What Are Burn Marks on a Pool Table Felt? (And Prevent Them)

What Are Burn Marks on a Pool Table Felt

Pool tables are a staple in many homes, bars, and recreational centers. They provide entertainment and a chance to hone skills in a game that combines strategy, skill, and a bit of luck.

However, the maintenance and cleaning of a pool table, is crucial for ensuring an enjoyable game and one common complaint among players is burn marks on a pool table felt.

This article delves into what these marks are, the causes, how to prevent them, and ways to address them if they occur.

Key Takeaways

  • Burn marks on pool table felt are usually caused by friction between the ball and the felt.
  • Regular maintenance and proper handling can prevent these marks.
  • There are several methods to remove or reduce the visibility of burn marks.

The Quick Answer 

So what are burn marks on a pool table felt?

Burn marks appear as small white marks/dots in pool table felt, and appear as discolored or lightened parts on the cloth. They are also often referred to as ball burn.

What Causes Burn Marks on Pool Table Felt?

Friction and Heat

The primary cause of burn marks on pool table felt is the friction generated when a ball is struck hard.

  • This friction creates heat, which can scorch or burn the fibers of the felt, leaving a visible mark. 
  • The severity of these marks can depend on the force of the shot and the quality of the felt.

Players who frequently use powerful shots or apply excessive spin can contribute to the quicker development of burn marks.


Ball burn is typically seen worse around the breaking spot, due to the force that is applied to the cue ball during a break.

  • Part of the problem comes from striking too low on the cue ball, which sends the cue ball harder into the cloth when breaking, before it even moves.
  • The knock on effect can cause the cue ball to bounce on the playing surface as it travels towards the head ball in the rack. 

Whenever a ball leaves the surface, it will leave a burn mark on the cloth where it lands and can leave burn track marks right down the table from breaking. 

Crashing Balls

Overtime, it’s also likely that you will see white marks under the rails and cushions from the break balls crashing into them, but also the pocket openings from crashing balls.

Likewise, burn marks are also more likely to develop from:

  • Applying English on shots.
  • Masses.
  • Jump shots.

Quality of Pool Balls 

High-quality balls are manufactured with strict tolerances and quality control measures.

This ensures that each ball has a uniform size, weight, and density, which is crucial for reducing uneven friction on the felt.

Lower quality pool balls are more prone to burn marks.

Cheap balls are often imbalanced and lack perfect spherical symmetry, causing them to roll unpredictably, resulting in irregular and increased friction in certain areas, leading to burn marks.

Aramith premium billiard balls
Aramith premium billiard balls

The Type of the Pool Table Felt

Woolen felt, is less prone to burn marks due to the nature of the napped cloth, which offers more protection and resistance to ball burn. 

Worsted wool cloth, on the other hand, has a tighter weave and finer fibers.

Playing on the smoother surface has many benefits over woolen, most notably being faster, but loses out when it comes to the white marks in the cloth.

How to Prevent Ball Burn on a Pool Table?

One of the best ways to prevent ball burn, is to invest in high-quality pool balls.

Premium resin balls generate less friction, so less likely to cause burn marks due to their smoother surface and more uniform density.

Other ways to prevent ball burn on a pool table include:

  • Use premium quality resin pool balls that 
  • Cleaning pool balls regularly
  • Level out your stoke
  • Play into one pocket during practice
  • Avoid jump shots, masses and applying English
  • Use a spare piece of scrap cloth on the break sport when breaking
  • Change where you break from along the baulk line
  • Regularly change the side of the pool table you break from

Will Ball Burn Affect the Way a Pool Table Plays?

No, ball burn is not a performance problem, it’s a cosmetic problem that doesn’t interfere with the pool tables playability and gameplay. 





Similar Posts