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• Top Thickness: table tennis table tops are usually 1/2" to 1" thick. The best (and more expensive) tables have the thickest tops. A thicker top enhances bounce quality and consistency and tends to retain its playing characteristics longer.
• Frame Thickness: Larger size legs and support framing improve table durability if frequently stored and setup rather than left in place. A larger, sturdier frame also contributes to bounce quality and consistency. A larger frame can also prevent warpage over the years.
• Wood: Most ping pong table tops are made of wood. These should not be exposed to excessive humidity, moisture, or temperature extremes.
• Aluminum: Tables using aluminum have a great resistance to moisture and warpage. These tables are suitable for outdoor patio usage.
• Roll-Away: These ping pong tables usually have halves of the table attached to a center frame with wheels allowing quick set-up and fold up for storage. Some Roll-Always have 4 wheels on each side allowing each half to be rolled away separately.
• Playback feature: Some tables can be used by one player alone for practice by raising one half of the table to the storage position to be used as a practice backboard.
• Permanent Net: A few roll-away tables have net brackets permanently attached to the frame for both playing and storage. This type makes setup a little faster, but is usually less adjustable and sturdy than separate net and post sets, which are preferred for club and tournament use.
• Outdoor Use: Aluminum surface tables (encapsulating wood) are weather resistant for outdoor use.
• Net Included: Most tables come with a net and post included.
• Compact Storage: When not in use, these tables store in a smaller space, particularly important for some clubs, schools or recreational facilities storing multiple tables in limited storage space.
• Leg Thickness: The thicker the legs, the more stable the table will be in terms of its tendency to remain ion place.
• Casters: The larger the casters, the easier the table will be to move around.
• No two table tennis tables are alike even though their dimensions should be 9 feet long by 5 feet wide with a six inch net. Factors to be aware of are: a consistent bounce, uniform paint job, straight white lines, table thickness, and ease in storage and set-up. Before you buy you should ask yourself what will be the primary use of the table and price range.
• Tournament Tables ($600-$1500)
If you are planning on running a sanctioned event under the auspices of USA Table Tennis or the International Table Tennis Federation then you'll need approved equipment. Don't forget to pay particular attention to the quality of the net and post set. In general the thicker the table top the more consistent the bounce.
• Club Tables ($400-$700)
Institutions and clubs should focus on durability as the main factor as these tables will take a beating over time. Storage is also critical so make sure you purchase a table that can fold up and be wheeled out of the gym with ease.
• Home Tables ($200-$500)
There is no better activity than table tennis in the basement or garage during family gatherings! Some tables in this range will have playback features to allow setting one side of the table up to act as a backboard to practice simple contact drills.
• Outdoor Tables
more and more home owners are opting for tables they can play on during the summer months. Although table tennis is an indoor sport it can be played outdoors assuming the wind and breeze are at a minimum. Remember to purchase a cover if you decide on an outdoor model for added production.
• Mini/Combo Tables
if you don't have enough room for a full-size table you might consider going smaller for some pint-size fun! These tables can often double up for an additional work place when the net is removed.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|