How to recover a pool table

HOW TO RECOVER A POOL TABLE (copyright Blue Moon Leisure)

Disclaimer; Blue Moon Leisure does not accept liability for any accidents that might occur during the recovering of pool tables whilst using this guide. These instructions are meant only to be used a useful guide to help and assist, and anyone using it has the sole responsibility for Health and Safety issues.

Safety First. Pool table slates are heavy and can be extremely dangerous. Care should be taken when handling and lifting the slates and Children should be kept well away from the table at all times whilst recovering.

You may find these instructions easier to use if you print them off, there are about 12 pages. Give us a ring if you have any problems or you find some of the instructions difficult to understand, it will help us improve the content for future users. Good Luck!

In the picture right you can see a pool table which is looking rather worn. Apart from a few small tears on the cushions and some bear patches on the bed, it is still playable, but the pits and digs in the cloth do not make for a good game of pool.

We will show you how to restore the table to its former glory and enhance the playing conditions so you can enjoy playing pool.


Recovering a pool table


Consider what colour cloth might best suit your pool room surroundings. There are many colours available now to choose from. These are just a few on the right.

You also need to decide if you want a `woolen directional cloth` or a `speed cloth`.


Pool cloth colours

Tools required.  All the materials required are included in the pack if you have bought from us. It might be necessary to invest in some tools if you don’t already have them. You will need to buy a staple gun and staples if you don’t have one or can’t borrow one. They are available from most hardware stores, and if you successfully recover your table this time, the money saved will easily pay for it, and you will have it for your next recover. You can even charge for doing other pool tables in your area, and make some extra cash.

Clamps are something that are useful when stretching the cloth, but you can get by without them, particularly if you have someone who can hold the cloth whilst you pull it tight.

Staple gun
staple gun

Screwdriver Also used to remove staples


Adhesive glue

Useful but not necessary if you have someone that can hold the cloth while it is stretched.

It is important to note that not all pool tables are manufactured in the same way. The table to the right for example has a hinge top with 2 retaining strings. Some tops (or `cushion rails`) simply lift off altogether.

Normally both styles have spring clips that have to be undone before the top can be lifted off. You can usually get to these by taking out the ball run, or by putting your hand through holes positioned underneath the pool table


Useful Tip;

Put a cue or piece of wood against the corner of the table and the table top if it is hinged.  If the top falls down whist you are working, it could do some damage to yourself as well as the table.


Remove the cushions from the table top.  There are often fixing screws under the top which you will see when it is lifted.  These enable you to unscrew the cushions from the rail.  With some tables you might have to remove rubber or metallic strips which run along the edge of the table top frame, and the screws or bolts are underneath.  

Close-up of under the cushion rail.

Useful Tip

 You will probably find that the cushions are numbered. This is so that they can be put back in the same position on the table top. You will find that the table top also has numbers to match, if they do not it is a good idea to do so. This might stop any problems when re-fitting, and will help you to put the cushions back in their correct place. Middle pocket cushions are shaped differently then those that go on the end.

If you have any problems with this first stage, please contact us for more advice.

Next stage is removing the old staples and stripping old cloth off cushions. This might take a little time, and care needs to be taken.  If you are using a sharp instrument such as a screw driver be careful not to push it into your other hand that is holding the cushion.  The pool table bed (with old cloth on) is often a convenient place to remove the old staples. Good worktops and tables are not recommended. If you have small children in the family it is important to keep the old staples you remove out of their reach and dispose of safely.

Remove cushions

Cushion rail with bolt.

On some models screws might be used. It is easier to remove screws before recovering.

Remove old staples with a tool such as a screwdriver.

NEXT STAGE , Recovering.

The cloth you are using?

Important note; If you are putting on a napped cloth, the nap goes from the bulk end to towards the `ball-rack` end. If you are fitting a speed-cloth (no nap) it makes no difference.

Napped cloth is where the wool is woven. If you brush your hand over the cloth and it leaves a smooth mark, then the direction you brushed the cloth in is with the nap. Alternatively of-course, if it roughs up, you would be brushing against the nap. It is quite important because it can make a difference to the speed and direction of the cue ball, and you have probably heard T.V commentators refer to the nap of a table during televised matches.   

