Table tennis, ping pong, or whatever you want to call it, is one of those classic game room activities you’ve probably been playing for years. It doesn’t take much, and it instantly can turn into hours of fun with friends and family.
Plus, there really is the feeling of pride when you become good at it. How many other Olympic sports can you practice in your basement. Who knows, you might be the next great Olympic champion.
Of course even if you’re not, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing time on the table. You just need to know what to look for and how to shop for one.
By checking out the different types of tables, common features and keeping in mind a few different aspects when shopping around, you are sure to land the best table for your price range.
Top Ping Pong Tables for Home (2018-2019)tables selected based on value and quality. links below go to Amazon
|STIGA Advantage Competition-Ready Indoor Table Tennis Table||Overall Best Value (low price)|
|Cornilleau 500M Crossover Indoor/Outdoor Table Tennis Table||Best High End Ping Pong Table|
|STIGA Space Saver Compact Table Tennis Table||Best Ping Pong Table for Small Spaces|
|JOOLA Rally TL Professional Grade Table Tennis Table||Best Outdoor Ping Pong Table|
|Killerspin MyT4 Pocket Table Tennis Table for Tournament Grade Ping Pong Table||Pro Level Ping Pong Table|
|JOOLA Inside Table Tennis Table with Net Set|
|STIGA XTR Outdoor Table Tennis Table|
|Butterfly Junior Ping Pong Table | 3/4 Size Table Tennis Table|
Different Types of Table Tennis Tables
When checking out the particular table tennis options, you can usually break it down into three different types. These types are:
- Outdoor Table Tennis
- Single Board Table
- Folding Table
Outdoor Table Tennis
Outdoor table tennis is a popular activity to have, especially if you live in a region where the temperature is warm throughout most of the year. The outdoor table option is similar to the full-size table, but there are some slight variations to it (in other words, don’t purchase a regular table tennis table and put it outside as it will only deteriorate).
First, the table is typically thicker in nature, yet not as wide. This prevents potential flipping. The outdoor table also often has galvanized steel both on the base and around the edges.
This keeps the table secure and helps prevent splintering around the edges. There are even concrete table tennis tables for the outdoors, although the bounce in this is different from a quality interior table.
It is important to leave the indoor table inside as the wood will not only splinter from moisture but the sun will warp the table top as well.
Single Board Table
The next option up is the single board table. The single table is nice as it doesn’t have the crease in the middle where you might fold it. However, this also comes with some drawbacks.
First, you are not able to really move it or push it against a wall, if you’re looking to make room. These tables may also damage easier if you put excessive weight on the middle. Should you avoid each of these issues it really can be a nice table.
Now, the size of the table will still be a bit smaller than regulation. With a table tennis table you should go for maximum size, if you can fit it. Perhaps you don’t have all the space in the world to work with though (you do need a good amount of space for a table tennis table).
If you are worried about space requirements, go for this single board table.
When you are really serious about a table tennis table, this is the way to go. This kind of table gives you the full playing area, which is a great way to go. It can also fold up, so you can move it partially out of the way.
Now, the stand is usually a bit thicker, which can take up some space. As long as you have the available space, a folding table will provide you with the best playing experience.
Table tennis tables are rather straight forward. These don’t have hidden cup holders or really any kind of special features.
It is a table with a net in the middle of it. That is why the common features you need to know about really revolve around the design of the table itself.
While most tables might look similar, there are slight variations that can make all the difference. Some of the common features you need to look for include:
- Thickness of the table
- The legs
- The net
Thickness of the Table
The thickness of the table is important for a few different reasons. First, if you have children, a thicker table is naturally going to hold up better against the weight of kids climbing over the table.
Chances are, you won’t have laundry heavy enough to bring down the table (if you have it in the basement, it actually is an excellent table for sorting clothes on, but that is beside the point). In terms of gameplay, thickness of the table does matter.
A regulation size table is 25mm (or 1 inch) thick. You’ll find other tables that are 19mm thick (.75 inches) or even thinner. The thinner tables will go for less, but you want a thicker table.
The 25mm table is best as it provides a better bounce with the ball. The thinner tables will not offer the quality bounce you desire and it can result in a flat table.
If you’re familiar with table tennis and have been playing it for a while now, chances are you’ve been on tables where it just seemed lifeless. Maybe you couldn’t put your finger on exactly what, but something seemed wrong.
It most likely was the thickness. If you are just looking to play the occasional game and a .75 inch table is far less expensive, than by all means go for that table, but never get anything thinner. It will wear down faster, break easier and just provide an inferior game.
The legs of your table really are the unsung hero of your entire table tennis playing experience. You need a table with quality legs that can take people climbing on the table, banging on in and anything else you can throw at it.
Typically the legs will be made out of metal, but whatever it is made out of, make sure to inspect it. Try to avoid a plastic stand and legs as this will break down faster.
This is more of an issue if you ever were to go buy a used table tennis table. Anything from the store will probably be fine, as long as it is not plastic. A nice feature on the legs to make sure it has though are leg levelers.
Your floor is not always even. It may tilt slightly in one direction, which provides an advantage to one player over the other. With the leg levelers on the bottom of the legs, you can alter the height of each leg individually.
This way, no matter the playing conditions, you are able to ensure a perfectly level table.
The net is, for the most part, going to be about the same from one table to the next with a few minor exceptions. The net will likely be made out of a nylon, but the overall net material really isn’t that big of a deal.
