Build A Custom Bar In Your Home

Do you want to have a custom bar for entertaining family and friends in the comfort of your own home?  A home bar offers a place to store your drink of choice, including beer, wine and fine spirits.  It offers a place to relax with family and friends to enjoy your favorite cocktails, wine and beer.  Well, you are not alone because home bars is a growing business.

The problem is that pre-fabricated home bars on today’s market cannot be customized to fit your specific area and/or style. There are hundreds of home bars to choose from but in very limited sizes. These home bars offer neither a place for your refrigerator, wine cooler or kegerator nor storage for you fine spirits and bar ware.

A custom bar is a consideration but typically you have to hire a contractor who will build your bar on-site. This will take a minimum of 3 to 6 months or more and cost $15,000 to $50,000 or more.  These custom bars are not built on site and cannot be moved once installed.  They are simply not structurally strong enough to be picked up and moved.  You cannot take this investment with you when you move and the new home owner may not like your style.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Our Build-A-Bar Collection offers complete customization within a pre-set menu of options. These pieces can be configured to fit virtually any room style and/or size. There are three styles from which to choose including the MONROE with simple contemporary lines, the NASSAU with fluted columns and the RICHMOND with detailed window pane moldings. Our Build-A-Bar Collection can be finished in 12 standard colors and can also be antiqued, distressed and/or glazed and hand waxed for an Old World look.  The back side of the bar can be customized with refrigerator, doors, drawers, shelving, wine racks and more. Best of all, they are built to order in the USA and installed in your home in 6 to 8 weeks. They are priced competitively and are built significantly stronger than those that are built on-site. In addition, Build-A-Bar has the advantage that they can be moved with the home owner.

8 Things to Know Before Buying a Pool Table

#1 – Our Pool Tables are Solid Wood

Many companies claim that their pool tables are “all wood” or “100% wood”; but these are composite woods and are not the same quality as solid wood construction. It is a known fact that slow growth American hardwoods such as Oak, Maple, Cherry and Walnut are superior to fake wood such as veneer over MDF, Russian maple, Chinese birch (also known as rubberwood).  Many companies make their pool table bodies from MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard which is sawdust glued together under pressure). A very thin layer of decorative veneer is laminated to both of the MDF to give it the appearance of solid wood. Many of the manufactures have perfected the art of routing carved lines through the veneer and coloring the MDF to match the finish. It can be very hard for you, the consumer, to see the difference, but over time you will!

Although it can be argued that MDF can technically be called solid wood (since sawdust is technically wood), it definitely does not support the weight of slate and over time sags and deforms. Slow grown American hardwoods are vastly superior to the Russian maple, Chinese birch and rubber wood used on almost all of imported pool tables.

The quality difference of solid wood construction versus “all wood” or “100% wood” holds true throughout the furniture industry, not just for pool tables. So, this is a key point to keep in mind when doing any furniture shopping.

#2 – Made in America

“Made in America” is a term that is used rather loosely in the billiard industry. Some companies claim that their tables are “Built in the U.S.A.” because the pool table is built in your home (which after all is in located in the U.S.A.).

For example, a popular American-based pool table company claims their pool tables are made in America when in fact 99% of the pool table’s parts are manufactured in Malaysia and China. These parts are tightly packed into containers and shipped from overseas to a distribution point in Cleveland, Ohio where they sit in a warehouse until they are ready to be assembled into a pool table. Nevertheless, this company maintains they have the legal right to claim that their tables are “Made in America” because the imported parts are assembled in Ohio. In fact, this brand is sold on the Internet, in many patio and swimming pool stores and at some major retail chains under the claim that they are “Made in America.”

There are less than a handful of pool table companies that actually manufacture pool tables in the U.S.A. These American manufacturers do not sell direct to consumer or allow their pool tables to be sold on the internet. One rule of thumb is that if the table is sold online, the chance is very high that it is made overseas. So, when shopping online or in a store, ask about the country of origin for the parts used to make the pool table.

