The first step is to choose the type of foosball table you want to buy: stand-alone, tabletop, or a multi-game. Coin-operated tables are available as well for those who want to charge people for using it. These are common in pubs, arcades, and businesses in general.
If you’re buying a tabletop, then how much you’re willing to spend isn’t going to matter very much, as most are priced under $100. If you plan on buying a stand-alone however, the price could be more of a factor. These tables range anywhere from $100 to several thousand. How much do you want to invest in a table? How long do you plan on keeping it?
Who’s It For?
Aside from how much you are willing to spend, this is the most important question to ask. Who will be playing it? How old are they? Are they beginner, intermediate, or at an advanced skill level?
If the table is for children, beginners, or casual play in general, then buying cheap makes sense. For little kids and beginners, buying a tabletop might be the way to go, especially if you aren’t sure if they will like the game or not. If they don’t like it, no big deal, you won’t be out of a lot of money. If they happen to really like it, then you can always go bigger. Tabletops are great for little kids because standard-sized ones are too high. They aren’t so cheap that they’re not worth playing, but they aren’t meant for anything more than casual play.
For those who have experience playing foosball, look for mid-level tables with smooth rods, adjustable table legs for a flat playing surface, and durability so it can withstand vigorous play over a long period of time. Mid-level tables are more sturdy and made with higher quality materials. They are priced in the $500+ dollar range and ideal for those who play often and want to further their skills. Look for a table that at least weighs 125 pounds. The heavier the table, the more stable it will be.
For those who are either highly skilled or want the ideal playing experience, only the top-of-the-line models will do. These tables are regulation sized, incredibly sturdy, have a flat playing surface, and made with the highest quality of materials. They are also very heavy, some weighing more than 300 pounds. These tables are priced in the $2000 range.
The price of the table will usually tell the story in regards to the quality of materials it was built with.
If a table has particle board, then durability is going to be a concern. Particle board can deteriorate over time, which can loosen the screws, and lead to the table falling apart. How do you know if a table has particle board? If the walls are less than 1/2″ thick or the table weighs less than 70 pounds.
These tables are suited for those who just want a table for their kids to play with casually for awhile, or don’t want to invest a lot of money in one. However, what you gain in affordability, you lose in quality of play and durability.
Composite or Wood
Most of the expensive models are made with either composite or solid wood. However, not all wood is created equal. Some of it is pressed wood, and can warp over time because it tends to absorb moisture. Composite is more resistant to moisture, humidity, and less prone to damage. It’s as durable as any material out there.
Not all wood is made with the same thickness however, so make sure to buy one that is at least 1″ thick for more durability. Some of the higher end models are 1.5″ thick. A thicker sidewall helps eliminate movement so the game isn’t affected.
If you see any patterns or logos on the table, check to see if they are imbedded in the wood. Some of them are stickers, and will peel over time, which affects the look of the table.
The three types of rods are hollow, solid, and telescoping. Hollow, steel rods are the highest quality. They are lighter, which allows users to play with more speed. This is ideal for very experienced players. Mid-level tables will often have solid steel rods, which are better for intermediates because the game is a little slower.
Some high-end tables have telescoping tubular steel rods, which consist of two pieces of metal. The inner piece slides into the outer, so it doesn’t stick out on the other side of the table. The benefit is that you won’t get poked by a rod from the opposite side. This is in place primarily so little kids don’t get hurt.
Some tables priced over $600 or so come with machine grade cold rolled steel, which is the best steel you can get.
Smooth, hard surfaces provide the fastest game play. American tables tend to have harder surfaces, while European tables have wood surfaces for slower play. The thicker the surface, the more level and sturdy it will be. Some tables even have tempered glass for the highest-quality play.
The markings on cheaper tables tend to wear out more over time, affecting the quality of play and appearance. They are often applied using a stick-on process. More expensive tables have lines that are permanently dyed with a built-in design.
Adjustable Table Legs
The standard height is 36-inches, designed for teenagers and adults. Some tables come with adjustable legs, which allow the height to be adjusted a few inches. The main benefit however for having adjustable legs is being able to even the table on an uneven floor. The better tables have levelers for this purpose also. This is a feature to keep your eye out for.
How Much Space?
How much room do you have for a foosball table? A full-size table is 56Lx 30 W x 36H, plus you will need at least 7-8 feet of playing space around the table. Also factor in the playing the rods.
Three-Man or Single Goalie?
The three-man goalie table has the goalie mounted with two other defenders. Most American tables use this model, while European tables are more known for a one-man goalie. The three-goalie model is designed for faster play, while the one-goalie requires more precision and skill. Hence, a one-goalie table could be more ideal for advanced players.
Some tables come with counter-weighted men, meaning they stay in a horizontal position until the rod is turned. By staying horizontal, they are out of the way when you are shooting. This feature is valued more by intermediate to advanced players. Also, men can be made out of plastic or metal. The latter is heavier, which gives you more power when shooting.
When you see counter-weighted men as a feature, that will tell you it’s a professional table.
The standard warranty is for one-year, though furniture styled tables come with less because they’re more decorative. However, these are built very well and will last for a long time.