The ultimate dartboard buying guide
Darts is an extremely popular sport amongst a whole host of people. Whether you play the odd friendly game at the pub or compete professionally, finding the best dart board is essential if you want to grow and excel at darts.
It can be tough choosing a dart board and knowing how much to spend. This is our guide for everything you need to know about buying your next board and advancing your skills and talents as a darts player. If you’re in a rush, you won’t go wrong with our Top 10 Dartboards which lists the most popular ranges.
The first game of darts has been traced right back to the 1300s in Medieval England and is believed to have been a popular pastime for the military to help perfect their aim. Fast forward to today and darts remains a popular hobby that can be enjoyed within the comfort of your own home or watched on the television. Darts is also great for improving your maths skills!
Electronic or bristle/Sisal dartboard?
The first decision to make when choosing a dartboard is whether it will be electronic or bristle.
A bristle dartboard is made of a Sisal material and is used for steel tip darts. This type of dartboard is more traditional and is what you will commonly see used on television by the professionals. For that reason, a bristle dartboard will give you the more authentic darting experience.
An electronic board is used for soft tip darts and are mostly made of plastic materials. Many of the boards for soft tip darts will also feature electronic features, such as automatic scoring, numerous different game modes and the ability to play against other players remotely from around the world.
Bristle/Sisal dart boards
Bristle dartboards are the most popular and widely sought-after boards. This type of board are usually the boards that are used in pubs and social clubs for friendly and casual games in the UK and Europe. A dartboard made from Sisal is used in the PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) tournaments by the professional players and screened live on worldwide television.
How is a bristle dartboard created?
Bristle dartboards are often referred to as Sisal dartboards because of the material they are made from, which is taken from the Sisal plant. The plant’s fibres have to go through a very specific and intricate process that creates block of fibres called ‘biscuits’. The biscuits are then pressed into a circular shape and attached to wood to create the body of the dartboard.
Benefits of a bristle dartboard
One of the major benefits of bristle dartboards is their tendency to be long lasting and reliable. Likewise, due to the Sisal fibres, bristle dartboards don’t suffer much damage from the darts; the natural fibres close back in when the dart is removed so you don’t have to deal with unwanted holes. Today, bristle boards often come equipped with a moveable number ring which in turn allows you to rotate your board so that it wears evenly.
What to look out for when purchasing a bristle dartboard
There are several features that you should look out for when purchasing a bristle dartboard, and some may be more important to you than others. Here are a few things that we recommend looking for when choosing the best quality dart board:-
Construction– Steel tip darts are almost exclusively used on Sisal dartboards. When buying your bristle dartboard, look for high-quality Sisal (usually African) as this will help minimise bounce outs, which is when a dart will fall out of the board and not count towards your score.
It is important to choose a board that offers a high fibre density (around 60% bristle) and thickness of the base. This is because your board will then also repair itself as it is being used, so it will last a lot longer.
The best dart board options for steel tip darts will also have been sanded in multiple directions when constructed. This will give you a finer playing surface and also allows the Sisal fibres to heal better during play. Another factor to consider is the colours of the dartboard. The best rated dart boards will have colours that run deep into the bristle, meaning the colours will stay more visible for longer.
Wiring– Look at the wiring of the dartboard you are going to purchase. Some entry level bristle dartboards will use staples to hold the wires and bullseye into the board. These staples and this type of wiring creates obstructions for your darts, resulting in more bounce outs. If you are playing more seriously then we suggest investing in dartboards without staples on them.
There are various types of wiring configurations used for bristle dartboards.
Round wire boards have wire that sits on top of the surface of the board. These round wires are generally quite thick and hitting them with your dart may cause the dart to bounce out. This type of board is great for fun games and the best dart board for beginners.
Tri-wire boards have triangle shaped wires, so one point will stick out from the board, which if hit, deflects darts into the neighbouring section of the dartboard instead of it falling out.
Professional level dartboards all have very thin wires which means there is a significantly less chance of bounce outs from hitting a wire. The wires for these boards are as thin as a razor blade and also help deflect darts into the nearest section.
Other things to consider– Bristle dartboards will include a metal scoring ring which goes around the outside of the board and displays the numbers 1-20, with 20 being at the top and 3 at the bottom. To help prolong the life of your board, make sure you choose one that has a removable scoring ring, so you can rotate the board and then reattach the ring so that the 20 number is still at the top. This helps top scoring areas from wearing out before other areas.
It is also worth checking the warranty of the dartboards available. The best dart board on the market should come with a warranty as a way of guaranteeing the quality of product you are purchasing.
