What game can be played solo, in pairs and in groups? What combines swiftness, flicks of the wrist, and intensity of aim? Darts, of course! You need patience and focus, and the reward is an unbridled high when you hit the bull’s eye. Played casually or with aggressive concentration, throwing darts is a feat of accuracy that challenges everyone. And that’s why you would need the best dart board to enjoy to the fullest.
A snippet of history
Take a guess what the original dart game was? Think really far back.
That’s right, it was a tree block with markings etched on it, and a pub patron would throw a dart to hit the bull’s eye. The pub owner’s job was harder.
He had to dip it in water to make the holes in the wood (from the previous evening’s games) close up, so that it was ready for the next day. Modern dart boards, though, should be kept as dry and cool as possible.
Give the perfect start to dart games: The prerequisite to a decent game of darts is a good quality dart board. Typically, dart boards are made of a circular piece of cork, bristle or recycled paper bits on which the rings and sectors are marked for scoring.
The all-important bull’s eye is made prominent. The configuration of dartboards may vary, but the common goal in all forms of the game is hitting the spot – and this takes practice.
To rack up this skill, first you need to learn about the different types of dart boards in the market, and what purpose each is known for. For instance, if you wish to get one home for private practice with no risk of injury, a magnetic dart board would be best.
Best Dart Boards: Our Top 7 Picks and Reviews
1. Gran Board 2 Bluetooth Electronic Dartboard: Best for Home
At 3.68 kg, this is a dart board that is ultra-modern, and light. It the best electronic dart board suited up to meet the demands of dart gaming connoisseurs. You can sync and log your performance on your phone by downloading the Gran Board app. Friends and family can also be added on to this app and you can compete together for hours of throwing fun. It is possible to play the standard games of Cricket, 501, 701 and the like. You can play solo on this board too. The LED screen is crystal clear, being made of superior quality materials like the rest of the board. The gaming kit comes with the board and six soft-tip darts. Gran’s recommended 18-gram darts can be bought separately as well, and are available in both e-commerce sites and brick and mortar stores.
Installation is simple – you just have to peel off the adhesive sheet and mount the board to the wall. It works with two standard-size AA batteries. If you are a player with more than a passing interest in dart games, then the high price of this board will not deter you. It would be far better than paying an hourly rate at the local arcade where you’d have to share boards with others or book slots in advance.
In short, it is perfectly suited for those who play regularly and continuously. It is home entertainment at its best with challenges of physical activity and hand-eye coordination thrown in. The Bluetooth functionality allows you to hook up the dartboard with your phone or smart TV. The enthusiasts will be happy to note that regular updates are available.
What We Liked
- Supports up to 8 players and has 26 game options
- Provides private practice/ participating in online competitions
- Three levels of challenge in solo gaming
- Allows playing against human and computer opponents
What we Didn’t Like
- Heavier than some other electronic boards
- No lighting inside the display
- Soft-tip darts get damaged easily
2. Winmau Blade 5 Dual Core Bristle Dartboard: Best Bristle Dart Board
Made from high-density sisal fibers, this is serious contender for the choicest bristle board. The fibres yield and make way for the dart tips with excellent accuracy, and players with high hand-eye coordination feel well-rewarded by this board.
The distinction is in the engineered board made of two layers of sisal. Not only do the darts stick better because of the dual layer, but the durability of the board increases because of the inner layer. This affords a minimized chance of bounce-outs. Winmau is reputed for its excellent dart board construction and outdoes itself in the latest release, the Blade 5 dual core. The wiring system used to separate the segments on the playing surface is incredibly thin, 14% thinner than Winmau Blade 4, which is a great improvement for the overall structure. It also means there is that much more playing area.
Strong locking and leveling of the board at the mount means that the board remains undisturbed under a volley of aggressive dart throwing. The fact about Winmau, as can be seen from their admirable crafting of this dart board, is that they know the exact pain points of gamers. If you need to contact them on any point, you will find them quite responsive to questions.
