Correct Pool Table Dimensions: What Space Do You Need?

Man playing pool, mid section
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When determining the size of your pool table, it's important to consider the hidden calculation -- the surrounding space you will need in the room and around the table itself -- so that you will have adequate space to actually play the game. You would be surprised how often players bang against walls, even ceilings, with the butts and shafts of cue sticks.

Figure in Cue Space

Remember that to play pool, you'll need space to use your cue to crush a break or get just the right angle for that next shot. Adding sufficient space to allow you to play the game properly is crucial. You can buy a few mini-cues to work in tight spaces, but that's not the best solution.

Shooters at your tables ought to enjoy 5 feet of clear space on each side of the table -- or more, to allow for a cue to be placed and stroked comfortably. So, simply add 10 feet to the pool table's dimension -- length and width on both sides -- as follows:

  • A 4½-foot-by-9-foot table needs 14½ by 19 feet of floor space or more; this provides 10 feet, centered, for the width and length.
  • A 4-foot-by-8-foot or "bar" table requires 14 feet by 18 feet of floor space.
  • A 3½-foot-by-7-foot table -- which is not recommended unless you are super-tight on space -- would need 13½ feet by 17 feet of floor space.

Leaving less space than this would require you to either elevate your stick to avoid hitting a wall or breaking a window or using a shortened stick, which is not the best way to play pool -- and it's no fun.

Smaller vs. Larger Table

One of the tradeoffs to consider in a tight space is buying a smaller table, which will fit in smaller areas but limit your opportunity for high-level play. For example, if you are considering a 9-foot table, but find that you'd be cramped on certain shots in terms of the above-noted dimensions, you could purchase an 8-foot table, which might fit more comfortably in your available space.

In most cases, however, your best bet is getting the biggest table you can afford. If you play in a league on 8-foot tables, after working out at home on your 9-footer for a while, you will be amazed at how well you play on the smaller table during tournaments. If you don't have room for a big table, knock down a few walls in the den. This may seem extreme, but remember that in pool, bigger tables are better. They will help you improve your game and play better when you do find yourself using a smaller table.

Other Considerations

When determining the space you'll need for your pool table, playing area and table size are not the only considerations. You should keep in mind a few other things so that you can place your table safely and securely. Houzz, a home remodeling and redecorating website, recommends considering:

  • Light fixtures: Ensure these are installed before you have the pool table delivered. And, if any of the fixtures are attached to walls, ensure that you will have adequate space to play according to the dimension requirements noted above.
  • Area rugs: If you plan to have one in the pool room, ensure that it's a non-slip variety and that it's secured in place before you bring in the table.
  • Maneuvering the table into the room: As Houzz notes: "Spiral staircases and hallways with tight turns are the biggest issues." Ensure that you will be able to carry the table through tight spaces to muscle it into the pool room.
  • Bring in an expert: "Thankfully, many billiards specialists offer in-home site visits to ensure that the equipment can be maneuvered through and fit in the desired location," notes Houzz, "It’s best to check rather than run the risk of (the table) not fitting."

You don't want to go through all of the trouble of measuring your table and room dimensions, adjusting light fixtures and putting rugs into place only to find that you can't get the table into the room. Planning is key. So, take your measurements and map out a strategy -- and you'll be playing billiards at home in no time.