Pool Cloth Buyer's Guide

Choosing the right pool cloth for your table is very important. On slate bed tables, the cloth dictates how the ball interacts with the bed. It affects roll speeds, accuracy, drag, shot power and various other aspects of the game, so it’s critical to use a high-quality cloth that really suits your game and your type of usage.

If you're looking to re-cloth your existing table with a new colour or for a performance upgrade, or you're buying a new pool table and you're not sure which cloth to have fitted during installation, or even if you're just interested in the differences between the various pool table cloths on the market - this guide is for you.

A Precision British pool table fitted with Hainsworth Smart cloth in Ranger Green.

A Precision British pool table fitted with Hainsworth Smart cloth in Ranger Green. (From £3495.00) [ view in store ]

What Are British and American Cloths?

Pool cloths are usually made to either British or American pool spec. You might find some other, more specialist cloths such as carom cloth or Chinese pool (a kind of spin-off of American pool) which are designed only for those types of table, and are rare in the UK.

We sell cloths almost exclusively for British and American pool tables, as well as some for snooker tables. If you have an American pool table, with American-spec pockets and cushions, you’ll need an American cloth. This is a ‘worsted’ (non-directional) woollen cloth made with a high nylon content.

If you have a British pool table, with British-spec pockets and cushions, you’ll want to fit a British cloth. This is made with a much higher wool content and features a directional ‘nap’, which is a texture that drags on the ball and promotes a slower game. This isn't a hard rule though, and you'll find some cloths blur the lines between games. Strachan 861, for example, is a speed cloth made to fit 6ft and 7ft British tables, an unusual trend which accelerates the traditional game to much higher ball speeds. This trend found some fans in certain British pool leagues.

Your decision here will rest on which type of table you have.

British and American pool table cloths

British (left) and American (right) billiard cloths

What Are Worsted and Napped Cloths?

Worsted cloths are the preferred fitment for American tables. This cloth is made in a similar way to a woollen suit, creating a very smooth, non-directional texture without any tangible ‘nap’. This provides players with low ball drag, performs consistently in any direction, and provides longer, faster shot travels. For this reason, worsted American cloth is often called ‘speed cloth’, which suits the larger American tables.

Napped cloths, designed for British pool tables and also for snooker tables, are made with a ‘nap’. This is a directional texture that you can actually feel - try stroking the cloth in one direction and then the other, and you’ll feel a level of drag on your skin in one direction. This nap creates drag that slows the balls, and gives your shots direction, creating an ideal playfield for the slower, more tactical game of British pool, which is played on smaller tables than its American counterpart.

Napped cloths take a little more maintenance than worsted cloths, as the nap requires regular brushing to keep its directional weave, and they can be more vulnerable to damage and spills.

Who Are Some Leading Cloth Brands

There are many cloth manufacturers out there, producing cloths of varying quality. When clothing tables ourselves, we almost always use either Hainsworth or Strachan. These brands produce a range of cloths to cover different specifications, applications and in a range of colours, weights and fitments. For years we’ve had lots of customer feedback which demonstrates that these brands satisfy in performance, looks and longevity.

Strachan has been producing premium fabrics for many purposes since 1890, whilst Hainsworth has been in the business since 1783. Both companies produce textiles for a vast range of applications - not just pool tables - and Hainsworth even provides the fabric upholstery for Parliament and the House of Lords.

You can see our full range of available cloths in our Cloth Care & Recovering section , as well as tools and accessories to help with re-clothing a table.

A cloth swatch for Hainsworth Smart cloth.

A Hainsworth Smart cloth colour swatch. (From £139.00) [ view in store ]

Cloth Colours

The pool cloth is a great way to introduce some personality to your games room. Many players prefer to fit the traditional green (with its origins in parlour games like snooker, where it was coloured to simulate grass). An increasing number of our customers are now fitting a shade of blue, which is often fitted to professional tables for high-level tournaments. Blue is believed to be easier on the eye, preventing eye strain during long tournaments. And we've seen grey cloths becoming very popular as stylish, contemporary choices for home tables.

The Winner pool table with Hainsworth Smart cloth in Banker's Grey colour.

The Supreme Winner British pool table, fitted with Hainsworth Smart cloth in Banker's Grey colour. (From £1699.00) [ view in store ]

But these days, you can choose from a vast range of colours. Pick a vibrant orange, a deep red or a moody black to create a games room centrepiece, or go for a more restrained khaki or grey. Whichever colour you choose, the colouring process doesn’t affect the cloth at all, in terms of playability or longevity. So you can fit any colour you like.

The LA Pro pool table with orange Elite Pro speed cloth.

The LA Pro American pool table with orange Elite Pro speed cloth. (From £3595.00) [ view in store ]

Cloth Weights

The weight of a cloth is measured in grams per square metre, or GSM. This is the same measurement as is used in paper and other materials. Simply put, a higher GSM is heavier in weight for a given area of cloth.

