Growing up, we had an old pool table that we scored off a Craigslist for quite the deal. When my mom moved to North Carolina, she didn’t have a place for the pool table in her new home, so she graciously gifted it to Andrew and I.
We were thrilled to get such a nice pool table for free, but… it didn’t match the style of our game room. The classic style and red felt would stick out like a sore thumb in the modern, blue game room.
So what did we decide to do? Renovate it! Painting, refelting, and replacing the legs would surely be more cost-effective than buying a new slate pool table. So we dove in (without really having a plan) and created something better than we both thought was possible!
Let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
- 120+ grit sandpaper
- Wood putty or spackle
- 1.25″ metal (depends on pool table size — enough for corners of the base and all of the railings)
- 18mm googly eyes (yes, you heard me right)
- Craft glue
- 1.25″ trim board (depends on pool table size–enough to go around the bottom of the base)
- Quart of chalk paint (Gray Screen by Sherwin Williams)
- Spray paint
- Razor blade scraper
- Leveling feet (4)
- Vinyl (we used chalkboard vinyl for added texture)
- 4x6x8 pine
- 4x4x6 pine
How to give your pool table a modern update
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Step 1: let your wood dry
Pick up your 4x6x8 and 4x4x8 boards from your local home improvement store. Please note that they will require some dry time. We like to pick up our wood 2 weeks before we plan to use it (technically you are supposed to let it dry for even longer than that).
Step 2: disassemble the table
We were lucky enough to have ours delivered in pieces, but if yours is already put together, start by unbolting the bumpers, removing felt and slate, and taking off the legs.
Remove the bottom molding from the pool table base with caution. Our pool table had some slight water damage, so some of the pool table base came off when we removed the molding. Luckily it’ll be covered so you don’t need to worry about fixing the texture.
Detach the apron from your railings. Remove the felt on your railings by using pliers to remove all of the staples. Some might come out from pulling on the felt. However, you remove the staples, make sure to remove them all.
If one of your railings has a logo plaque, unscrew the plaque and cover it with spackle to make the surface smooth. The logo will get partially covered up by the metal detail that goes around the railings, so it’s best to get rid of it completely for a finished look.
step 3: update the railings
Cut the excess wood off the railings. On each of our railings, there was a slot for the apron to attach. When cutting, get close to this slot, but be sure to leave it intact so that the apron can still slide in.
Cut your metal pieces to the size of your railings using a hacksaw. Measure the depth of your pool table from the bottom of the corner pocket alcove to the bottom of the base and cut 4 pieces of metal to size to place on the corners of the pool table base.
Step 4: make trim boards
Cut your trim board to fit between the metal corners. You can mock it up by placing (or clamping) your metal corners and measuring the distance. While you are mocking up the trim boards, mark them across the whole metal strip to get the proper angle that you will need to cut.
Glue googly eyes on your trim boards approximately 3″ apart from one another. To speed up the process, use a ruler to get the spacing on one of the boards. Then use this board as a guide and just place the googly eyes on your other boards in line with the googly eyes on your first board.
Step 5:prep for paint
Wipe down your pool table base, aprons, and railings to remove any debris and prepare them for paint. We chose chalk paint because it does not require that you sand down your surfaces before applying.
To prep 4×6 and 4x4s for paint, fill any cracks and knots with spackle. We used spackle because it doesn’t shrink, but wood putty will work too. Just be sure to overfill your cracks and knots if you’re using wood putty. Then sand using 120 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 220 grit sandpaper for a smoother finish. Yes, chalk paint does not require sanding prior to application, but you’ll want to sand this wood because treated wood is generally very rough and has a handful of splinters when you purchase it from the store.
Step 6: paint
Apply 2-3 coats of chalk paint to your pool table base, aprons, and railings.
Spray paint your metal pieces, pockets, triangles, and trim boards.
Step 7: final touches for the railings
While the paint is drying, cut out the dots for your pool table railings. I cut them out of chalkboard vinyl with my Cricut. You can use normal vinyl, but I wanted the added texture of the chalkboard vinyl.
Place the dots on your pool table railings. You can use rulers and be exact or you can try my method–I used my finger as a spacer from the felt area and then eyeballed it to line up with the old dot.
Step 8: Liquid Nails
Use liquid nails to attach the metal pieces to your railings. Clamp each side while the glue dries.
Liquid nail the metal pieces to the corners of the pool table base. Use clamps to secure while drying.
Then use liquid nails and real 1.5″ nails to attach the trim boards.
Step 9: Legs
Screw leveling feet to the bottom of each leg.
Attach the legs using the bolts from your original legs. Pre-drill for the bolts using a slightly smaller drill bit than your bolt.
Flip the pool table over and position it in the room where you would like it.
Measure the distance between your legs and cut your 4×6 to size. Drill six pocket holes (3 on each side) on the bottom of the 4×6. Screw the 4×6 to your legs at your desired height. Place a level on top of the 4×4 to ensure that it stays level.
Level the pool table using the leveling feet.
STep 10: Add the slate
Place the slate on top of the pool table and pray that the legs hold up! (just kidding–they are very strong). Position the slate so that it’s lined up.
Check that the pool table is level again. If it’s not, you can use a car jack to lift one side of the pool table so that you can get to the leveling feet. Once level, you need to ensure that all of the slate pieces are lined up with one another, both on the sides and vertically. We use a cut-up aluminum can as a shim to get the pieces aligned.
Once aligned, bolt in the slate.
Step 11: prep for felting
If you have deep chips in your slate, fill them with Bondo following the instructions on the bottle.
Use wax to fill the cracks between the slate pieces. We found that it’s easiest to place the wax along the cracks and then melt it using a blow torch. Note: be safe! Always practice fire safety and keep a fire extinguisher close by just in case.
Scrape off any extra wax using a razor blade scraper. Check your seams for gaps in the wax and repeat the melting and scraping process as many times as necessary to completely smooth the seams.
Step 12: Felt the table
We’re getting close now! It’s time to felt the pool table. We’ll have a full post dedicated to the felting process next week, so hang tight! If you can’t wait–Google is amazing ?
Step 13: Reassemble
Cut holes in the felt where you will bolt in the railings.
Once everything is felted, it’s time to re-assemble the pool table. Start by assembling one half of the railings (3 total) and the pockets. Assemble them upside down. Screw-in a couple of the bolts on each railing without the washers to help position the railings when you flip them over.
Flip over the assembled rails and line them up with the slate. Work your way around the pool table bolting in the railings using bolts and washers. Be sure to remove any of the bolts that you added in the previous step and re-screw them in with washers. Repeat with the other side.
Step 14: finishing touches
If you want to go the extra mile, you can caulk between the legs and the 4×4 bar and then paint over it. You can also fill the nail holes on the trim boards and paint.
We made it to the most important step–set up those balls and start playing pool! This was a big transformation so plan a party, celebrate, and show this pool table off!
We’ve gotten some fun responses about this pool table transformation on Instagram (@craftedbythehunts) , but the most common is that no one thought to renovate a pool table! It’s just like another piece of furniture that you might have laying around. There is always a way to update it and give it a second life.
Are you ready to tackle yours?? Send us your pictures and questions on Instagram. We’d love to see your transformation and cheer you along!