We're an affiliate
We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate
Don’t underestimate the importance of your pool cue tip. Its the only connection between you and the cue ball.
Any other contact between you and the balls on the table while play is in process would be deemed a foul.
I’m not only talking about pool, but all other forms of cue sports; Snooker, Carom, Bumper pool, Russian pyramid to name just a few other cue sports.
Having the correct tip on your cue is essential to your game.
Yes, you can play with a standard house cue with a tip that’s been pounded over the years making it better suited for a break cue than a playing cue.
But if you are playing competitive or trying to improve your game then its the little things that make a difference, and a cue tip is pretty little but has a major impact on your performance.
Other than it being a small piece attached to your ferrule, there is actually quite a lot going on, understanding it will help you in choosing a pool cue tip that’s right for your style of play.
Things to consider when choosing a pool cue tip
- Type of tip
- The hardness of the tip
- The shape of the tip
- Size of tip
Go through this guide to help you figure out the best tip for your game.
Remember that cue tips won’t last forever, They do have a life span so its recommended to change them once in a while. I wrote a whole article detailing how long a cue tip will last and in it I provide some telltale signs to look for, definitely go check that out if want to know more.
Types of tips for pool cues
The most common type of tip would be a leather tip, these come in two styles; a solid leather tip and a layered leather tip. For the most part, I would recommend these types of cue tips.
Other types of pool cue tips are screw-on tips, slip-on-tips and phenolic resin tips.
- Leather tip (solid)
- Leather tip (layered)
- Phenolic tip
- Screw-on tip
- Slip-on tip
Personally, if you are here because you are looking at choosing a pool cue tip that will enhance your level of play, then disregard screw-on tips and slip-on tips. There is a place for these, but you won’t find them in a serious billiard player’s arsenal.
These types of tips are useful if the cues get used regularly because they can be replaced easily without too much thought.
Perhaps in a bar where people aren’t there to play pool per se, but the option is there if they wish.
Another use for these types of cue tips are on kids pool cues because these types of cue tips are much cheaper and easier to replace than a leather cue tip.
They play ok, but you won’t get the same level of control as you would from a leather tip.
So, if you are choosing a pool cue tip that is right for you, then I would recommend not going with a slip-on or screw-on tip.
The other types of tips are to be glued onto your ferrule, and I would recommend these for the serious players.
Differences between a solid cue tip, layered cue tip and a phenolic cue tip
Let’s take a look at some of the key differences between cue tips. I will only look at Leather tips and Phenolic tips as these are the main types of tips.
Leather tips are made from different types of skin with japanize pigskin being considered some of the best type of leather to use for making cue tips.
There are two types of leather cue tips:
- Solid leather cue tip
- Layered laminated cue tip
As the name suggests, a solid leather cue tip is made from one piece of solid leather.
A layered laminated cue tip is made from strips of leather laminated together to form a cue tip.
The other type of cue tip is a Phenolic tip, these are very hard tips ideal for breaking
Phenolic cue tips
Phenolic resin cue tips are excellent for breaking and jumping because they are extremely hard. On a durometer, which measures how hard different materials are on a scale from 1 – 100. Phenolic cue tips can reach the 99 mark, meaning they are extremely hard.
What this means is there is less cushion maximizing the transfer of energy onto the cue ball. The energy transfers into speed and power when struck, hence why they are ideal for breaking with.
Being hard in nature, they naturally hold their shape are extremely durable.
Solid cue tip
A solid cue tip is made from a single piece of specially tanned leather that is cut to make a single pressed layer.
ping skin or cowhide are common leathers used for cue tips.
Despite being cheaper than layered cue tips there are some noticeable qualities to a solid cue tip. They produce a nice solid hit and they can be available in precise sizes which will match the diameter of your ferrule which would require less work to install it.
The issues with Solid leather tips are they will require more maintenance as they tend to mushroom more than layered tips. This can become an issue as the more work you need to give a cue tip so it’s in good playing condition will slowly deteriorate the tip itself and result in it in becoming spongey.
These types of cue tips are usually found on house cues.
Layered cue tip
Layered laminated tips are made using layers of leather compressed and stacked together, glued, and then pressed forming the cue tip.
Although more expensive than solid cue tips, they do have some advantages to compensate for their higher price tag. Due to the way they are made they tend to hold their shape for longer and therefore less maintenance is required. They also retain chalk better, applying more friction on the cue ball resulting in more control. With these factors combined, you get a much more consistent, controlled shot while striking the cue ball.
