How to Replace Pool Table Cushions in 1 Hour

Replacing pool table cushions and rails is easy and simple. All you need are a set of new rails, a staple gun, glue, a sharp knife, and a straight edge! If you’re trying to save some money and hold on to your trusty pool table, you can learn how to replace pool table rails by reading this 5 Part Guide.

Students enjoying game of pool

Pool table cushions are supposed to last 20-25 years but as with everything else in life, this is not always the case. Sometimes rails can fail after only 5-10 years of play. Obviously this all depends on use and maintenance of your pool table. For those who play occasionally, your pool table will last up to nearly 20 years with no problems. Pool tables used in bars, pubs, and other commercial venues tend to to see much higher use, causing cushions to wear our much quicker.

How to Tell if You Need to Replace Pool Table Cushions

You can tell if your pool table cushions need to be replaced because they will not provide as much bounce as they used to when balls come into contact. You will hear a deep “thudding” noise. This indicates a worn out rail that needs to be replaced with performance rails that will completely change game play.

Pool table rails tend to go out around the same time so we advise replacing all six cushions at once. Cheaper low quality tables use K-66 rubber rails that are usually pink. Performance rails are often amber or tan in color. Although you can’t tell what color your rails are when installed, you can do a quick resiliency test to see if your cushions need to be replaced.

Here you can see the different types of rubber used to make pool table cushions. Img via Cue Sport Group.

The Pool Table Resiliency Test

Roll a ball against the rails of your pool table. The ball should bounce against the side rails 3-4 times before coming to a stop. If it falls short, your pool table cushions need to be replace.

Pool Table Rail Replacement

Some pool table manufacturers try to keep prices down by opting for cheaper rails. They cut expenses and buyers can’t see them. To learn how to discern quality pool tables, you should read The Pool Table Buyers Guide. Some players have noted issues with brands like American Heritage and Artisan. All things aside, pool table cushions need to be replaced at some point in time if you want to maintain your well-oiled machine.

Game Tables only carries the best pool tables. While some sites boast an inventory of thousands of pool tables, we hand pick every item to ensure high quality control. This is what makes customers comfortable and confident when buying from us. See the difference!

How to Replace Pool Table Cushions – The 5 Part Guide!

In order to replace worn out pool table rails, you will need to remove the feather stick, remove the felt cloth, remove stapes, and use a scraper to dislodge any excess glue. Installing new rails involves gluing on new rubber rails, cutting the rail to length, attaching rubber ends, and stapling new cloth over the rail.

Game Tables Online has created a video transcript of a YouTube video done by The Pool Table Guy. You can refer back to this post for all the instructions you need to replace your pool table cushions. Thanks for the great video R. Steven Schaffer!

Part 1- Removing the Rails and Felt

  1. Start by removing the rails. Most pool table rails are screwed into place. Once you unscrew them, pull up and out on the rails and they will pop off.
  2. Use a razor knife to slice the length of the rail. Then remove the feather strip that runs the length of the rail. The feather strip is seated inside a groove in the rail and keeps the cloth tucked away.
  3. Turn the rail upside down and remove as much of the felt as you can by hand. The rest will be removed in the next step.
  4. Use need nose pliers to remove staples and the rest of the cloth. While it’s best to get as many of the staples out as possible, it’s not necessary to remove every single one. Just make sure that you don’t try to staple on top of old staple when installing the new cloth.

Part 2- Removing facing & Glue Adhesive

  1. Remove the facing. The facing is the end cap of the rubber rails. When the facing has been removed, you can pry off the old rubber railing. Use a scraper to remove all remaining flue and rubber elements to ensure a clean fit when new rails are installed.
  2. Apply a generous coat of 3M Scotch-Weld Contact Adhesive-10 glue to the rail and cushion.
  3. Let the glue sit until it becomes tacky. This will ensure that your new rail stays in place when seated on the wood.

While you’re waiting for the glue to dry, check out some of these Cool Cue Sticks to go with your new rails!

Part 3- Aligning New Rails

  1. Lay a new rubber rail on top of the wood. Placement is critical and could affect game play. Use your hand to guide the rail in place to make sure that it is in the perfect position. Re-do this step if need be. You don’t want your new rails to be seated at an incorrect angle or you will have to remove them and do it all over again!
  2. Using a straight edge, mark the ends of the cushion. Follow the angle of the rail on the top to leave an angle to place your new facings.
  3. Use a sharp knife to cut off the ends. You probably don’t want to do with with box cutter because their length will inhibit your ability to make a clean and consistent cut.

Part 4- Installing New Facings

  1. Glue on the facings. Make sure they are flush with the rubber rails.
  2. Trim excess off the facing using a knife. Use the contour of the cushion rail as a guide.

Part 5- The Final Touch

  1. Place a new strip of rail cloth over the channel inside the rail where your feather strip came from. Leave a little excess cloth at both ends of the rail so that you can staple the cloth to the back of the rail.
  2. Lay the feather strip in place. Use a hammer to gently knock the feather strip inside of the channel to hold the felt in place.
  3. Make a relief cut at each end of the rail so that the cloth folds over nicely for stapling.
  4. Use a block of wood to make sure that the feather strip is in place. It won’t quite be flush but you should expect the feather strip to be raised just a tad higher than the actual rail. This because of the space that the felt occupies in the channel.
  5. Trim excess felt inside of the feather strip for a clean and professional look.
  6. Keeping the felt cloth snug, fold the cloth tightly along the contours of the rail. Staple the cloth in place.
  7. Go along the length of the railing, pulling tightly the cloth and stapling into place. You want the felt to be snug but not so tight that it compromises the shape of your rails.
  8. Finally, fold and staple the other end of the felt to the rail and viola, you have successfully replace your pool table cushions! Let the games begin!

More Pool Table Repair Guides:

  1. How to Change Felt on a Game Table
  2. How to Recover a Worn Down or Scuffy Bumper Pool Table
  3. How to Assemble a Billiards Table