“ What’s the difference between pool balls?” is a question that comes up frequently from both new and long time pool table owners. If you’ve looked at pool ball sets for any length of time you’ll quickly notice a rather large price difference. I hope to help you answer that question here so that you make the right choice the next time you’re in the market for a new set.
The main reason for the large price difference in pool ball sets is the primary material that they are made of. Pool balls that are on the low end of the price range are typically made of acrylic and/or polyester while the better quality balls are made of phenolic resin. Balls made of phenolic resin last longer than balls made from any other material. Additionally, they create less friction which reduces the amount and visibility of burn marks, those little white spots, you see on the pool table cloth after heavy use. Phenolic resin pool balls also have more elasticity than the others. If you’re thinking of adding jump shots to your arsenal then phenolic resin balls are the way to go. Better resistance to scratches is another feature of phenolic resin balls. Higher quality material = higher price no question, but if you look at the cost you’ll find that the long term cost is less as you won’t have to replace these ball sets nearly as often as cheaper ones.
That’s not to say that a cheaper ball set isn’t worth considering. If you’re looking for something that looks unique, like the Pro Series Kandy Pearl Ball Set or the Action Glitter Ball Set, then phenolic resin is not an option. The Aramith Stone Collection puts a little aesthetic twist on the traditional design and are phenolic resin balls. Be aware that many novelty pool ball sets are not regulation size (2 ¼ inches in diameter) or weight (5 ½ to 6 oz. each) and may have a completely different feel when playing with them. If you’re new to playing pool or a casual player a standard set of balls may meet your needs just fine!
Over time, all pool balls will get scratched up, crack, break or just lose their sphericity or roundness from the repeated collisions they endure. This is especially true for cue balls which should be replaced more frequently than the rest of your set. I will be covering the subject of cue balls in a future article, stay tuned!