If you’re looking into getting your own set for darts, you’re going to need a high-quality dart board. Not every board is built equally, and sometimes getting the right one can make the difference between continuing to play and putting the sport down altogether. There’s nothing more frustrating than darts not sticking or bouncing off and flying all over the place.
Of course, finding the option for your needs means understanding how they’re made, what you’re looking for, and what kind of maintenance you should expect. We’ll give you all that and more.
The Best Dart Board For You In 2020
We’ve spent over 40 hours testing 17 different dart boards with a variety of different darts and the results are in.
This narrowed it down to 11 of the best options and you’ll find detailed reviews on each below, as well as the pros and cons:
- Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard – Best Bang for Buck
- TG Champion Tournament Bristle Dartboard – Best Cheap Dart Board
- Viper Shot King Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dart Board with Staple-Free Bullseye – Good Value
- Viper Hudson Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dartboard & Cabinet Bundle – Best Cabinet Dartboard
- Viper League Pro Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dartboard with Staple-Free Bullseye and Cricket Scoreboard – Safe Choice
- Cricket Pro 900 by Arachnid – Best Electronic Dart Board
- Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set – Best Quality Board
- WIN.MAX Electronic Dart Board – Best Cheap Electronic Dart Board
- Centerpoint Solid Wood Dartboard Cabinet – Best Wooden Dartboard
- DMI Sports Deluxe Dartboard Cabinet Set – Best Tournament Dart Board
- Doinkit Darts – Best Magnetic Dart Board (For Kids)
#1 - Winmau Blade 5 Bristle Dartboard - Best Bang for Buck
Immediately, let’s look at the most popular option on the market – the Winmau Blade 5 Bristle dart board. With an endorsement from the British Darts Organization, this is a high-quality bristle board. The spider wire is 14% thinner than their previous model, which not only increases the scoring area but also limits the chance of deflection away from the board even if you do hit it.
The triple wheel lock and level-system makes it very easy to mount the board in a variety of areas and remarkably simple to move about if you decide you’d rather have it on another wall.
The razor wiring that separates the sections is also much thinner than on the Blade 4 and has moved from a 90-degree angle to a 60+ degree angle, making it more likely to guide the dart into the board. Similarly, they have used Carbon Diffusion technology for the bullseye ring, making it about 20% stronger than before.
If there was something I could nitpick about this board, it would be nice if they had pre-drilled holes for the mounting feet to make it a bit simpler to get it set up the first time. It’s not too onerous, but rather my being spoiled by an otherwise excellent board which is drastically better than its predecessor and genuinely better than the vast majority of dart boards currently available on the market anywhere.
If you’re just playing for fun and know you want a simple yet solid dart board – this is what you’ll want.
#2 - TG Champion Tournament Bristle Dartboard – Best Cheap Dart Board
Look, the Winmau Blade 5 and most other dart boards are not expensive by any means. But if you’ve never played darts before and just want to give it your best shot – the TG Champion is quite a bit cheaper and good enough for someone getting started.
It’s less than half the price and branded as a “tournament” dart board – which I’d say is a massive stretch but none-the-less, the board is better than 95% of what you’ll find at your local Walmart or even on Amazon.
So why have they branded it as a tournament dart board? Because theoretically, you could use it as such. It matches the tournament size requirements, being exactly 18” in diameter and having a 1,75” wide frame. Like most tourney options, it also has a staple-free bullseye to avoid bounce-outs and an extra slim spider wire. There’s nothing more frustrating than hitting the wires and watching your dart bounce out. This allows you to maximize your score in every game.
Being a bristle dartboard, it’s made out of sisal fibers that are self-healing. This means the board will last you a couple of years with moderate play – unlike cork or wood boards that’d be full of holes by then, these will close up as the fibers self-heal.
Another perk is that you can use both steel tip darts as well as soft tip darts on this. People have also reported using it for knife throwing but we wouldn’t recommend it – the healing capabilities are not that amazing and you’ll damage the board quite quickly.
Going through online reviews you’ll see a few people complaining about the bullseye being too hard to stick to on the TG Champion, but this is not true. The odds are high that people are using cheap plastic darts not made for bristle boards and then blaming the board.
You’ll be better off investing in a set of tungsten steel tip darts. Not only will they stick better but having darts with proper weight and optimized flights will make a huge difference in your aim.