What does this mean for your selection? A heavier cloth with a higher GSM will be tougher, more durable and will take longer to wear out. You’ll often find that British pool tables in pubs and bars are fitted with heavier cloths of around 450GSM or more, simply so they will last longer and withstand more abuse before needing re-clothing.

So this means that a lighter cloth with a lower GSM will be more vulnerable, right? Yes. But it’s also better for ball performance, as the lighter cloth gives a more precise, natural slate response to a ball rolling over it. A heavier cloth will be thicker, and have a more pronounced damping effect on the ball. So on dedicated tournament and competition British pool tables, where cost is not a worry, you’d probably find lighter cloth of below 400GSM.

Hainsworth Match pool table cloth.

Hainsworth Match pool table cloth is weighted at 390gsm, ideal for low use, high-performance tournament or professional British tables. (From £149.00) [ view in store ]

American pool cloths are lighter still, as the nylon content makes them tougher and more hard-wearing, and players expect ball speeds to be higher. So an American cloth like Elite Pro, which encourages these higher ball speeds and reduced drag, is weighted at around 365GSM.

A home table that is played casually by family and, occasionally, friends, should be fine with a lighter cloth, meaning that you get to enjoy true, professional ball performance.

A communal table, for example in a bar, common room, youth club or sports centre, should really be fitted with a heavier cloth, so that it doesn’t wear out rapidly.

Cloth Comparison Table

Quickly check specifications and compare different cloths with our handy comparison table. At a glance you can see the available weights, sizes, colours and more, as well as some recommendations for intended use.

These are some of our most popular cloth brands. If you have another brand in mind, give us a call!

Hainsworth

Game Weight Napped Worsted Content Mix Sizes Available Colours Available Features Ideal For
Hainsworth Elite-Pro American 365gsm 30% nylon, 70% wool 6ft British - 9ft American 20+ Spill Guard* Home, Communal & Commercial
Hainsworth Smart British & Snooker 460gsm 5% nylon, 95% wool 6ft - 9ft British 22+ - Home, Communal & Commercial
Hainsworth Club British 435gsm 5% nylon, 95% wool 6ft - 9ft British 4 - Home & Communal
Hainsworth Match British & Snooker 390gsm 5% nylon, 95% wool 6ft - 9ft British, 7ft - 12ft Snooker 3 - Home & Professional/Tournament
Hainsworth Precision British & Snooker 390gsm 100% wool 7ft British, 8ft - 12ft Snooker 1 - Home & Professional/Tournament

*Hainsworth Spill Guard protects the cloth against liquid damage. It's intended to repel spilled liquid and preventing it from soaking in. Liquid instead pools on the surface and can be wiped away.

Strachan

Game Weight Napped Worsted Content Mix Sizes Available Colours Available Features Ideal For
Strachan Superfine British & Snooker 400gsm 100% wool 6ft British 2 SpillGuard*, Anti-Kick** Home, Light Communal & Tournament
Strachan 6811 Tournament British 475gsm 100% wool 6ft & 7ft British 16 SpillGuard* Home, Communal & Commercial
Strachan 6811 Pool British 430gsm 100% wool 7ft British 7 SpillGuard* Home, Communal & Light Commercial
Strachan 777 Pool British 430gsm 100% wool 7ft British 7 - Home, Communal & Light Commercial
Strachan 861 American 420gsm 10% nylon, 90% wool 6ft & 7ft British 1 - Home, Communal & League
Strachan SuperPro American 390gsm 30% nylon, 70% wool 7ft, 8ft & 9ft American 10 SpillGuard* Home & Communal

*Strachan SpillGuard protects the cloth against liquid damage. It's intended to repel spilled liquid and preventing it from soaking in. Liquid instead pools on the surface and can be wiped away.

**Strachan Anti-Kick is a feature that prevents balls from gathering a static charge during play. This charge can cause chalk particles to adhere to the ball and potentially cause 'kicks' or poor contacts. Anti-Kick reduces this tendency and so improves ball contact quality.

Simonis

Game Weight Napped Worsted Content Mix Sizes Available Colours Available Features Ideal For
Simonis 760 American 355gsm 30% nylon, 70% wool 7ft, 8ft & 9ft American 15 - Home, Communal, Light Commercial
Simonis 860 American 410gsm 10% nylon, 90% wool 8ft & 9ft American 30 - Home, Communal, Light Commercial

Eurospeed

Game Weight Napped Worsted Content Mix Sizes Available Colours Available Features Ideal For
Eurospeed 45 American 385gsm 55% nylon, 45% wool 7ft, 8ft & 9ft American 13 - Home, Communal, Commercial

Sam Billiards

Game Weight Napped Worsted Content Mix Sizes Available Colours Available Features Ideal For
SAM Atlas American 390gsm 55% polyester, 45% wool 5ft, 6ft, 7ft, 8ft & 9ft American 8 - Home, Communal, Light Commercial
SAM Victoria British 450gsm 100% wool 6ft & 7ft British 7 - Home, Communal, Commercial

Can I Have My Table Re-Clothed?

