Ping pong tables come in a wide variety of styles and sizes; thus, choosing the right one to buy may pose some challenges. There are a few things that you need to consider. These include your budget, the intended use of the table, where you will place it, frequency of use, and where you will store it if not in use, among others. This guide intends to help you come up with the right ping pong table buying decision.
Ping pong can be considered a “universal” sport, meaning it can be played by anyone – regardless of skill level, gender, or age. Thus, it can be a fun and healthy family activity where every member gets to participate and engage in some form of exercise. Getting a good quality table is therefore recommended. You can narrow down your choices among those reviewed in this article, and pick the one that can address your specific preferences and needs. Each model is guaranteed to be among the best on the market in terms of durability, portability, and quality.
Getting value for your money should be a priority when making a buying decision. That applies as well when buying a ping pong table, which must be able to provide the playing experience worth the amount you pay for, and must continue to do so for a reasonable amount of time before giving in to the effects of normal wear and tear.
If your budget, for example, is $500, the table you may get may not be ITTF–certified (International Table Tennis Federation). Likewise, it may not come with 1” thick tops, stable and thick steel frames, or be made with extremely durable materials. However, for the given price point, you can already get a decent form of exercise. With proper handling and care, the table may even last a long time. The key is in making sure that the ping pong table is always kept in a dry, cool place. This way, your family can enjoy playing the game for many years.
Best Ping Pong Table Complete Guide
Who Will Use The Table?
Recreational Players and Beginners – If the table is intended for use by beginners or random players, setting up the table to provide a fun and easy game in the basement or garage may be ideal. You don’t need a pro-quality, tournament table for this purpose. A basic or a little high-end home model would suffice. If you have space constraints, and you just want a table for recreational purposes, then you can opt for an off-standard smaller-sized table.
Game Rooms, Recreational Centers, and Schools – If the table will be used by numerous players of various skill levels, then a robust and durable table is ideal. If budget is not a problem, you can get a competition-grade table. Otherwise, a high-end home model would suffice. Another option is a refurbished competition table, which is perfect for groups or organizations looking for a superior quality table, but are low on budget.
Table Tennis Clubs or Tournament Players – For this purpose, nothing less than a competition table, whether new or refurbished (preferably one that is used professionally), would do. A competition table usually has a surface that is thicker than ¾” that allows for a consistent and solid bounce across the table. If you plan to organize tournaments, it is advisable to get a ping pong table that is USATT- and ITTF-approved.
Standard Ping Pong Table Specifications and Regulations
Your purpose, whether it is to take the sport seriously or play casually for fun and recreation, will determine the type of table you need to get. If the table will be used for serious training, then it is important to buy a table that meets the specifications set by the ITTF. The table must measure 9’ (L) x 5’ (W) x 30” (H). The surface must either be blue or green, and the net must be 6” high. The table’s surface must also meet several requirements. For instance, if a regulation ball is to be dropped from a height of one foot, the table’s surface must cause a bounce of 8 ¾”. While these bits of information may not be a factor for most casual players, these may be noteworthy for pros-in-training who may be on the market for a new ping pong table.
Features To Consider
Playback Mode – The feature allows one side to be vertically lifted so practicing alone can be possible. This is useful for kids and beginners who want to get some practice hits, but most competitive players find it ineffective simply because the bounce doesn’t follow the natural trajectory that happens in a real match. Basic spins would not be the same, and those who intend to improve their skills will generally fail to get what they want.
Table Surface Thickness – Most indoor tables are ½” to 1” thick. On the other hand, competition tables are typically 1” thick, or just a shade less. Unless you are a tournament-level player, you probably won’t notice any difference. After all, with any table that is at least ¾” thick, you can already get a consistent bounce, which is what serious players look for. In general, outdoor tables are thinner. To protect the table’s surface these tables are normally made from resin or aluminum. This results to a metallic bounce that is not the same as what you get from an indoor table.
Legs and Frame Chassis – A table’s stability depends on its legs and frame chassis, specifically on the number of chassis connection points, and the thickness of the frame and legs.
The surface of most indoor table models are made from wood such as Masonite, a type of pressed wood that is coated in a special low-friction covering. As mentioned, when selecting a table to buy, a 1” thick model is preferable, but one that is at least ¾” thick would do. A thinner table would be prone to bending or warping, which makes the table difficult or even impossible to play on. Likewise, no matter how thick your table may be, it will always need protection from the elements as heat, cold, or excess moisture can easily damage it.
