Do Billiard Balls Wear Out?

do billiard balls go bad

This is a common question among many billiards players. Do Billiard Balls wear out? The answer to this question is surprisingly yes. Billiard balls do wear out and at a surprisingly alarming rate. The average billiard balls wear out after about a year of use to a size that is no longer considered to meet specifications.

The cue ball will degrade faster due to constantly being struck by cue tips. However, if your pool table isn’t subjected to much use, then your balls can last well over a year. This all depends on the amount of use your billiards balls are exposed to.

Another deciding factor on the longevity of your billiard balls are the quality. The quality of your billiard balls coupled with frequent use will usually determine how long your balls will last overall.

Do Pool Balls Make a Difference?

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The quality of pool balls used during play will definitely make a difference. While your standard pool balls will most likely wear down in about a year of regular use, certain high quality brands are made to last up to 8 times longer. Aramith is a well known brand when it comes to high quality and long lasting billiard balls.

Aramith’s new Tournament Black Billiard Balls are made to last up to 8 times longer than your average ball. These balls are perfect for competitive and professional players that are constantly playing.

They cost a pretty penny, but if playing pool is your passion, then you would understand that the lifespan of these balls will pay for themselves over time. There are cheaper options out there on the market, and if you are just a weekend warrior, then your average set of pool balls like these ones from Amazon should suffice.

Why Do Billiard Balls Turn Yellow?

yellow pool balls

Another way billiard balls tend to wear out is by yellowing. Over time, your balls may start to turn color which is most noticeable with the cue ball since it is white. If your cue ball is turning yellow, then you can bet that your other balls are also.

Billiard balls turn yellow due to oxidation and exposure to UV light which slowly degrades the plastic over time. Exposure to moisture, high heat, and other environmental factors will cause billiard balls to wear out and turn yellow over time depending on the amount of exposure.

To decrease and slow the yellowing of billiard balls, keep them out of direct sunlight as well as keeping keeping them in an area that is not humid. A garage or room with exposed windows are two areas that are most likely to degrade your pool balls due to excess heat and sunlight exposure.

Try keeping your billiard balls stored away in a case when not in use. If you like to keep your balls store in the rack on top of your pool table, then using a pool table cover to keep them out of direct sunlight is a good recommendation. Not only will a pool table cover help your billiard balls, but it will also keep your pool tables felt and finish from being damaged due to direct sunlight.

How Do You Get the Yellow off Pool Balls?

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If you have old pool balls, or pool balls that are just yellowing a little faster than you anticipated, don’t replace them just yet. One of the most effective ways to clean yellowing billiard balls is to use a billiard ball cleaner like this one on Amazon by Aramith.

Simply use a microfiber cloth to clean the balls with the cleaner formula. Once they are cleaned, use a new cloth to shine them up with the restorer. The restorer is basically a ball polish to give them a nice and shiny finish.

If using a ball cleaner and polish don’t make much of a difference, don’t be quick to toss away your old pool balls as they may be made out of a different material than today’s modern balls. Old pool balls were usually made of Bakelite, but some older ones were actually made out of ivory.

Are Old Pool Balls Worth Anything?

ivory pool balls

If you have an old set of pool balls lying around in your attic or basement from your grandparents, I suggest that you give them a second thought. Although most of the pool balls made in the early 1900’s were made out of bakelite, there are quite a few that were made out of ivory.

A nice set of ivory pool balls can sell anywhere from 50 dollars to thousands of dollars. The price range can vary depending on a number of factors. These factors include:

  • The condition of the balls (This is the most important factor in determining the worth)
  • If the set is complete (Comes with all the balls and or case it came in)
  • Supporting/original documents supporting the balls

A set of mint condition ivory balls are becoming rarer and rarer as the years go by and can be worth thousands of dollars to the right person.

Final Thoughts

Every ball will eventually degrade over time, whether they are a cheap or expensive. Exposure to the different elements, as well as how often they are played with all play a big factor on how long your pool balls will last.

Keeping your pool table and balls in a dark room that has a good temperature is your best bet at prolonging the aesthetic appearance. Purchasing expensive, high-quality billiard balls will drastically increase the playtime you will get out of them.

Don’t forget to periodically clean your balls with a cleaner and polish to help them maintain their shine. Regularly cleaning your pool balls before they start to oxidize will also help prevent them from yellowing in the future and will overall give you longer lasting balls.

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