What does matter though is where the net comes in contact with the table. You want the net to be fitted with a soft covering around where the table grips it.
This helps prevent the net from scratching the finish. Should the finish ever become scratched you will need to refinish it. If not, balls will take odd bounces when hitting the blemishes in on the finish.
So, while a minor detail, it is rather important. You’ll likely find the least expensive tables do not have this kind of soft covering around the grip. Attempting to refinish the table takes time, money and you may end up laying down the new finish a few different times due to trial and error.
It is best to avoid dealing with this all together and spend a few extra dollars for the grip.
What to Consider Before Buying
Whenever you consider buying a table tennis table, there are a few variables at play you need to keep in mind. A table tennis is one of the lesser expensive table game options out there, as there are fewer moving parts and features, but you still need to keep each one of these points in mind before buying the right table. These points include:
- The Bounce
- What Comes With It
As with any gaming table you decide to go with, the price is key. As the table tennis table is less expensive than a pool table or foosball table, this is a great way to go with you want an instant upgrade to the gaming room, but you don’t want to end up spending several thousand dollars.
With that said, different tables will cost more. The 25mm thick table will cost more than the 19mm thick table. The build quality of the legs can play a part, and some of the other features, including soft grips all add up.
You may find a table that looks similar to another option might end up costing twice as much. So, really think about what you’re willing to spend and stay within the price range.
Beyond the price, the size of the table is probably the most important aspect you need to keep in mind. Know how much space you have to play with.
You don’t want a cramped gaming area as this makes it different to move from side to side. While you have the size of the table, you’ll likely need at least the same length of the table on each side to cover roaming space for the players.
So, take the width of the table and triple it. If you do not have more than this allotted amount of space, chances are the table is simply too big for the room and you need to go with a different size.
The finish of the table needs to be smooth. This is more of an issue if you decide to buy a used table. Many times the finish is scratched, which will affect gameplay.
You can’t just paint over the scratch as it will alter how the ball bounces. Now, if you aren’t all that serious about the game and just want it to play the occasional game, a few blemishes in a table may be alright, but do keep the finish in mind.
It should be smooth (and if you open up the box and find the finish is not completely smooth, you need to request an alternative table from the store due to the damage).
The thickness of the table has a major influence on the bounce of the table. Of course, if someone has painted multiple times over the table or if the wood itself is inferior, the bounce will not be what it needs to be.
Again, a dead table isn’t as much fun to play with and it not only slows the game, but it can make it difficult to send the ball over the net with certain kinds of spin. Whether you are in the store or testing out the table somewhere else, make sure to bring a tape measure.
Regulation table tennis tables have a 23cm bounce when dropped from 30cm. So test to make sure it performs this. Also, don’t just test it once on each side of the table.
Test in different areas of the table. You may find that the ball bounces 21 or 22cm in one area and 24 in another. This means it is a very poor table, there likely is some warping and even the stand is affecting the table.
There should not be hard and soft spots in the table. If you ever test a table out and it bounces like this, avoid it.
What Comes With It
This is a minor element to consider, but something to keep in mind when comparing tables. Ideally your table will come with at least two paddles and several balls.
It may even come with a replacement net. If you find two tables are nearly identical in price and quality, go with the table that gives you the most added items.
After all, when the ball is zooming back and forth, you’ll probably have a few go missing in action from time to time.
How to Use and Care For Your Table
While we joked about the table tennis table serving as a great way to fold clothes, if you are a serious player you probably want to avoid doing this (or at least avoid placing clothes with sharp buttons and metal directly on the table as it might scratch the surface). Taking care of your table isn’t terrible difficult though, you just need to avoid a few different cleaners.
For starters, you should clean the table every few weeks or so. If it comes with a cover for the table you can probably go a bit longer as it will not collect as much dust. Still, cleaning at least once a month, even if you have a cover, is necessary.
Before you start cleaning, remove the net. Once the net is gone you’ll want to wipe down the table with either a special table tennis cleaner or a vinegar and water combination (equal parts water and vinegar).
You’ll want to avoid most other cleaners as the chemicals will harm the finish on the table, resulting in bubbling and pealing. Even some dish soap may cause this, so it really is better to use vinegar and water.
Don’t oversaturate the rag when wiping it down though. Lightly dip the rag into the cleaner and ring out the rest. Wipe down the entire table, making sure to clean in the crevice (if you have a fold up table).
You’ll also want to clean the net. If there are any attachable features to the net be sure to remove these grips first. Then, dip the net into the vinegar and water mixture, allowing it to sit for a few minutes (don’t let it sit for longer than 15 minutes or so, otherwise it may start to break down).
Allow the net to air dry and then attach it back to the table. Now, if the net attaches to the table with screws, never over-tighten the screws. As you should clean the table once every few weeks, the net screws will begin to strip, which can eventually lead to either the screws stuck in the table for good, or the net may start to droop due to the loss in tension.
As for your paddles and balls, you can wipe everything down with the half vinegar and half water mixture. If you have wooden paddles instead of plastic or composite, just lightly wipe it down and dry the paddles off.
You’ll want to avoid using cleaners on the paddles as well as the cleaner may start to break down the grip and cause it to peel off of the wood. All of this will leave your table looking like new, every single time you wash it off. If there is a cover, allow the table to completely air dry before covering it back up.