What Are Pool Balls Made Of

What Are Pool Balls Made Of

What Are Pool Balls Made Of

Pool balls are made of a variety of materials, but the most common is phenolic resin. Phenolic resin is a synthetic material that is created by combining phenol and formaldehyde. It is a very strong and durable material that is also resistant to chemicals and wear.

Other materials that pool balls can be made of include acrylic, plastic, and ivory. Ivory pool balls were once the most common type of pool ball, but they are now illegal to use in most tournaments due to concerns about the ivory trade.

The Origins of Pool Balls

Pool, also known as billiards, has been enjoyed for centuries, and its origins can be traced back to various games played on tables with cues and balls. Over time, pool balls have evolved, and their materials have undergone significant changes to improve gameplay.

The Classic Material 


In the past, pool balls were primarily made from ivory, which comes from the tusks of elephants. Ivory pool balls were highly prized for their smoothness and excellent ball control. However, due to the devastating impact on elephant populations and conservation concerns, the use of ivory was banned, leading to the search for alternative materials.

Modern Materials for Pool Balls

In modern times, pool balls are made from synthetic materials designed to mimic the properties of ivory. The two primary materials used are:

Phenolic Resin

Phenolic resin is a durable and impact-resistant material commonly used in pool balls today. It provides the smooth surface and consistent weight required for accurate shots and improved gameplay. Phenolic resin pool balls are also highly resistant to chipping and cracking, making them long-lasting.


Another material used in pool balls is polyester, which offers similar properties to phenolic resin. Polyester pool balls are more budget-friendly while still providing excellent performance. They are ideal for casual players and beginners.

Pool Ball Colors

Pool balls come in a set of 16 balls, numbered from 1 to 15, with an additional cue ball. Each ball has a specific color to distinguish them during gameplay. The colors of the balls are as follows:

  • Numbers 1 to 7: Solid-colored balls, often referred to as “solids.” They come in colors like yellow, blue, red, purple, orange, green, and maroon.
  • Numbers 9 to 15: Striped balls, known as “stripes.” They feature a white background with a colored stripe running through them, matching the colors of the solid balls.

How Are Pool Balls Made?

Phenolic resin pool balls are made in a process called compression molding. In compression molding, the core and shell of the ball are heated and then pressed together under high pressure. This process bonds the core and shell together and creates a strong and durable pool ball.

Acrylic, plastic, and ivory pool balls are typically made by injection molding. In injection molding, the material is heated and then injected into a mold. The mold is then cooled, which causes the material to harden. This process creates a pool ball with a smooth and uniform surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why Are Pool Balls Made Of Different Materials?

A: The material that pool balls are made of affects their performance. Phenolic resin pool balls are the most common type of pool ball because they are very durable and consistent. Acrylic pool balls are also durable, but they are not as consistent as phenolic resin pool balls. Plastic pool balls are less durable than phenolic resin or acrylic pool balls, but they are also less expensive. Ivory pool balls are the most expensive type of pool ball, but they are also the most durable.

Q: How many balls are there in a standard pool ball set?

A: A standard pool ball set consists of 16 balls, numbered from 1 to 15, and an additional white cue ball. The balls numbered 1 to 7 are solid-colored, while the balls numbered 9 to 15 have a white background with colored stripes.

Q: Are there different sizes of pool balls?

A: Yes, there are different sizes of pool balls, primarily based on the type of pool game being played. The most common sizes are 2.25 inches and 2.375 inches in diameter. Smaller sizes are typically used for smaller tables or specific variations of the game.

Q: How should I care for my pool balls?

A: To keep your pool balls in good condition, regularly clean them with a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt and chalk residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaners that could damage the balls’ surface. Properly store the balls when not in use, and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.

Q: Can I use any type of pool balls with my pool table?

A: It’s essential to use pool balls specifically designed for your pool table size and game type. Using the correct size and material ensures the best performance and prevents damage to the table or balls.

Q: Are there differences in performance between phenolic resin and polyester pool balls?

A: Phenolic resin pool balls are known for their durability and impact resistance, making them ideal for serious players and commercial settings. Polyester balls offer good performance at a more affordable price, making them suitable for casual players and beginners.

Q: Can I mix and match different types of pool balls in my set?

A: It’s not recommended to mix and match different types of pool balls in a set. To maintain consistency in gameplay and ball behavior, it’s best to use a complete set of the same type and material.

Q: Can I use natural ivory pool balls if I have them?

A: Due to the ban on ivory use for pool balls, it is illegal and unethical to use natural ivory balls. It’s essential to respect the conservation efforts aimed at protecting endangered species like elephants. Instead, consider using modern synthetic pool balls for a great gaming experience.


Pool balls have come a long way since their early days made from ivory. Today, pool balls are crafted from durable and high-quality materials like phenolic resin and polyester, providing players with a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.