Overall, this is a really solid choice for most people but if you don’t have budget concerns, you can get a fair bit more quality and longevity out of the Blade 5.
#3 - Viper Shot King Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dart Board with Staple-Free Bullseye - Good Value
The Viper Shot King is a pretty good board with a lot to recommend it. For example, this is a staple-free bullseye board, meaning that the spider is not attached to the board at the bullseye like it often is with boards in this price range. Instead, it’s attached at the sides and free to move about as necessary to prevent concentrated damage.
The sector wires are reasonably thin, though not as much as the Blade 5 above, and have rounded rather than triangular sides. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the wire wasn’t also very soft, meaning that sharper darts not only bounce off of them rather than deflecting into the board, but it also tends to bend the spider more than is normal for a board of this type.
That being said, the bristles are very tightly packed and provide for a quality game experience and quick closing when you pull the darts. It’s brightly colored and easy to see from throwing distance so you can aim where you want to hit. If it weren’t for the issues with the ring, this would be a top-quality board. As it is, it’s a pretty good board for the price, but there are better out there that will be a much better overall investment with stronger spiders that don’t deform quite as easily.
It’s quite similar to the TG Champion outlined above, so choosing between them is mostly personal preference.
#4 - Viper Hudson Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dartboard & Cabinet Bundle - Best Cabinet Dartboard
If you’re going to go with a Viper dart board, it’s worth the extra money to go for the cabinet bundle. The anchor for this is the Shot King bristle board which, as mentioned above, is good quality, but again you run into the problem with the spider being too thick, encouraging bounce outs. If you’re looking to train yourself to only aim for the center of a scoring section and don’t mind a lot of frustration, the Hudson Sisal might be the way to go, but it will still be a bit annoying.
What makes this still worth the price is the cabinet, which is absolutely beautiful. The dark wood, pub style case looks good both open and closed. The Cricket scoring table on the right flap is a nice touch and helpful. Further, I really liked the dart storage spots in the main portion of it – we were able to fit in 32 different pairs of darts in there, so you won’t need to worry about compatibility.
The darts that come with the set are much higher quality than I’ve come to expect with starters like this. Not great, but certainly good enough for the average player. I probably wouldn’t keep them if I was very serious about darts, but if I just want a game to play with friends, they’re fine.
It’s almost a better approach to buy the cabinet, then get a better dart board. Or look into a replacement spider with thinner wire which won’t cause as many bounce outs.
#5 - Viper League Pro Sisal/Bristle Steel Tip Dartboard with Staple-Free Bullseye and Cricket Scoreboard - Safe Choice
The Viper League Pro is a bit of an improvement on the Shot King spider, but then it finds other ways to be a problem. It still has radial sector wire rather and triangular, but at least it’s thinner than the Shot King version, so there were fewer bounce outs. However this time the spider is stapled to the board. There’s a staple-free bullseye, but otherwise, the sections are secured in place.
The sisal fibers are still very high quality and tightly packed, though they’re painted instead of dyed, which means they don’t heal as easily as they otherwise could. That being said, there wasn’t much damage even after six hours of playing.
Another advantage is that it is cross-platform and can easily take both steel-tipped and soft-tipped darts. Both work equally well on the surface, which should last for a while.
#6 - Cricket Pro 900 by Arachnid - Best Electronic Dart Board
While we’re bigger fans of traditional darts, electronic dart boards have their place and Arachnid is one of the best manufacturers out there with the Cricket Pro 900 being their flagship.
We’ve crowned this the best electronic dart board for a myriad of reasons but one of the main things that I love about it is how playable it is. It has super thin segment dividers and thanks to the “NylonTough” materials they’ve used, bounce-outs seldom happen and it seems to hold up the test of time.
Ultimately, with an electronic device, the main thing you’re going to worry about is longevity and this has that covered.
On the gaming side, I’ve been surprised at how accurate it is at keeping score. This is my main frustration with other similar options but the Cricket Pro 900 rarely makes mistakes.
You can also use the board with up to 8 people and it keeps score for four teams. Out of the box, it comes with 48 different games (most come with 40) which will keep you or your guests busy for a long time. Not only that, some games can be repurposed easily for additional variations.
