Few pub games are as popular as darts, which has been around in some form or another since medieval times. A man cave or a basement rec room can’t really be considered complete without this classic pastime that helps develop aim and coordination. While steel-tipped darts and sisal bristle boards with black, white, red, and green color schemes are the traditional design, these days the game comes in a variety of forms.
There are magnetic dart boards that are safe for younger players and electric models that feature automatic scoring and cool sound effects. There are even modern “smart” dart boards that allow players from around the globe to compete with one another. Read on to discover what factors to consider when shopping for a quality dart board, and don’t miss our reviews of some of the best models on the market.
Types of Dart Boards
A dart board’s mettle is determined by how well it holds darts and its ability to self-heal when those darts are removed. Ahead, learn more about the different types of dart boards and the materials used to make them.
Cork Dart Board
Dart boards that consist of a thick layer of cork hold steel darts well. But they don’t self-heal well and will wear out more quickly than higher-end bristle dart boards. Even the best cork dart board will not outperform a good bristle board.
Coiled Paper Dart Board
This type of dart board is made by winding sheets of paper tightly together. These dart boards are very affordable, making them nice dart boards for those looking for a bargain or who want a game for short-term use, such as for a party. But coiled paper models do not hold up as well as bristle dart boards.
Bristle Dart Board
Bristle dart boards consist of tightly wound fibers taken from the sisal plant. Bristle dart boards are used for competitions and are commonly found in bars. Sisal fibers are well suited for dart boards because they quickly close back together after a dart is removed, making a bristle board the best steel-tip dart board.
Electronic Dart Board
Electronic dart boards have a playing surface that’s covered in hundreds of tiny holes. This type of dart game uses darts with soft plastic tips, which stick into the holes. The best electronic dart boards have very thin dividers between each hole, minimizing the chance for bounce-outs. Unlike standard dart boards that require manual scoring, an electronic dart board is able to sense where each dart lands and automatically keep score.
Magnetic Dart Board
Magnetic dart boards are a safe alternative to those that use steel-pointed darts. These dart boards have a metal surface and are equipped with blunt magnetic tips. This safe design makes magnetic dart boards a popular choice for kids’ dart games.
Cabinet Dart Board
These models place the dart board inside a cabinet with a door that closes when the game is not in use. The cabinet provides storage for darts and typically features scoring sheets mounted to the inside of the door.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dart Board
In addition to material, it’s also important to understand how spider wire thickness and dart quality impact the game. Find out about these and other dart board attributes here.
A tournament-ready bristle dart board, also known as a “clock” board, should measure 18 inches in diameter with 20 pie-shaped number segments of equal size plus the bullseye. Each segment should have a double ring on its outside perimeter and an interior triple ring. The bullseye should have an outer bull area, known as the single bull, and an inner bull, known as the double bullseye. An electronic dart board should have the same segments and bullseye configuration; however, the regulation size of the target is smaller at 15.5 inches in diameter.
Spider Wire Thickness
The strand of wire that separates the segments on a dart board is called spider wire. It comes in different thicknesses, which is typically a good indication of the board’s quality. More affordable boards will have thicker rounded wire that’s more likely to cause bounce-outs, while mid-tier boards have a thinner triangular wire that can better deflect dart points to the board. The best boards have a razor-thin wire that best reduces the chances of bounce-outs. More affordable boards with thicker spider wire use staples to hold the wire to the board, increasing the potential for bounce-outs. Higher-end boards that use razor wire do not use staples.
Design and Color Contrast
Dart boards use contrasting colors to make each scoring zone more visible to players as they take aim at the target. The classic dart board color scheme consists of white and dark pie-shaped segments with alternating green and red triple segments on both the inner and outer rings. The outer circle of the board is black.
Most dart boards come with a set of six, eight, or 12 darts. The best dart set features darts with a brass barrel-shaped body and a knurled texture for easy gripping. These darts have a sharp steel tip that can easily penetrate cork, rolled paper, and bristle boards.
The fins on the darts, which are called flights, typically come in different designs and color schemes. Flags of countries are common flight designs. Cheaper darts have plastic shafts and flights that can eventually warp, preventing them from flying true.
As for untraditional dart games, electronic boards use darts with soft plastic tips. Darts for a magnetic game should use a magnet tip that’s strong enough to prevent the dart from bouncing off the board or sliding off after attaching to it.
Position and Hanging
There are specific guidelines when it comes to hanging the board. The board should hang so that the bullseye is 5 feet 8 inches off the ground. The toe line, which is the distance from the front of the board to the line at which the dart thrower stands, should measure 7 feet 9¼ inches.