Portable Indoor Ping Pong Table Models
A lot of people are having second thoughts about buying a ping pong table because of space concerns. A good solution for this is to buy a model that is specifically-designed for portability and easy storage. Some tables can be easily folded in the middle and even have attached wheels for convenient transport and storage. A “wheeled” table often comes with brakes that help stabilize the table when in use. On the other hand, a good option for people who want to experience the fun of playing the game, but don’t have sufficient space to spare, is a “rollaway” or portable ping pong table.
Indoor versus Outdoor Ping Pong Tables
In terms of bounce, an indoor table generally offers a more consistent bounce compared to its similarly-priced outdoor counterpart, primarily because of the materials used for the table’s construction. Outdoor tables are usually built using a waterproof and composite material that is likewise cracking- and warping-resistant (from humidity and temperature changes). While the material is superior in terms of durability, it provides a less uniform bounce. While the material has undergone a lot of improvements in recent years, it still cannot provide the same playing experience that an indoor table offers. The bounce consistency of indoor tables is due to the thick, high quality MDF used for the tables.
In terms of resiliency, however, outdoor tables have the definite edge. A high quality outdoor table can last for decades, can endure storage in high humidity and high heat areas. More importantly, for most people, the experience of playing on an outdoor table is good enough. If the only storage space available in your home is the basement or another area where frequent temperature changes are experienced, or where there is humidity, an outdoor table may be more suitable for you – even if your intention is to use the table indoors. You can be sure the surface won’t crack, rust, or warp; and you don’t have to worry about storing it in a dry, cool place.
Important Buying Considerations
First-Time Buyers – If you are buying a table for family use for the first time, it is suggested that you initially go for a low-end model. This will give your family members the chance to learn the rudiments of the game freely, and without worrying about damaging the table in the process. If you or other family members decide to take up the game more seriously, then it may be time to upgrade your table into a middle-range model that you can then properly take care of.
Ignore the Hype – Don’t readily accept the manufacturers’ claims about how great their products are to justify the exorbitant price. Unless your skills are already at national or state levels, you probably won’t need to choose a model from the high-end, expensive category; and even if you are an advanced player, you should still think twice about investing in a very expensive table.
Permanent or Temporary Setup – Will you have the table permanently setup or will you pack and store it every time it is not in use? If it is the latter, then the ideal table to buy would be one that you can effortlessly set up and store. There are fold-up models that can be easily handled even by a single person – some with rollers to boot. If you opt for a roller model, just make sure that the wheels come with brakes that can keep the table from moving around while in use. Even if you plan to set up your table permanently in one place, it would still be a good idea to go for a roller model. This will allow you to easily move the table to another location if you decide to transfer it in the future. For this, you can consider the high quality products from Joola, Stiga, Donic, Park & Sun Butterfly, Kettler, and DHS, among others.
Table Legs – The legs must be strong enough to provide ample support for the table, and must withstand the beating and rough treatment they will understandably be subjected to for many years. This is particularly true if kids will be using the table as well. Children tend to be rougher when using the ping pong table than adults. A table with leg levelers at the bottom would also be nice to have. The levelers are useful when playing on floor surfaces that are not level. They can also be screwed to the legs to make sure that the table is always level and at standard height.
Surface Thickness – There are players who will not settle for a table that is less than 1” thick. While you can be sure that such a table will provide an even, consistent bounce, tables that are at least ¾” thick can provide almost the same quality of bounce, but at a much affordable price. Any casual player would not notice the difference. Especially if you are just a beginner or one who is starting to practice seriously, a more affordable ¾” thick table will suffice, unless you can find a high quality 1” thick table for the same price. Advanced or tournament-level players, however, will not (and probably should not) settle for anything less than a 1” table surface. This is to make sure that they’d be practicing on the same type of table they would be playing on during tournaments. These players would definitely want the best preparations and would spare no expense just to be in their top form by the time the tournament starts.
Table Surface Level – It is important to make sure that the table you will get is level and not warped. Look at the table from all sides at table-height and check for any warp or bend that can affect the ball’s bounce. A yard- or meter-long spirit level can be used to assess the flatness of the table surface.
