Oak pool table - Presidential Billiards

Billiard tables, with their familiar rectangular shape and green baize, have become synonymous with leisure and camaraderie. However, they weren’t always as we know them today. The design of these tables has evolved significantly over the centuries, reflecting changes in technology, fashion, and social norms. Let’s explore this fascinating journey.

Early Beginnings

The game of billiards finds its roots in outdoor games from the 15th century, akin to croquet, which were played on grass. These games were eventually moved indoors onto wooden tables, which were covered with green cloth to mimic the grass, giving birth to the earliest forms of billiard tables.

15th-16th Century: In the early days, the tables had flat walls, or “banks” around the edges, acting as a boundary similar to the riverbanks in outdoor games. Balls were pushed, not struck, with wooden sticks called “maces.”

Men working in a wood work shop

Transition and Refinement

As the game gained popularity, the design of the tables began to evolve, and the rules became more standardized.

17th-18th Century: During this period, the “cue” was introduced, a thinner, lighter stick that allowed for more precise shots. The tables retained their simple, functional design but began to feature pockets, a significant evolution in the game.

pool floor Rack in Espresso

Golden Age of Billiards

The 19th century is often referred to as the “Golden Age of Billiards.” As the game became more popular, the design and construction of billiard tables became a fine art.

19th Century: Billiard tables of this era were often made from hardwoods like mahogany and featured intricate carvings and designs, reflecting the Victorian era’s love for ornamentation. The tables also saw significant improvements in functionality, with the introduction of slate beds for a truer, more consistent playing surface, and rubber cushions for better rebound.

Games room with Monroe pool

Modern Innovations

As we moved into the 20th century and beyond, billiard table design continued to reflect changing tastes and technologies.

20th-21st Century: The modern era has seen a diversification in billiard table design. Traditional, ornate styles exist alongside sleek, contemporary designs featuring metal, glass, and unconventional shapes. Customization has also become a significant trend, with tables being tailored to the specific aesthetic and functional requirements of the user.

Technology has further improved the playing experience. Advances in cloth material have led to faster, more consistent play, while precision-ground slate and high-quality rubber ensure optimal ball rebound and roll.

Wilson pool table in living room

The Role of Manufacturers

Throughout this evolution, manufacturers have played a crucial role. Companies like Presidential Billiards have been at the forefront of combining traditional craftsmanship with modern technology to create billiard tables that not only look beautiful but also offer an exceptional playing experience.


The journey of billiard table design is a testament to the game’s enduring popularity and the continuous quest for improved aesthetics and performance. As we look to the future, it will be exciting to see how new technologies and design trends continue to shape the evolution of the billiard table.


Why is the 19th century called the “Golden Age of Billiards”?

The 19th century is referred to as the “Golden Age of Billiards” due to the game’s rising popularity and the evolution of table design into a fine art. Tables featured hardwood construction, intricate carvings, slate beds, and rubber cushions.

How have modern innovations affected billiard table design in the 20th and 21st centuries?

Modern designs range from traditional to contemporary, featuring materials like metal and glass. Advances in technology have led to improvements in the playing surface, with faster cloths, precision-ground slate, and high-quality rubber for better play.

What is the significance of manufacturers in the evolution of billiard tables?

Manufacturers like Presidential Billiards have been crucial in merging traditional craftsmanship with modern technology, creating tables that are both aesthetically pleasing and offer an exceptional playing experience.