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Different Tablecloths - What's the Difference?

Jul 27, 2020

Pool tablecloth for a standard game of American pool is made from wool and either polyester or nylon. Different styles and brands are differentiated by the manufacturing process and the quality of the wool. Pool tablecloth is typically known as either worsted or woolen cloth, these are common wool yarn types, and each has characteristics that make then stand out from the other.

There are not many sports that require a tablecloth. For those that do, however, a cloth can be an important factor of the game, especially at the highest level. So, it is essential that you choose the right one, no matter which table game you are playing. Even in a completely different game such as poker, there are several types of cloths to choose from, such as standard felt (velveteen) and suited speed. Although, with poker largely moving online, tablecloths are not as important to that game as they once were. In cue sports, however, they still have a very definite role to play.


Woolen Pool Cloth

The traditional cloth for cue sports is a woolen cloth, with its fibers napped in one direction. This ensures that it has a quality not dissimilar to velvet. The nap’s direction can be felt and seen under close inspection. It also results in the balls moving at various speeds, depending on their direction. So, it is important that the table is marked correctly at both the top and bottom. The nap also provides an additional strategic aspect of the game, enabling advanced players to curve balls.


Worsted Pool Cloth

Taking a different approach in manufacturing style, worsted pool cloth is weaved in a worsted style. The cloth’s woven structure makes for a harder, finer, and smoother fabric. Furthermore, the reduced friction allows balls to travel faster and maintain momentum longer. While worsted Pool Cloth is more popular in American pool, it’s also been gaining traction in UK pubs in recent years.


Performance and Durability

When choosing a new tablecloth for a pool table, the two most important factors to consider are performance and durability. While measuring durability in the real world is not the easiest of tasks, a thicker and heavier cloth will typically be more durable. This can compromise performance, however, as it creates more friction, resulting in balls losing momentum sooner.

You can use a cloth’s grams per square meter (gsm) to estimate its durability. Both snooker and pool tournaments, for example, often use a weight of approximately 390 gsm, which enables balls to maintain momentum. However, this calls for increased maintenance and more frequent replacements. Pub pool tables often use a cloth of around 440 gsm in weight. While this does not provide the best performance, it will last a long time, even when subject to heavy use.



Compared to its worsted counterpart, a napped wooden requires greater care. Fortunately, most of this occurs during regular brushing. When the chalk is brushed out of a woolen cloth, it also aligns the nap in a uniform direction. So, when you are brushing the table, you are brushing it in one direction. This might seem basic, but it is important to ensure that your table remains in good condition.


One of the advantages of worsted cloth is ease of maintenance. With no directional naps, you can brush it in any direction you want, and there are no further steps required. To ensure your cloth remains in optimal playing condition, all you need to do is remove any chalk and dust by brushing it after a pool session.



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