Replacing the cushions on your pool table can be a bit tricky.
Fortunately, with the right rubber, the process is much easier. What’s more, once you’re done, you’ll have a longer-lasting rebound, meaning no need to get new bumpers for a decade or even longer.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll review the 5 best pool table cushions on the market right now. But before that, we’ll discuss some key things to consider when shopping, helping you pick the perfect rails for your table.
No time to waste? Use our comparison table to review our top picks:
8′ and 9′ tables
7′ or 8′ tables
7′, 8′, 9′ tables
Pool Table Bumper Buyer’s Guide
First, we’ll look at some key things to consider when buying cushions for your pool table.
What makes a good bumper?
The perfect pool table cushion will have just the right amount of bounce – all good brands use rubber to achieve a nice rebound. Importantly, the cushion should be consistent, meaning the bounce is the exact same all the way around the edges of the table. This is why it’s worth getting top-quality bumpers – cheaper ones tend to be more inconsistent.
A good bumper will also last a long time, ensuring you don’t have to go through the hassle of replacing it more than once every 5-10 years or so. It can be a little difficult to spot a long-lasting cushion though, unless it’s been on the market for absolutely ages.
Another thing to look out for is bumpers which cut easily, ensuring you can get it snug with the openings of the pockets as you install it. You don’t really have to worry about how well they adhere to your rails – this is mostly determined by the quality of the glue you use, and how well you’re able to clean off the old glue residue from the previous set of bumpers.
Pool table bumper profiles
What you need to look out for are “K66” bumpers, which is what the majority of American pool tables use. Some billiard, carom and snooker tables use a slightly thicker K55 cushion, and there is also a shorter, slimmer U23 profile commonly used on older 7/8′ coin-operated/bar tables.
Apart from thickness, the profile is also important because it determines how high the point of contact between the ball and the rail is, relative to the ball. If the ball hits the rail at a really high point on the ball, the bounce isn’t going to be as hard, because much of the kinetic energy is pushing the ball downwards rather than back the way it came.
Also, it’s generally not possible to install a set of rails on a table designed for another cushion profile. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer, but 90% of home tables use K66 rails.
Picking the right size bumper
This is pretty straightforward: you’ll need to buy a bumper designed for your table size. So only get an 8′ bumper if you’ve got an 8′ table, for example.
No matter the table size, cushions are normally sold in sets of 6 – one for each sub-rail.
Cushion end facings
When you buy new bumpers, they’re unlikely to come with cushion facings. These are small strips of rubber which you glue onto the edges of the bumper and sub-rail to ensure a consistent bounce on the inner sides of each pocket. You’ll need some of them if you’re replacing your current cushions.
Fortunately, they’re pretty cheap, and there’s not much difference between the different brands which make them.
Installing your new cushions
Be aware that this process will require quite a few tools and some basic woodworking knowledge. It’s certainly possible to do even if you’ve never repaired your pool table before, but you can also get an expert in to install your new cushions if this process sounds like a bit of a hassle.
You will need:
- Your new bumpers.
- A razor blade and a serrated knife.
- A pen/pencil and ruler.
- A drill.
- Fine sandpaper (400-600 grit).
- A staple remover.
- A scraper.
- Rubber cushion facings.
- Super glue.
- Glue activator.
- Pool table felt (if re-felting your table).
Accessing the rails and removing the old bumpers
- Remove the rail bolts and any staples attaching the rails to the actual table.
- Detach the four rails from each other by undoing the bolts securing them to the pockets.
- Remove the staples attaching the felt to the sub-rails, revealing the bumper rubber. Some staples may be embedded quite deep – ensure you’ve got a tough staple remover which can get the job done. You can also cut the felt if you’re going to be re-felting your table.
- Peel off the end facings.
- Using your scraper, lever under the old rubber and begin to peel it off. Depending on how long it’s been in place, some rubber will likely remain on the sub-rail, and the bumper may not peel off easily.
- Scrape off any rubber or glue residue left behind on the rail. This is important – if the wood isn’t clean, the new glue isn’t going to adhere properly.
Installing the new cushions
- Lightly sand the contact edge of the bumper to remove any excess rubber.
- Apply a good amount of glue to the sub-rail face, ensuring an even coverage. Remember that the glue will spread out once the bumper is pushed down onto it.
- Place the new cushion on the sub-rail, ensuring the rubber is the right way up. Also allow for some rubber to overhang each edge – you’ll be trimming it to size later. It’s a good idea to have at least one other person help you with this.
- Once you’re sure the rubber is positioned correctly, grab your glue activator and spray it generously into the horizontal edges of the seam between the rubber and sub-rail to dry the glue and prevent it seeping down.
