There are several things to consider and look for before you decide to purchase a used pool table (or any pool table for that matter). Here are the main things to consider:
Generally, pool tables come in 4 different sizes - 6 foot, 7 foot, 8 foot, and 9 foot. Tournament pool tables are 9 foot in length. If you want your pool setting to be professional and authentic you will want to look for a 9 footer.
If you don't care about a professional setting, the other sizes should be fine for you. The only thing you will want to watch for is where you will be setting up you pool table.
You want to make sure that you have enough room to aim and make a shot all the way around your pool table. The average pool cue is about 57" long (shorter pool cues are available if required)so you will want at least 60 inches from your pool table to the wall. Using this calculation, your "pool room" should be 120" longer and wider than your pool table.
Pool tables range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars or more. You can find new and used pool tables at several places. Retail stores, yard sales, your local classifieds, sporting goods stores, and Ebay just to name a few. Purchasing a used pool table through the classifieds, or on Ebay can save you a lot of money.
If you decide to purchase a used pool table, you may be better off to do it locally through classifieds or a yard sale. This way you will be able to see the pool table in person and maybe even try playing on it to make sure it is of acceptable quality for you.
Purchasing on Ebay or another auction site may be able to save you more money, but, unless the pool table is within a reasonable distance, you won't be able to "try before you buy". The shipping costs for this method may diminish any money you were able to save.
3) Construction Materials
Another factor to look at when purchasing a new or used pool table is the quality of the construction.
Pool tables can be made from solid wood, laminate, plastic, metal, and more. Solid wood is the most sturdy, and therefore, generally the most expensive. Common types of wood are hardwoods such as oak or cherry. Your choice will need to be based on personal preference, and what the pool table will mainly be used for. If the pool table will be used only as a hobby on the side, or if it will mainly for children then you probably don't need to go with the most expensive. If you can push on the pool table and it seems sturdy and doesn't rock, it will probably be sufficient. Another factor to think about is the room the pool table will be going into. Which construction will match your home decor?
The most popular material for the table bed is slate. Slate is used due to it's strength and stability. It can be one piece or separated into 2 or 3 pieces. One piece is the best because is guarantees a smooth surface. Multiple pieces are ok, but you will want to make sure that the surface is smooth where the pieces come together. Cheaper alternatives are available, but I wouldn't recommend them.
Felt is used to go over the slate. It is generally a well constructed cloth which allows the balls to roll smoother and faster and increases durability. The main colors for the felt are green or red, but other colors are available.
The pockets are generally made of plastic or leather. They can be covered and enclosed or exposed. Choosing the type of pockets your pool table has is mainly a personal preference.
Pool table setup can be a tricky business. Professional setup and installation services are available. They can range from $50 to $300 or more. If you are mechanically inclined you may be able to setup a pool table on your own depending on which type you choose. At the very least, you will probably need a friend due to the weight of your pool table. The more expensive, well constructed pool tables can be upwards of 1500lbs!
Whether you choose a new or used pool table, it is much like purchasing a piece of fine furniture. You will want to make sure it will match your home decor and look nice. Pool tables are virtually maintenance free and will provide hours of enjoyment in setup correctly and kept clean.
Good luck in your search!