I'm not joking when I saw a dartboard can mean the difference between turning darts into a real hobby and giving up after the first try.
In case you think I'm being overly dramatic, picture this. You rush out and buy a cheap dartboard for $20. You take it home in excitement, rip it out the package and hang it up. Then you whip out the darts it came with and start throwing them at the board just to get started.
Almost every time you throw a dart, it hits the board then bounces right out. Frustrated, you start throwing the darts even harder in order to get them to stick. After a while, you notice that nothing you try works and go out looking for a new hobby.
That scenario might sound wild, but it actually happens all the time. I can't tell you how many beginners email me after finding my site, asking how they can get their darts to stick. Nine times out of ten, when I ask them what kind of board they're using, the answer is something along the lines of "A $20 one I got from Toys R Us or Walmart."
After switching to a higher quality board, the problem is almost always fixed.
That's why I decided to put together this guide. If you're serious about getting started with darts, investing in a high quality dartboard needs to be a top priority.
But finding the right dartboard can be really confusing since there are so many out there, and a lot of misinformation about how to choose one. But don't worry, I've got you covered.
I've put together a complete buyer's guide for finding the best dartboard in 2018. I'll walk you through what to look for, matching the right darts to your dartboard and show you my suggestions for the best dartboards for every budget.
First, let's nail down some basic terminology that's important for choosing a dartboard.
If you don't care about this and just want my recommendations, click here to skip to my picks.
Have you ever heard of a dartboard spider, segment, bed or oche? There is a good chance that you answered no.
Before getting ahead of yourself, I think it is wise to better familiarize yourself with the common terminology used when speaking about dartboards. Below, I will provide you with a rundown of the most important terms to note.
- Segments – A regulation dart board will include 20 numbered segments. Segments are then divided into separate regions.
- Beds – The beds are the separate regions. Beds are often referred to as a triple or double.
- Spider – The spider is the metal that is utilized to divide the different sections.
- Oche – The oche doesn’t necessarily refer to the board. Instead, it is the line where you should position yourself when throwing the dart.
How Much Should You Pay For A Dartboard?
Have you ever seen the dartboard kits at your local big box store?
These kits generally include the board and the darts. You may believe that this is the best way to get everything you need in a single package.
Trust me here: Don't do it!
Usually, the combination kits contain the lowest quality boards and darts, which is why they're able to price them so low.
Instead, it's best to purchase both separately.
So, how much should you spend for a dart board?
A lot of review sites will recommend boards that cost hundreds of dollars. They're usually only recommending those because they get a larger commission if you buy them.
The reality is you can find really good dartboards for under $100.
As a beginner and hobbyist, you should not feel obligated to empty your wallet. I encourage everyone to spend moderately without overdoing it.
Good Depth And Density
If I was asked what was the most important factors when choosing a good dartboard, I would say depth and density.
You do not want your darts bouncing out of the board and crashing into the ground. This will not only cause damage to your floors, but it will also ruin the experience.
It is in your best interest to choose a board that has good depth and density. This combination will ensure that the dart is able to penetrate deeply into the board.
In return, it'll also help hold the dart in position and allow you to maximize your score!
Wiring Or Spider?
Each dart board will contain wiring, which is responsible for separating the point segments.
This portion of the board is usually referred to as the spider.
As a newbie, you’re probably thinking that this component is insignificant, but I can tell you that you’re sadly mistaken.
The spider is truly one of the most important aspects of the entire board.
Low quality dartboards will utilize rounded wires and this can increase the likelihood of bounce outs. Higher quality boards will have imbedded or angled wiring, which can greatly reduce the chance for bounce outs.
To ensure that you have a pleasant experience without ruining your floors, I recommend buying a dart board with imbedded or angled wiring.
The Size of a Dartboard
Even as a hobbyist, you’ll want to make sure that you get the most authentic experience humanly possible.
This is why I suggest paying close attention to the board’s size and how it is hung.
For the most realistic and competition-like experience, you need a dart board that has a diameter of 17 and three-quarter inches or 47.08 centimeters.
The board should be divided into twenty separate sections.
How you hang the board is also important.
You’re going to want to hang it with the bullseye exactly 5-feet 8-inches from the floor.
Then, you’ll want to position your throw line (or oche) 7-feet 9 ¼ inches from the board.
Protect Your Walls
Since you’re a hobbyist, you are most likely going to be playing darts in your home. If you’re not careful, you’ll cause serious damage to your walls.
Don’t laugh. Even the best players in the world will miss the board completely from time to time. We can't all be as accurate as Mike Tyson!
I strongly recommend buying a backboard to protect the paint on your walls. The Viper Championship Wood Framed Dartboard Backboard Set is definitely a good investment. This set will protect your wallets, keep your darts organized and help you keep track of the score.
