Years of Entertainment for Family & Friends

by Claudia Johnson, Honest Abe Log Homes

Guests at this mountain top log chalet, above, by Honest Abe Log Homes can play pool on a classic slate table or enjoy a movie at the home theater and a drink at the bar. The owners use the cabin several weeks each year for their own family and offer it for rental the rest of the time. The red felt table top gives the room a cozy atmosphere.

A pool table can provide years of fun in a home. It’s the perfect centerpiece for a home recreation room or lounge. Whether it’s for a family to enjoy together, practicing for tournament play, a night with friends or a place to keep teenagers and their friends safe at home, choosing the right size and style of pool table in the first place is most important.

Aesthetics are also important, and with design options from a cabinet of classic hard wood and leather with a green felt table to a more contemporary or modern design, a pool table can work nicely with any décor.

The table type affects the quality of play, and the choice usually comes down to two factors: how much it costs and the purpose of the table.


Slate Tables

Industry standard pool tables are made of slate, a heavy rock usually harvested in Italy or Brazil, and are built to last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.


  • Highest quality surface available.
  • Will not crack or warp under normal circumstance.
  • Level surface allows for a clean and smooth shot.
  • Slate top is cut from one slab, diamond-honed matched and registered.
  • Slate divided into three pieces for easier transport.
  • Cabinetry supporting slate can be in a variety of materials.
  • Slate available in thicknesses of 3/4”, 7/8” and 1”, with 1” being the Billiard Congress of America’s tournament standard.


  • Most expensive.
  • Heavy (600+ pounds) and difficult to transport or move.
  • Can require professional help with initial setup of cabinetry and leveling of slate and again if relocated.
  • Cabinetry supporting slate must be heavier to support weight.

Affordable Options

The least expensive types of tables are made of synthetic materials – particle board (MDF), honeycomb or slatron. These are not a lifetime investment, but they can provide entertainment and relaxation. They are also a good option for introducing children to pool.

Here are the pros and cons of each of the synthetic table construction types.

Particle Board (MDF)


  • Lightweight built, light footprint, sleeker design.
  • Affordable.


  • Medium density fiberboard warps over time.
  • Sensitive to condensation and temperature changes.



  • Compressed by layers of hardened plastic less chance of warping that MDF.
  • Affordable.


  • Rough playing surface.
  • Tend to be unstable.



  • Playing surface is a layer of condensed and hardened plastic covering particle board, making it the most durable synthetic.
  • Quality without major financial investment.


  • Most expensive synthetic.
  • Plan the Space Wisely
  • Pool tables take a lot of room, not just for the table itself but for the players to be able to maneuver around it. Eight-foot tables (8’ x 4’) are considered professional size, whereas seven-foot tables (7’ x 3’6”) are considered bar size
  • Using standard 57” pool cues, an ideal room size for an 8’ table would be about 14’ x 18’. For a 7’ table, the ideal room size would be about 13’ x 17’. Shorter cues are available to accommodate for tighter spaces.


Basement Pool Rooms

Many of Honest Abe’s customers who have home pool tables have incorporated them into a finished basement, which often means planning around support beams so that play is not obstructed. Legacy Billiards, a Collierville, Tennessee, company that offers high-quality, handcrafted, durable yet affordable billiard tables and game room furniture, makes these suggestions for minimizing the impact of the support beam:

  1. Position the breaking end of the table away from the support beam.
  2. Position the obstruction next to the middle of a side rail to minimize impact on a game.
  3. Implement “house rules” if a regular shot may be completely obstructed allowing you or your opponent to reposition as needed.

For differing table and cue sizes and to determine what kind of playing space each table requires, visit Legacy Billboards’ pool table size guide.


Located in a walk-out basement, these Honest Abe homeowners planned the room so that ample space is afforded for making difficult shots. They opted for a classic pool table cabinet design of wood with leather pockets and a more contemporary tan-colored felt slate table surface.

The pool table is the centerpiece of a room meant for entertainment. The Honest Abe homeowners installed bright lights over the pool table and situated it to take advantage of the position of the television. The room also has a table large enough for playing board games or cards and serving food on game day.

This Honest Abe homeowner created the feel of an upscale roadside lounge by using a combination of recessed lighting in black ceiling tiles; vinyl floors, doors and woodwork in a matching weathered gray; and corrugated tin covering the base of the cabinets and black granite-topped bar. The full walkout basement boasts a recreation area, a wet bar, a full bath, a gym and storage space.

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