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Are Your Pool Table Rails Dead? Fix Them & Improve Your Play

Rails are an important part of your precious billiards table. And like all other parts of a billiards table, you’ve got to keep care of them in order to maintain the quality of your play.

If you are wondering where you can find the rails on your billiards table, they are found all around the table, on the edge of the perimeter of the table. Precisely between each pocket of your table.

What are Billiards Table Rails

As said earlier, these rails are normally around the edge of the billiards table. The top of these rails is the same hardwood or the same material used on the table. Inside these rails, cushions are found which rebound the ball.

The top part of the rail is glued to the bottom to the wood or the material used, and stapled with the cloth that stretches over the cushion.

The purpose of these rails is to rebound the ball so you can enjoy a smooth and flowing game – not the one in which the ball slows down after hitting the end of a table.

And when these rails, or a few of them, need to be replaced, there are a few signs which you can read and get them replaced in little time.

Causes of Dead Rails

People often ask how to check pool tables rails if they are dead or not.

The thing is, not every time dead rails are the cause of inconsistent rebound. There could be several other undiagnosed issues that need to be fixed, not the rails. And if you ignore this bit, you might end up paying extra money for rails when there was no need to change them.

First of all, if you get the feeling that your table rails are dead, check out the following things:

Loose Rail Bolts?

It could be the issue that your pool/snooker table has loose rail bolts. Like most of the tables, your billiard table is likely to feature a three-piece slate play surface along with rails bolted down to the slate during the assembly.

What happens is with the passage of time these bolts loosen up, it could be because of vibration during the play or inept installation of the table. And thus, you get the feeling that your rails are dead because the ball does not come off with consistent speed after hitting them.

Check for this issue first, if you find loose bolts, tight them and see if it works.

Inept Cushion Installation?

Cushion, also known as table rail cloth, is generally installed by the technician. And if the technician makes a mistake while installing it, for example, over pulling the cloth so that the height of the cushion rubber is too low and resulting in a ball hop or inconstant ball round, this might also give you the feel that your rails are dead.

Also, small other errors in cushion installation can result in this issue. And you might think that your rails are dead. To diagnose this problem, you can consult a professional technician before replacing the rails.

Caution: If you are buying a second-hand table, beware of this problem as it’s more common in them.

Cheap Cushion Rubber?

You might be thinking of installing new rails, while the real issue is with the cushion rubber. The thing is, not all table manufacturers go for quality when it comes to cushion rubber, and most companies that make these offer no guarantee.

So in order to ensure that, check out the health of your cushions first. In this regard too, you can invite a technician at your home and show him the cushion rubbers before making any decision.

If all looks good, now you need to think about installing new rails.

Replacing/Refurbishing Dead Rails

So, chances are high that you would have to replace them, because if your rails are 5-10 years old, it’s worth replacing them instead of giving them to a technician for refurbishing, which is not worth it.

Now I’m going to walk you through the complete step by step procedure which you can use to take out the old rails and install the new ones.

Step 1 – Taking Out The Rails:

In this part, we’ll take out the rails in a neat manner.

  1. To remove the rails, look for the screws in the table. Unscrew the rails and pull them up and out, and they’ll pop off.
  2. Use any sharp object, like a razor knife, to slice the length of the rail.
  3. Remove the feather strip running down the length of the rail.
  4. Now turn your rail upside down to remove the felt by hand. Not all felt will be removed this way.
  5. Then use nose pliers to remove staples and the remaining part of the cloth.

And now, you need to check if your table rail is recoverable? In most of the instances, they won’t. Just in case, the problem was with the clothing, you can recover the rail with a new cloth or use a new strip for this purpose.

Step 2 – Removing The Adhesive:

In step 2, we’ll remove the facing and glue adhesive.

  1. The end cap of the rubber rails is known as dancing. Remove it and pry off the old rubber railing.
  2. Then use the scraper to remove rubber and glue elements so that you can install the new rails with perfection.
  3. Now apply any adhesive, like 3M Scotch-Weld Contact Adhesive-10 glue, to the rail and cushion.
  4. Let the glue sit for a few minutes.

Step 3 – Measuring The New Rail:

By this time, you must have decided if you are going with the old, repaired rails or the new ones. If you are going with the new ones, be careful with the alignment.

