What Are Ping Pong Tables Made Of? [A Closer Look]

By Harry Groves

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Aside from a good-quality paddle, the ping pong table also plays a crucial role in the gameplay experience.

If you’re an enthusiast or love to play table tennis in general, you likely know all about the appeal of a good ping-pong table. But have you ever wondered exactly what goes into making these tables?

This guide breaks down the components that make up a ping-pong table, including the types of wood used to build them and other essential elements such as paint or coating. We will also discuss tips on resurfacing a ping pong table to maintain your playing surface and keep it looking its best.

Most Common Table Top Materials

Manufacturers of table tennis tops use various materials, including but not limited to plywood, spruce, particle board, pine wood, plastic, metal, and fiberglass. Cherry wood isn’t suitable for table tops due to its susceptibility to insect infestation and lack of structural integrity that will produce good ball bounces.

Most tables are constructed with durable, high-density fiberboard in professional table tennis for maximum stability and performance. For indoor ping pong tables, the best materials to use are medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and plywood. 

Unlike indoor tables, outdoor furniture must withstand different climate conditions. Metal, plastic, or fiberglass pieces are your best option due to their sturdy construction and strongly bound materials.

What Is The Best Wood For A Ping Pong Table?

Two options are available when considering which plywood to use for a table tennis board: soft and hard.

The 3/4-inch soft plywood is your best bet for a cost-effective and reliable material. These soft plywoods are created from coniferous trees such as pine, cedar, fir, or spruce, designed to offer maximum stability during gameplay. Hard plywood made from oak, maple, hickory, walnut, or birch is also an ideal choice for table tennis, but it comes at a higher cost than soft plywood.

Simply put, both options make an ideal playing surface. It’s just that many people prefer soft plywood for its more budget-friendly price tag than hardwood.

What Are Ping Pong Tables Coated With?

The best coating for ping pong tables is a matte layer coated uniformly in one dark color, either green or blue.

A matte finish is essential, as any other glossy finish may cause visibility problems for the players. Moreover, the vivid green and blue color of the table makes the ball visible no matter which angle you are looking from or where on the table it is located.

To help protect and preserve the surface of a table tennis table, most manufacturers use Alkyd for the top coating. This type of paint is known for being resistant to scratches and wear, thus making it an ideal choice to maintain a long-lasting finish on any material.

The Ideal Table Top Thickness

As a general rule, the top surface should be at least ¾ inches thick. The thinner material will warp quickly and will cause the ball to bounce erratically or change direction unexpectedly. You may not always notice it immediately, but they are hard to overlook over time.

You should opt for a consistent playing surface when you drop a standard table tennis ball. When you drop the ball from about 12 inches above the table, the ball should have a consistent bounce and won’t break a steady bounce of around 9 inches, regardless of which area you drop the ball on the table.

Ping Pong Table Legs

The legs on the ping pong table play a big role in ensuring its sturdiness and durability. They also impact your game because any minor shakes could compromise your play, so you should always look at the construction to ensure that the legs are braced and tightly secured to help keep your playing surface stable.

Constructed from heavy-duty steel, the legs of the ping pong table should be tubular and powder coated to ensure durability and that it can endure frequent use without wearing off. The materials for the legs should support the table and give it structural integrity.

How To Resurface a Ping Pong Table?

Over time, due to regular use, your ping pong table might become worn down and pitted. It can cause the small and lightweight ball to fly off in unpredictable directions making it hard to play on the table’s surface.

Here’s an easy guide on how to resurface your ping pong table:

1. Remove the net and its holder

Using a screwdriver, unfasten the net holders on both sides of the table. gives you a clear area to work on your table’s surface

2. Clean the whole table surface

Get an all-purpose cleaner and spray it around the table and the edges. Let it dry.

3. Sand it down

For cracked, uneven, and pitted tables, use a medium 80-grit sandpaper. Afterward, remove all the dust using a vacuum cleaner or a hose, then fill the cracks with wood fillers. 

Give it 24 hours to set, then use a fine 150-grit sandpaper to smoothen the table again.

4. Paint the ping pong table’s top

For a seamless look, use paint with a matte finish in the same color as your table’s original surface. Your paint should give your table a flat finish without droplets or ripples. Hold it about 10 inches away, make even strokes on both sides, and then give it 8 hours to dry. Apply three coats of paint with at least six hours of drying time for each one.

5. Finish the white boundary lines

Before masking the edges of your white boundary lines with painter’s tape, ensure that the paint is fully dry. Then, take a can of enamel spray paint and cover the area by holding it roughly six inches away from the table surface while spraying slowly yet evenly along each line.

 Let this rest for 24 hours. If the paint looks opaque after drying, there is no need to apply another coat.

6. Reinstall the ping pong Net

Put the net holders and the net back on the center sides of the ping pong table. If your net is torn or stretched out, consider replacing it already.

Ping Pong Table Paint

According to the Olympics’ website, the ping pong table should have dark and glossy paint with a matte finish. A two-centimeter-thick line should be on the table’s border, marking the playing area.

While different kinds of paints are available, most people use chalkboard or alkyd paint because it’s durable and resistant to abrasion and scratching. You can use it to paint a wooden Ping-Pong table plus other surfaces prepped with metal, plaster, slate, and wallboard. Different brands sell alkyd paint, and you can buy it from home improvement stores or retailers that sell ping pong items.

When painting a ping pong table, ensure no brush marks are on the surface, so it is best to use a roller, sprayer, or curtain coating.

Bottom Line

Investing in a high-quality ping pong table is a must, regardless if you are seriously joining ping pong competitions or just looking for a fun and active way to spend time with family and friends.

For your table to last a long time, pay attention to its construction and ensure that it is made from durable materials. From its coat, the legs, and the surface, make sure that it is easy to clean, durable, and resistant to abrasion and scratching for optimal performance.

You should also spend time maintaining the ping pong table by resurfacing it every few years (or as needed) to keep its surface smooth and even. Sand, clean, and repaint the table to help protect its surface from wear and tear.

Remember that choosing a good quality table and constant care maintenance are the keys to having a long-lasting and top-performing ping pong table.

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