SPRAY IS DAMAGING TO CLOTH.***