An outdoor pool table? That's right - and no, not a table beside the pool - I'm talking about the kind of table with sticks and balls. One of America's favorite indoor games can also be played outside. An indoor table is great, but you don't want your outdoor party to go inside to play, right? With one of these tables - problem solved!
An outdoor pool table isn't limited to just backyard use. The work just fine indoors as well. Consider one of these if you need more durability - like with kids, youth groups or anybody who may not be quite as meticulous as you'd like around your indoor pool table. After all, they not only resist rain, sun, snow, and humidity; they will also hold up to spills, stains, mold and mildew, and rips. If you have a pool or a lake at your house, those wet swimmers won't hurt these tables, whether inside or outside.
Not surprisingly, the difference between an indoor and an outdoor pool table is the material used to construct it. Wood and felt are best left for indoor models. Some of the better outdoor tables play very well and close to what you're used to inside, but there is a slight difference. While the outdoor tables are quite good, I don't think there will be any national championship matches played on them. But then, the indoor tables won't do very well in the backyard either!
What materials are available and which ones are best? As usual, opinions vary. But read on to discover the options and what to avoid.
A pool table is made up of several essential components; the frame and legs, the bed, the playing surface, and the rails. There are different materials available for each component.
The Frame: The most common outdoor options for the frame are plastic, fiberglass and aluminum. Any of these are good choices for outdoor use, so it really comes down to appearance. Plastic and fiberglass can be affected by heat and cold, but the expansion and contraction should not be significant enough to cause problems. But if you're picky, aluminum doesn't have that problem and can be lighter. If you insist on spending a lot of money, you can buy a polished stainless steel outdoor pool table for around $18,000. They look great - and it's your money!
The Bed: Acceptable materials for the outdoor pool table bed are slate, fiber cement, and resin. Slate is probably the best (used on indoor tables, too), but resin is much lighter. If you plan on moving the table, the weight becomes important. There are some inexpensive models that have particle board beds - not a good idea.
The Playing Surface: Most outdoor models use some form of a marine grade acrylic fabric for the playing surface over the bed. Sunbrella is a well known manufacturer of acrylic fabric. While it may not be quite as smooth as indoor felt, this fabric does a good job and holds up very well in the elements.
The Rails: Most pool tables use molded rubber for the rails, whether inside or outside. Some outdoor models use a more durable rubber that resists hardening outside. Other manufacturers claim that doesn't matter. Time will tell.
If you buy one of these bad boys you will also need the other goodies that will go with it. Don't forget the balls, the cue rack, the triangle, and the cue sticks - made for outdoor use. A pool table cover is a must. Keep your table covered when not in use. Some manufacturers recommend moving their tables inside in the "off season". That's not a simple feat when you're talking about a pool table - I'd think about that before purchasing one like that.
If you really want to turn up the "cool factor" you can buy a model with lighted rails and pockets! Some models have accessories including an all weather dining table top and a table tennis top - both good ideas.
Now let's shoot some pool. Like they say at the barbershop - "Next"?
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