Now for my favorite thing…
The dart board comes with a “heckler” feature which is basically the dart board talking to you – it’s fun banter. Whether giving someone hell for missing a shot or congratulating you on a nice shot, it’s a great way to liven up the game and keep the fun up.
All of the audio-related features also have a volume control as well as a mute option for when your spouse starts to complain. You’ll have to handle your friends’ volume differently, though.
Lastly, everything is included in the Arachnid Cricket Pro 900. There’s 6 soft-tip darts that are actually OK quality, some extra tips, an AC adapter, mounting hardware for a quick setup, a boring user manual and instructions for all of the games included.
Overall, it’s a solid addition to any home, game room, office, or even bar. Thumbs up from us.
#7 - Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set – Best Quality Dart Board
The Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet Set is probably the highest quality option we’ve seen on the market after testing dozens of different brands and boards.
It’s clear they are not skimping out on the materials used – they claim to use “A-grade” sisal which does, in fact, feel a lot denser than most other boards. This means darts stick a lot better and heal up to a larger extent.
The cabinet has a sleek design with five different customization options, all made out of fine basswood veneer. Our recommended model also comes with LED lights above the game to highlight the craftsmanship and improve gameplay.
It has been approved for tournament play – it’s exactly 17.75” in size, has a staple-free bullseye, and a durable yet thin number ring.
There are also 6 good quality steel-tip darts included, spare flights, and a dry-erase marker for the built-in scoreboards.
Mounting it on your wall is super easy, everything needed is included and it’ll sit exactly at tournament regulation height.
This is the board we’re going to be using for the annual Above House cricket tourney.
#8 - WIN.MAX Electronic Dart Board – Best Cheap Electronic Dart Board
While the Arachnid Cricket Pro 900 is definitely a better option, it may be out of budget for some people.
The WIN.MAX boasts a horrendous name but is actually a fairly decent board, especially considering the low price it has.
By default it comes with 21 different games and over 65 variations of them, ranging from the traditional options like 301 and Cricket, to more fun games like Killer, Scram, or Shove a Penny. They’ve also got a manual that includes all of the rules and tutorials.
The LCD display is a bit small so you may have to walk up to the board a bit more often to keep track of scores properly but you’ll likely be doing that anyway when collecting the darts.
Similarly to the Cricket Pro, you’re limited to four individual players but if structuring the game in two teams, you’d effectively be able to play with 8 people at most.
What I like most is that it has a wide catch ring, meaning if you miss the board, the darts will still stick to the outside and you won’t have to collect them from the floor. Unless your aim is that bad…
There’s also a voice announcer for the scores to keep things a bit more lively. Included are 6 soft tip darts with 40 tips, a power adapter, and all manuals.
Surprisingly the included darts are decent quality and I would actually not recommend replacing them, which is rare. The WIN.MAX soft tip darts work perfectly with their own board, so stick to those.
Overall, the WIN.MAX is a solid option whether you’re on a budget or not.
#9 - Centerpoint Solid Wood Dartboard Cabinet – Best Wooden Dartboard
While the Centerpoint is marketed as a “solid wood” option, it’s not actually a wooden dart board in the traditional sense, which is a good thing.
Dart boards themselves used to be made out of solid wood but they would not heal properly after playing and thus would need to be replaced quite often.
The Centerpoint comes with a solid wood construction for the cabinet itself, with a dark cherry finish that gives it a nice and elegant look. The design is definitely the main draw for this product.
The board itself is made out of 18 inch sisal fiber which means it heals itself properly and helps avoid bounce offs from darts. To make it even better, the target frame is rounded to further minimize bounces and poor throws.
They’ve also included two sets of steel-tip darts that are of decent quality, using nylon dart flights. We’d prefer to upgrade these but they are fine for most folks.
Scoring is easy thanks to the two dry erase trackers mounted on the sides of the cabinet doors and there’s a convenient little tray for your darts themselves.
The warranty on this thing is 180 days, which means if you have any defects, the manufacturer will replace the items. Overall the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and the odds of you needing to use the warranty are quite slim.
The only complaints about it are that the wood can get chipped and damaged but to be honest, that’s going to be the case with anything made out of wood that has sharp metal objects being thrown at it…
Overall, we’re happy with the Centerpoint Solid Wood Dartboard Cabinet and have no problem recommending it if the design fits your man-cave.