#3 – Lifetime Warranty

While most of our pool tables are covered by a lifetime warranty, many companies make this statement to give you a sense of buyer confidence. Certain warranties are only valid if the manufacturer and/or Internet-based retailer remains in business! The fact is that many manufacturers, especially the import and Internet-based companies go out of business every 1 to 3 years.

Very few companies guarantee their rubber cushions because they use a type of rubber that is known to break down and is very expensive to replace. Most companies will not even warranty their pool tables to ensure level play because it is impossible to level a poorly designed pool table. Costco.com for example has the following disclaimer on American Heritage Pool Tables *Warranty does not include re-leveling of the billiard table.

Since we deliver and install all of our pool tables with our own professionally trained employees, we guarantee that the balls will roll straight!

#4 – Free Delivery

Free Delivery is a claim that is always made by internet retailers to make you feel that you are getting a good deal. Free delivery works well for small packages but is a total disaster when delivering large heavy game tables. You may have had good experiences with getting small packages delivered via UPS or FED-EX. Unfortunately, UPS and FED-EX do not ship large items such as pool tables and game tables, these items must be shipped via conventional freight companies.

For example, many large game tables are delivered to your home with FREE curbside DELIVERY. The keyword here is: “curbside.” If it is used in connection with “delivery,” it means a large tractor-trailer will park on the road in front of your house between the hours of 9:00a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  The truck driver then will move your package to the back of the trailer and, from this point on, YOU are responsible for getting it off the truck and into your home!

Here is a short list of things you must do when you purchase an item that includes “FREE curbside DELIVERY”.

  • Get onto the back of truck to inspect and sign that the game table is in good condition.
  • Find someone to help you lift and carry the game table from the back of a truck to the ground (careful…if you break it you own it!) and carry it into your house. The truck driver is not responsible to lower it to the ground and cannot due to the company’s policies.
  • You have 48 hours to take the table out of the box and inspect all components for any damage. You cannot file a freight claim after 48 hours of receiving goods.
  • If you find damage, you must file a freight claim and wait up to two weeks for an inspector to come to your house to document the damage.
  • You must negotiate with the freight insurance company to make good for the damage which can take up to 9 months. Unfortunately, you rarely receive the true value and you never get paid for all of your time waiting, calling and emailing.
  • You must now wait for the replacement part to be shipped and hope that it arrives in good condition (perhaps another day off from work and hope it’s not damaged this time).

In addition to FREE curbside DELIVERY, most online companies will offer different levels of “service.” For example, you can purchase lift-gate delivery for $150.00 extra, whereby the game table will be lowered to the ground but you are still responsible to carry it into your home. Be sure to check the cost of these service levels (up to $600) and learn whether they will be performed by a billiard specialist or not.

Unfortunately, your issue may never get worked out to your satisfaction and you can be left with an inferior product because it costs too much money to return it under the terms and conditions of the specific return policy. In fact, depending upon the fine print of your delivery terms, it often costs more to return the defective merchandise than the original cost.

#5 – 100% Gum Rubber Cushions

All billiard companies claim to use 100% pure gum rubber cushions. These companies neglect to tell you that their 100% gum rubber cushions are made in China and can also contain up to 25% fillers made from clay and silica. Unfortunately, the extra fillers cause the gum rubber to break down in as little as two years. These rubber cushions are susceptible to heat, cold, UV light and humidity. They have a life expectancy of as little as 3 to 5 years. Most companies have come up with new terms to make their cushions seem superior such as “CONTROL FABRIC” and “RELIEF CUT or SUPER SPEED”.

Rubber cushions are always excluded from their warranty because they know from experience that their cushions do not last all that long and the labor cost to replace them is very expensive (often $300 to replace the cushions and you cannot re-use the billiard felt).

Olhausen Billiards is the only company to offer a lifetime warranty on their AccuFast cushions.  Their rubber cushions are made in the U.S.A. exclusively for Olhausen Billiards. They have produced over 50,000 sets of rubber with no warranty claims.

