Baize is a type of fabric which is used to cover gaming tables such as those used for cards and billiards. Baize has other uses as well: in some large old houses, a green baize door was used to separate the servants' area of the house from the rest of the home, and it was considered a firm dividing line. Members of the household such as master, mistress, children, and guests were not encouraged beyond the baize door, while servants were permitted to come and go freely so that they could conduct their work.
On professional and tournament tables, felted wool is usually used as a covering. Baize is a less expensive imitation, although it is perfectly adequate for the needs of most users. It can be made from cotton or wool, and is specially woven or napped to resemble felt. Traditionally green, baize can also come in other colors, and is sometimes patterned, especially on card tables. The fabric is usually not designed to be washed, and can warp if exposed to water, so make sure that drinkers use coasters under their beverages if they are placed on the game table at all.
On card tables, baize makes an excellent playing surface because it helps to keep the cards from sliding excessively, and also provides a strong contrast color, which can prevent players from trying to cheat. On billiards tables, the clear contrast color of baize helps players to line up their shots, but watch out for inexperienced players who can damage the baize by gouging it with their cues. The material is also useful for other types of gaming, and will retain its classical bright green color if well cared for and kept out of sunlight.
If a baize table is ripped, it will need to be resurfaced. Many stores supply baize by the yard in a variety of colors, and it can also be ordered if you have a specific pattern or color in mind. Make sure to order an excess for your needs, so that it will be easy to install on the gaming table. Installation instructions vary, depending on what surface is being covered, but in all cases you want to strip the old baize all the way off and make sure that the top of the table is even and spotlessly clean. The baize is loosely installed with tacks and stretched in a series of specific directions until it is taut and even.