For the advantages mentioned, layered tips are usually used by professional players.
To sum it up, when choosing a pool cue tip, thought needs to be given to the type of player you are. That will help decide the type of hardness, the shape and the size coupled with how much you are willing to spend on a cue tip
|Phenolic tip||Solid cue tip||Layered tip|
|Build||compressed Phenolic resin||Single piece of leather||Layers of leather laminated|
|Maintenance||Hardly any||A lot||Some|
Pool cue tip hardness
Now, when choosing a pool cue tip, you need to take a moment to consider which cue tip hardness you would like. The ranges go from extra soft to extra hard, with each level having a different result in terms of cue ball control, energy transfer and spin.
The hardness of a cue tip is measured on a durometer which measures the density of the cue tip. It starts at 1, which has the softest density and ends on 100 which has the hardest.
If you want to know the hardness of a particular cue tip then its possible to check out a cue tip hardness chart that lists most of the popular cue tips and their hardness score. Check out a hardness chart here
If you are unsure on which cue tip you prefer then consider your style of play,
do you play with more finesse and try to get that extra draw and control on the cue ball
do you go for the power shots, still using some control and manipulation on the cue ball but you prefer the maximum energy transfer when striking the cue ball?
As a guide you can consider the different levels to play like this:
A softer cue tip should grip better to the cue ball as when struck, as the longer period the tip is in contact with the cue ball. This, and the fact they hold chalk better, gives the cue ball its extra control and spin making it easier to add draw or english to your shots. These types of cue tips generally require more maintenance as they are sofer and will harden with continued use.
A medium cue tip is somewhere between a soft and a hard cue tip. Therefore it has some of the qualities of both types. They keep their shape better than softer tips and hold chalk well.
A harder cue tip produces more energy when the cue ball is struck. Less of the cue tip is on the surface of the cue ball for less of the time, which transfers the maximum amount of energy. These types of tips require less grooming and maintenance and the hardest of these types of tips are perfect to braking with – hence why a lot of phenolic tips are used for breaking with.
It’s important to note that it’s still possible to get all that extra control and spin from a hard tip. It just requires a lot of practice. Using a softer tip gives you that control easier, but the same results are possible with tips of a harder density, that’s why a lot of pros choose a harder tip.
Cue tip shape nickel or dime
Another important consideration when choosing a pool cue tip is how to shape it, most people will either choose a tip with a radius of a nickel or a dime when shaping their cue tip. What is meant by this is when the tip is shaped, the radius of the tip is fashioned into the radius of a nickel or dime.
The idea is with a nickel shaped cue tip, there is a larger point of contact on the cue ball than with a dime. As the radius of a nickel is larger than the radius of a dime. With a smaller contact point on the cue ball and with that contact point being further from the cue ball center, more spin is produced.
The type of shape you prefer is really a matter of trial and error until you find one that works best with your style of play.
Another consideration would be, do you want a flatter surface to your cue tip or a more rounded, dome-like tip.
You need to visualize a flatter cue tip and a rounder dome-like tip being cued at the same point on a cue ball.
The flatter cue will make contact with the cue ball closer to the center of the ball, which will produce less spin.
As mentioned, a rounder cue tip will make contact with the cue ball further away from the center of the ball, which will produce more spin.
Cue tip size
When choosing a tip some thought needs to be given to the size you want. For most layered tips you will need to consider a cue tip with a diameter of 13mm or 14mm.
A lot of solid leather cue tips can come in a range of sizes that can fit your ferrule perfectly.
To learn the size you want, it’s best to look at the diameter of your ferrule and find a tip that matches that or is bigger.
For layered tips, you will most likely get a tip that is bigger and using a sharp cutting tool cut it so its flush to your ferrule.
A lot of cues come with a diameter of 13mm as standard. If in doubt, pick a larger tip, perhaps a 14mm and follow my guide on how to replace a cue tip to learn how to fit and cut it correctly.
Choosing a pool cue tip can be confusing, there are plenty out there and they all look the same. Now you understand some of the differences it should help you determine which type of pool cue tip is best for you.
At the end of the day, you will need to try a lot of different types until you find the right one, but now you have a guide to figure out the differences between the different types of cue tips it should help you speed the process up.
Choosing a pool cue tip is not done over night, it will take a few years of trial and error before you find the one that is best suited to your game.