#6 – It’s on SALE!

Many online and local companies show you a fancy looking pool table with an MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) of $4,895.00 and a special Internet price of only $1,895.00. Wow! What a deal! It sounds too good to be true…and it usually is. Unfortunately, unless you can find the identical pool table elsewhere at the MSRP price, you will never know if it’s truly “ON SALE”.

Your best bet is to purchase your pool table from a local reputable billiard specialist who can stand behind the product and warranty.

#7 – Professionally Installed

Before you buy a pool table, take into consideration some of the qualities mentioned above, such as solid wood vs. MDF particleboard, warranty, delivery details and origin of parts. A pool table is not only a beautiful piece of furniture, but a precision piece of equipment. A pool table plays well only when properly installed by professionally trained delivery staffs who are employees of the company from which you are buying your table.

If you think a subcontractor or delivery staff from a company that sells everything from swimming pools to home appliances, will take the time to properly install your pool table… think again!  Most of the time, you will be disappointed. Most pool table warranties are only valid when installed by a certified dealer who can visit your home to inspect and fix the problem. A subcontractor cannot give you the same level of support as a certified dealer who has their own in-house factory trained installation technicians. Do you really think the subcontractor will return to your home to fix the level on your pool table or billiard fabric that is not properly stretched or poor workmanship?

All of our pool tables are professionally installed by billiard technicians who are actual employees of Pool Tables Plus. They are highly trained and have built hundreds if not thousands of pool tables. We guarantee the levelness of all our pool tables and the quality of our work.

#8 – It’s All In The “NAME”

If you have never heard of the brand name, it is because it may have recently been created to give you a sense of security. After all, if you haven’t shopped for a pool table before, you probably can’t name the top three billiard manufacturers and so a “made up” brand name with a nice story or catchy slogan can be misleading. Even if you have heard the name before, they may not be honest about their current manufacturing practices and are hoping you don’t do your research.

For example, Brunswick Billiards uses the tag line “Authentic American” but we all know that their tables are made in China.  American Heritage Billiards fools us with their name but again we all know that their tables are also made in China.  Spencer Marston has an urban feel to it but again we know that their tables are made in China (and not very good quality).

Have you heard of the newest and best pool table line on the market today?  “Lindsey Jordan”. Not really… I just made it up. Sounds like a nice name to me.

Bottom line is… Buyer Beware! Do your research and buy from a reputable local retailer who will stand behind the product and services.  Most of all have fun with your new pool table!

The Differences in Billiard Felt & Fabric Covers

TRADITIONAL BILLIARD FELT VERSUS WORSTED BILLIARD FABRIC.

 In general there are two different kinds of pool cloth, traditional felt and worsted fabric.  Both types are made from wool and typically contain a small percentage of nylon which is necessary to provide stretch and durability.  In addition to these two types of cloth, there is also a very cheap felt that is mixed with polyester.  This cheap billiard felt is commonly found on non-slate pool tables and not worthy of discussion other than the fact that it is CHEAP in every way.

It costs more than $400 to have a slate pool table reupholstered (re-covered) in a new felt or fabric.  Therefore it is important for you to know the facts.  Unfortunately, the general appearance of billiard felt/fabric degrades with each game that is played.  Unlike a golf fairway, there is no way to fix a divot on a pool table. A divot (removal of fibers) in the surface is easily caused by a miscue or when a player strikes a little too low on the cue ball in an effort to impart back spin. A divot can also be caused by the sharp edges of a cue tip (leather tip) that is not properly groomed or an attempt to jump the cue ball. A divot will appear as a small spot in the material as it is missing some, or in some cases all of its fibers.  When all of the fibers are removed by a severe divot, you will actually see the grey slate on which the felt/fabric is applied.  The good news is divots on a pool table will not grow in size and the billiard ball will amazingly roll over it with little to no deflection.

