A short guide to buying a billiard table

Billiard table yes, but which one?

The large number of national versions of the game of billiards can be grouped into  three predominant types: French Billiards (Carambole), American Pool and Britisch Snooker. 

As these three require different sizes and ball dimensions, they also need differently designed tables.


In the past there have been numerous attempts to combine the French Carambole Billiard table, which has no pockets with the American Pool table, which has six pockets,  into a single construction. While some very interesting pieces of furniture have resulted from such attempts, none of the technical solutions have been able to provide an acceptable quality of play on both versions. 

Principally there are two main alternatives: The double cushion, where an additional frame of cushions can be inserted onto the basic pool frame to cover the pockets, or more sophisticated, the double slate, where two different slates are fixed  back to back, one plain, the other with six cutouts for the pockets, each equipped with cushion frames. A horizontal steel axle runs through the middle of this very heavy sandwich, which allows the slate to be spun to the desired game. 

Both solutions necessarily disregard the international game norms and offer relatively poor ball reflection, hence failing to satisfy players in the long term.

From our experience, such predominantly historic combinations look nice and are interesting for a demonstration, but are hardly ever really used. We therefore advise customers to choose a single version. So the decision for one or the other version should be made definitive.

Form and Colour

The billiard table consists out of a rectangular slate stone, encircled by a triangular shaped strong elastic cushion, both covered with special cloth. The American Pool table and the British Snooker also have additional six pockets, one at each corner and two in the middle of each long cushion. The rest of the table can be individually designed without narrow constraints. Different styles, materials and colours may be used to realise customers' design concepts. The special billiard cloths covering the slate and the cushions are offered in a wide but not unlimited range of colours. 

STEFAN CULEN DESIGN WIEN can either realise your own personal or your architect's design concept or design a billiard table to your specifications in-house.

Billiard table with a removable top

In many cases the problem of space can be solved by placing a top on billiard table so it can be used as a conference-,working-,or dining table. While this solution does not reduce the required space, it may provide the necessary flexibility required by a given room. 

However the construction of billiard tables must take account for the height of knees and elbows to allow a comfortable working of dining position, while at the same time providing the correct playing surface height.

Technical Equipment

The quality of play is determined by the smoothness and speed of the ball run and the precise reflection from the cushions. Therefore, all related materials and the workmanship must be of the highest quality. Compromising on those elements would be a false economy and we urgently discourage this practice. To ensure quality of play, we only use tournament-quality materials fitted by master craftsmen.

Weight and transport

Depending on the format and the gauge of the slate, a table for private use weighs between 350 – 500 kg (770 – 1,100 lbs). A full-size carambole tournament table with a 60 mm (2.5'') gauge slate may weigh up to two metric tons (4,400 lbs) and would be very seldom found in a private home. The weight per square meter/foot bearing on the floor will not generally pose any problems. In addition to the table weight, the weight of three or more adults at any one edge of the table must be considered. Nonetheless, the load-bearing capacity of the floor seldom poses a problem.

Before installation, the path from the delivery door to the desired location of the billiard table must be inspected. In general, only the transport of the heavy slate may pose problems, particularly if steep, narrow or winding staircases have to be maneuvered. In most situations, four strong men can easily carry the slate on its edge using straps. The table is mounted and the slate is covered with cloth on site.

Lighting, Heating, Accessories

The playing surface must be well lit and there must be sufficient open space above the table for special actions, especially for carambole billiards. This is typically achieved through a light-source mounted along the middle line of the table. As long as the table is sufficiently well lit, all variations in style and technology are possible. The image shown was developed for an Art Nouveau pool table, where vertical queue action does not occur.

The cloth may absorb moisture from the environment, which slows down the ball. Tournament tables with large surfaces have a heating element installed underneath the slate to keep the cloth warm and dry. In non commercial formats moisture will have little effect and heating elements are seldom installed.

A wide range of queues, balls, chalk and replacement leather tips are available across various price segments. While customers typically purchase these accessories individually, we are willing to give advice of provide the required items together with the billiard table.

Formats and space requirements

Usually the number one problem in connection with the installation of a billiard table in a private house is space.

Space requirements include the net playing surface, i.e. the space between the cushions, plus the length of the queues from the edges plus serveral inches for stroking.

The chart summarizes the space required around a billiard table but furniture shorter than 80 cm/7,5 inches will not hamper play, provided there is sufficient space to walk around the table.

Best qualities – self evident

A billiard table is designed to last many years. This durability underscores the need to utilize the best materials. It makes little sense to cut corners with regard to the slate, the cloth or the solid cushions, embedded in the cabinetry. These elements should easily  repaired or replaced as necessary, which is simplest with established brands. We equip our billiard tables exclusively with the best materials available to ensure that our customers can stand by their decision to purchase our products even after decades of play.