Let’s start! Check the rubbers are securely attached to the wooden cushion blocks. If they are loose re-glue them, using either superglue or another suitable glue for wood and rubber, if they are very loose and gaps are very big.  It is very important that the rubbers are not loose as it will affect the bounce of balls against them. If gluing is necessary, make sure that the glue is dry before attempting to recover. In very bad cases where the rubbers are very old, they might be very hard and may require replacing.

Depending on the quality of the wood, it is sometimes even better to replace the whole cushion. The reason for this is if the cushion has already been recovered many times the staples will have caused so many tiny holes in the wood that it will easily splinter, and eventually disintegrate. There really is little point in taking the time and expense in fitting new rubbers to old and worn cushion blocks.

The pictures below show a good cushion and one where the rubber is coming loose.

Cutting your cloth

If the cloth supplied is in one piece, cloth for the cushions comes from the side (or length) of the cloth.  If we have supplied you with bed and cushion cloth already cut, you do not need to follow the following instructions   Most of the tables we fit require between 5&1/2 inches and 6 inches cloth width for cushions, depending on the type of table and cushion it might vary a little.  You can of-course measure the width of the cloth from the cushions you have just stripped, but cut a little wider to be sure. Don’t cut too tight that it makes the fitting difficult, but do not cut too wide either or you will leave yourself short of cloth for the slate. The cloth is expensive and there is not a lot to spare when you have finished. When you have successfully completed your first two cushions you will need to do repeat the procedure below twice more and the remaining cloth will be used to cover the bed.

VERY IMPORTANT.  If you have been supplied cloth for the table with the cushion cloth already cut, the procedure below is not necessary.

Measure and mark Snip Rip Cut in half

Useful Tip 

Measure between 5&1/2 and 6 inches and mark cloth. Snip a small cut of about an inch and then pull the cloth apart and rip along the full length of the cloth. Fold it in half and cut in half, and you then have the cloth to do your first 2 cushions.

Recovering your cushions

Many of you who are doing this for the first time will probably find this one of the hardest parts of the job. Don’t worry though, follow the instructions below carefully and you should be able to do alright.

Lay the cushion in the centre of the material on a flat surface. Fold the top of the material over the top of the cushion. Make sure that you have the playing surface on the outside and not underneath.

Place one staple in the middle, and pulling the material tight place another in one end.


Pulling firmly, fold back the top and staple Pulling firmly, fold over the other side and staple Pulling firmly, staple the bottom of the cushion.

Though we only show 3 staples in the pictures above, you must use as many staples as are necessary for a secure fit.

Do the same to the other end Then staple along the top one side Then staple along the bottom of the other

Useful Tip

The reason we suggest you pull the cloth firmly whilst stapling is that the cushions will have heavy creases in if they are stapled too loosely. You have to be careful not to pull too tightly however, or you might distort the rubber or pull it off the wood. Don’t panic if you feel they are not as good as you would like. If you check them as you do them you can remove some of the staples to adjust and tighten the cloth as you go.  Make sure you are happy with the recover before cutting off surplus cloth.

Staple the bottom and cut off surplus Replace screws Finished cushion.

Replace the cushions, remembering to put them back in the same order they were taken off. Match the numbers on the cushions with the numbers on the rails if they are marked.

Do not feel that you have to do the whole job in a day.  A skilled fitter would do it in a few hours, but as a beginner it would be best to take your time, and do the best job you can.  You have already done well if you have successfully recovered the cushions, now we move onto the recovering of the table slate.


The first stage of recovering the slate is the cleaning up of the slate itself, and so that you can access the slate easily we recommend that you lift the slate and place a piece of timber underneath at both ends.  Though different makes of tables might be designed in various ways, most have supporting bars or timbers which the slate rests on. It is normally possible to place the timbers under the slate and between these supports to lift it.

Though a skilled fitter might know of a technique that will enable him to do this on his own, it is recommended that you seek some help to lift the slate. The slates on Pool Tables are extremely heavy and without due care you could have a serious accident. Damaging your back or fingers will not help your game of pool, so be careful. Do not allow children near the table whilst recovering bed.

If you have the space you might prefer to remove the slate altogether and recover on the floor. If you do choose to use timbers to raise the slate, make sure the timbers or slate don’t move when scraping off the old glue or stretching the cloth.

When you have the slate in a good position to work on, you can remove the old cloth.

