It might feel like felt covering your billiards table – but it’s really not. Billiards table cloth comes in a few varieties, specially blended to meet the needs of the players and the demands on the table. Your two primary choices – woolen and worsted cloths – work best in different playing environments, so let’s break them down:
Woolen cloth is the most common type of billiard table cloth; it has that “felt” feel that most people associate with the game. Less expensive than its worsted counterpart, you’re most likely to encounter woolen cloth on tables that see heavy use – for example in public places and homes – because of its durability and ability to better hide ball marks. Billiards balls actually roll slower on woolen cloth, so it’s used on casual play tables only.
Worsted cloth has twice as many threads per square inch and feels more like a woven suit when you touch it. Primarily for professional tournament play and the discerning private table owners, this cloth is significantly more expensive than woolen – but it delivers a more accurate, consistent playing experience. Worsted cloth is incredibly durable, but it will show ball marks.
So the next time you’re up close and personal with a billiards table, see if you can tell by touch and look if the cloth is woolen or worsted – and why.