Which darts can be used on a bristle dartboard?
Steel tip darts are best suited to be used on a bristle dartboard. It is possible to use soft tip darts on a bristle board, but this is rarely done as they can bounce out of the board. You can get conversion points to change soft tip darts to steel tip darts.
Electronic and soft tip dart boards
The introduction of electronic dartboards really demonstrates how darts has remained a timeless classic whilst also keeping up and utilising the benefits of technological advancements. Soft tip dartboards are growing in popularity and in some countries, particularly in Asia, they are considered the best dart board to play on. An electronic board can even keep your score so that you don’t have to remember it in your head or jot it down on a scrap bit of paper.
How does an electronic dartboard work?
Electronic dartboards are most frequently made from plastic and each segment on the board contains sensors. The surface of the board contains a huge amount of tiny holes that grab the dart, but also allow the dart to penetrate through and hit the sensor. Once the sensor has been hit, the score is generated by from where the dart has landed on the board.
Benefits of an electronic dartboard
There are many benefits of an electronic dartboard. It is perfect for large groups, whether that’s for social or competitive events, as the automatic scoring system minimises the risk of a calculating error because of distraction. The built-in scoring system makes it easy to play as you do not have to worry about keeping score separately using another device or writing it down.
The best electronic dart board you go for will offer a vast range of features, such as numerous different game modes to play either against your family and friends or connecting online to play against other players from around the world, as well as bilingual options so you can easily play your favourite games in the language of your choice.
Which darts can be used on an electronic dartboard?
Soft tip darts are used on electronic dartboards. The point on a soft tip dart is made of a plastic material and is best suited to a soft tip board. It is advised not to use steel tip darts on an electronic board. The sharp metal points on steel tip darts will damage your board and make it unusable.
Magnetic dart boards
Magnetic dartboards can offer a great introduction to darts for children. This type of board can be mounted to wherever you see fit because there is less need to worry about the damage created if you miss the board with a sharp dart.
A magnetic dart board is not renowned for its durability and will not last long. Magnetic dartboards are not aimed for professional use but is the ideal choice if you just want a board to play on for fun with your family or for small children to play on.
Which darts can be used on a magnetic dart board?
Magnetic darts are used to play on magnetic dartboards. Steel tip darts and soft tip darts are not suitable for a magnetic board.
Watch the video below for a closer look at the Mission Magnetic Mayhem - a fun and safe magnetic dart board for the whole family to enjoy.
Choosing a dartboard brand
When you are deciding what’s the best dart board to buy, going for an option from one of the well-respected brands can be a wise choice. There are a multitude of brands that are available, but if you want the best professional dart board, take a look at our Top 10 Dartboards page for the most popular range which includes options from Mission, Unicorn and Bull’s.
Mission dartboards are one of the leading choices, with their Samurai II the official board used by the UKDA and SDA darts organisations. The Unicorn dartboards range features boards made by one of the most renowned brands in the world of darts.
The Granboard collection is among the best soft tip dart board options available if you are a serious player. You can customise your setup with different accessories with this board, such as a smartphone holder, which is useful if you are playing matches online and want a camera pointing on you to show your opponent while you are throwing.
Our electronic dartboards range also features boards from leading brands including XQMax, Viper and Harrows and all at different price points, so you can choose the board that fits in your budget.
Our picks for the best value dart boards
If you are looking for a dart board at the lower end of the price scale, but will still offer great performance, then consider the Unicorn Striker Dartboard or the Shot Rogue Dartboard. These are two of the best value dart boards, both at under £30, and are billed as ‘entry level’ or starter level’ boards.
For a more durable Sisal board that will take lots of repeated practice by a part-time or casual player, opt for a One80 Gladiator 3 or a Bull’s Shark Pro dartboard. These two boards offer great durability and are less expensive than the options a professional player would go for.
Looking after your walls and floor
It is important to look after the walls and flooring when playing darts so you do not cause any damage with any stray darts that miss the board. The best way to protect your surroundings is to use a darts mat and either a dartboard surround or darts cabinet.
A darts mat is placed directly in front of your dartboard and its main purpose is to clearly indicate the throw line, known in darts as the oche, which is the position you should be standing when you throw. Using a darts mat will also protect the floor underneath from being damaged. Take a look at our how to choose a darts mat blog for help on picking a mat for your darting setup.
A dartboard surround will protect your walls from any stray darts. A surround comes in a rubber ring shape and is placed around your dartboard with no fixings required, providing an extra layer of protection if your darts go off target.