Useful Tip. It might be useful to try and remove the old pool cloth in one piece. This might help give you some idea how the pockets and the cloth had been cut, and where the bulk line was before.

This is now the messy part of recovering.  It is likely that under the cloth you will see a lot of dust, much of this is from the chalk that players put on their cues. All this dust needs to be removed and the slate wiped with a wet cloth. Any solid lumps may even need scrapping off. If you want the balls to run straight, you will want the slate to be nice and clean and without any bits underneath the playing surface that might make the balls roll off.

Place a block of wood across the slate supports under each side of the slate and just in from the middle pocket.  The example above has 2 extra pieces taped on the end to raise it a little higher. With the blocks underneath, peel back the old cloth. It will probably be very dusty underneath, and require a good clean.

Useful Tip.

Removing old glue off slate

After you have cleaned the slate it is a good idea to remove the old glue from the top and the edge of the slate. This will ensure the adhesive you put on the slate will stick better and help prevent the cloth coming loose. This does take time though, and you will need a sharp implement (such as a scrapper or knife) to remove the old glue, particularly if it has not been done for several recovers.  This is more likely to be the case with old pub tables which are under contract and the fitters need to do a `quick job’. We don’t need to do a `quick job` though, we want to do a `good job`, so we would always advise spending a little longer and removing the old glue. If the cloth comes loose because of the old glue, you will have to re-glue anyway so you won’t save any time by not removing it.

If you are using a sharp instrument to remove glue – be careful.

Though your cloth might have been glued under the slate by the previous fitter, these instructions will show you that apart from under the pocket areas, this isn’t necessary.


Lay your cloth on the table. Remember to check the nap if using a woolen cloth and lay in correct direction. Make sure that the table slate is clean and dry before you do this. Position the cloth so that the first side you are going to glue (the long side with the middle pocket) over hangs the slate by between 1/2 and 1 inch. Position so that the two ends are roughly over hanging by the same amount.

Now you need to get some cardboard, sheet or clean covering (we have used a dustbin liner in the past) and place so that when folded back you can see about an inch of the slate surface, see picture a) & b) below.


Picture a) Picture b)

When you are sure the cloth is in the correct position, you are ready to apply the glue to one side.  You have probably realised the reason for the cardboard is to protect the playing surface from glue particles which might float onto it when you spray, and also because you have to glue right up to the edge of the cloth.

It is also a good idea to put some cardboard or other form of protection under the slate to stop glue from getting onto other parts of the table.

Useful Tip.

If you do get some glue particles on the playing surface of the cloth, don’t worry, and don’t try to rub it off straight away. When it has dried you will probably be able to brush most of it off with a table brush.

Before using the glue, read the instructions, and shake can well before use. It is also a good idea to just try spraying a piece of cardboard to give you an idea of how the glue sprays.

Next stage is applying the spray. With sweeping strokes spray the piece of cloth turned back, the top of the slate showing, and the side of the slate. See the pictures below;

You have plenty of spray in the can to do one table, so spray generously. Do not spray in the pocket areas yet, this will be done when we cut the pockets. For the moment spray down the side, but just short of the three pockets and leave for aprox’ 30 seconds, then place the cloth over the glued area.  Make sure you are happy with the position of the cloth and then press into slate. A small piece of wood is useful for this purpose.

When you have done this, if you have any clamps you can attach as shown below. As stated earlier these are useful but not necessary if you have someone to help hold the cloth as you pull the cloth firmly to you glue the other side.

The glue marks on the top will not be seen when you attach cushions Do not apply spray adhesive on the middle or end pockets. This will be done later.

Next, do the same to the other side. Pull firmly so that most of the creases in the cloth have gone, if they show a little don’t worry as you have to stretch the short ends when you glue, and they will probably come out. Another reason for a fairly tight cloth though is that it helps to make the balls run quicker, and you don’t want the cloth to `bunch up` when you put your bridge hand on it later. Make sure the cloth is fairly secure before you do the other side, and this is why the clamps or someone holding it helps.

Next stage.  Cutting the middle pockets. 

It is advisable to cut and glue the middle pockets before gluing the short ends. The reason for this is that if you glue the ends of the table and pull the cloth tight, it will make the cutting and gluing of the middle pockets more difficult. If however the middle of the table has a bit of slack in the cloth, much of this will go when you fit the ends of the table.

