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When setting up your pool table, choosing a good set of pool balls is important to make sure your games go smoothly. Pool balls need to be durable against wear and tear, especially since they will usually take abuse from impact and scratches during plays.
Aside from the uniform size and weight based on regulations, having brilliant colors and graphics that last long can also help to easily identify the ball when it rolls to the different sides of the pool table.
If you don’t have time to read the complete article, take a look at our top pick for pool ball sets, the Aramith Pure Phenolic Pool Balls.
Made with the patented Vitrotech technology, the Aramith Pure Phenolic Pool Balls have been heat-cured so that the balls can withstand the harsh impact during rough pool play. Compared to regular resin (and sometimes polyester) balls, these are manufactured from high-quality phenolic resin for improved durability.
The phenolic molecular structure allows every part of the ball to roll smoothly on the table, ensuring no flat spots. This cross-linked molecular structure might also withstand up to 5T load. Because of the material, it will also not produce any so-called “burns” or white streaks on your pool felt.
Things I Like About This Product: The pool balls are made with phenolic resin (as compared to polyester) and a molecular structure to prevent felt burns better than with cheaper ball sets.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Some of the balls could come with small chips, but these minor manufacturing defects are so little that they won’t affect the play.
Also in my list, the Aramith 2-1/4″ Crown Standard Pool Ball Set, has resin balls that are burn-resistant due to the phenolic molecular structure, which also allows it to accept up to 5T load. The special resin also prevents flat spots for smooth rolls during gameplay.
The difference with this set and the premium set mentioned above is the resin quality – while both are of high-quality, this set only lacks a bit of glossiness (but won’t affect play). Regardless, both of them are less likely to cause felt streaks due to their construction and finish.
Even if you do have the fuzzy type of felt on your pool table, it can still roll easily due to its smooth outer material. While they feel lighter at five ounces as compared to cheaper balls, this can be an advantage to making delicate shots with little effort. If you don’t like the “clacking” sound of low-budget pool balls, this standard set from Aramith causes less noise due to the resin.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a more lightweight feel which makes it easier to control even on a fuzzy or poorly-shaped pool felt table.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The only mild concern is that the numbers can be seen on the stripes of the whites and not on the actual stripe, though this is just a matter of preference for some.
The JAPER BEES Professional Pool Balls Set comes with balls that weigh six ounces each, but even at this weight it doesn’t make them difficult for soft shots. Each of them is made of resin and is regulation-sized so you can practice with them easily.
All of them have a BSR (burn spot resistance) feature to protect your pool table felt while also keeping a good rebound, spin, balance, and impact resistance. The balls are all hard vitrified to make sure they roll conveniently on any pool table surface.
Since this is my budget pick, it’s not at par with the resin construction of the above-mentioned picks – the resin used here is high-grade polyester resin, so they can be ideal for those who are just starting on pool/billiards. These balls are backed by a 90-day warranty from the manufacturer.
Things I Like About This Product: They have a similar resin finish to that of more expensive pool balls mentioned above without breaking the bank (or burning felt that much).
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Do note that the resin material of this pool ball set is polyester-based unlike the Aramith ones, which are made of phenolic resin. Polyester resin is slightly inferior in terms of professional play as compared to phenolic ones due to ease of control and rolling.
If you’re competing often, then I’d suggest the Aramith Duramith Tournament Pro-Cup Pool Ball Set for its complete arsenal of not just pool balls, but also ball maintenance items such as a bottle of ball cleaner, and microfiber cloth.
There are even Jim Rempe training balls with an instruction manual for beginners. They are great for those just learning how to play pool.
As these are tournament-quality balls, they are made of phenolic resin, which allows them to roll much easier than regular polyester resin onto any pool table surface/felt without causing burn spots. Due to being vitrified on their surface, the balls can get more spins so learning how to make difficult shots can become more effortless.
Things I Like About This Product: The phenolic resin makes it tournament-worthy but I also like that it comes with ball polishing items to maintain their glossiness.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: There is a tendency that the ball polish could spill from within the package. However, this is a case-to-case basis.
If you want to add a little unique “spin” (pun intended) on your pool set, you will want to consider the GSE Games & Sports Expert 2 1/4-Inch Pool Balls Set. This set has balls with a marbled texture for both normal and striped balls, making them stand out from boring old pool balls, yet all of them are at the regulation size.
Each of them weighs 5.9 ounces, which also makes them a little easier for beginners to make soft shots for practice. Although there are graphic marble swirls on each ball, they don’t affect the readability of the numbers and the colors.
Things I Like About This Product: They have a marbled design that is not easily seen in most standard pool ball sets. If you are looking for unique pool balls then these might be worth a try.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: A small concern would be the 8-ball, since it does come in a black and white swirl, so it could confuse some players.
Yet another set excelling in the design department, the Aramith Camouflage Collection Billiard Ball Set is a military camo-inspired pool ball set in which all balls are regulation-sized. The design also doesn’t make the balls difficult to distinguish from one another. For instance, the classic blackness of the 8 ball is retained since it only has a grayish color (not a mix of black and white swirls).
Due to its camouflage design, for those who are into the hunting sport, this might be a great addition to your man cave pool to match your trophies and hunting gear. As with all Aramith pool balls, they are made with a specially-cured phenolic resin for extra durability and added smoothness in rolling.
