Pool Table Rails: What You Need to Know
Playing pool is a popular pastime for people of all ages. Whether you're new to billiards or have been playing for years, one thing you need to know is how pool table rails work.
There's more to a pool table than just the playing surface. The rails (or sideboards) play a crucial role in the game, and it's important to understand their function if you want to play like a pro. More than just keeping the balls from falling off the table, the rails on a pool table can actually impact the speed and direction of the ball.
At Penguin Amusements, we carry a wide selection of pool table rails for pool tables of any size. All of our rails currently ship for FREE to anywhere within the contiguous United States.
Here's everything you need to know about pool table rails:
What Are Pool Table Rails?
The pool table rails, also known as the sideboards or cushions, are the horizontal boards that surround the pool table playing surface. They're usually made from wood or synthetic materials lined with rubber and covered with pool table felt - the same material as the pool table surface, which provides a smooth playing field for the pool balls to roll on.
Pool table rails are an important part of the pool table, as they provide stability and support for the playing surface. They also help to keep the pool balls on the table during gameplay.
Most pool tables have six rails: two on each side of the table, which create the long side of the table. The two end rails are usually shorter than the middle rail, and they're typically referred to as "end rails" or "end boards."
The pool table rails are attached to the pool table with brackets, screws, and/or bolts. It's important that these attachments are secure, as loose rails can impact the quality of your gameplay.
How Do Pool Table Rails Effect Play?
Pool table rails affect the play of the game in a few different ways. Perhaps most importantly, they determine the pool table's "bankability." This term refers to the pool table's ability to bounce the pool balls off the rails and into pockets. A pool table with good bankability will make it easier for players to make shots, while a pool table with poor bankability will make it more difficult.
The rails can also affect the speed of the pool balls. Usually, faster pool tables are better for gameplay, as they're more challenging and require more precision from players. However, faster pool balls can also make the game more difficult, so it's important to find a balance that works for you and your opponents.
Generally, pool table rails with a thicker/softer pool table felt will result in slower pool table, while rails with a harder pool table felt will result in faster pool table. The type of pool cue you use can also impact the speed of the pool balls.
Finally, the rails can also affect the direction of the pool balls. This is because the pool table felt on the rails can cause friction, which can cause the pool balls to veer off course. Usually, this isn't a major issue, and in fact is a desired effect of putting ‘English’ (side spin) on the cue ball, but it's something to keep in mind if you're having difficulty making shots.
If you're looking for pool table rails that will provide a challenge for experienced players, we recommend our Pro Pocket Rails. These rails provide good bankability and fast pool balls, helping to sharpen your pool skills.
How to Maintain Pool Table Rails
Pool table rails are an important part of the pool table, and they should be maintained in order to keep the pool table in good condition. Here are a few tips for maintaining your rails:
- Check the rails regularly for loose attachments. If you find any loose brackets, screws, or bolts, tighten them up to prevent the rails from coming loose during gameplay.
- Clean the rails with a soft cloth and pool table cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as these can damage the pool table felt.
- Once every few months, use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment to remove dust and debris from the rails.
- If you notice any damage to the rails, have them repaired as soon as possible. Damaged pool table rails can affect gameplay and make the pool table more difficult to use.
- By trying the gently wiggle the rubber on the face of the cushion, you can also tell if the rubber has come loose from the wooden rail back - this will create a ‘dead’ bounce.
Tips for Choosing the Right Pool Table Rails
When choosing pool table rails, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right rails for your needs:
- Consider the pool table make and model. Each table manufacturer puts the bolt holes in different locations and other dimensions vary - make sure you get the right rails for your table make, model and year.
- Choose pool table rails that will provide the right level of challenge. If you're a beginner, you might want to choose rails that are more forgiving. If you're an experienced player, you might want to choose rails that are more challenging, like our ‘Pro Pocket’ rails, which make pocket size smaller, meaning you need to be more accurate.
- Think about the pool table felt. The pool table felt can affect the pool balls' speed and direction, so you'll want to choose a pool table felt that works well with the rails.
Pool Table Rails Near Me
At Penguin Amusements, we have pool table rails for all skill levels, so you're sure to find the perfect set of rails for your needs.
Whether you're looking for replacement rails or other parts, we've got you covered. We manufacture a wide selection of pool table parts, specializing in Valley and Dynamo brand billiards tables, as well as other coin-operated or "bar-box" billiards tables. We offer FREE SHIPPING* on all pool table rails. All other orders over $99 also qualify for free shipping*.
If you're not sure which pool table rails are right for you, feel free to contact us, and we'll be happy to help you find the perfect fit. Contact us today by filling out our online form.
*Free shipping offers are only available within the contiguous United States.