What we Liked
- High-quality sisal fibers make this board highly durable
- Proper size, the same used in tournaments
- Low bounce-out rate and high dart deflection
What we Didn’t Like
- Darts are not included in the purchase of this dart board
- Not suitable for soft-tipped or smaller darts
Winmau is the leader in the production of bristle dart boards and tungsten darts. It’s been in existence for 70 years now. They invest in research to give players and playing federations the best dart gaming experience. Every product off the Winmau assembly-line passes a human artisans quality-checker.
3. Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 Electronic Dartboard
This is on par with professional dart boards. The sectors on the playing surface are divided by nylon partitions, and nowhere is the wiring felt, let alone causing bounce-outs. In fact, there is no wiring, and all the nylon segments used are extremely fine. Durable nylon fibres separate the sections on the playing surface; they are long-lasting and make the board a high-performance one.
Being an electronic board, it comes with a microchip of memory and features that supports up to 8 players at a time. The score flashes on the LED scoreboard, and the scoring area itself is enhanced to support perfect retention upon contact. Sensors detect the dart tip and score is logged automatically. These seamless features allow you to concentrate on your throwing skills and style, and nothing else. No wonder this is a board that is preferred by professionals and serious dart game enthusiasts all over the world.
The “Heckle” feature can be a turn-off to some players, but Arachnid has made this an optional feature. Turning off ‘heckling’ is possible for when players want no distractions.
In addition to all these highly-desirable features, the Arachnid Cricket Pro comes with 40 in-built games including Quick Cricket, Wild Card Cricket, Double Down, and the usual suspects such as the X01 series and Shove A Penny. Overall, an excellent choice for those who wish to get started in the big league of dart games.
What we Liked
- Points Per Dart for each player can be viewed
- Many variations available in this series
What we Didn’t Like
- No handicapping provided
- Heckling can prove a distraction, can be turned off
- Number of games are lower than some competitors’ boards
4. Shot! Darts Bandit Protrainer Steel Tip Dartboard: Best for Professionals
The Shot! Darts Bandit Protrainer Steel Tip Dartboard is designed for the player who wants to hone throwing accuracy. If you feel you have crossed the beginner’s level of dart-throwing and would like to scale up to higher levels, this dart board helps you do just that.
Made of East African sisal and crafted in New Zealand, this Shot Darts Bandit dart board may be mistakenly classified as just another bristle board. But the difference comes in at the quality it offers. Weighing in at 5 kilograms, it is certainly not the lightest among the ones listed. It comes with a unique integrated wall bracket that takes care of its stability. Scoring is manual, you do it by rotating a bezel made out of recycled moulded plastic that runs smoothly. This is what you’d call a sustainable dart board, as it uses recycled plastic and eco-friendly inks; it is recyclable for the future.
For practice at home, work, or at a club, this standard-sized dart board offers you a chance to practice for a real tournament. The shots are far quieter than other boards – one more reason to be liked by the serious player who does not like distractions. While bordering on the expensive side, this dart board is made for heavy duty practice sessions. The fibers on the playing surface recover quickly and are highly durable. The playing surface is clean and low-glare – perfect for indoor and outdoor practice. The doubles, trebles and bull’s eye areas are smaller than usual, and this poses greater challenge for the thrower.
What we Liked
- Easy number ring rotation for score-keeping
- Playing surface is clean and low-glare
- Staple-free, white wiring systems means reduced bounce-outs
- Recyclable and long-standing
What we Didn’t Like
- May be too challenging for beginners
- No other identifiable cons
5. Nodor Supawires 2 Bristle Dartboard: Best Soft Tip Dart Board
Looking for harmless, soft-tip dart boards? There are plastic and rubber boards for beginners of the game. Children can even get Velcro boards. But the best bet even for soft-tips is bristle. Choose from bristle dart boards made of high-quality East African sisal fibers – and Nodor offers this one at a medium price range. But it delivers on every point and makes a great surface for playing both soft-tip and steel-tip darts. For this same reason, this can be an upgrade to previous, cheaper boards that you’ve owned, or it can be the very first board you pick too. It would set the bar quite high! Nodor has been manufacturing dart boards for more than 90 years now, and the expertise shows in the precision with which the board is crafted.