Divots and ball marks are a natural consequence of playing the game of pool. Divots are more common with novice players who miscue or aggressive players who try to move the cue ball around the table.

BRIEF HISTORY

Up until the 1950’s billiard felt was made from a blend of long and short wool fibers.  This non-directional billiard felt had a fuzzy feel and played slower than today’s billiard felts.  In the early 1950’s nylon fibers were introduced into the manufacturing process.  The nylon/wool blend gave the billiard felt more stretch for a tighter installation and overall it was more durable and played faster than the obsolete woolen felt.

Up until the 1980’s, the game of choice was 14.1 straight pool which required a great deal of cue ball control and finesse.  You had to call each shot and accumulated one point for each ball pocketed until you or your opponent reached 125 points.  In the 1980’s the game of choice became 9-ball and 8-ball which required moving the cue ball greater distances around the pool table.  When worsted billiard fabric was introduced in the 1990’s the professional players quickly endorsed it as superior to the traditional felt.  Today worsted fabric has since become the fabric of choice because it plays faster and is more consistent which is critical to the game of 9-ball.

TRADITONAL WOOL BILLIARD FABRIC

The traditional wool fabric (also called napped billiard cloth) is woven with yarn that is made from both long and short fibers twisted together to make a thick yarn with a fuzzy surface.  The fuzzy nap is a term given to the raised surface of the felt created by “teasing” individual fibers out of the base of the felt itself.  The direction of the nap must always run from the head of the table (break line) to the foot of the table (balls racked).  The nap is created by brushing the felt in one direction which teases (raises) the short fibers and lays them down in one direction.  When a proper nap is achieved it should feel smooth when running your hand in one direction and there should be a resistance in the opposite direction.  Understanding and mastering the nap are essential elements of the game of 14.1 straight pool and even more so in the game of snooker.  Today there is virtually no quality difference between one manufacturer and another since the traditional billiard felt is made in the same mills located primarily in Mexico.  Some brands coat their felt with Teflon to promote a degree of stain resistance.  This is a bad idea because the balls now slide on the felt rather than roll.  Teflon may be acceptable for a low end frying pan but not so good for playing pool.

Characteristics and benefits of Traditional Billiard Felt include:

  • Hides dust and chalk because the looser weave and construction allows the particles to go through the fabric surface.  The chalk and dust accumulates on the surface of the slate underneath the felt. The accumulated particles act as abrasives and create wear on the fabric.
  • The twisted long and short fibers allow surface cover to create a nap finish if teased in one direction.
  • The fibers are cut short to minimize pilling (however, some pilling is inevitable).
  • Traditional wool fabric requires regular brushing to lay the nap down in one direction.
  • Fabric plays faster over time and use as the short fibers get worn down.
  • Available in a variety of colors.

WORSTED BILLIARD FABRIC

Woven with yarn that is combed to remove the short fibers from the yarn.  This is the top choice for super-smooth, super-fast American pool.  Worsted fabric is much more expensive to manufacture.  In general it is longer lasting, consistently flat, very smooth, and easier to clean.  It provides the perfect surface for professional pool tournaments.  The better quality brands including Simonis and Hainsworth (Accuguard) have designed their fabrics for impressive speed, ball spin, durability and low maintenance.  Hainsworth has gone the extra mile by reducing hydral expansion (resists loosening up over time) which provides a protective spill proof finish.

Characteristics of Worsted Billiard Fabric include:

  • Balls run faster with consistent speed (no break-in time is required).
  • Longer lasting and more durable with anti-pill finish
  • Extremely tight weave.  Chalk particles do not penetrate felt but rather sit on the surface making it easy to clean up with a damp felt, brush or vacuum.
  • Low maintenance does not require regular brushing.
  • Available in 25 or more colors.

SUMMARY

A good quality traditional billiard felt that is properly brushed is a terrific choice for playing straight pool or snooker where slower speed can be beneficial.  However, for all around American games such as 8-ball, 9-ball, one-pocket and even straight pool…the worsted fabric is a better choice and a better value because it plays faster, balls rolls further, cleans up better and is more durable.  In either case, make sure you stay with the good quality brands including Simonis and Hainsworth and Accuguard.