Choosing The Right Darts
Here's something a lot of beginners don't realize. Certain dartboards are only ideal for specific types of darts. So it's important to match up the correct darts with a specific type of dartboard.
Each will support a different dart and if you choose incorrectly, bounce outs will be inevitable.
Most brands will recommend a specific type of dart for their dartboards, so be sure to take the time to research each option carefully, before making your final decision.
Most professionals recommend beginners to avoid overspending on their first set of darts.
The main reason for this is because after the first year of throwing, you will want to upgrade to a quality dart that is more suitable for your hand shape, preferences and skill level.
Type of Dartboard
Soft Tip Darts
Steel Tip Darts
Coiled paper dartboard
Magnetic dartboard *
* Magnetic dartboards should only be used with magnetic darts
Types of Dartboards
Dartboards can be made from several different materials. However, most people are either going to have an electronic or bristle dartboard. But I'll cover some of the other options too, just in case you want to experiment.
The electronic dartboard is designed to provide convenience for intermediate and veteran players.
However, it's also perfect for parents who are concerned about their children’s safety, as it utilizes darts with soft tips, which are less likely to cause injury.
Depending on the brand, the electronic dartboard is capable of keeping tally of points for up to eight players or more. Some brands will even allow single players to compete against the onboard computer.
Digital dartboards feature a variety of games, all unique and extremely fun. There is no doubt that a beginner thrower can learn a lot about darts with an electronic dartboard.
With so many benefits to offer, the board is perfect for residential and commercial game rooms.
The biggest downside to the electronic dartboard is it requires an electrical power source.
The bristle dartboard is without a doubt one of the most common types of dartboards.
These boards are constructed of compressed sisal fibers that are glued together on a backing board. A metal ring is then run around the outside of the board to hold everything together and to give the board an overall smooth-edge feel.
One of the biggest advantages of this type of dartboard is that when the dart is removed, the hole from the dart tip actually closes up.
This greatly extends the life of the bristle dartboard, and is one of the main reasons they're so popular.
However, any beginner needs to know there are cheaper versions of the bristle dartboard, that are much lower quality.
I discovered this when I first purchased a cheap bristle board and thought I was getting the deal of my life. I quickly discovered that the cheaper versions of the boards do not pack their bristles as tightly, which causes the board to wear quicker.
The wiring system is another aspect that has to be considered when shopping for a bristle dartboard.
The wiring is what actually separates the scoring sections of the board. As I mentioned earlier, cheaper dartboards use round wires and staples to hold the wiring in place.
The problem with this is that when you hit one of these areas with the staples, you're almost guaranteed a bounce out, which will result in damaged darts or a damaged floor.
The wooden dartboard is designed to offer uniqueness, durability and superior penetration. The highest quality wood dartboards are the ones made from solid hardwood.
These dartboards are perfect for commercial play, as they are capable of resisting wear and tear longer than the traditional dartboard. To prevent bounce outs, the wood board features a rounded target frame ring.
The wooden dartboard is covered with green velour fabric for eye appeal and to reduce bounce outs. The darts will penetrate the fabric and wood and remain there until you remove them.
To ensure longevity, be sure to choose a wooden dartboard with the highest quality velour fabric.
It's also important to note the thickness of the hardwood utilized to construct the dartboard. Most professional throwers recommend ½-inch thick hardwood, such as North American yellow popular.
While the wooden dartboard is perfect for beginners, some brands have been approved for A.B.D.A. tournaments.
Of course, in the beginning you will want to take the time to become familiar with throwing and work your way up to tournament play. A potential downside to solid wood dartboards is they require some breaking in.
Coiled Paper Dartboards
If you're like me, I like trying out different dartboards, darts, and new games. This is what led me to the coiled paper dartboards.
These boards are much cheaper than the bristle boards and this is probably due to the fact that they wear very quickly.
The whole concept of the board is that when the dart enters the board, the tip goes between several layers of paper. When the tip of the dart is removed from the board the paper is supposed to heal and the hole won’t show. In my experience, this is rarely the case.
This is especially true, if you use a dart that is the slightest bit dull or has a burr on the end of it.
So, when using these types of boards, you always have to ensure that your darts are sharp and burr free. In addition to this, you must twist the darts as you pull them out to minimize the damage.
With that being said, there are some more expensive style coiled paper dartboards available that will provide a longer lifespan.
These boards are designed so that they can be rotated in their frame. This minimizes damage to high traffic areas of the board.
Steel tips darts are the best type of dart to use with this style of board. These boards are probably best suited for children and occasional players.
The cork dartboard is not as popular as it used to be, so it might even be quite difficult to track one down. This is probably due to the fact that they are cheaper and tend to wear down extremely fast, as compared to the other styles.