It is made according to the dimensions stipulated by most dart game competitions, and the standard-issue size lets you prepare for a tournament right at home. For starters, the installation is something you can do straight-away with your usual suspects in the tool box. Two holes have to be fitted with studs and this better be done right, since the board is a heavy one weighing at 5.17 kg or 11.02 pounds. The back board has to be secured against the wall and this gives strength to the mount. All the screws and studs required for installation are provided within the kit. Metal numbers are placed on a movable ring and the mechanism glides smoothly with each turn.
Nodor Supawires is well-known for its improved playing area and reduced bounce-outs. The bull’s eye is staple free. The density of the sisal fibers is at the finest in this particular bristle-board, making the board self-healing even after hours of game play.
What we Liked
- Reduced bounce-outs from ultra-thin “Supa Wires”
- More playing and scoring area
- Authentic material makes board durable
What we Didn’t Like
- The landing is louder than some bristle boards
- Need to keep rotating the metal number ring
6. Trademark Gameroom Dart Board
This dart board is a medley of all the functionalities and all the bells and whistles that you would wish for in a dart board. That’s why it is placed bang in the middle of this list of choice dart boards. Its appropriately called the Gameroom Dart board.
It’s economical but packs the punch of a fully loaded dart-game board replete with cabinet doors. The doors come in a walnut finish, and look great in the game room. The dart board is made of MDF. This engineering wood is denser than plywood, being made of a combination of hardwood and softwood fibers. It is suitable for dart throwing because of its porous nature. The doors close with a magnetic action, and when open, they feature a chalk board on each side. You can keep score on these chalk boards and erase them with the board eraser provided. This gimmick is bound to raise nostalgia in players around the world, especially since chalk boards have become less and less common. 6 steel-tipped darts are included in the set. Altogether, the weight comes up to approximately 8 kg, and is value for money.
Given that it’s a relatively economical dart board, there are some flaws. For instance. the dart board is not attached to the frame inside the cabinet, so it may move. The quality is only good enough for beginners who wish to play darts as a passing hobby. It is ideal for gifting, as it is not very expensive, but is made well enough to get someone interested in darts.
What we Liked
- Suitable as a starter kit for beginners
- A comprehensive kit at this price point
What we Didn’t Like
- Not durable
- Dart board hangs loose
7. Dart World 47991 Bull Dog Darts Cabinet Kit: Best with Cabinet
If you want to go for the vintage look that lends sophistication to your game room, this is the dart board to go for. It has the finish of pine furniture, which fits right in with classy taste and the lofty claim of impeccable aim. The signage on the cabinet doors puts you in mind of your favorite tavern or pub, and gives a very real feel to the original pub game that darts is.
The cabinet comes with sturdy construction at the hinges and finger joints. Installation of the cabinet itself comes with a set of clear, no-nonsense instructions. The whole kit with cabinet, dart board, and darts, comes along with a set of rules and a set of chalkboards in true pub style. You can chalk up your scores and erase them with any board eraser.
The dart board inside the cabinet is made of bristle, like the best of dart boards. The bounce-out problem is controlled by the ultra-thin stainless-steel wiring. If there are any roadblocks with the installation process, or if the instructions provided are not clear enough, you can look for installation help videos on YouTube. It is a heavy board and cabinet, weighing in at 27.5 pounds or 12.4 kilograms.
Even the darts provided weigh on the heavier side at 21-23 gm per piece. Once it is properly mounted, it looks sturdy and can take some heavy-duty shots. Although it is priced on the higher side, it definitely is worth every penny spent on it, in terms of looks and performance. There is a ‘Shoot the Bull’ sticker provided along with the kind, which is meant to place the players standing in front the throwing range.
