Pool is one of the most popular games in the world. While it’s great fun, even the best pool tables will need repairing after a while. This is why it’s important to know how to refelt a pool table. It will make your old pool table look brand new.
There are many things that can damage a pool table. The cue can be a common culprit, but there may also be water spills and accidents that can ruin the felt. This can affect the direction and speed of the balls, making it much harder to play.
There is a wide range of pool table sizes but whichever one you have, professionally refelting it can be very expensive. Thankfully, you can simply avoid this by doing it yourself! With a bit of time and effort, you can refelt your table for just a fraction of the price. Here we look at exactly how to replace pool table felt. Let’s get started!
Before you start refelting your table, you need to gather the right tools to do the job. Here we take a look at what you need before you start felting a pool table.
Level, string, and wood shims – It’s of the utmost importance for the finished table to be level. You can use any leveling tool to achieve this.
Screwdriver and ratchet – Necessary for rail bolts, legs, and the general assembly of the table.
Awl, wire cutters, and a stapling gun – Before removing the old felt cut all the staples and replace them when putting on the new one.
Feather stripping – Their purpose is to hold to cloth in the top of the rail, best fit them into place with a rubber mallet.
Paint scrapper – If you use wax for sealing, this tool will easily remove it. With plaster, you might have to work a little harder.
Spray and contact adhesive – The spray is to glue the cloth to the slate and finishing pockets. The cushions adhere best with a contact adhesive.
Beeswax – Recommended for sealing the seams of the cloth. You can also use plaster, but it’s challenging to clean when it dries.
Cushions – Along with the main felt piece, these need to be done too. They usually have rubber facings as a finish.
Felt – The replacement cloth will most likely need to cut into various pieces, depending on the type of your table. Use razor blades for a seamless result. Many professionals recommend the ProForm 7′ high-speed pool table felt that arrives with rails cut to reduce the recovering time.
After gathering your tools and putting on adequate eye protection, you can begin to slowly and methodically take apart your pool table.
Lay down on your back under the table and cut the stapling holding the pocket holes in place. Make sure to gather all the staples while falling to avoid getting them inside your clothes or stepping on them. After removing all of the rail staples, take the pockets off and put them aside.
The next step is to unscrew the side rail bolts to remove them by using your wrench. Depending on the type of your pool table, the side rail might be in one piece or multiple pieces. You will find this out when you lift the last bolt holding it in place when you can remove the rail from the table with care.
Like the railings or slate bed underneath the cover, the felt covering the fool table might be put together from multiple pieces. In any case, taking the felt off will take a lot of time, and it will depend on how it was put together on the table previously. You will want to work gently and be extremely cautious unless you want to damage the slate or the cushions.
If the felt was glued on the slate, gently start pulling it off, beginning in one corner. Use slow, backward motions and be careful when pulling off the felt from the cushions. You might have an easier job with this last part if the cloth covering the cushions is in separate pieces.
If the felt is in place with staples, you need to remove them with pliers. Again, you will work slowly while taking safety precautions to prevent injury. Once you remove the felt, make sure no staple is left in them, fold the cloth, and put it aside.
The first step in prepping the slate is, of course, cleaning it. As with the cloth covering it, the slate is usually full of dust too. If the felt glue was holding the felt, you would probably find some excess on the slate. Scrape it off gently, then wipe the slate using a dry cloth. Water and cleaning products are not a good idea to use on slate, as they will penetrate the material making it less durable. Although slate is quite a durable material, it still requires some level of care.
If the slate consists of more than one piece, the most effective way to clean it is by removing them one by one. When putting it back together, fasten the slate to the table. Put two strings on it lengthwise, using four quarters underneath them as a guide. Make sure both string lines are at the same distance from the slate everywhere and make adjustments if needed.
Although some pool table manufacturers provide standards dimensions, it’s always better to measure your table with a measuring tape. Be sure you have measurements for the bed and the railings, but don’t include the cushions or inside the pockets.
Typically, pool tables come in standard sizes. Measuring the width alone should be enough, as the length is usually double the width. However, you won’t lose anything by measuring it lengthwise as well. It’s always a good idea to buy a couple of extra inches of material for safety, particularly if you are cutting it later to pieces.