Most dart boards come with mounting hardware for hanging the board. Higher-end boards have mounting kits that hold the board firmly in place so it doesn’t shift during play.
Our Top Picks
The lineup below includes dart boards for children as well as our choice for the best professional dart board. These boards include traditional bristle models with good self-healing qualities, electronic versions with automated scoring, and magnetic options that are safe for the whole family.
IgnatGames Professional Dart Board Set Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Ultra-thin spider wire and bristle construction make this pro-level model a nice dart board for serious players. It consists of Kenyan sisal, which has an excellent ability to self-heal after darts are pulled free. It also uses razor-thin spider wire with no staples to attach it to the board, reducing the odds of a bounce-out by increasing the scoring area by up to 15 percent.
The ring is removable, allowing the board to be rotated periodically to extend its life. In addition to the board, the set also includes six brass steel-tipped darts in two different colors and two wallets for dart storage. A roll of measuring tape is included to ensure the board is hung accurately.
Get the IgnatGames Professional Dart Board Set on Amazon.
Tian ma Sisal Bristle Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Quality materials and a full set of darts make this dart board from Tian ma a worthy rec room addition. Its sisal-fiber construction makes it one of the best steel-tip dart boards on the market. Whereas other dart board kits come with six darts, Tian ma includes 12 blue and red brass steel-tipped darts, allowing for more throws in each round.
The spider wire is of a heavier gauge than higher-end dart boards, and it uses staples to hold it in place, but it’s more affordable than other sisal boards. The outer ring is removable to allow for periodic board rotation. Other accessories include a wall-mounting kit and detailed instructions for mounting the board to meet tournament standards.
Get the Tian ma Sisal Dartboard on Amazon.
Best Bang for the Buck3
Trademark Games Professional Bristle Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This dart board from Trademark Games boasts many of the same characteristics as much higher-priced boards. It features bristle construction that self-heals very well, and while it has a heavier-gauge spider wire than pro-level boards, it doesn’t use staples at the center that could potentially rob players of a bullseye.
The wires are also removable, allowing the user to rotate the board to extend its life. The board comes with six American and British flag-inspired steel-tipped darts with knurled brass barrels. A pro-level mounting kit keeps the board firmly in place during gameplay.
Get the Trademark Games Professional Bristle Dartboard Set at Wayfair or on Amazon.
Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Serious competitors need not only a high-quality dart board but also one that’s equipped with all the necessary tools for playing and scoring the game. This handsome model from Barrington makes a striking addition to any game room or man cave, with a stained-finish veneer on the MDF cabinet.
The cabinet includes two scoreboards that flank the board on either side, making it easier to keep and display the score. Three LED lights mounted inside the cabinet above the board keep the board visible even in dimly lit rooms. The cabinet also holds six steel-tipped brass darts, which are included. The board itself consists of self-healing bristle fibers with an outer ring that can be removed for board rotation.
Get the Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
DMI Sports Paris Lighted Bristle Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Rustic features coupled with a thoughtfully designed lighting system make this dart board a great edition for dimly lit home bars and basement rec rooms. The cabinet features a row of LED lights that turn on when the doors open and turn off when they close, helping to light up the gameplay even in areas that aren’t well lit.
The MDF cabinet consists of a burnt-gray laminate exterior that gives the cabinet rustic charm. Scoreboards flank the dart board on either side when the doors are open, and racks on the inside of both doors hold three darts each. The board itself consists of bristle construction with a rotatable number ring to vary wear on the board.
Get the DMI Sports Paris Lighted Bristle Dartboard at Wayfair.
Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Competitive dart-board players require a higher level of quality than a standard pub dart board offers. With its thinner spider wire and quality bristle construction, Winmau’s Blade 5 is worthy of pro-level competitions. Ultra-thin spider wire that uses no staples increases the scoring area by 14 percent over dart boards that use heavier-gauge wire, reducing bounce-outs.
The wire also has a sharper angle than other wires, sending darts to the scoring area rather than causing them to bounce out. With its triple wheel lock-and-level system, it’s easy to secure the dart board to virtually any surface while making it easier to level. The mounting system also holds the board securely to the wall, ensuring it doesn’t shift during gameplay.
Get the Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard on Amazon or at Walmart.
Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 Electronic Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
A design that reduces bounce-outs coupled with numerous game options makes the Arachnid Cricket Pro a great choice for those looking for an electronic dart game. It features microthin segment dividers that reduce bounce-outs on a target area that measures the regulation 15.5 inches in diameter.
For those who get bored playing the same dart game, the Arachnid comes with a whopping 39 games and 179 variations. Its computer scoring system can support up to eight players with an LED display that can show up to four scores at once. The board comes with six brass darts with soft plastic tips along with numerous replacement tips.