What we Liked
- Beautiful design covered in red stain
- Sturdy construction
- Competition-grade playing surface
What we Didn’t Like
- Darts are heavy and need some getting used to
- Instructions are not so clear for beginners
Types of Dart Boards
At the outset, you would hear of Magnetic, Wooden or Electronic dartboards. Delving further into make and material will reveal the features, advantages, and scoring efficacy of each type of board.
Magnetic dart boards
These are for casual players, who play merely for entertainment. The darts used on this board do not come with a sharp tip that pierces the board. Instead, it is weighted with a magnetic head that attaches itself to the board upon contact. The board is made of a magnetic material. This kit is priced moderately, above those made with paper or cork, and far below those set up with electronic scoring options.
Wooden dart boards
“Wooden” might be a misnomer. Elm wood boards are no longer made, owing to the difficulty of maintaining them. Traditional ‘basswood’ dart boards are still made by some manufacturers, but the numbers are lower than mass-produced ones, as these have to be hand-crafted.
Bristle dart boards
The material now preferred is bristle, as wood would be too hard to let the tip of a dart pierce it. Some of the best dart boards are made of bristle and sisal, a fibrous material derived from the agave plant. These boards are preferred by people who have more than a passing interest in dart games. Prices are competitive for bristle dart boards, and border on the higher side for sisal ones. The best, densest sisal grows in Kenya, and these fibres are woven tightly together to make the board strong and authentic. Another popular material for making bristle boards is hemp.
Electronic dart boards
This is by far the most engaging kind of dart board. Makers offer in-game features, lighting and sound options that signal specific milestones, and lots of additional interactive, fun features. There are boards made for both soft tip darts and steel tip ones. The ease comes in foremost with scoring: you no longer need to remember how much each player has scored, as this board offers you a scrolling display with the help of which you can keep track. This board is perfect for the serious player of darts, and the cost is also high, compared to other types. Check out some of the best electronic dart boards here.
Cork dart boards
Dart boards made of cork are light and require no maintenance at all. The material feels similar to paper, but the board isn’t actually made of paper. Cork is in reality a pliable, soft, porous plant product that can be used to make dart boards. It comes predominantly from the cork oak, and is sourced from the bark of this tree. Cork dart boards are suited only for amateur players. They are on the cheaper side cost-wise, but are not as popular with players as bristle boards.
Paper dart boards
These dart boards are made of coiled paper wound tightly to make up the playing surface. Just the way paper gets damaged easily, the same is true for these boards. They are suited for light use and are not durable. They are not very expensive, and cannot take tough wear and tear, say in an outdoor setting. Still, they can be a good choice for beginner players or young ones getting started out on darts.
What makes dart boards good?
Ask players what frustrates them the most about badly-made dart boards, and pat comes the answer – bounce outs! The structure of any dart board requires wiring to hold the different sections of the board together. These are quite similar to the sectors of a circle. The wire at the borders can cause the dart to bump out as fast as it hits the board, resulting in a ‘bounce-out’. The thicker the wiring, the worse the problem of bounce-out can be!
Bounce-outs are not only irritating, but also make you second-guess your skills. And this in turn erodes your confidence. The solution to this problem is to progress to a better-quality dart board as your throwing skills improve.
Now you see why not all dart boards are made equal. The run-down of what makes a certain board the best for your needs, and why, can help you with your purchase decision. Make your choice with awareness, and let the list help you arrive at the ideal purchase decision.
Among the pros, you’d hear another common phrase that is also used while estimating the value of each dart board in here: It is “Self-healing”
Self-healing is a stand-out feature if ever there was one. It determines how good a dart board really is, and this depends directly on the material used. ‘Healing’ refers to the quality of the dart board where the fibres (or other material of which the dart board is made) return to their original position after being stabbed by a dart. Bristle boards are higher than cork on the scale of rapid healing capacity. This is what makes them durable. Boards made of coiled paper, for instance, heal very slowly, or sometimes stay damaged. In time, such a board becomes unusable.
