All bristle dartboards are made of sisal rope fiber, a vegetable fiber similar to hemp. As such, it is subject to the same types of damage as any other natural rope fiber. With a little care and moderate use, a good quality bristle dartboard can last for years of darts play.
Light. Excessively bright light will fade the colors, and may eventually cause the fibers to become brittle. Like a rope doormat, left outdoors.. after enough exposure to sunlight, the fibers become brittle and the door mat starts to fall apart.
On a smaller scale, that can happen to a bristle dartboard that has bright spotlights aimed at it for many hours each day. When setting up your darts area, use enough light for good visibility, but don’t overdo it! Floods, LED or flourescent lights are preferable to “spot” light bulbs.
Wear. Just as a floor mat might show wear in heavily used areas, a dartboard will also show wear around the most popular numbers. The triple-20, triple-19, double-16, all get more wear than the rest of the board.
The dart board designers thought of this, and came up with a solution: rotate the board to even out the wear pattern.
Bristle dart boards are usually mounted on a single pan-head screw, at the center back of the board. That screw hooks into a wall mounted bracket in such a way that the dartboard can e easily turned. To even out wear, just remove the wire number ring from its clips, rotate the board so that any other black-colored wedge is at the top, and replace the number ring with the 20 at the top.
This should be done about every 4 hours or so of steady darts play.
But the REAL problem area is the Bull, or Bullseye. For some reason, most people really want to throw at the Bull. Nearly every dart game requires hitting other numbers as much or more, but the vast majority of darters still throw mostly at the center of the dartboard.
Rotating the dartboard will help a little, as most shots at the bull hit above or below, leaving less wear on the side. Education is the best way to save the Bull from excessive wear. Teach your friends to practice all around the board, not just at the Bull.
If someone MUST really practice a lot of Bulls, then try doing warmup shots on the triple-6 and triple-11. Both of those numbers are at the same elevation as the Bull. Once warmed up at those similar sized target areas, then move over to the Bull for the final practice shots.
Points. Even throwing at the Bull a lot really does not have to ruin it. Just keep the dart points touched up so that they are slightly rounded, and the points will then do little damage to the fiber in the Bullseye area.
Dart points that become flat on the end will crush the fiber, eventually making the Bull area rock hard. Think of hitting a hair-brush with a hammer.. crushed fibers. This is the type of damage that ruins most bar dartboards: often by casual darters who are not aware of the need to round their dart points, or customers using house darts with completely blunt points. Too sharp points will also damage a dartboard. Needle like dart points cut the fibers, instead of spreading them apart the way rounded points will.
Dart tips that are too sharp will also burr easily, as the sharp end bends over. Run a dart point gently over a finger tip to feel for burrs. Those burrs will act like miniature darning hooks, jerking fibers out of the board. Look closely at a bristle dart board, every little fiber standing up out of the surface was pulled out by a burr on a darts point.
In summary, to maximize the life span of a bristle dart board,:
1. Use moderate lighting, don’t bake the board under “heat lamps”.
2. Even out wear, rotate the dartboard regularly.
3. Keep dart points rounded, not flat or too sharp at the tip.