#10 - DMI Sports Deluxe Dartboard Cabinet Set – Best Tournament Dart Board
The DMI Sports Deluxe Dartboard Cabinet Set is one of the most popular options for people who play in tournaments and with good reason.
It is incredibly cheap for the value you’re getting and it fits all of the requirements of professional and tournament games. It’s exactly 18 inches in size and 1½” thick, made out of the highest quality sisal fibers.
The cabinet itself is not the best looking but if your goal is to practice, it won’t matter as much. It’s more of a design element than anything – there are a few reviews complaining about the thing falling apart but ours was well-built and has held up over hours of testing and messing around with it.
The doors are also quite bulky which is nice to protect your walls but may be annoying if you’re lacking space. Both of the doors have replaceable chalk scoreboards on them as well as a place to keep your chalk and dart sets.
Lastly, the DMI Sports Deluxe set does come with two sets of darts as well but if you’re a serious player, we’d recommend upgrading to proper tungsten darts.
#11 - Doinkit Darts – Best Magnetic Dart Board (For Kids)
The Doinkit Darts Magnetic set is a fun birthday gift for your kids without having to worry about them hurting themselves, your pets, or destroying the walls in your house.
The dart board itself is 16” which means it’s practically the same size as a “legit” option, not just a gimmicky toy. There’s plenty of space to actually play popular games like Cricket or 301 and thanks to high-quality flights on the darts and powerful neodymium magnet tips – they stick well.
One of our team members bought this for his 7-year old son as a Christmas present and to his surprise, he’s still been playing it quite actively and does still enjoy it. They also use it for family game nights and supposedly they’re even fun for adults.
The price is quite cheap as well so if you’re thinking about it, I’d say give it a try. The odds are high you’ll like it.
How to Choose the Best Dart Boards
Below we cover several important things to consider before buying your dart board. But first, make sure you check out our post on the best steel tip darts in 2019 so that you pick up a great set to play with your new board.
Wooden Dart Boards
While extremely rare these days, wooden dart boards can still be found in various places. In fact, what evidence we have suggests that the first dart boards were made of wood and date back centuries to England. It’s been suggested that the concentric circles that we use as a basis for scoring might have originally been the “age rings” that a cross-section of a tree generally has. However, that’s still largely speculation.
Wooden dart boards fell out of favor in England during the 1970s due to an elm tree blight, but have seen a recent resurgence.
While they are classic looking and can be decorated in many ways, as dart boards they are not particularly good. Wood doesn’t self “heal” the way that other boards do. They tend to dry out (owners used to soak them overnight) and can crack.
However, they do fit well with many American style games. Modern wooden dart boards usually have a rotating center to move commonly hit areas around and more evenly distribute the damage. Most are also double-sided so that when one side becomes damaged, it’s easy to start with a fresh one.
All in all, while you certainly could buy one of these, it’s better as a decorative piece than as a functional play board.
Cork Dart Boards
These are often thought to be the most common dart board, but they actually have always been pretty rare. They have the benefit of sticking well but, like wooden dart boards, they don’t self heal, so it doesn’t take a lot of heavy play before they really can’t be used anymore. A good grouping can put a significant portion of the board out of commission.
The reason why we think that cork dart boards are common is that the bullseye on an American dart board is often referred to as the “cork.” What marketers are talking about when they discuss “cork dart boards” is more often than not “American dart boards.”
Coiled Paper Dart Boards
The first style that is self healing, the coiled paper dart board is made, unsurprisingly, from several long strips of paper coiled tightly around each other. Conceptually, most of the time the dart will embed itself between the coils, then when you pull it out, the two coils will close up and come back together.
While this is the case most of the time, it’s important to keep your darts sharp so that they’ll have no problem entering the board. Moreover, if you have burrs on the steel tips, then the can rip the paper coils up when you remove the darts. A related point, you also have to get used to twisting the darts when you remove them from a coiled paper board.
While these aren’t the best boards out there, if you just want to play a game or two every once in a while at home or have kids who are learning how to play, this is an inexpensive approach which will last longer than most other types of board in this price range.
Bristle Dart Boards
These are now the most common dart boards. First invented in the 1930s, they didn’t become popular until the 70’s elm blight wiped out the supply for wooden boards. These were quickly adopted as the tournament standards and are the kind that you are almost certain to find at any bar in the world.
