Choosing The Best Ping Pong Tables
Table is the most expensive piece of equipment required for playing ping pong. Buying the wrong one will mean spending money where you could save it, and ending up with an eternal dust collector. Make sure to read the tips below to make sure you pick the right one for you.
First thing you need to decide before making a purchase is where you’re going to play. Tables can be be designed for indoor or outdoor use. You can use an outdoor table indoors, but not vice versa. Made a decision? Great! now we can proceed. Below are features you need to consider:
Thickness of Table Top
The minimal thickness we suggest to choose is 3/4″. Thinner tops will usually cause warpage, especially if table is used outdoors. Today you can get either 5/8” or 1/2″, but again, it’s better to avoid them.
Unless you can get an amazingly nice deal on a used one or get it for free (given the table frame and mechanics are working flawlessly) – in that case you can replace the table top with a new one later and enjoy it for many years to come.
Warpage is not the only problem for thinner tables. The main issue is inconsistent bounce across the entire surface. This makes it a bad choice for beginner players, but even for more experienced ones it’s not fun to play.
As a rule of thumb, the thicker the table – the better. Today you can buy tables with thickness of one inch and even more. Our approach here is the following: if a manufacturer didn’t spare on particle board (material used in majority of ping pong tables sold now), it’s very likely they didn’t spare on anything else, too. Not only the thickness is important here, but also the quality of particle board.
Now, if thickness is something really easy to measure, it gets more complicated when it comes to actual quality of material. Neither us won’t load you with unnecessary details here, nor you will scrub samples of particle and send them to laboratory, so let’s make it simple. If you’re buying a product from reputable brand like Stiga or Joola, you have nothing to worry about in that regard.
Note: when comparing ping pong tables, it’s important to consider the thickness of a table top itself, instead of combined thickness with the so-called ‘skirt’. To illustrate, look at the picture below:
Which one of them looks like a better choice for you? Needless to say, the one on the right looks more appealing to me. Now, it’s not only about the looks. It’s also how the specific table will feel during the game.
Now, you may say that the table on the right might cost 2x or more compared to the one on the left. That’s true, but here’s our advice if you’re low on budget: choose connection quality over thickness and quality/construction of legs.
Simply put, a table with connections placed on the right spots, but with weaker legs will be much better than the one with good construction of legs and bad connections.
Ok, but while it’s pretty easy to measure the thickness and therefore, quality of frame even from the photo of manufacturer, how do you measure the quality of connections between the frame and table top.
Here you have two options: either see the table in a retail store or get photos of table bottom, which are pretty rare, since all the pics are usually taken from the top.
In our case, we have inspected all of the tables we suggest to buy in the comparison above, so that you can make an informed decision.
This is probably the most common problem for table tennis tables. It’s there because there’s not enough built-in resistance to protect it from bending under weather conditions or excessive usage.
The stability problem doesn’t allow poorly designed tables to hold for reasonable amount of time without loosening and collapsing.
The cost of buying a poorly designed table
Country of origin – does it make any difference?
About 20+ years ago German-made tables were considered ‘cream of the crop’. However now, as more brands emerge, and manufacturing is shifted towards east, that has changed. One part of that, Chinese historically have been doing really good in table tennis, now they are doing exceptionally well in world rankings.
Four out of top ten players in men’s chart are Chinese and six out of ten in women’s rating. With first two and three spots held by Chinese players, again. Top-ranked teams in the world both men’s and women’s are also China.
Considering their manufacturing capabilities it doesn’t make sense for them to buy tables from anywhere else. Just like they do with anything else, if there’s a good working technology or product somewhere in the world, they resemble it and make their own.
Same happened with ping pong tables – not only many major manufacturers have shifted production to China, it has its own very respected brands, mostly sold on internal market, that are often made on same factories with same quality control.
To summarize, a table ‘Made in China’ may be as good as a table ‘Made in Germany’ or even better. So, we can’t say it should be a determining factor in your choice.
Material of Table Tennis Table
Material of table tennis top determines the setting where it will be used. Unsurprisingly, you can play either indoors or outdoors.
Using indoor table outside will mean that your table will likely last one season or less. The opposite scenario (outdoor table used inside) is theoretically possible, but will not make sense, because these tables are usually heavier, bulkier (not to mention they’re more expensive) and these are not the features you want to see in a table that will likely be assembled and moved around very often.
When it comes to specific materials of table tops, they can be the following: wood (plywood, MDF or even regular solid wood), particle board, aluminium, fiberglass or concrete. Let’s look at each of them carefully.
This is the most popular material used in indoor tables. It’s also the material of table tops used in official ITTF tournaments. If used indoors with normal temperature and humidity, can last a lifetime offering owners enjoyable play with consistent ball bounce and predictability.
Mostly used in outdoor tables. Adds extra weight (which is a good thing for an outdoor table that is not moved around too much), but is rust-safe.
Wood + Aluminium Combination
This is a relatively new technology, mostly used by Kettler in outdoor tables. They claim their tables are 100% waterproof even with no covers.