Things I Like About This Product: I like that it looks like a novelty item (for those who like fancy ball designs) but is a professional-quality pool ball set made of phenolic resin for easy rolling and less felt burns. The 8 ball is also easy to distinguish despite the camouflage graphics.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Due to their graphics, if you are a beginner, you might have difficulty in recognizing some of the colors.
Regulation-sized and made of phenolic resin, the Diamond Billiards Cyclop Pool Balls is a set that has a decent amount of gloss. I like that there are red dots to see the spin of the ball and they are also properly placed into the resin so it won’t get erased easily. Each ball weighs 5.8 ounces so they tend to be lighter than most standard ones.
What makes this ball set different is that it has three additional balls for use in special games, such as 8-ball, 9-ball, and 10-ball. As compared to common pool ball number prints, it is worth noting that all the numbers on each ball have both bars over them and a single bar to prevent confusion with the numbers six and nine.
Things I Like About This Product: The additional balls aside from the standard set can make it appealing for those who want to play other pool games.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The cue ball might not come with the best packaging so it can be prone to damage during transit.
The Empire USA Billiard 2.25-Inch Economy Ball Set comes with high-quality resin balls, which are all labeled like your standard pool balls and with a decent gloss finish. However, I’m not exactly sure whether the resin of each ball is phenolic or polyester.
Nonetheless, if you are new to the game of pool, this can also be a great starter kit for you since it is a standard 16-ball kit (including the cue ball) packed in a simple box. Each of them weighs 6 ounces and is polished enough for standard pool play.
Things I Like About This Product: Although nothing much special is to say about this pool ball set, it can be easy for beginners to memorize each ball. This because you can quickly read the numbers due to their large size plus the vibrant ball colors also make them easy to remember.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: They are more likely beginner balls since I’m not sure whether they are polyester or phenolic resin (the manufacturer didn’t disclose that), which might affect how it can avoid pool felt burning.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Pool Ball Sets Featured Above
So how did I pick the pool ball sets mentioned above? Here are some criteria that I found useful in telling them apart from the rest, which you may find helpful too.
Generally, pool balls are made of either phenolic or polyester resin. While beginner and novice players may think that there isn’t a big difference between the two, pro pool players may be able to notice the slight difference. Typically, phenolic resin is more preferred for tournaments and premium sets because they have a softer ball roll and are less likely to have flat spots around the ball, helping to maintain its shape for a long time.
Polyester resin, on the other hand, comes second to phenolic resin and is typically seen in most budget-friendly pool ball sets. They could also make the ball a bit lighter although the overall durability might be a different story.
Size and Weight
Regulation-size pool balls measure 2.25 inches but their weight is another story. Typically, pool balls may vary from 5.5 to 6 ounces in weight depending on the manufacturer. However, in a pool ball set, they should all be weighed the same and should be properly calibrated before sending them out to consumers to ensure quality.
The added weight might help you practice with your force power, but it might also make it more difficult for you to make certain shots or tricks. Those who aren’t used to heavier pool balls may want to try lighter ones for practicing and developing their skills.
Pool balls need to be packaged properly since they are fragile and need a lot of protection during shipment. The balls also need to be spaced apart from each other like eggs in an egg tray to ensure that none of them get scratched or dented during transit.
Some pool ball sets also come with additional items, such as the Aramith Duramith Tournament Pro-Cup Pool Ball Set, which includes a polish and microfiber cloth for cleaning and maintaining the balls to their pristine shine.
The balls should not just be glossy – they should maintain their glossiness there for a long time and this should make it easy to roll the ball across the table. However, regular cleaning is still a must to keep them in good shape.
What sets apart the higher-priced pool ball sets from the budget ones is that they are shaped better and are professionally-calibrated so that each of them is as round as possible. Having flat or dead spots can make the game unfair in professional play, so the balls should be of high quality in terms of construction, especially if pros will play with it.
Design and Color
If you are a beginner at pool, it’s best to stick with the standard colors and designs. However, you can also opt for designed sets such as the GSE Games & Sports Expert 2 1/4-Inch Pool Balls Set and the Aramith Camouflage Collection Billiard Ball Set.
The numbers should be easy to read and should have lines on the numbers six and nine to avoid confusion. Bigger fonts can help the players easily determine and memorize which pool ball has a certain color.
Consider whether you want to use it for a tournament or professional use, or if you want to just have an enjoyable and playable pool ball set at home. Phenolic resin balls are the best for pro use but polyester resin works just fine for casual players.
If you’re looking for high-quality phenolic resin pool balls, I’d recommend the Aramith Pure Phenolic Regulation-Size Belgian-Made Pool Balls or the slightly lighter Aramith 2-1/4″ Crown Standard Pool Balls. Man caves that might need some spicy pool ball designs might go well with the GSE Games & Sports Expert 2 1/4-Inch Pool Balls Set and the Aramith Camouflage Collection Billiard Ball Set.
Pool veterans might prefer the Aramith Duramith Tournament Pro-Cup Pool Ball Set due to its tournament-quality phenolic resin and you’d also likely appreciate the bonus ball cleaners.
For beginners, you can try the JAPER BEES Professional Pool Balls Set, which is made of low-cost (but still easily playable) polyester resin. You can also the Empire USA Billiard 2.25-Inch Economy Ball Set if you’re new to the game.