There are many different types of dartboard on the market, which can make it difficult to decide which is the best option. In this article, I’ll compare these types and give you some recommendations on which are the most suitable for different situations.
Types of Dartboard
The most common types of dartboard are bristle and plastic. Bristle (sisal fiber) boards are the type used by professionals, whilst plastic boards are usually electronic. More affordable board types are made from cork, rubber or paper, whilst magnetic and velcro boards are designed for younger players.
There are main types of dartboard according to the material used:
- Bristle (also known as sisal)
- Electronic (plastic)
- Magnetic steel
Bristle and electronic boards are the most premium options. Boards made of cork are harder to find and not typically used nowadays, whilst rubber, velcro, paper and magnetic steel boards are designed for younger players and beginners. Wooden dartboards are the most traditional but vary rarely used currently.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each type in a bit more detail.
Modern day dartboards used in professional tournaments are made from natural sisal fibres and are commonly referred to as bristle dartboards. These are designed to be used with steel tip darts and are the optimal option to go for if you’re looking for the best playing experience.
Despite being geared at more experienced and serious players, bristle boards can be found at more affordable prices, although you may sacrifice some of the quality in the wiring in particular. For example, thicker wiring with staples is commonly seen on cheaper boards which makes it easier for the dart to “bounce-out”. More expensive boards use thinner wiring and do not use staples which reduces the chance of this happening.
Bristle boards are selected by players who want to have the same experience at home as they would when playing competitively. They are durable and can be rotated so you can prevent certain areas becoming too worn out. When a dart is removed from a bristle board, the hole mostly closes up so they are self-healing to a certain extent.
- Professional look
- Uses steel tip darts (feels more satisfying)
- Durable design (if rotated)
- Have to keep the score yourself (not electronic)
- More expensive
- Steel tip darts can damage surroundings
Price Range: $40-$100+
Electronic (Plastic) Boards
Most plastic boards are electronic. This means you get a whole host of extra features such as a scoring function, built-in games and the option to play against the computer when you don’t have an opponent.
Electronic boards use soft-tip darts, which don’t feel quite as satisfying when they hit the board compared to the steel tip darts used on bristle boards, but they are a lot safer to the surroundings.
Check out this article to learn why steel tip darts are not suitable for electronic boards.
There are boards to suit most budgets, although the quality (and durability) is likely to be lower when selecting a more affordable board. Electronic boards are not as traditional as bristle boards, but do have many other advantages.
Price Range: $40-$100+
- Includes a scoring function
- Can play against the computer
- Uses soft tip darts (safer option)
- Less traditional
- Some players do not enjoy the feel of soft tip darts as much as steel tips
Cork dartboards are a good choice beginners because they are more affordable than sisal boards. Soft-tip darts are recommended for cork boards, which are safer in comparison to the heavier steel tip darts. They have a pretty traditional look, but the durability isn’t amazing since the cork becomes dented by the darts permanently whenever it is hit.
The popularity of cork boards has dwindled a fair bit, making them reasonably difficult to find, with many players opting for an electronic board instead.
Price Range: $20-$40
- Affordable option
- Uses soft-tip darts (safer option)
- Less durable than bristle boards
- No electronic features e.g. scoring, games etc.
Paper, Steel, Rubber and Velcro
These options are the most affordable. Paper and rubber dartboards are cheap but wear out quickly, particularly if you’re using steel tip darts. Boards made out of magnetic steel and velcro will come with special darts designed specifically to stick the board and are designed primarily for younger players since they are safer and more affordable.
- Very affordable options
- Velcro and steel are safer options
- Paper and rubber boards are not durable
- Look cheaper and less traditional
Which Option Should You Go For?
Here is a quick rundown of which type of player each board is geared towards:
- Bristle: players looking for a professional experience and traditional looking dartboard who are less concerned about price.
- Electronic: players looking for additional features and who prefer to use safer soft-tip darts.
- Cork: players looking for a fairly traditional looking board who are on a tighter budget.
- Paper: beginners looking for an affordable option for practicing at home.
- Rubber: beginners and younger players and affordable at-home practice.
- Magnetic: those looking for a traditional looking board to be used by beginners and younger players.
- Velcro: young players.
The second aspect to consider when looking at the different types of dartboard is the design. Here I’m referring to the way the board is scored in the UK according to different regions. Here are the most common that are still used today:
- Manchester Log-end
- Kent Doubles
- Ipswich (or London) Fives
These boards feature different designs to the standard design found on most sisal boards. Unless you’re looking for something niche, you’re very unlikely to come across the variations listed above. The standard bristle boards will instead have treble rings, double rings and two bullseyes.