Picking a Ping-Pong Table

Table tennis table and paddles, elevated view
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First, forget the grand claims of the manufacturers. Unless you are already playing at state or national level, it's unlikely that you need the most expensive table tennis table.

If it's your first table for the family, go for the lower end of the market and let your family wear out the table while they are learning how to play. If someone in the family then decides to get serious about their table tennis, you should be ready to replace the worn out table with a nice middle-of-the-range model that will be appreciated and looked after properly.

Portability

Decide whether you are going to leave the table set up permanently or whether you will be frequently packing it up and putting it away. If you are going to be taking it up and down constantly, you will want something that is easy to set up, preferably a fold-up model that can be handled by one person, with rollers to allow you to move it easily. The good roller tables all have brakes on the wheels that can be applied to stop the table moving around when in use.

Thickness

Some players will argue that only table tennis tables with 1-inch thick tops are worth buying. While it is true that these tables do give a nice, even bounce, a 0.75-inch thick top is similar. Serious tournament players will probably want a 1-inch thick top just so that they have a similar table to what they will play on at tournaments. 

Nice Legs

Make sure that the ping-pong table you buy has good strong legs and supports, as it's probably going to take quite a beating over the next few years. Another nice feature to look for is leg levelers on the bottom of the legs. These can be very handy when the floor you are playing on isn't level; the levelers can be screwed in and out to keep the height of the table at its standard 30 inches above the floor.

Leveling

Watch out for table tops that are warped. Put your eye at table height from all sides of the table and look for any bending or warping which can affect the bounce of the ball. A 1 meter or 1-yard long spirit level can be very handy for assessing whether the table surface is not flat.

The Net

Look for a net with attachments that have a soft covering where they grip the table as not to scratch the surface. You could probably put some sticky felt on the net clamps if you had to. Also, make sure that the clamps that are used by the net don't dig into the surface or the underside of the table. And of course, don't drag the ​net clamps when taking the net off or putting it on!

Take it Outside

Outdoor table tennis tables come in a variety of formats, and usually the legs and supports are waterproofed/rustproofed to stand up to the elements. The actual table surface can be metallic, wood with a waterproof coating, and even some forms of synthetic laminate. As usual, for better quality, you have to pay more.

The most important element for the recreational player is whether you can leave the table outside in the wind and rain. You'll probably need to buy a fairly good quality table in order to get the level of weatherproofing you need. For serious players, it is probably more important whether the bounce on the outdoor table tennis table is similar to that of indoor tables. Either way, it would be a good idea to get a quality opaque plastic cover to help prevent the table fading and warping in the sun.

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