How to Level a Pool Table (All Options Explained)

Pool is a game that attracts all kinds of players and can provide a focal point to an evening of fun. Concentration, skill, and perception are all important in a game of pool, and minimizing the influence of random factors is very important for an enjoyable game. That is why having a level pool table is of huge significance, and often the tools within the household are enough to maintain a level surface. 

How Do Pool Tables Become Unlevel?

Pool and Billiards tables can become unlevel for a variety of reasons. These reasons can be classified as either internal or external causes.

External Causes

External causes may come from the environment surrounding the pool table. Perhaps the floor underneath has become uneven from the weight of the table, or perhaps it was always uneven? This can happen on older surfaces and on things {like carpet} that tend to shift over time. Perhaps you have moved the table to a new location and are beginning to notice a change in the way the ball rolls, and suspect a levelling issue? 

Internal Causes

Internally, there are potential issues that involve similar wear and tear. Checking for any damages on the playing surface is also important as grooves may appear through heavy use. Techniques for transporting tables may also cause grooves and bends to occur- it is important to always lift with items such as a jack lift from the center of the table. 

Different Types of Levels

1. Carpenter’s Level

A carpenter’s level, also known as a spirit level, is traditionally used by carpenter’s when leveling cabinets. This device indicates how parallel something is, as well as how perpendicular to other surfaces. It is a relatively simple device to use and is very useful when estimating how level a pool table might be. Ensuring the level is used on all four sides of the table, in the middle and close to the pockets, ensures an accurate reading with the carpenter’s level.

2. Smartphone

With advancements in technology, it seems like there is an app for everything these days. Indeed, any smartphone with an accelerometer will have the capability to be used as a level provided you have the right app, and the same technique applies as using a carpenter’s level- check all four sides, in the middle, and near the pockets. Although a smartphone will never be as accurate as a spirit or carpenter’s level, it will help you in a pinch and do a better job than just sensing an unlevel table through general play.

3. Rolling Cue Ball

This method is timeless and very important in assessing the quality of the pool table. It requires a well-trained eye to move down to the plane of movement of the ball. Rolling it straight along several different sections, and assessing how true the ball rolls to the expected plane of movement, can give a good indication of the levelness on the table. 

4. Marble on piece of glass

Another method used for a long time, which may be helpful if there is a lack of equipment, is rolling a marble on a piece of glass. This is a good indication of balance, in that a level table should not induce any movement in the marble. Again, ensuring that different areas of the table are tested is very important, and it is vital to be thorough. Placing the glass on the table, and the marble on top of the glass should indicate the levels of each side of the table based on the way the marble does or does not roll. 

Required Tools to Level a Pool Table

Whichever method you use to level your pool table, there are some basic tools required to do the job. A carpenter’s level is a must-have tool, sure you can get away without one, but they make the job so much easier.

A bag of shims (whether they are wood or metal) of varying thicknesses are also handy. Once you lift that leg of the pool and work out the level you need, the last thing you want to be doing is scratching around for the right thickness of shim.

3 Ways To Level a Pool Table

Leveling a pool or billiard table can be done using either shims (metal or wood) or adjustable legs. Each method has its pros and cons so it really comes down to your preference, budget and what you have on hand. 

1. Metal Shims (Metal Plates)

Metal shims are fantastic tools to adjust the level of a pool table and, depending on the design of the table, should be perfectly equipped for use. Tables may come with or without adjustable legs, and for those tables without adjustable legs, shims are perfect tools for adjusting level.

You will likely need at least four people to lift the heavier pool tables and place the shims underneath. Shims are graduated in level and tapered to ensure they will fit the desired specifications. This is essentially the same technique as fixing a wobbly table, in that the shim is pushed into an appropriate length until the table is level. Maintaining attention to leveling equipment through the process can make it seamless and relatively straightforward. 

2. Adjustable Legs

While some tables are designed to be adjusted with shims, some come manufactured with adjustable legs that can make the process smoother and more time-efficient. Simply use the screw devices to tighten or loosen and lift or descend the table on each of the four corners. Having used the tests for level, simultaneously adjusting each leg can help achieve a playable surface that suits everyone. Both the marble and glass test, as well as rolling the ball, can help to use trial and error in adjusting the legs to come to a surface that is level and playable. There are quite a few products on the market that offer adjustable legs for your pool table, but FlatJax pool table levelers have come up with an excellent product, so well worth the look.

3. Wooden Shims

These use the same principle as the metal shims and are great for continuously adjusting the table with minimum fuss. Having used the previously mentioned tests for level, it can usually be judges which sides might be too high or too low, and a shim can be applied accordingly, though more susceptible to wear and tear than their metal counterparts, wooden shims are nevertheless important tools in levelling a table and achieving the desired playing surface. 

How to use the “H-Method” to Level a Pool Table

Pros will often use a H – Pattern when leveling, This is where the spirit level is first placed horizontally across the middle of the table to level, then turned 90 degrees and placed closer to each long cushion to form a “H” shape.

Step 1

Your most important level is in the middle of your pool table so place your level running lengthways there first, adjust one or both ends until the level is right in the middle , I start with the level sitting on the middle spot if there is one , if not in between both middle pockets but in the middle is good.

Step 2

Place the level at the end again in the middle, near the cushion (roughly 2 inches in from the cushion). Adjust until you get the level right, then repeat at the opposite end.

Step 3

Repeat step 1 and step 2 again until happy. You will need to repeat these steps a few times to get the level right across the entire surface of the table.

More Tips The Pros Use

  • If your pool table has 6 or more legs you can tip the middle from side to side to help level. 
  • If you need to make very slight adjustments, then why not use something like playing cards as shims, wedges tend to fall out but some pros use them
  • Remember, sag is a manufacture fault
  • If the manufacturer has built the frame of the pool table correctly, you shouldn’t need to adjust the middle at all. Don’t worry if it’s out a fraction.

Remember, you don’t want to damage the floor leveling the pool table

Consult Your Owner’s Manual

Most pool tables will be provided with a an owner’s manual. Here you will find precise information on the pool table you actually bought. Every pool table has they’re own construction methods so the user manual is going to be a great place to start when trying to level your table. Your owner’s manual will tell you if your legs are adjustable or not.

Think About Table Characteristics

Depending on what kind of base your pool table has will affect the difficulty when leveling. A wood base table will be a lot easier to level than a slate table. It is also important to understand how many pieces of slate are used in your table. For example, a 3-piece slate table with 6 legs will be a lot harder and take a lot longer to level than a 1-piece slate table with 4 legs.

Professional vs DIY Pool Table Leveling

Leveling a pool table yourself is not a terribly difficult task, it just takes some time, patience and a little know-how. Although leveling a pool table is something that needs to be done every few years or whenever you move the table, it’s the same process each time so once you learn the skills, you’ll be able to do it anytime.

If you don’t think you’re up to leveling your pool table yourself, there are plenty of professional pool table levelers that can perform this job for a fee. They use many of the methods shown above but of course it’s something they can perform quickly and reliably. When a pool table is moved by professionals, they will always level it for you as part of the service.

Final Thoughts

Having a level playing surface is a key component in ensuring a quality game of pool that is enjoyable for all. While the temptation can often be to call in a professional to do the levelling work, often the issue is relatively minimal and can be remedied using tools you are likely to find in your home. If you have hired a company to move your table, they will also be able to level it for you… at a cost! Whether using shims or adjustable legs, it is important to first identify the size and leaning of the potential issue and adjust the table accordingly. Maintaining patience and concentration can ensure that all bases are covered and you can quickly get back to playing the game you love.