Almost any slate bed pool table can be re-clothed. Your cloth might have developed a threadbare patch (this is often the case in the racking area) or have been ripped by a cue tip. It might even have had drinks spilled on it.

Or you might just fancy a change, to a faster or more accurate cloth, or simply to a different colour to match your new wallpaper. Whatever the reason, your slate bed table can be easily and quickly re-clothed. And it’s best left to the specialists, like our highly-trained technical team. Browse our comprehensive, on-site reclothing services for British pool tables and American pool tables.

A pool table technician fitting a cloth.

A pool table technician replacing a British pool table cloth. (From £495.00) [ view in store ]

Can I Cloth My Table Myself?

Re-clothing a single-slate British table is a fairly standard procedure, but it can be fiddly and time-consuming. We’d always suggest booking our professional pool table fitters for a job like this, but if that’s not possible, we’re happy to help with guidance by phone.

It involves stretching the cloth gently to pull it taut in all directions, without wrinkles or imperfections, and attaching it to the underside of the slate. Smaller cuts of matching cloth are then fastened to the cushions themselves.

American tables and snooker tables, with sectional slate beds, can be even more difficult - so we’d definitely advise professional help with these. Contact our Sales Team for advice on what's best for you and your table.

Custom Cloths

A custom cloth is a great way to make your table truly individual. Office boardroom tables can have the company logo printed onto the cloth, for that truly luxury effect. And private tables can have almost anything printed onto them, such as football team logos or special brands.

All we need is your hi-res artwork and, if applicable, a letter from the copyright holder giving permission for the artwork to be printed. You can read more about custom cloths in our Branded Pool Tables guide.

A Zen pool table with custom cloth.

A Zen American pool table with custom-printed Elite Pro speed cloth. (From £7395.00) [ view in store ]

Snooker Cloths

Snooker cloth is a napped, directional woollen cloth, very similar to British pool cloth. It has a directional weave and is slightly heavier, with some snooker cloths exceeding 500GSM. This heavy, consistent cloth gives snooker its superbly tactical gameplay.

A snooker table fitted with premium snooker cloth.

A snooker table fitted with premium snooker cloth.

Outdoor Pool Cloths

Outdoor pool tables are becoming more popular, as weatherproofing techniques advance and as people increasingly use their gardens for leisure. Naturally, an indoor cloth with a high wool content isn’t suitable for outdoor use and storage, as damp, rot, low temperatures and direct sunlight will all destroy a standard cloth rapidly.

The waterproof cloth fitted to the California outdoor pool table.

The waterproof cloth fitted to the California outdoor pool table. (From £2995.00) [ view in store ]

Outdoor tables are fitted with a specially-formulated cloth that is woven with a high nylon content. It’s designed to avoid waterlogging and sun bleaching, and sometimes outdoor cloths are prepared with anti-mould treatments to prevent rot. You can find cloths like this on many outdoor models - the Pureline California and the DPT Outback Pro and Outdoor Fusion tables are fitted with the manufacturers' own waterproof, rot-resistant outdoor cloths.

Any outdoor table should be fitted with a quality outdoor cloth, and our outdoor tables come with outdoor cloth options included. And we’d still recommend using a heavy-duty cover, too. Outdoor tables can be re-clothed by specialist technicians.

Pool Table Cloth Care

Pool cloth requires careful maintenance - especially the ‘napped’ cloths that are fitted to British pool tables and snooker tables. Regular brushing is essential to maintain the directional nap, and it might also benefit from occasional ironing. See our Pool Table Cloth Care Guide here, for the lowdown on how best to brush up your baize.

A pool table being brushed.

Using a special pool table brush to brush a cloth. (From £18.99) [ view in store ]

Can I Re-Cloth an MDF-Bed Pool Table?

MDF bed pool and snooker tables are usually fitted with a cloth during manufacture. It will be a cloth intended for fun knockabouts rather than for serious play.

In most cases, the cloth is a permanent component of an MDF-bed table, and it is difficult or impossible to replace the cloth.

Now Choose Your Cloth!

Now you know all there is to know about billiard table cloths, you can go ahead and choose the very best one for your table, your situation and your game. If you're looking to re-cloth your existing table, you can see our range of cloths for sale here , and if you’re choosing a cloth to go with your new table, simply check out the cloth options in each table listing.

And as always, you can contact our Sales Team for any advice on pool cloths.

 
This article was written by Liberty Games staff member
Joe O'Mara
Sales Manager at Liberty Games. Pool table specialist & pinball wiz. Film & cinema nerd, with a mental database of every episode of The Simpsons ever made.

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