The Net – Ideally, the net attachments should come with a soft cover in the parts that grip the table to avoid unnecessarily scratching the finish. If necessary, put sticky felt on the clamps before installing the net. Likewise, ensure that the net’s clamps don’t dig into the table’s surface or underside. When installing or taking off the net, never drag the clamps. You can find tables that are fitted with stationary net posts (brackets that keep the net in place while playing). However, these posts are attached permanently to the table, although you can still install and remove the net, as needed. While most users will not mind the permanent attachments, some users are bothered by non-removable net posts as these may get in the way of proper storage. Thus, it may be necessary for you to consider buying a table without this feature.
Whether you love playing ping pong just to while the time away or you want to practice to be more competitive, there will be times when you may want to play by yourself and without a practice partner. There are tables that come with the “playback setup” feature. This makes it possible to fold or angle the table at 90 degrees so you can basically hit and bounce the ball on the inclined side, and practically play alone. This feature is nice to have if you need to work on your speed, or just want to enjoy playing table tennis by your lonesome.
Table Finish – The ping pong table must have an even and smooth finish, with no traces of rough spots. Make sure the table has no rough edges along the sides and on top that can cause cuts in case a player accidentally grazes a part of his body on it. When testing for the table’s bounce, you can use a ruler to measure. Based on the standards set by the ITTF, a ball dropped from a height of one foot must bounce somewhere around the vicinity of 8.75”. The result must be almost the same when testing for the bounce from any area in the table surface.
Best Ping Pong Tables Reviews
1. Cornilleau Sport 500M Review
Possessing every desirable feature of a superior outdoor table, the Cornilleau Sport 500 is the ultimate in leisure ping pong tables. It is beautifully-crafted, reliable, tough, safe, and ergonomically-designed. Made with the highest-quality materials available, it can endure the toughest weather conditions for many years, while maintaining the quality of its playing surface. With its transport handle, you can easily move the table around and avoid obstacles. It comes in a modern design and ball dispensers that make the table standout in terms of beauty and functionality.
Aside from its good looks, the table comes with a lot of other features that make it ideal for outdoor use. The surface has a laminated resin coating that keeps the table safe from sun glare and water damage. For optimum safety, the table is fitted with rounded corners and 16 locking points. It also has special separated outdoor wheels for grass or concrete floor surfaces. The permanent weatherproof polyester net system has height adjustment and tension features that can retract for storage.
The problem with most outdoor tables is that they produce a less than accurate bounce after prolonged exposure to the elements. This, however, cannot be said of the Cornilleau Sport. Its bounce will not change even if the table is left exposed to rain. The manufacturer is so confident about the product’s quality that it has extended a 10-year warranty on the ping pong table.
The attractive design is perhaps the biggest selling point of the product. Instead of putting it away in your garage when you have visitors around, you would want to proudly show it off. The arch design on its sturdy legs, as well as the blue playing surface lend a professional look to the table, while at the same time providing durability and stability.
The integrated double security feature, through a central release handle, makes opening and closing the table convenient. The ball and paddle holder at the side is another functional feature. Simply put, the Cornilleau Sport 500-M is among the best outdoor ping pong tables on the market. Just looking at the design will give you the idea that it was indeed designed to provide an excellent playing experience outdoors. It is easy to set up, fold, move, and store. It comes with transport levers, making moving easy.
The manufacturers guarantee that the table’s high quality performance will not deteriorate even if it is exposed to sun and rain. If you are on the market for a durable outdoor table that provides a decent playing experience, then the Cornilleau Sport may just be the right one for you.
2. JOOLA Sport Squad NOVA DX Review
Designed with a 6 mm table top crafted from an extremely durable aluminum plastic composite material, the Joola Sport Squad Nova DX is rustproof and can endure extreme humidity and temperature changes. The legs are made from 2” heavy gauge welded steel, making the table extremely sturdy and stable.
One big advantage of the Joola Nova DX outdoor table is its price, which is one of the most affordable in its category. Despite the low price however, quality is not compromised, and the table is surprisingly packed with features you would commonly find only in higher-end models. Ideal for an intermediate table tennis player, the table provides an enjoyable and competitive playing experience without the exorbitant price tag.
Joola specifically designed the Nova as an outdoor ping pong table. As such, it is resistant to various weather conditions and the effects of normal wear and tear. The 2 sections of the table are fitted with 4 sturdy wheels that allow easy handling of the table into position. The table has a playback feature that is ideal for single-player practice. Just fold one side up, and it is ready for playback mode.