A darts cabinet can also be used to help with looking after your walls. Go for this option instead of a surround if you want to hide your dartboard away when not in use, as the two doors on the cabinet close together to cover the board and display a cool design instead. Read our how to fit a darts cabinet guide for some useful tips.
When hanging up your dartboard, we would recommend where possible including a backing on the board to help better mount it to a wall. A backing will also reduce the noise generated when the darts hit the board, which is useful if you have neighbours! Using a bracket will also help when setting up your dartboard. For more on these tips check out our how to hang a dartboard blog.
Which are the best professional dart boards?
If you are serious about your darts, you will want to buy a dartboard that is used by the professional players. The key things that pro players look for in a bristle dart board is the material used and the wire construction.
The professionals want a board that is made from the highest-quality sisal material available as this is a good indicator of its overall performance. A board, such as the Mission Samurai II, is made from top-quality African Sisal which means it will last longer as the fibres will close back together after you have retrieved your darts from the board.
The wiring used on a dartboard is also an important factor for pro players. In professional tournaments you will not see a board with staples on it, so choosing a board that is staple-free and in line with what is used in events is what players will be looking for. The Unicorn Eclipse Ultra Dartboard features ultra-thin wiring that is commonplace these days in tournaments. A dartboard with thin wires and a staple-free construction also reduces the risk of bounce outs during play.
Choose your dart board depending on whether you’ll be playing at home or outdoors
The location of where you will be playing darts makes a big difference on what is the best dart board you may want to use.
If you are going to play outdoors, we would suggest avoiding a bristle/sisal dartboard as they are affected my moisture. Exposing the Sisal to the outdoors will decrease the board’s longevity. However, with a careful location and properly covering the board (or taking it inside when not playing), a bristle dartboard can work outside.
A magnetic dartboard is the best type of dart board for outdoor play. These boards are mostly used by families and are generally less expensive than their bristle or electronic counterparts. Magnetic dartboards are also easier to hang up and are safe to play in any conditions.
Electronic dartboards are not suitable for leaving outside as they are electronic devices, but their ability to have fun sounds and bright lights makes them great for outside parties and events!
The best dart board material to go for if you’ll be playing at home depends on your own personal circumstances. For example, if you want to avoid any potential darts damaging your walls and floor (if you have younger or beginner players), then an electronic or magnetic dartboard is preferred to a bristle dartboard, due to the steel tip darts used on bristle boards being sharper than those used on the other boards. Investing in a dartboard surround or darts cabinet and a darts mat will help protect your walls and floor from damage if you do opt for a bristle board to play on.
Making a mancave? Max out your dart board with these accessories
Do you have a room or a space in your home that you call your ‘man cave’? Adding a dartboard to your man cave will give you endless hours of fun as you can play darts against your family and friends.
Our top 10 ‘man cave’ must haves is your go-to guide for what essentials you need to create your own darts den! Take your setup to the next level with a darts mat and either a darts cabinet or dartboard surround so that your matches are accurate and fair. If you decide to add a dartboard light to your man cave, our how to fit a Mission Torus Light blog has some useful tips on setting up a light from the popular Mission Torus Light range.
If you need something more portable for your dartboard, for example when hanging a board up on a wall is not possible, then have a look at our travel stands collection. A dartboard stand is the perfect choice in this instance as you can set your board up on the stand and then take it down when not in use.
To finish off your man cave, check out our range of electronic scorers. Using one of these will mean you don’t need to tax your maths skills during games, as the scorer will do all the subtracting for you and will keep track of what your score is. Our top 10 darts accessories page also includes our hand-picked range of favourite accessories available at Darts Corner.
Maintain your new dart board with these care tips
When you’ve chosen your new dartboard, make sure you care for your new dartboard by following our useful tips. Bristle dartboards are designed to last for a long period of time, but it is important to still keep up good maintenance to make sure your board does not wear out more quickly.
Once you have bought your new board, be sure to keep it away from any water or moisture and, depending on how often you use it, regularly rotate your dart board so that it wears out evenly.
Read our how to care for your dartboard blog for our expert care tips on maintaining your new board.
Now you can choose the right dartboard for you
With many things to consider when buying a dartboard, we hope that this guide has helped you in making your decision on what is the best board for you. It is important to take your time and weigh up the benefits of different boards and their attributes.
First, you need to decide what type of dartboard you want. Do you want to play steel tip darts with a bristle dartboard or do you prefer the look of an electronic dartboard so you can play soft tip darts? Make sure you choose the correct board for the right type of darts you want to play and then consider the different brands available and the features they each offer to you.
Explore Darts Corner’s full range of dartboards and buy your dream dartboard from us today!