Do you love playing a few rounds of pool with your mates?
Have you noticed that your game is a little off lately and can’t figure out why?
Perhaps you need to replace the rails on your pool table. Generally speaking, they're supposed to last a good length of time, but if you're a regular player, or bought the table second-hand, it may be time for a replacement sooner than you thought.
So how exactly do you buy pool table rails, anyway? Read my guide on buying pool table rails of course!
What Are Pool Table Rails?
Sometimes going by the name of cushions or bumpers, rails are designed to rebound the ball and create a smooth and flowing game. They're found on the inside edge of the perimeter of the table, running between each pocket.
The purpose of these rails is for the for the balls to rebound whilst maintaining energy. You'll notice when they start to wear out as you'll hear a deep thudding noise when the ball hits the edge of the table.
What Are Pool Table Rails
Generally speaking, pool table rails are made from vulcanized rubber. This is rubber that has been strengthened, but still has some give to it. Think of a hockey puck or tires, the strong quality of the rubber is much the same.
The quality of the rubber can vary, as synthetic rubber can also be vulcanized. However, the material can vary between manufacturers so it's best to do your research before making a purchase.
When you look at your existing table, it may be hard to tell what the rails are made from. That's as they're covered with the same fabric or cloth that's on the rest of the pool table to make the whole table more aesthetically pleasing.
When To Replace Pool Table Rails
Pool table rails shouldn't wear out too quickly, but it all depends on how frequently you play.
Naturally, a pool table found in an arcade or pub will need more maintenance than one that's solely for personal use and will need the rails replaced more frequently.
If your table is stored in an area that receives lots of sunlight, the rail rubber is likely to perish faster and therefore will need to be replaced sooner than if the table was stored in a darker area.
The quickest and easiest way to test your rails is to roll a ball across the short side of the table. It should rebound 3-4 times before coming to rest. If it bounces less than this, you most likely need to consider a replacement.
Considerations When Buying Pool Table Rails
Aside from what they're made from, there are a few other factors to consider before buying a new set of rails.
Because pool tables come in a variety of sizes, so do rails. It's important to check the measurements of your table before making a purchase.
Profile or Shape
There are three main profiles for pool table rails. The K66 is the most common and is found in the majority of both home and commercial tables.
The K55 are the rails found on coin-operated tables, like the ones you play on in the arcade or pub.
Finally there's the U23 variety. These are also for use on home and commercial tables, but are slightly less common.
As with many other products, you get what you pay for. If you're working on a budget (which most of us are), try to buy the most expensive rails you can afford.
Cheaper versions may simply wear out sooner and will found yourself spending more money in the long run.
How To Replace Pool Table Rails
The simplest way to replace your rails is to employ a professional to do so. However, this can be costly and time-consuming.
Fortunately, it's a job that many can do on their own, or with the help of a few friends, and it actually won’t take that long to do.
Whilst it isn't a task that needs to be done all that often, buying the right rails for your pool table is a key factor in the quality of your game.
Whether you choose to have them done by a professional or you do it yourself, you're now equipped with all the knowledge you need to purchase the right rails for you, enabling you to enjoy many more years of fun with your friends.
Here's a do-it-yourself video on how to replace a pool table rail cushion or bumper.