Get the Arachnid Cricket Pro 800 Electronic Dartboard on Amazon or at Walmart.
Best for Kids8
STREET WALK Kids Board Magnetic Dart Game Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This magnetic dart board is a great option to help kids develop aim and coordination safely, without the risk of hurling sharp, pointy objects through the air. This kit includes a metal dart board with 12 magnetic darts that have no sharp edges. The darts, which come in four different colors, are balanced to fly straight and boast neodymium magnets that stick to the board with minimal bounce-outs.
The two-sided board includes a traditional dart board setup on one side and an archery target on the other. The board hangs from a bracket at the top that makes it easy to put up or take down.
Get the Street Walk Kids Board Magnetic Dart Game on Amazon.
Gran Board 3 LED bluetooth Dartboard Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This soft-tipped dart board’s ability to connect to a smartphone or a tablet via Bluetooth allows one to automate scoring through a compatible app or connect with other dart players around the world. Once linked, the user can select from a broad range of dart games available on the Gran Board 3 app. The app will automatically keep score during the game, similar to a standard electronic dart board. Users can also play online via the app with other Gran Board 3 owners anywhere.
While this board may not have the satisfying “thunk” sound of a dart going into a bristle board, arcade-game sound effects and flashing lights from an LED color bar add excitement. The dart board comes with two sets of soft-tipped darts and hardware for mounting.
Get the Gran Board 3 LED Bluetooth Dartboard on Amazon.
Funsparks Magnetic Dart Board Game Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
If a traditional dart board with steel-tipped darts isn’t practical, this magnetic model is one of the best home dart board choices on the market. This metal dart board features the classic color scheme and design of a traditional dart board without pointy darts. The metal board comes with eight darts that won’t damage objects or injure people from an errant throw.
Each dart is equipped with a powerful magnet that won’t bounce off the board or slide down after attaching. Scoring values printed in the triple area, double area, inner bullseye, and outer bullseye help with scoring. A keyhole on the back allows the board to hang on the wall with a simple nail.
Get the Funsparks Magnetic Dartboard Game on Amazon or at Walmart.
A quality dart board will hold up to repeated use while limiting bounce-outs that can frustrate gameplay. For its ultra-thin spider wire and quality bristle construction, the IgnatGames Professional Dart Board Set does both at a reasonable price that suits even casual darts players. Those looking for a more affordable dart board should consider the Trademark Games Professional Bristle Dartboard, which uses a heavier-gauge wire yet has quality bristle construction.
How We Chose the Best Dart Boards
In selecting the dart boards for this lineup, we considered a variety of criteria. While traditional dart boards can be made of a variety of materials, we chose exclusively bristle boards, which self-heal better than other materials. When possible, we chose models with thinner spider wire that expands the scoring surface by as much as 15 percent, reducing annoying bounce-outs. In selecting electric models, we chose those with designs that enhance gameplay via automated scoring and entertaining graphics and sound. The magnetic dart boards chosen use powerful magnets that are well balanced for throwing and won’t slide off the board or bounce out easily. Finally, with the exception of our upgrade pick, we chose dart boards that include quality darts with brass construction and either durable soft-tips or steel tips, depending on the dart board type.
Properly maintaining a dart board is key to extending its life. Ahead, learn how to do so, how much you can expect to pay for a good dart board, and whether or not players may lean over the toe line when throwing darts.
Q. How much does a good dart board cost?
The cost of a good dart board depends on the type. A good bristle dart board costs between $50 and $90, while an electronic dart board will run from $50 to $200.
Q. Are electronic dart boards good?
Electronic dart boards have many advantages. Since they use soft tips, they’re safe for children to use. Electronic dart boards speed up gameplay by automating scoring. Some also add interest to the game with sound effects and flashing lights. Most electronic dart boards also offer dozens of different darts games for variety.
Q. How long do dart boards last?
How long a dart board lasts depends on how often you play and the quality of the board. A good bristle board will last up to 5 years if you play once or twice a week. More serious players who play darts every day will go through a board about once every 2 years.
Q. How do I maintain a bristle dart board?
There are a few ways to extend the life of your bristle dart board. Make sure to rotate the dart board regularly by removing the ring, rotating the board about a quarter turn, and reattaching the ring. Rotating the dart board will spread wear over the dart board instead of concentrating it on specific areas of the board. Twist the darts instead of pulling them out when removing them from the board to help the sisal fibers self-heal.
Q. Can you lean over the floor line in darts?
According to the rules of darts, players can lean their body over the line as long as their feet are not crossing the line.