Bristle dart boards are usually made from a fiber called sisal which has been compressed and glued to the back of the board. These tightly packed bristles basically move out of the way when a dart comes at them, then close up again when it’s removed. While the board will eventually become damaged over time, this is the type of board that will take the longest to get to that point.
If you’re looking to buy a bristle dart board, your best bet is to get one that meets competition standards, meaning that it has enough bristles. There are cheaper bristle boards out there that save money by using fewer sisal fibers. They will work for a while, but it’s absolutely worth the investment to get a better quality board just from the amount of extra play you’ll have with it.
The wire scoring ring that you see on a lot of dart boards is usually referred to as “the spider.” It is a way to make clear exactly where you hit by separating the scoring sections in an obvious way. There are a number of ways this can attach to your board and several design features to keep in mind.
Less expensive boards will often just staple the spider to the board which is effective, but has two drawbacks: it is more metal in places that you could be scoring with your dart and it makes it harder to adjust the spider.
Much like the rotating center of the wooden dart boards above, being able to adjust the spider means that you’ll be able to more evenly distribute damage. Just because of the nature of the game, some sections will be hit more often than others. Being able to easily remove the spider means you can rotate the board and put less damaged sections in the higher percentage spots.
Top end boards tend to have staple-free spiders that attach to the dart board in a variety of ways. They also use super thin wires that are shaped like triangles instead of cylinders. The reason why this is good is that thick, cylindrical wires tend to make a dart that hits it bounce. Triangular wires will instead guide the dart into the board.
Maintaining a Bristle Dart Board
In order to keep your board in the best possible shape, start by paying attention to the lighting in the room. Bright lights will fade the colors and make the fibers become brittle and less effective at closing up when you pull the darts out. Make sure you don’t mount your dart board in direct sunlight or put spotlights on the board, even to highlight it or make it easier to see.
While you can rotate your board to move around the damage in most cases, there is one spot which remains fixed no matter how much you turn the dart board: the bullseye. Fortunately, there’s a solution to this.
Encourage your friends not to aim for the bullseye. I know, this sounds counterintuitive, but think about it for a second. Most dart games require you to aim for other parts of the board as much if not more than the bullseye. There’s a false belief in popular culture about it, but with very few exceptions, it’s actually worth less than other parts of the board.
All in all, there are only a few things you really need in a board: get a bristle board with a rotating number ring and, if you can afford it, triangular razor section wire.
Darts is a great sport with a number of fantastic games you can play, so taking the time to get a dart board that balances quality with function and price is worth the effort for hours of fun with friends and family. The best dart boards are the ones that are regularly used to have fun.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best quality dart board?
Based on our testing, the best quality dart board on the market right now is the Barrington Collection Bristle Dartboard Cabinet set reviewed in this article. A close runner-up is the Blade 5 by Winmau.
What should I look for in a dart board?
The first thing to consider when buying a dart board is which type to go for. You can choose between bristle dartboards which are the standard for tournaments, wooden dart boards, electronic dart boards, and even magnetic options. You’ll also want to consider the size of the spider and wiring to avoid bounce-outs as much as possible.
Are bristle dart boards good?
Bristle dart boards are the best type available in the modern market because they are self-healing, which means they last a long time. These are used in tournaments and also offer the best gameplay experience.
How long do dart boards last?
How long your dart board lasts will depend on the quality of the board as well as how much you are using it. If you’re a casual player using a high-quality bristle dart board, you can expect it to last 3-4 years before requiring replacement.
What dart board do professionals use?
Professional dart players almost exclusively use bristle dart boards such as the Barrington Collection Bristle Dart Board or the Winmau Blade 5. These meet tournament regulations, allowing them to practice in the right conditions.
What are the best dart boards to buy?
The best dart boards to buy will depend on your budget and playing style. The best overall option is the Winmau 5 Blade but if you’re looking for a professional option, Barrington Collections would be a better fit. For electronic boards, we recommend the Arachnid 900 Cricket Pro.
Why do my darts fall out of the board?
Darts may fall out of the board our bounce for three main reasons. Either your dart board is too old and requires replacement, your darts are not heavy enough for a solid throw, or your darts require sharpening.
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