These boards are not recommended for everyday players, but they might be suitable for the occasional player that wants something different.
It can be easy to confuse cork dartboards with bristle ones. This is a fairly common mistake amongst beginners.
Keep in mind that the bull’s eye of the American style dartboard is called the cork, so this is often times why people make this popular misconception.
Steel tips darts are best suited for this style of dartboard.
The theory of a magnetic dartboard might be cool and exciting, but these are nothing more than toys. These boards use magnetic darts that have flat magnetic tips on the end of the dart.
They are supposed to stick to the board when thrown.
I can tell you personally sometimes they will stick and sometimes they won’t. These dartboards might be suitable for smaller children that are learning to play darts for the first time, but serious players or anyone looking to become a serious player really should avoid them.
With that being said, one advantage of these boards is that they do not make a loud thump when the dart impacts the board, so you won’t actually disturb other people. That makes them a nice option if you want something to play with in your office.
In addition to this, these dartboards are extremely easy to install and can be installed just about anywhere. You can even easily pack them up and take them with you to a friend’s home.
Top Dartboards of 2018
Winmau DWIN500-5 Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard
The Winmau DWIN500-5 Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard is great for players of all skill levels. Whether you're a casual hobbyist or trying to become pro, this is easily my most recommended overall dartboard. It has been endorsed by the British Darts Organization.
The scoring area has been increased, while the wiring system is 14% thinner than the previous Blade 4 model.
In return, this helps to greatly reduce the chance for bounce-outs. This combination gives me confidence that pretty much anyone will be totally satisfied with this dartboard.
Overall Assessment: Despite a minor con, it is safe to that the Winmau Blade 5 Dartboard is a great investment for hobbyists. This board is cost-effective and you’ll love the time you spend with it. If you want to maximize your scores, you owe it to yourself to check out this board today.
Viper Hudson Sisal/Bristle Dartboard & Cabinet Bundle
The Viper Hudson Dartboard is an elegant 18” tournament sized, bristle dartboard.
The board comes encased in a beautiful mahogany finished cabinet, which allows you to close the board up and conceal it when it isn’t in use.
The bronze hinges and solid pine construction of the box ensures durability that will last as long as the well-constructed dartboard.
Another cool thing about this board is it comes with a dart scoreboard and dry erase markers, so that you can keep track of every game.
Along with this, the mounting hardware is included, so you basically have everything that you need to get started as soon as you receive the board.
Overall Assessment: As far as elegance and well-construed dartboards go, you simply cannot beat the Viper Hudson Dartboard.
Viper by GLD Products 42-6006Viper Razorback Dartboard
If you're looking for a budget dartboard, I'd recommend checking out the Viper 42-6006 Viper Razorback Dartboard.
The problem with most "cheap dartboards" is exactly that—they're cheap. They wear down extremely quickly, darts don't stick to them and you end up having to replace them within a year.
This board from Viper on the other hand, is affordable, but will last you for a long time if you take care of it. It's made with self-healing sisal bristle fibers to ensure maximum longevity.
And, it's official tournament sized. So when use this board, you’ll get an authentic experience without spending too much money.
Overall Assessment: As long as you’re happy with doing a little maintenance from time to time, I believe that you’ll love the Viper 42-6006Viper Razorback Dartboard. This board will save you money and you’ll still have a blast!
Viper 800 Electronic Soft Tip Dartboard
Are you looking for an electronic dartboard and don't mind spending a little extra? If so, I recommend the Viper 800 Dartboard.
This electronic dartboard will take the guesswork out of the equation and keep score for you. This makes it a good option for brand-new players. Also, the board features the regulation size target face, so you’ll get an authentic experience.
With the ultra-thin spider, you’ll be able to avoid so many bounce outs and you’ll have the potential to maximize your score.
Overall Assessment: The Viper 800 Electronic Soft Tip Dartboard is a good choice for people that want to go electronic. I sincerely believe that this board will keep you happy and help you host amazing parties for your friends!
Alien Competition Bristle Dartboard
The Alien Competition Bristle Dartboard features everything you need to ensure fewer bounce outs and more accuracy.
The board is constructed from premium-grade materials and includes staple free wiring to improve scoring and decrease bounce outs.
The included custom wall mount will ensure stability and easy installation.
The dartboard supports steel tip darts and is designed to decrease wear and tear on the tips, flights and shafts.
The vivid fabric allows for better visibility, while giving the dartboard additional eye appeal.
Overall Assessment: The Alien Competition Bristle Dartboard is perfect for beginners and veteran players. It does a good job of resisting normal wear and tear. It's my sleeper pick because I don't think it gets recommended enough.