After you successfully purchase the best felt for pool table, lay it down flat on the table and let it sit for a couple of minutes. In some specialized stores, you will have the option to have it professionally cut separately for the bed and the railing. If that’s not possible, you can buy it in one piece and cut it at home.
To smooth it out before cutting, run your fingers over the material to feel any lump or roughness in it. When the felt feels perfectly smooth under your fingers, you can proceed with the cutting.
Take a sharp pair of scissors or a razor blade and cut the felt according to the measurement you have taken. Some types of cloth will rip in a straight line, avoiding the need to cut with scissors.
When cutting the material for the main piece, make sure to follow the measurements and cut the exact amount. There should always be a sufficient amount of felt left behind, so you don’t run out of felt at the rails.
Additionally, some cloth manufacturers can provide you with cutting instructions for each piece of felt you’ll need. This guide will also tell you about the allowance that you need to leave for securing the seams.
Stapling the felt is a popular method of attaching to the slate. But it’s only an option if your slate has a wood lining underneath it, where the staples can enter.
Lay down the felt and start stapling one shorter side, beginning in the middle and going towards the side lengthwise. Then go to the other side and pull the cloth toward you, again starting in the middle. When the material feels tight enough, start stapling that side from the center to the end while pulling it all the time.
If you don’t stretch the felt evenly on the whole table, you may be left with lumps, resulting in an uneven playing surface. Repeat the process on the longer side, pulling the felt to a consistent stretch.
When the cover is secured sufficiently on all sides, take a razor blade and cut openings in it for the rail bolts to enter. Make sure to cut the holes directly above the bolt holes. The easiest way to ensure that is by finding a hole with your finger and guiding the cut from the bottom up.
For pool tables without a wood backing under the slate, gluing the felt on is the only possibility to tighten it in place. Securing the felt by using glue is based on the same motion as with the stapling gun.
Begin on the middle on the shorter side, work to the end, then switch sides. The only difference here is that you will need to spray one end of the slate with the adhesive, then sprinkle the same end of the cloth. Wait about half a minute for the glue to get tacky end press the felt down to the slate. Do this around the whole table while stretching the cover.
When you are finished applying the adhesive on the last side, the side where you began should be dry enough for you to start cutting holes for the railing.
Whether you secure the felt on with staples or glue, you will need to cut the pockets too. Cut 3-4 slices for each one, at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the slate. Peel the cloth slices under the slate and glue them in place. You can also glue a slip of cloth to line the pockets and make them look nicer.
The proper function of the pool table rails depends on the covering of the rails, as well as on the bolts securing it. Failing to install the rails correctly will result in the inconsistent speed of your balls when rebounding.
When putting the rails back, secure every bolt tightly, starting with the side rails and ending with the head and foot of the table. If you don’t take these steps, they can come loose from the vibration after only a couple of use.
When replacing the felt on the rails, you want to pull it tightly, similarly to the technique on top of the slate. If you are securing the material with a stapling gun, you need to put the staples close enough to each other to avoid movement during use. Be careful as this part can be tricky.
Stapling the rails may be more difficult than with the slates because it’s made from different wood. For that reason, gluing the material is the more highly recommended way of covering rails. Uneven and bunched up material can also cause hopping balls, so work very slowly when covering the rails.
Refelting your pool table can be a great DIY project as it will save you a significant amount of money when you know how to recover a pool table. If you’ve read this and it all sounds like too much work, then you can simply purchase a new table! For example, check the Mizerak Dynasty that boasts exquisite design. While refelting can be a challenge, it’s very satisfying once you’ve done a good job.
It’s important to take your time and be patient. It can be a little frustrating at times, especially when you are fitting the felt over the slate, or more critically, the railing. You really want to be careful to get the smoothest result possible.
Since you are already saving money by refelting yourself, you might want to invest in good quality felt and cushions. They will last longer while improving the play of the table. Now you know how to refelt a pool table. All that’s left to do is get the materials together and get started!