  1. Place the new rail on top of the wood. Guide the rail with your hands to the place to make sure it goes in the perfect position.
  2. Repeat the process if you are unsure of the position. You can’t afford to fit them at an incorrect angle.
  3. Use a straight edge to mark the end of the cushion. To place your new facings, follow the angle of the rail on top and leave an angle for the placement.
  4. Then use any sharp object to cut off the end.

Step 4 – Glueing The New Rails:

And the next step is to glue to facings so you can put the new rails.

  1. The first step is to glue the facings.
  2. Once done, trim the excess of the facing so it remains equal, as per the size of the rail.

Step 5 – Getting The Job Done:

Now, it’s time to get the job done with some finishing touches.

  1. First of all, place a fresh strip of rail cloth over the channel inside the rail. To staple the cloth to the back of the rail, leave a little bit of excess cloth at both ends.
  2. Then place the feather strip in its place. You can use a hammer to knock it inside the channel, so it can hold the felt in place.
  3. Then make a cut at each end of the rail, known as a relief cut, to allow the cloth to fold over nicely and could be stapled easily.
  4. To make sure that the feather strip is in the right place, use a block of wood. The feather strip should be raised a little higher than the actual rail so the felt can occupy its space in the channel.
  5. And then again strip the excess felt inside the feather strip.
  6. After folding the cloth tightly along the contours, staple it.
  7. Move your hand along the railing, pulling the cloth tightly alongside stapling it into place.
  8. And in the final step, fold and staple the other end of the felt to the rail. That’s it, we’re done!

There is a little confusion among people looking to change their rails and they have frequently asked this question “should you replace rails one at a time or all at once?”

This is up to you. To save your time and money, you can buy a set of six and change all of them at once. When you’ll change all at once, due to the flow and same repetitive process it’ll take less time.

It’s very frustrating to know that your table rails need a replacement. But you are left with no other option.

How Much Does It Cost To Change Your Table Rails?

It depends on the brand of rail and cloth you buy. Though, as a rough estimate, it can cost you between $300 to $1000. It also depends on the type of table you have and the quality of the parts.

For best results, find a company that is manufacturer certified so whatever you are purchasing from them is 100% genuine. Don’t buy from random sellers as you don’t know if the rail or cloth they are giving you really belong to a certain brand or not.

If you hire an expert, you’ll find different packages for different kinds of repairs. Sometimes you might change everything from A-Z or something it might only be rail changing.

Lump Sum Service Charges Average Cost
Only Rail Replacement $300 – $450
Refelt + Tune-up + Rail Replacement $495 – $695
Reassemble + Refelt + Rail Replacement $600 – $1000

And of course, you might find some service providers charging more because of their experience and reputation.

How Do You Choose A Billiards Table Rail?

If you are buying a new rail for your table, it can be confusing which rail to buy. In general, there are no such things that can make you feel confident about a rail you are buying. However, you can ensure that your rail is good if you buy from a credible seller of a popular brand.

We recommend buying k66 profile, it is trusted and used for years. They are best for home and commercial 3 piece slate tables.

In order to determine what size rail you need, measure the back side of the cushion where it is glued onto the table. Then measure the top side of the rail, also known as angle width.

Take these measurements with you when you are going out to shop a rail or ordering one online. Make sure your measurements are 100% correct otherwise you will end up squandering your cash.

The size of these rails can vary a bit so make sure you measure every time before buying a rail for your 8 ft., 9 ft., or any size of Pool or Snooker table.

However, according to WPA, the rail width is always fixed. It must be between 4 inches [10.16 cm] and 7 ½ inches [19.05 cm] including the rubber cushions.


Rails are often neglected when it comes to the maintenance of your billiards table. And at times we become so indulged in other areas of maintenance of our table that we forget rails can be damaged, in case you are experiencing inconsistent rebounding of the ball.

Now that you know how you can determine the cause of this issue, and how to install new rails on your table, not only will you save a few bucks, that you were going to give the repairer, but also enjoy a great time on table!

About Maryam Shaw

Hello Everyone! I am Maryam, the reason behind creating this website is to help people with the detailed information and reviews about sports products