Having your own pool table is any enthusiast’s dream. Unlimited time to practice, a table made to your specifications, and nobody you don’t know to mess it up and throw off your groove.
However, dreams and reality don’t always match up exactly. One of the most common problems people have when buying their pool table is not having enough space for it.
Oh, sure. People measure out the space, see they have a room more than big enough for an 8 or 9 foot table, and then go ahead and pull the trigger on the purchase. Unfortunately, a lot of these people soon learn the difference between being able to fit the table…and being able to actually PLAY on the table.
Pool Room Space You’ll Need
Pool is a game that involves at least two people standing around with sticks about the height of a child, who need to lean, stretch, and sometimes contort to hit balls all the way around the length of the up to 9 foot table.
This means every player needs to be able to make a full shot from every angle. Meaning they need to have a LOT of room to maneuver on every side.
In other words, having a tournament legal 9’ by 4.5’ table in a space that is 9’ by 4.5’ isn’t exactly going to work out. It’s not going to work out well with only a foot or two of clearance on every side either.
So, how much space do you actually need, then? It varies by the size of the table and who you’re talking to. It even varies a bit by the player, since if you’re a bit shorter or tend to make very compact strikes, you won’t need as much space.
However, a good rule of thumb to consider is giving your table twice as much space on every side as the longest side. So, in the example of our regulation size 4.5’ by 9’ table, you want to leave 18 feet free on every side of the table. This can, be, of course, overkill (especially on the sides), but it’s just a good basic rule of thumb to work by. From there you can test and scale down or up (though this should be much rarer) to suit your preference. I’ve seen some specific examples of 14 feet being good on the sides of a regulation table, for example.
Using a Room Size Calculator
If its hard for you to visualize how the layout will appear. Then we recommend using a room size calculator. CLICK HERE
Take Note that a physical survey of the space may give you of additional factors to consider. So, I would suggest to manually measure the space to see if the layout matches up.
If your using a different metric, then you just need to double the space on the length (eg. 18 feet for the 9’ table) and triple the space, rounding up, for the width (eg. 15 feet on the 4.5’ wide regulation table).
Both of these metrics should give you a good idea of the expected amount of space you’ll need to comfortably play on a table.
Manually Measuring the Pool Space
You might need to get your hands dirty when your beginning to construction your game room. Know that a smaller 7’ bar table needs less space (hence why they’re often crammed pretty tightly into bars and pool halls), while a huge 10’ billiards table would be taking up even more space than the 9 footer on each side.
If you want something a bit more personalized, you can start doing some measuring. Make a little chalk or string outline the size of the table you plan to buy, in the room you plan to put it in. Take your cue and, keeping in mind the outline, take a few practice strokes. See if the space is comfortable for you to move around in, and take the same type of strikes you would normally take. It will feel a bit awkward, and won’t be completely accurate, but it will give you a decent feel for what you’re working with.
If you’re working with a space that seems just a little bit too small, you can always try a smaller table. An 8 foot table is still quite nice at home, and if you’re not planning to play tournament level pool, a 7 footer is probably the most common type of table you’re going to be playing on, so it’s actually the best practice you can get if you primarily play pool at bars.
Game Room Space Considerations
Keep in mind that all of this space needs to be completely open space; you can’t have a bunch of clutter bogging down the footpaths around the table that people will stumble over, and even waist high obstacles like counters or freestanding shelves are enough to foul up a shot.
Additionally, space should be wide enough for times when you’ll have to move, repair or when you need to change pool cloth. There should be careful consideration on what things are needed in room like a storage rack for your prized pool cues.
That means the room with your pool table truly does need to be a game room, if not a dedicated “pool room”, which can preset issues in a lot of standard homes. Even if you have a large home, each individual room might be too small to properly hold one of these tables, or that room may be needed for other things.
In many cases, sacrifices will need to be made to fit a pool table like this in your home, such as if your home has a dedicated dining room area, it may now become the home for your new pool table.
Ultimately, the idea of “measure twice, cut once” comes to mind as more of a philosophy in this case than something literal. You need to be very sure that there is somewhere in your home that you don’t need for something else that is suitable to store this pool table. There are some interesting workarounds for this (like pool tables which can convert into dining tables and vice versa), but most are fairly unsatisfying. Ultimately, you may need to wait until you’re living somewhere with far fewer space constraints.