Buying a pool table is an investment into your own entertainment, a guilty pleasure if you will, however it can also be used as an excellent way to keep dinner guests amused or to wind down after a stress filled day at work
The most very basic consideration that need to be taken into account are the size of the table, your price range and style of the table. The most important of these being the table size.
Before deciding on your preferred size it is imperative that you measure the room the the table will live in first, generally pool tables come in three sizes; A 7’ table has a playing dimension of 39” x 78”, 8’ table has 44” x 88” and a 9’ table has 50” x 100” playing area. Playing area is bumper to bumper, therefore the rails must also be included in measurements. Rails typically are 6” which would add 12” to the length and width of the table. On top of these measurement you must also remember that there will be people playing and walking around the edges of this table, as most of us know, there is nothing worse that attempting to take a shot when you are being obstructed by a wall. So with no further delays lets take a close look at the particular elements of the pool table that need to be considered.
The most importantly thing to remember about the table length is that they should be solid wood. They should be particularly study and well crafted as they will be needing to take a lot of weight. What color will they be? This is a time when you should decide on the color of the whole table, light, medium or dark. Cherry, mahogany, walnut, chestnut, oak, or color stained, there's an awful lot of choice. Then you must consider the style; straight legs, curved legs, ball, claw, Queen Anne and rams horn are just a few of the available styles.
The most common slate (running beneath the fabric of the table) is a 3 piece, this allows for the best leveling results. 1 and 2 pieces are also available but are becoming more and more rare. The slate also comes in a variety of thicknesses, 1” slate is the standard although 3/4" is also fairly commonplace. The slate should be screwed directly to the table frame.
Tables will generally have either a solid wood or and MDF frame, either is acceptable, all tables will have 2 cross beams running from one side of the table to the other, this is particularly important as the weight of the slate is distributed from side to side. Having said that some tables will also be reenforced by an additional beam running the length of the table, these are preferable although not needed.
Similarly to the legs, the rails should be made of solid wood as this is important with regards to how the balls rebound when playing. During installation, bolts should be used to attach the rail to the table that follow through from the frame, the slate then the rail. The cushions should be BCA approved K-66 profile. Its very important to use tack tape on the rails to ensure that they sit flat on the slate.
Pockets come in leather, plastic or rubber, which one of these you use is down to personal preference. Cheaper tables tend to come with plastic pockets, commercially used tables with rubber and home games room's tables will likely come equipped with leather.
Hopefully that will give you a good knowledge base to start your search for a pool table, if you are in North America Pool Tables USA offer a great range of tables, in Britain Kingwood Leisure is a great place to start.