While the table top is only ¼” thick, it is built of aluminum and plastic composite material that is resistant to changes in weather, and offers a consistent bounce. The whole table is heavily reinforced by a 2” welded heavy-gauge steel undercarriage that prevents warping and offers stability during play. The legs are made of 2” welded steel that keeps the table level, allowing you to enjoy a consistent and solid playing surface. The legs are also equipped with large-sized, sturdy wheels, each of which has a lock for extra stability.
Although the playing surface is weather-resistant, and the legs and chassis are solidly constructed from welded steel, it is still recommended to cover the table when you are not using it. The cover should protect the table from scratches, dust, and the elements. The cost for the cover is only a fraction of the amount of protection your investment will enjoy for many years.
One good thing about the Joola Sport Squad Nova DX is the extremely easy initial assembly and setup. All you have to do is to have the legs attached. All the components, including the hinges are shipped pre-assembled. Because of the sheer size of the table, you must carefully inspect the table upon delivery – Don’t sign for the package if you find any defects.
At first glance, the Joola Nova may seem like a cheap, budget ping pong table for novice players. Upon closer inspection, however, you will realize that it is of superior quality, and is quite versatile. It is light and portable that allows you to take it indoors during winter, but durable and weatherproof that you can take it outdoors during summer. It is made of heavy duty materials and sturdily crafted.
3. JOOLA Inside Review
The Joola indoor table comes with a 5/8” wood composite-built playing surface, 1.5” diameter steel legs. The undercarriage is powder-coated to prevent corrosion. While the top is not of regulation (competition standard) thickness, the table provides a decent performance considering its price point.
A versatile table, the Joola indoor model also features a playback mode that will allow you to quietly practice on your own. The table can be easily folded into playback mode. Just fold in the legs of one side so the folded table can provide a solid backboard for you to hit the ball against. For a comparatively affordable price, the table offers a decent playing experience. It comes with many other functional features. As it is, parting the table into 2 free-standing halves already makes it easily transportable for storage. The free-standing halves both have a set of 4 locking wheels, so you can easily transport them. It becomes even easier to do so when in folded-up position.
The table can be stored even in tight spaces. When folded, the table halves can be nested together to save more space. Thus, you can store it practically anywhere. Because of its compact size, especially if in storage position, you can use most standard table covers for the Joola indoor ping pong table. The table measures only 108” (H), 60” (W), and 30” (depth) when in nested folded up position.
Another benefit of the Joola indoor table is that it is mostly pre-assembled upon delivery. There are actually only 2 things that need assembly: 1) the leg and caster assembly, and 2) the net. For the casters, all you need is a socket wrench. It should only take you 10 to 15 minutes to tighten the casters. Just slide the T-brackets on, tighten, and then put the casters on. The net is likewise quite easy to attach. The entire process of leveling the table and assembling the net will only take about 5 to 10 minutes. Some users claim it took them as much as 20 minutes to assemble the entire thing. Either these people have virtually no DIY experience at all or they had to re-tighten some pre-assembled bolts that may have loosened in transit. Regardless, a quick scan of the instruction manual and you should be on your way.
While the Joola indoor model may be more than sufficient for a novice player, it is definitely not tournament-level quality. For one, it doesn’t have the consistent bounce characteristic of high quality regulation tables. Regardless, this is the best ping pong table under $500. Considering its price, the table offers great value if your skills are not yet tournament-worthy. After all, there are not many full-sized table on the market that are as affordable as the Joola Indoor Table Tennis Table.
4. JOOLA Rally TL 300 Review
The Rally TL 300 offers a lot of excellent features at a relatively low price. Ideal for recreational play, it comes with a charcoal-painted 15 mm MDF surface and a white undercarriage measuring 30 x 30 mm. The table has automatic folding legs, a double anti-tilting system, and a trolley feature with 4 locking casters. These features make the table durable and safe. The table can also be set up in playback mode, allowing you to play on your own if there is no friend to play with you, or you simply want the hit the ball against the tilted board. The table also comes with an abacus-type scoreboard, 4 ball holders (installed in every corner), and an easy to install net set. Simply put, this is one of the best ping pong tables that you can find in the under $500 price bracket.
The Rally TL 300 has a lot of added features that separate it from other tables in its class. These include the magnetic scoring equipment and the corner ball holders. While these features may not really count when determining a table’s quality, it adds value to the table, making it more enticing for kids who will definitely appreciate the extra perks and features. As previously mentioned, the table is also playback mode-capable.
