Table Tennis playing surface
The very first consideration to make is whether you will need an indoor table or outdoor table. These two types of tables are constructed very differently and it’s important in particular not to choose an indoor table if you think you may want to play outside sometimes. The materials used to construct outdoor tables have been designed specifically to withstand the outdoor conditions whereas indoor tables are made predominantly from wood which will warp in hot or wet weather.
Although indoor tables are quite fragile in comparison to outdoor tables they have a better bounce quality. The main determinant of bounce quality is the thickness of the playing surface. For indoor tables this is usually made from either chipboard or MDF and it is mainly the thickness of the top surface that affects the bounce quality. Generally a thicker top surface (19mm +) will produce a better bounce quality and consistency than a thinner top surface (16 – 18mm).
Indoor tables can be either fixed or foldable. Fixed indoor tables tend to be competition-level quality as they will be used regularly and it is important for the table to be stable and immovable for competitions. The more common variety is the foldable indoor table used for leisure or club play or wherever a lack of space means that the table needs to be stored away when not in use.
Outdoor tables can also be either be fixed or moveable. Fixed tables tend to be used in parks or places where there is plenty of space and therefore no need to store the table away when it is not being used. The more common table often used in the garden is the moveable table which is built with wheels and often a folding mechanism which makes storing the table away when not in use much easier. Outdoor tables are sometimes fitted with adjustable legs as they are often used outside on uneven ground and therefore it is necessary to level the playing surface to ensure a good quality game. The wheels on outdoor tables are bigger and made using more rugged materials in comparison to indoor tables to make it easier for moving the table around on uneven terrain.
In terms of materials an outdoor table’s parts are designed to be weather resistant. The frame is constructed from a combination of anti-rust steel and aluminium parts; the aluminium being used to lighten the frame and to make it easier to wheel around. The top layer or playing surface is made from melamine resin which is extremely durable and resistant to direct sunlight damage. It is produced in different thicknesses which alter the playing quality of the table. Similarly to indoor tables, a thicker top layer (5mm+) will produce a better bounce quality and consistency compared to thinner top layers (3-4mm).