Cutting the middle pockets.

Depending on how well the fitter covered the table before, you might be able to use the cloth you removed as a guide to how the pockets are to be cut.  You can look at the way the `fingers` were shaped in the middle pockets. Some older slates have bigger holes depending on the shape of the cushions, so the cutting of the cloth might need to be adjusted to fit. Generally speaking though, they will be cut as the samples below, as either a) 4 fingers or b) 3 fingers.

Pull cloth firmly and make cut with small Stanley (or other sharp) knife.

Don’t cut too near the slate, the edge of the slate needs to be covered and you can always make the cut longer if needed. There is little you can do if you make the cut too long.

Cut 4 fingers as shown here. This is probably the most common cut for a middle pocket. A `wider, shallower` pocket might be okay with 3 fingers as right.

Cut 3 fingers if the slate is cut with a wider, shallow pocket.


To protect the playing surface when spraying, cut a piece of cardboard out in the rough shape of the pocket and place under `fingers`. Take extra care when directing the glue and make sure you give the can a good shake before use. Spray the fingers taking care not to get any adhesive on the cloth. Then spray the `side`of the slate, including the corners, and `underneath` where the fingers will be stuck. Do not spray on the top of the slate, it is not necessary and the glue will mark the cloth.

When the glue is tacky, after about 30 seconds, pull the fingers firmly and fold underneath, pressing firmly into the slate.

Useful Tip.

Use the top of the can (the lid) to press the cloth into the curve of the slate pocket.

We are now getting close to finishing.

Using the same method we used for the sides, stick the ends down. Remember to use some cardboard to protect the cloth when spraying. If you have used clamps for the side remove the ones down the sides nearest the end you are gluing so that you can stretch it towards you.

Cut the `fingers` of the corner pocket as shown right. Cut another piece of cardboard to the shape of the corner pockets and glue them as the same method as you applied to the centre pockets.

Finishing off 

You have now completed all the gluing and it is just a case of marking and tidying up. First you have to cut off the excess cloth. Using a sharp knife run it along the bottom edge of the slate as shown.


Useful Tip. 

A professional fitter when fitting a cloth in a club or pub, will very often put tape over the `fingers` that you have glued under the slate pockets. You might have seen this when you removed the cloth and thought it was a bit of a `bodge up` but it does in fact serve a purpose. If balls get stuck in a pocket it is easy to catch these `fingers` and accidentally pull them loose when trying to retrieve a ball or obstruction such as a piece of chalk. The tape offers a little more protection and helps to ensure the cloth does not come loose, so if you have some tape (such as packing tape), no harm in applying it.


Refer to the separate diagram for table markings, accompanying this recovering kit.  

When you have trimmed off all the surplus cloth you are ready to mark the table. This consists of drawing the bulk-line, and perhaps the `D` if you want to play snooker on the table as well. To draw the bulk’line you will need a straight edge. A smooth piece of wood might do, but remember it has taken you quite a long time to get this far so you don’t want to ruin it by poor marking. You will need a `d` marker for the purpose, and make sure your marking pencil is sharp, but not too sharp as to damage the cloth. Perhaps thicken the point of the pencil by rubbing it first, as you don’t want the line to be too thin.

If you do not have a snooker ball set, but think it would make a change to play a different game, contact us at Blue Moon Leisure or look on our website for information and prices.

You then have to apply the spot (or spots in the case of snooker markings) and to do this you have to position the slate. If you have had the slate on blocks be careful as you remove them and lower the slate. You might need assistance from someone to do this.

Lower the table top (or rail) so that the pockets look evenly positioned, and for the first time now, you will see what sort of job you have done. Hopefully the table will look like new, and you will be proud of what you have done.

Sometimes a good job can be made to look even better if the pocket liners are replaced. This is very simple to do, and if you require new pocket liners phone Blue Moon sales for details and prices.

Set of Pocket Liners

Hopefully you will now have a smart looking pool table and will be looking forward to a good game of pool.  As you have now improved the table, you might also be able to improve your pool game with the enclosed Free Pool Coaching DVD, with the compliments of Blue Moon Leisure. 

Good Luck, and please tell your friends about us.

This is one we did earlier!

Recovered pool table

copyright Blue Moon Leisure