The table is not only affordable; it is also quite easy to set up. All in all, it should not take you more than 20 minutes from the time you open the box up to the time you set up the table and start playing. This is a far cry from other models that may take you a full 5 or 6 hours just to assemble. The table is very easy to fold and keep in storage. It is also convenient as the 2 free-standing tables can be used for purposes other than for playing ping pong. You can use them to hold food for family gatherings or hold merchandise for yard sales.
To sum everything up. The Rally TL 300 is great for recreational play. It is affordable, offers a decent playing surface where kids and casual players can play competitive games. The table is convenient to assemble and easy to store. It is durable and safe for children’s use. If you are looking for a ping pong table for use by the entire family, especially the kids, then this table is for you.
5. Viper Arlington Review
Intended solely for indoor use, the Viper Arlington is appropriately constructed, and comes with a 5/8” playing surface. It has an 8-wheel system (4 w/ locking capability). The wheels are made of rubber and easily glide over hardwood or carpet. The table itself is made up of 2 completely separate halves. You can fold each half and roll around on its own, making storage a lot more convenient.
Perhaps the best feature of this table is the reasonable price. It can be considered a steal considering the table’s full size and its solid steel frame. Although it is not meant for outdoor use, the table provides excellent value for money if you are an intermediate or recreational player.
The Viper is constructed using heavy duty materials. The 1 ¼” steel legs provide ample support for the separate halves and the 1 ¼” steel frame lend stability to the top. 2” rubber wheels backstop the legs, and half of the wheels are equipped with an integrated locking device. The table’s feet are adjustable and can be adjusted to achieve the desired table level. An interesting feature of the table is that the 2 separate halves can be set up and moved around independently, and makes the construction simpler as it does away with the need for numerous parts that other tables are saddled with.
While the table may not strike you as an expensive competition-quality table, it provides quite a solid playing surface – at a very affordable price. The net is probably a tell-tale sign that the product is a low-priced table because there is no permanent post on the table to attach it, and it is simply clamped onto the table top. While it is not common to have the same experience with a high-end model, it works for the Viper because of its separate halves construction.
Overall, the Viper Arlington Ping Pong Table is the ideal budget recreational table for use in your basement or extra room. Despite its low price, it offers decent play quality and solid construction, comparable in quality to the higher-rated ping pong tables in our reviews. The “2 separate tables” construction offers added convenience. Storing and moving the table is easy. With its slick red/black design, it looks sharp.
6. Hathaway Bounce Back Review
If you want the entire family to get some action and get out of the couch, then this ping pong table may just do the trick. This Hathaway Bounce is a versatile table that you can set up even if you have a very limited space. You can choose to leave it set up and ready for play to incite friendly competition among family and friends, or you can choose to fold and store it when not in use.
Another option is to leave the table in playback position (partially up) so anyone can just pick up a racket and practice or play on his own. The table comes in regulation size, and is packed with features that are usually found only in more expensive, higher end models. The CARB-certified MDF top is a full 5 mm thick. It is coated perfectly with PVC laminate on all sides. This provides play consistency, while providing ample protection to the surface against warping. The sturdy legs (25% bigger than most other tables at 1.25”) are powder-coated to provide more strength and stability to the table.
Corner pads are installed to keep the table from various types of damage, and also prevent players’ clothes from snagging. The table is also fitted w/ four 2” casters that make moving the table around as convenient as possible. A handy storage bag that easily attaches to the table is also included. It can be used to keep the balls and paddles in their proper places.
7. JOOLA Mid-Size Review
Coming from a known leader in producing high quality ping pong tables, the Joola mid-sized table is no exception. Thus, it has emerged as among the company’s best-sellers. Made from durable materials, the midsize table offers a 5/8” playing surface. While it is of the official or regulation height, its overall dimension of 71x30x36” makes it just around 2/3 the size of regulation tables. However, this compact size is what makes this model ideal for homes with very limited space. This is the best ping pong table for small spaces.
The table comes in 2 halves, which makes storage even more convenient. Each half can be used as a standalone or separate table such as a card table. Because each of the legs fold underneath the table half, the amount of storage space required is considerably lessened.
You can easily hide the midsize table under your bed, against a wall, or behind a closet when not in use. It weighs a lightweight 62 lbs., making it easy to move from one place to another. People who have actually used the product rave about how convenient it is to store the table. At the same time, it provides an enjoyable and fun playing experience. Simply put, the Joola Mid-Sized Table Tennis Table makes it possible for you to enjoy the game even if you do not have enough space in your home.