Table Tennis has got to be one of the most inclusive sports available. From 7 to 77, male or female, skilled or novice, summer or winter, everyone can play. It is an ideal game for family fun and will help get the kids away from their computers.
Table tennis tables are usually split into 2 categories: indoor and outdoor.
Indoor tables are less expensive than the outdoor versions. They have a chipboard playing surface which can range from 16mm to 28mm with a price tag that increases with the thickness of the playing surface. The thicker the playing surface the better and more consistent the bounce of the table tennis ball. Because indoor tables are cheaper, it can be tempting to buy an indoor table to use outdoors. This is fine if it is a dry day but be aware that using or storing an indoor table in damp conditions will lead to moisture getting into the playing surface and ruining it. Never store an indoor table outside under a 'waterproof' cover. An indoor table will also suffer damage if exposed to high temperatures so playing in the sun is not an option either.
Outdoor tables are far and away the most popular for recreational use. The initial purchase is more expensive but the possibilities are far greater. The materials used on the playing surface on an outdoor table vary from one manufacturer to another. The Cornilleau range uses a resin laminate which is not just waterproof but weatherproof too. This means that as well as being resistant to rain, it is also protected against sun, snow and frost. Outdoor tables are designed to be left outside all the year round.
However, don't be mis-led by adverts for tables described as indoor/outdoor as these are no more suitable for outdoor use than a sofa pr TV! Fine if it is a dry day but the product cannot be stored outdoors or used in damp weather which means it is actually an indoor table that can be used outdoors occasionally.
Rollaway and Play-Back
A rollaway table is another phrase for a table which folds in half and can be wheeled away for easy storage. Most tables (though not all) which fold for storage can also be used for solo practice with the folded half acting as the opponent.
Table tennis tables are large pieces of equipment and you will need about an extra 2m at either end of the table for playing space. Wherever possible look for a table which can be folded when not in use as this will significantly reduce the amount of storage space required. A table tennis table cover is always a worthwhile investment as this will maximise safety and (if stored outdoors) will keep the table clean and therefore ready to play.
Table tennis tables are also very heavy and weigh upwards of 45kg. Don't underestimate the weight of the table - if it isn't on wheels it will be difficult to move.
Look for a table which conforms to all the safety regulations. Check out the warranty - is it a good guarantee? The minimum is 2 years but if a company is offering a longer guarantee then you should see that as a sign of confidence in the product. Who does the responsibility lie with if the table gets damaged either in transit or further down the line? Can you get spare parts? Is the brand widely available in the UK? Is the seller a specialist?
Table Tennis Accessories
Some table tennis tables are delivered with accessories included whilst others do not even include a net and post set so check what you are buying before you bid. Many sellers do include some bats and balls with the table but check if you will need extras or higher spec products. Giveaway bats and balls are often the cheapest and most basic which may well be fine for the first few weeks of play but may not be suitable for the long term.