So you want to enter the world of darts?
Or you just want to brush up on your dartboard knowledge?
Worry not. I got you covered. I remember how confusing it is to select your first dartboard. My knowledge back then extended to knowing that I have to throw some pointy things at something.
When you gain some experience, it all sooo easy. But in the beginning, just like everybody else (no exceptions), we have to learn and understand at least a few things first before buying a dartboard.
So I thought about making this guide about what you should look for when buying a dartboard.
What you will find out are tips, tricks, ideas, and a lot of valuable information and suggestions that I wish I knew when buying my first dartboard.
What You Need to Look for When Buying a Dartboard
There are a couple of reasons you want to do a little research beforehand.
When you know what you should look for, you will have a much easier time selecting the right dart bard for you.
This will result in a better experience playing darts for you and your buddies.
A good dartboard selection can even make the game a lot more fun, reduce the bounce-outs, and just make you want to play more. It sounds funny, but it is true!
Bristle dartboards are considered a more traditional type of dartboard. It is made from compacted natural sisal.
Sisal is a type of fiber obtained from the agave plant. Some of the best quality dartboards (the ones you can see on TV) are made from sisal.
Not all sisal is created equal, however.
Bristle dartboards bring a lot to the table. They can last a really long time granted it is properly looked after.
These dartboards have a very good self-healing property, which is making them a sought after type of a dartboard.
Darts will leave a hole in the dartboard, but with time these holes will start to close, which significantly improves the longevity of the dartboard.
Best of all, for a beginner, a bristle dartboard is arguably the best way to get into darts.
And let us not forget one of the neat advantages of a bristle dartboard; you play it with steel tip darts, the thud sounds are incredibly satisfying, and bristle dartboards are quieter than a soft tip dartboard.
Of course, not all dartboards will have the same quality and quantity of compacted sisal in them. Generally speaking, like with anything else, you get what you pay for. You can get a cheaper dartboard for about $30. Or spend a little more for a board with better quality, which usually goes upwards of $60.
For a cheaper but quality bristle dartboard, you can check the Viper Shot King on Amazon. And a fantastic bristle dartboard that is on the more expensive side is the Winmau Blade 5 found on Amazon as well.
Read Next: Best Self-Healing Dartboards
Bladed Dartboard Wiring
The wiring is used to separate the different segments on the dartboard.
However, some dartboards have thicker wiring, which can make your game of darts very frustrating.
The thicker wiring will normally increase the number of bounce outs. Wiring can also bend and deform, which can make your game of darts a little less consistent.
Some dartboards also have their wiring stapled inside the double and triple areas, which can be very frustrating as these are the most important areas. I want to have as little things in these areas as possible.
There are different types of wiring.
The majority of dartboards have a triangle and round wiring. Each one of these have their pros and cons, but lately, we have seen some excellent alternatives like the blade wiring.
The bladed wiring can be as much as 50% thinner compared to the other types of wiring. The bladed wiring takes so much less space that will make your game a breeze.
Even though bladed wiring is thinner, it still provides good visibility and low glare.
The bladed wiring is especially useful when it comes to the bulls area. Bladed bulls are vital if you want to have as much of a playable surface area as possible. Bladed bull will reduce bounce-outs significantly.
Removable Number Ring
You want to look for a dartboard that you can easily rotate. This is best achieved with a dartboard that has a removable number ring. It is very easy to do and takes, literally, a couple of seconds to do.
This is something that many may overlook when first buying a dartboard. Because they may not know what rotating a dartboard is.
A dartboard should be rotated often in order for the different segments to stay in better conditions and to prevent uneven wear.
By rotating your dartboard, you will allow the sisal of the dartboard to heal properly and get the most out of it.
Rotating a dartboard is essential if you want to make it last for as long as possible.
If you cannot rotate the dartboard, you will be hitting the same segments of the board almost all the time. This stretches the sisals, and usually, the dartboard will start to dry up and get hard.
The Dartboard Edge
The edge of the dartboard is also important.
A composite edge is important because it will give the dartboard not only a better and more modern look.
A quality composite edging will give your board a few things.
First, it will give it a better and more modern look.
And secondly, it also allows for the board to be easily rotated and for the number ring to be adjusted accordingly.
The Ink Used to Color the Dartboard
The quality of the ink, which is used to color the different sections of the dartboard, is a frequently overlooked aspect.
The best results are usually found with food-grade eco inks.
The food-grade ink penetrates deep into the individual fibers of the board. It offers better visibility due to low glare and richer colors. The food-grade ink will also add more strength to the board.
Poor quality paint with high glare can even affect your performance in a negative way.
The food-grade ink is eco-friendly and does not pose any harm when touched.
Staple-Free Wiring and Bullseye
Certain quality dartboards have staple-free wiring and bullseye area.
Dartboards that have their wiring stapled usually lead to higher rates of bounce-outs. This is especially bad in the bullseye area the staples represent extra obstruction that gets in the way of you darts.
However, keep in mind that a dartboard that is marketed as having a staple-free bullseye does not necessarily mean it is entirely staple-free. Frequently these dartboards may have staples on the rest of the wiring.
Overall the less staples on the dartboard, the less bounce-outs there will be.
Some dartboards may come with different accessories.
- A dartboard cabinet or a dartboard cover;
- A set of darts; and
- A throwing line marker of some kind.
There are other types of accessories, but these are going to be the usual ones that can be useful in the beginning.
A dart board cabinet can be very useful in that it offers a neat way to store your dartboard, darts, and scoreboard, and it can offer some wall protection; all that in a stylish looking package.
A dartboard cover can also be used as a means to protect your wall when playing darts.
