Worsted or Woolen? Which Cloth Is Right for You?

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Worsted or Woolen? Which Cloth Is Right for You?

When it comes time to chose which cloth to rack those balls on there’s a lot more to think about than the colour.


Cloth choice has a major repercussion on the playability of a pool table and making the right decision for your playing style might just make the difference between winning and losing.

There are two different fabric processes used to make pool table cloth; worsted and woolen, each with a unique set of characteristics that affect your shot. A large amount of pool table cloth production still takes place in the UK by companies like Hainsworth and Strachan, whose longstanding manufacture is renowned for its quality.



Worsted cloths are favoured by the American market and are commonplace on American pool tables. You can also find this material present in tailored suits. Worsted cloth, also known as speed cloth, is made from sheep’s wool much like its woolen counterparts but can often be mixed with natural wool and nylon. The processing of worsted cloth leaves minimal nap in the fabric, meaning it isn’t directional and is therefore faster (hence the name speed cloth). It’s generally considered to be much stronger and more robust than woolen cloth in addition to being finer and smoother.


Woolen cloths tend to be the fabric of choice for UK pool tables and is utilised worldwide for English pool and snooker events. Woolen cloths, in stark contrast to worsted varieties have a distinguishable nap, creating direction and slowing the balls. To the touch, the texture should feel velvety and coarse in comparison to worsted cloths. Finger imprints can be visible throughout play where the fabric has been touched and as a result the cloth requires regular brushing and ironing in order to encourage the directional fibres into the right position. A thorough brush is recommended after every session to remove dust and chalk residue.

So which option should you go for? If you want the thrill of a fast-paced game give worsted a try; the fabric is becoming increasingly popular in the UK for players wanting to up the fun factor. If skill and precision is your thing, stick with woolen. Whatever you choose, try to ensure you maintain a dry climate for your pool table as humid conditions can have extremely detrimental effect on the fabric and subsequently on your game. Regardless of your preference, prioritise new, clean cloth over old, dirty cloth every time.

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