Tips for picking up your New Dart Board
While this might seem to be just a piece of game/recreation equipment, it is definitely worth looking deep into the opinions and analysis present on the web before you buy a dart board.
Consider the following factors while deciding on your dart board purchase:
Your expertise: If you have only observed dart games played by your friends or at the local pub, and wanted to get in on the throwing challenge, it means you’re still uninitiated in the game. A beginner’s board can get you started on how it works
Your interest: When starting out, you might be full of zeal. You may plan to play every day or every weekend. This helps to determine whether your dart board needs to have been crafted for casual or heavy-duty use.
Your group: A group of avid dart gamers need a sturdy board, and no mistake. If you wish to play with your children, then you can start with a simpler board. Paper or cork boards are suited for casual playing. If you’re flying solo, it’s all the more important to review your skill before buying a dart board.
Your awareness: If you’re into the whole bunch of Cricket, x01 games within a dart board, or if you wish to compete on a proper gaming platform similar to the ones held in a tournament, an electronic board might be in order. In other cases, a soft-tip dart board or a magnetic board might fulfil your near-term need for entertainment.
Your budget: The more you’re ready to spend, the finer the pieces of equipment you’d get. The first dart board you buy most likely won’t be your last. As your skill-level increases, you would get upgrades for your darts, or even go for a more advanced type of dart board.
Your taste: Many people enjoy the authentic archaic look. If you’re among them, you could consider dart boards with cabinets. In the uber-modern version of dart gaming, electronic dart boards are the last word. There are ones that come with Bluetooth connectivity to enhance your experience and making your gaming stats shareable.
The distance between the throwing line and the dart board is called an ‘oche’. And it is 7 feet 9 and ¼ inches. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, take it to be the mean distance from various regions in the United Kingdom, the land of avid dart gaming.
If there is only one thing you read about a dart board before buying it, let it be about the material and the structure. The more informed your purchase, the happier you will be in your playing experience.
Dart board makers of today care for your smallest preferences. For instance, there are boards that display your scores in the conventional digits, or in the X O format, and you can even switch between the two. All it takes is patient research of what features you find desirable and which ones you can do without.
Companies like Viper, Arachnid, Nodor, and DMI care for your preferences. Do explore their full product ranges before deciding on a dart board. They come loaded with pre-programmed games, in-game features and variations. Also follow avid players who are members of a federation and play at a professional stage.
Choose your dart boards with care and build on your playing experience. Exploring ways to enjoy your dart board begins after you make a purchase. You can join an online community where players from around the world share techniques, suggestions for using handicapping, scores, and participate in challenges.
Your choice of dart board dictates all these possibilities, in addition to giving your mind and body an enjoyable workout.
Here are some FAQs
What dartboard do professionals use?
Professional players and enthusiasts sometimes get customized bristle dart boards and darts to complement their style and frequency of game play. This comes after several stages of practicing on standard-issue dart boards, and arriving at your specific needs.
How many different kinds of dart board materials are there?
Several popular materials exist. Originally made from the cross-section of a tree trunk, there are at least 6 different materials. But the most popular material for dart boards is sisal fibre. Dart boards made of Velcro are available for younger players (ages 3-6 years).
What is standard size for a dart board?
A diameter of 45.1 cm is the standard size of dart board. But other sizes are also available for different needs such as for younger players or beginners.
How much should I spend on a dart board?
Your budget would be determined by your interest – whether you’re a casual player or a serious one. A good idea would be to start with a mid-range magnetic dart board (so you don’t hurt yourself on the dart-tips, and then go for upgrades in budget as your skills grows). (See Tips above)
Why does everyone tell me a bristle dart board is the best?
Your friends probably tell you that because bristle is one of the best materials currently in use for making dart boards of authentic value. That doesn’t mean bristle boards would be right for you. For instance, if you have children, and you wish to avoid the sharp steel tips that come with bristle boards, go for a magnetic board, or a soft tipped dart board.