For a beginner, a great starter set would be the Viper Stadium Ready-to-Play Bundle, which includes a dartboard cabinet, a dartboard, a steel tip darts, a scoreboard, marker, and the mounting hardware. It can be found on Amazon here.
One of the most common questions I stumble upon in the darts community is how to hang a dartboard.
There is a little caveat here that many may overlook.
Look for a dartboard that has a mounting bracket. Many dartboards come with a wall bracket that is attached to the center of the dartboard. This makes attaching it to the wall or cabinet super easy.
But there is something more. A centered mounting bracket like this allows you to rotate your board easily.
Dartboard Density and Thickness
The density of sisal fibers and the thickness of the dartboard is another factor that is worth considering when choosing a dartboard.
A good level of density (not too high or too low) will allow for better darts penetration, which can reduce bounce-outs and darts from falling on the floor.
The majority of the good quality dartboards today usually have good thickness. However, the density may vary.
The sanding is another important factor.
Low-quality dartboards may lack in that department.
Dartboards are sanded in different directions.
This provides for a more balanced playing surface.
The amount and the quality of the sanding can affect the self-healing ability of sisal, which, combined with frequent rotating of the board, will add to its longevity.
Do not forget to look for a dartboard that comes with a good warranty.
A high-quality dartboard should come with a decent warranty. This means that the manufacturer stands behind the quality of their product and that the dartboard will deliver what it has promised.
The different dartboards come with a different warranty, so make sure to check that out as well as what exactly does the warranty cover.
All of the things that I have gone through above are fine and dandy, but let us be honest; the budget we are willing to spend will determine the final outcome.
In this article, I have offered some time-tested dartboards that fall into different categories (price-wise).
Just like with anything else, when it comes down to dartboards, you get what you pay for.
The good thing about darts is that it is so cheap that you can quite literally start with the stuff that pros use.
It is my belief that quality is in the first place. However, this does not mean that you need to spend a lot of money. Some dartboards are well below $50.
Quality is important because darts is a game of experience and fun. The deep thud sound when your steel tip dart hits the bristle dartboard can make you want to play more than you have previously expected. The same holds true for a good quality high-density dartboard.
If you are a true beginner that is not sure how often you will play, then a paper dartboard may be the best choice for you. It will in no way measure up to a true dartboard, but it is a great way to test the waters.
Read Next: Do expensive darts make a difference?
A Few More Considerations to Keep in Mind When Buying a Dartboard
Depending on the purpose you will be using your dartboard, there are a few more things that are worth mentioning.
Who Will Be Playing on the Dartboard?
The person that will be playing the most on the dartboard and their skill level and age are important.
For young children, a velcro dart board may be the best choice, mostly because it offers safety, but it is still a lot of fun. I still have an old velcro dartboard that I have hanging on my cupboard. The velcro dartboards are super cheap and can last you literally years.
Another viable option for the younger ones is to get them a magnetic dart board. These look a little more like the real thing and are still safer compared to throwing steel tip darts. Nevertheless, parental supervision is necessary.
If the dartboard will be for a beginner, arguably, the best way to go is with a bristle dartboard and steel tip darts. Actually, a good bristle board is suitable for dart players across the whole spectrum. It is not a rare thing for people that have tried a bristle board never to go back to electronic dartboards.
If you are going to be playing darts on a more serious note and practicing a lot again, a bristle dartboard is going to be the better choice.
Where Will You Be Playing on Your Dartboard?
If you are playing indoors, this can pose some difficulties that you need to take into consideration before getting a dartboard.
Steel tip darts can damage your wall and floor. Bounce outs happen even to the best players. This means that you may need to find a way to protect your walls and floor.
Soft tip and magnetic darts are going to be a lot easier on your walls and usually will not damage the wall in a significant way unless thrown with a lot of power.
However, if you are living with other people, you may want to go with a dartboard that is not too loud. Bristle dartboards are better in that regard, and soft tip dartboards are, on average, a lot noisier.
For home use, I would definitely recommend a steel tip dartboard. It just looks better, plays better, and feels a lot more solid and satisfying to play on a good bristle dartboard.
Compared to a soft tip dartboard, it just feels a lot more satisfying to throw the darts.
It is important to keep in mind if you will be playing any leagues. Some leagues are strictly soft tip or steel tip leagues. Depending on how important that is to you, this may sway you one way or another.
Who Will Be Keeping the Score?
One of the health benefits of darts is that you can brush up on your math skills and mental calculations quickly.
But not everybody is going to be so excited about that.
Some people are just bad at math, and does that mean that they should not play darts? Absolutely not.
Electronic dartboards are the way to go in that case as they will automatically keep the score for you. So this will be one less thing to worry about.
On the other hand, math is a vital part of darts. Many dart players do not really like that part of darts, and this is understandable. Somehow math does not fit in with our concept of fun.
But frequently very good darts players that can throw very consistently and accurately have been beaten because their math game is lacking.
Soft tip electronic dartboards will do the math for you, which makes the whole thing a lot easier. But this extra shoulder is a crutch that may affect your game in the future.
How Many Players Are Going to Play?
If you will be playing with your buddies while drinking and just looking forward to having some nice time unwinding after work, an electronic dartboard is the way to go.
Electronic dart boards offer a lot of different games and variations that you can play. And the best thing is that you will not have to keep the score. The dartboard does it for you.
With electronic dartboards even in the case of a bounce-out, the dartboard may still register the point, which is a good thing, so you will not have to worry even if the tips of the darts are a little damaged or bent.
The negative thing about electronic dartboards is that they are almost universally going to be more expensive.
The electronic dartboards go hand in hand with soft tip darts and are the best choice for casual and fun plays with multiple friends.