 

PTP Blog – December – Finding the Right Bar Stool and Kitchen Counter Stool

Whether you are looking for a bar stool to compliment your wet bar in the man cave, or you’re trying to find the perfect set of stools for the kitchen island; there are many different things to take into account when choosing a barstool.  Everyone has their own style and comfort preferences when it comes to social seating, and different people will find that some bar stools are more suitable than others.  The purpose of this blog is to educate you on how to properly spot a quality bar stool that will function well in your space.

The very first thing to be aware of when searching for a bar stool, is to know what height is needed for your space.  Barstools typically come in two different heights; 24” and 30”. A standard kitchen counter is 36”, as it is the same height as common kitchen appliances, and is a perfect fit for a 24” stool. While standard bar height is 42” and is best fit by a 30” bar stool.

After confirming your appropriate stool height, you will need to decide whether you want arms on your stool or not. When considering a bar stool with arms, think about these factors: comfort, space, and whether you prefer a swivel stool.  Many will prefer a stool with arms because they find it more comfortable, but those stools with arms tend to take up quite a bit more space.  Therefore a bar stool with arms may not be an appropriate choice if you are working with limited space. If you prefer a stool that swivels you may be best served to go with an armless stool. Many granite counter tops have damaged the arms of nice swivel stools because of the arms repeatedly banging into the edge of the counter. Of course, if you have children this problem is more relevant.

When selecting a type of upholstery for the seat of the stool, your personal style will be a definite factor but some materials are better suited for specific situations. If the bar stools are going into a kitchen area, leather or vinyl materials are recommended as they are the easiest to clean. While microfibers provide a softer touch and are easier to clean than most other fabrics.

Now that you know what options to look for let’s talk about how to spot a quality wood barstool. The most important structural aspect of wood stools are the joints where the footplate connects to the legs. The best made joints are doweled, pinned and glued to ensure maximum stability over a long period of time. Less expensive stools will be either glued or held together with a screw or bolt and will loosen after time causing problems down the road.  The type of material in the seat cushion is also important because it will determine if the cushion will retain its shape and initial firmness. Of course, the quality of the wood is not to be overlooked, and solid hardwoods will provide the best longevity.  Take a good look at the Darafeev bar stools and Design Master bar stools as they offer complete customization and superior quality and are built in the USA.

Metal bar stools are also available in kitchen counter height as well as bar height.  They too are available with or without arms and also as stationary or swivel.  Again the American made barstools offer superior quality and customization options and provide the choice of metal finish, fabrics and leathers.  Make sure the barstool is not one that is bolted together as these will not stand up to regular use.  The joints should all be welded to insure they will not come apart with regular use.  Take a good look at Elite manufacturing as well as Trica bar stools for the better quality.

Keep these pointers in mind when searching for the right bar stool.

Happy shopping!

PTP Blog- October- Quality pool tables at an affordable price

When searching for the greatest financial value while shopping for pool tables two factors must be taken into consideration, price and longevity. There are several models of pool tables on the market today that are priced under $1,500 but what kind of value are you actually receiving at that price point when you consider the quality of those tables?

To obtain an honest answer to the question we must first discuss the qualities that make an affordable pool table a good value. The first characteristic to look for is the material that the pool table is made from. Pool table cabinets are generally made from solid hardwood, a veneer, or a laminate. Solid hardwood tables provide the best value over time as they will best retain their ascetic quality, will be less susceptible to varying climate conditions, and can be disassembled and reassembled with minimum issues. Tables built from a veneer or laminate generally have a thin piece of wood or plastic (less than 1/8 of an inch) that is attached to a piece of particleboard or MDF. There are many issues with tables that are primarily fiberboard or MDF. Because these materials are not as strong as solid wood it is easy to strip bolts and screws out of the cabinet which makes it extremely difficult to assemble these pool tables. The lack of strength in the material also cause the frame to expand and contract with a great degree of variance cause bolts , brackets, and screws to come loose compromising the structural integrity of the table.

