Dartboards are a significant investment, so it’s a good idea to know roughly how long it’ll last, which types last the longest and how to reduce the wear and tear on the board to make it last longer. In this article, I’ll guide you through everything you need to know about dartboard wear when purchasing a board and looking after it.
The Quick Answer
High quality dartboards usually last 2-5 years before they need replacing. Bristle dartboards are the most durable and will likely many years for casual players and up to a year for professionals, whereas paper dartboards are far less durable and will usually become too worn out to play within a few weeks.
Dartboard Wear and Tear
All dartboards will wear out gradually over time. Some areas of the board are more prone to wearing out than others, for example the 19, 20, doubles, triples, doubles and bullseye areas tend to wear out more quickly because they are the most frequently targeted.
Bristle dartboards are self-healing to a certain extent, meaning that the hole will close up when the dartboard is removed. However, over time, these areas will still become worn out eventually, which can be identified when the bristles become softer.
There are several factors which affect how quickly a dartboard will wear out:
- The type of board
- The quality of the board
- The accuracy of the player (professionals will wear out the board faster because they can hit certain areas more frequently)
- How often the board is used
- How often the board is rotated (if this is possible)
- How the board is maintained and cared for
Types of Dartboard
There are several different types of dartboard which are made from different materials. The lifespan of the board is heavily dictated by the materials used, with some types being much more durable than others.
|Type of Dartboard||How Long it Lasts|
|Bristle (sisal fibre)||500+ hours of playing|
|Plastic||250+ hours of playing|
|Cork||25+ hours of playing|
|Paper||10+ hours of playing|
High-quality dartboards and those used by professionals are made from bristles which are also known as sisal fibres. Bristle dartboards last the longest because they are self-healing to a certain extent. When a dart is removed from the board, the hole created will heal up as the fibres reset. Bristle boards can also be rotated which means the board itself is moved around so you can prevent certain areas from becoming too worn.
Professionals who are practicing for over an hour a day and rotating their boards weekly, are likely to find they last around 6-12 months before they need replacing. However, more casual players may find that it takes several years for the board to become too worn.
You can tell if a bristle dartboard needs replacing because the fibres will feel soft. This will happen to areas which are targeted frequently, such as the trebles, doubles and bullseye. If you notice these areas feel soft in comparison to the rest of the board and you’ve rotated it as much as you can, then it’s time to get a new one.
Lifespan: 6-12 months when playing for 1-2 hours per day and several years (5+) for casual players
Plastic boards are usually electronic. They are quite durable but not as much as bristle boards since they are generally designed for more casual players. Most plastic dartboards cannot be rotated which reduces their lifespan if you are frequently targeting (and hitting!) areas such as the bullseye, doubles and trebles.
A good quality electronic dartboard made from plastic should last several years for casual players. The holes are usually already pre-set, so you don’t really have to worry too much about wear and tear here.
Lifespan: several years for casual players
Cork dartboards are usually not very durable because the dart will make a hole in the board on every shot. Unlike bristle boards, cork boards do not heal back up. Some can be rotated to help reduce the amount of wear, but the majority are fairly low budget and can’t be rotated.
These boards are generally designed for casual players. If you are playing for a few hours a week, then expect to be replacing the dartboard within 6 months if you are a good player who is consistently hitting similar areas.
Cork boards are rarely selected by more serious players because the cost to replace them frequently far exceeds the investment involved with a bristle board. If a professional was to use a cork dart board daily for around an hour, then they may only get 1-2 months worth of durability.
Lifespan: casual players should get around 6 months depending on playing frequency (much less for a professional)
Paper dartboards are a very cheap option which are selected mainly for beginners. They usually have very limited lifespans because of course the hole will not heal up by itself, so once an area has been hit a few times, it’s pretty useless.
If a professional were to use a paper dartboard, they are likely only to get a few hours use out of it. More casual players who don’t have quite as good an aim, may get up to 10 hours out of a paper dartboard before it needs replacing.
Lifespan: 10+ hours of playing
There are a few other materials that can be used for dartboards aimed at younger players such as velcro and magnetic steel boards. These usually last several years before they need replacing, as long as you get a decent quality and not a bottom-of-the-range board. They usually last so long because they are used infrequently, and the darts they are designed to work with do not actually puncture the material.
Check out my article on the different types of dartboard to learn more about their pros and cons.
Some dartboards will last longer than others because they are made from higher quality materials. We’ve already been through the different types of materials that can be used and how this impacts durability, but you can’t forget to consider the quality as well.
Generally, the more expensive the board, the better quality the material will be. However, it’s not always the case and its important to look at the board in person if possible, or read plenty of reviews online before purchasing.
So what are you looking for? Well there are a few things to consider:
- Surface thickness
- Presence of imperfections
- Option to rotate the board
A thicker layer of bristles will last longer than a thinner layer, the same also goes for the density. This is something you may notice when comparing a more premium and more affordable sisal dartboard. You should also check for any cracks or imperfections. This is important with any type of board as these imperfections will cause the board to degrade much faster.
Also, try and look for a board which can be rotated. This will really help to extend its lifespan if you are a particularly accurate player!
How to Make a Dartboard Last Longer
So what can you do to keep your dartboard in tip top condition so it lasts as long as possible.
To make your dartboard last as long as possible make sure you rotate it frequently and never use any liquids to clean it. Using sharp darts to avoid excessive damage to the board as well as twisting them (instead of pulling) to remove them will help to reduce the wear and tear.
Rotate the Board Frequently
If your board has the option to be rotated and you’re an accurate player who is frequently hitting the same areas, then make sure you do so frequently. If you’re playing daily for at least an hour then you should rotate your board every week, and if you’re playing for just a few hours a week, then rotate the board monthly.
You’ll know yourself how frequently you are hitting certain areas, so make sure you rotate accordingly to spread the wear and tear across the board, rather than have it focussed in a single area.
Do Not Get the Board Wet
You should never apply any liquids to the surface of a dartboard as it will cause them to soften and prematurely degrade. You should also try and keep your dartboard away from any humidity, so keep this in mind when deciding where to store and place the board. Look for a cool, dry area to make it last longer.
Dartboards should also be played and stored inside, and you should avoid using a dartboard outside. Outdoor environments are not suitable for most dartboards.
Use Sharp Darts
Using blunt darts on your board will reduce its lifespan. Sharp darts will create a smaller hole in the board than blunt darts, which in turn keeps the board fresher for longer and reduces the level of wear. You should also make sure the dart tip is smooth and not hooked, as this will also create less wear.
Twist the Dart When Removing It (Don’t Pull)
Darts are designed to stick securely in the board, so you need to take care when removing them to make sure you are not damaging the board. Twisting the dart out of the board will reduce the damage caused to the sisal fibres, and allow them to close up more easily.