- Leave the glue to dry.
- Grab your pen/pencil and ruler, and draw a straight line along the rubber, marking where you want to make the cut. This line should match up with the diagonal edge of the sub-rail where the pocket begins. You want the bumper to be flush with the angle of the wood.
- Dip your serrated knife into a glass of water and very carefully cut along the line you’ve just marked out. Sand or cut off any excess – remember, it’s always better to cut off too little and then make some smaller cuts rather than cutting off too much and leaving some wood exposed.
- Now you need to install the end facings. Again, you want to leave some of the rubber overhanging, and then trim off the excess. As before, apply glue to the wood/rubber face and then put the facing in position, covering the entire edge. Use your activator around the edges to dry the glue, and once it’s dry, trim the excess with a Stanley knife or scissors.
- Repeat the process for your other rails.
Now you’ll have the get the rails back on the table. This video shows you what you need to do – note that you’ll need a nail gun.
Best Pool Table Cushions
Now let’s look at some of the top-quality pool table bumpers on the market right now.
1. Pro Series A30-B K66 Pool Table Bumpers
As we discussed in our buyer’s guide, K66 is the most commonly-used type of bumper on American pool tables. Unless you’re sure you have an unusual table or use smaller than usual balls, K66 cushions are what you want.
These specific bumpers from Pro Series are nice and hard, offering a consistent, long-lasting rebound. There’s plenty of rubber to revitalize an 8-foot table, and you can get a slightly longer version for 9-foot tables too.
The Pro Series line of cushions are very slightly more expensive than a few of the other options out there at the moment. However, we reckon it’s worth paying a few dollars more for the quality you’re getting. You’d prefer to only have to replace your cushions in 10 years time, rather than in another 5 years, right?
Overall value rating
2. Game Room Guys K66 Pool Table Bumpers
Looking for K66 bumpers for a 7′ table?
Game Room Guys’ cushions are just what you need. The rubber isn’t quite as tough as what the Pro Series uses, but it’s definitely heavy-duty stuff. As a result, it won’t wear out for absolutely ages, and it produces a consistent bounce every time. It also cuts really easily, which is a nice bonus.
Again, this cushion is a tad more expensive than most other options available right now. But you definitely get what you pay for, and it’s not actually that much more expensive.
Overall value rating
3. Iszy Billiards K55 Pool Table Bumpers
K55 cushions aren’t what works best in most situations. They’ll fit most home pool tables, but the bounce won’t be as hard as what K66 offers, unless you’re using smaller than average pool balls. K55 is also thicker than K66, meaning you’ll have to ensure that it actually fits on your rails without blocking the pockets. If you’re unsure whether your table uses the normal K66 rubber, it’s a good idea to do some Googling, or call the manufacturer.
But if you are able to confirm that K55 will work, this is a fantastic bumper for 7/8′ tables. The rubber is good-quality stuff, meaning it offers an excellent rebound, and will cut like butter with the right knife. It’s also quite reasonably priced.
However, the durability could be a little better. After a few years of intensive use, these rails can fade a little, meaning you might have to replace them a little earlier than you would’ve wanted.
Overall value rating
4. Pro Series A31-C U23 Pool Table Bumpers
U23 is another profile of bumper, like K66 and K55. It’s mostly used on retro coin-operated tables – this specific cushion is made for 7′ ones.
Like with their other rails, Pro Series have done a fantastic job with this product. It’s actually quite reasonably priced, and is easy to install with the right glue.
If you’re replacing bumpers which have been in place for 10 years or more, you’ll be amazed how fast the balls ricochet off the cushions with the A31-C. This bounce lasts for a really long time, ensuring you don’t have to replace your bumpers again for another decade or longer.
Overall value rating
5. Ozone Billiards K66 Pool Table Bumpers
Ozone Billiards also make a solid K66 bumper which suits 7′, 8′, and 9′ tables.
The main difference between this option and the Pro Series is its price: it’s a little cheaper. As a result, the rubber isn’t quite as good – it can smell quite a bit straight out of the box.
However, it is nice and hard, and provides a solid, consistent bounce. Although these bumpers haven’t been on the market an incredibly long time, early indications are that the rubber resists fading really well.
Ultimately, this is a good option for those with K66-compatible 7′ tables who don’t like the look of the Games Room Guys bumper, or who are looking to save a few bucks on new cushions. For anyone else though, the Pro Series is probably a better bet.
Overall value rating
We hope you found the right cushions for your table. Good luck installing them! 😁
If you’ve got any questions about this process, or aren’t sure what bumpers would be best to buy, drop us a comment below and we’ll get right back to you.