Perhaps even more important than the material of the cabinet is the play surface under the felt. Slate is the only worthwhile play surface for a pool table as it is flexible enough to level properly yet rigid enough to not warp with varying climate conditions. As a cheap substitute for slate some manufacturers use a MDF board that they color grey to look like slate and create a name for the surface that might make it seem like an engineered slate. Some companies use deceptive practices regarding “wood” the pool table is made out of as well. They will say that a particleboard or MDF table is “real wood” implying that the table is solid hardwood when it is not (using that definition, toilet paper can be considered real wood since it is made from wood fibers). These tables represent a poor value for your money as the average life a table with “fake slate” is approximately 1-2 years. At that point the surface warps and is no longer level making a game of pool impossible to play. Every table we sell at Pool Tables Plus is a true slate pool table.

Another important aspect to consider is the type of rubber cushions.  Most manufacturers of pool tables use a K66 profile rubber cushion that conforms to a BCA specification.  However, most  K66 rubber cushions  are poor quality and made exclusively in China and have a tendency to lose their elasticity after only 2 to 5 short years.  The rubber becomes hard and brittle and is very expensive to replace. The cost of labor to remove and replace rubber cushions is approximately $300 plus materials. Olhausen Billiards is the only manufacturer that uses a very high quality rubber cushion that is made in the USA and is guaranteed for life.

So if you are looking for a quality pool table at an affordable price I would recommend visiting our affordable pool table section. The Fillmore table is the least expensive table that is solid wood and has a slate playing surface. The best overall values for your money in the affordable category are the Bridgeport and Fairfax pool tables. They represent the best value because the slate screws into a plywood surface which ties the cabinet together. This construction method negates stripping bolts or screws and gives the table great structural integrity. The Fairfax and Bridgeport pool tables are built in the USA and are backed with a lifetime warranty that covers all the components except for the felt  and pockets.

Now that you are armed with the necessary information you can make an informed decision and truly get a quality pool table at an affordable price.

PTP Blog- September- Activities for the whole family

Summer is once again coming to a close and those of us in the northeast will soon be trading our beach blankets for snow shovels. However, there are still a few weeks of comfortable weather left in the season which means there is still plenty of time for your family to get together and enjoy some fun in the sun. It is always rewarding when a busy family makes time to play together but there is some added fun when everybody is able to enjoy the outdoor weather.

A fun and exciting activity that can be enjoyed outdoors, while the summer weather lasts, is Ping pong. Outdoor ping pong tables have been growing in popularity over the last few years and are perfect for this time of year when weather can be unpredictable. Tthe tables can easily be wheeled indoors to keep the fun going even if the sun is not shining. As ping pong can be enjoyed indoors or out it is also a terrific family game because it can be played by people of all ages, which can fuel some father-son rivalries.

As the weather gets cooler and we are forced indoors there is no reason to loose out on family time just because the temperature has dropped. There are several indoor games that can enliven the family and help teach the kids patience and perseverance. Of course, pool is one of the most popular of all indoor games. Pool is not only fun and exciting way to spend family time as learning how to play the game teaches children the importance of focus and the necessity of patience. Beyond pool, shuffleboard is a game that has been enjoyed by bar patrons for years but is now making a comeback as fun family game. The ease of game play and excitement of the game makes it perfect for family fun.

Of course, for cold weather and rainy days, there is always the old stand by of watching a classic movie. Home theater seating really brings the whole movie theater experience to your house. For a more family oriented theater experience a super sofa is perfect to create a comfortable cozy environment.

So, although the sun is setting earlier and the weather is getting colder, there is no need to lose out on family time. The convenience of having in home entertainment is perfect for the busy family in the winter season as it strengthens family ties and enlivens the long winter season ahead.