Ever have those ping pong matches that just didn’t go so well… where you were completely befuddled by how off your game you were? Did you walk away thinking, “Wow, I was horrible” or “Wow, he was really good”. Maybe it wasn’t you. And, maybe it wasn’t him.
Maybe it was the ping pong table. Just like a tired, nicked up bowling ball and worn down lane will turn a decent bowler into a horrible one; a warped, thin, unlevel ping pong table will flip your ping pong confidence on its head.
If you’re the occasional table tennis enthusiast, a bad game now and then won’t bother you much. But if you don’t want that lame experience repeated over and over again, you may want to look at what kind of ping pong table you’re playing on. And if you start looking into the details, you’ll see just how specific they can get.
Take one look online and it may be hard to figure what features to take notice of, and what features are just fluff.
So let’s take a look at the differences between good ping pong tables and great ones. As we do, we’ll offer our recommendations for the best indoor and outdoor ping pong tables on the market today for the least amount of money.
Our Favorite Ping Pong Table
Cornilleau 500 Crossover Indoor/Outdoor Tennis Table
Now, if you’re in a hurry, here’s our top pick. It’s got 7mm of laminate surface, large wheels, a galvanized steel frame for stability; and it folds up easily and rolls away in a jiff.
Top Ping Pong Tables on the Market
- ImageProduct NameBest ForPrice
- Cornilleau 500 Indoor Tennis TableDeluxe Recreational TableCheck Latest Price
- Butterfly Compact Table Tennis TableCompact TableCheck Latest Price
- JOOLA Tour 1800 Indoor Table Tennis TableStarterCheck Latest Price
- Cornilleau 510M Outdoor Stationary Table Tennis TableOutdoorCheck Latest Price
- Butterfly Centerfold 25 Table Tennis TableEntry Level TournamentCheck Latest Price
- Viper Portable Table Tennis TopTopperCheck Latest Price
What to Look for in a Ping Pong Table
Ping pong tables are usually classified by either outdoor or indoor use. The type of construction, weather resistance, and dimensional details are different for each type. There are crossover tables available too. But depending on your needs, you may want to look for one that specializes in one environment or the other.
Varying levels of playing surface quality are available in ping pong tables, which makes purchase options almost limitless, and a tad bit overwhelming. As a general rule of thumb though, the lightest, thinnest, most compact, and most storable tables provide the lowest level of playability.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as playability is highly dependent on the viewpoint of the player. Someone who plays ping pong only occasionally, like when friends come over to take part in ping pong festivities, will do well to purchase a less expensive, decent quality recreational table.
Those who play more often, maybe a couple beer and barbeque weekends every month, or as a way to spend a rainy Saturday with the kids, may want to put a little more money into a mid-grade recreational table.
Then there are those who eat, sleep, and breathe ping pong. For those absolute ping pong die-hards, tournament level tables are the only way to go. Certain table top thicknesses are best intended for the tournament player. Paying good money for these kinds of tables, only to be used recreationally, means less money in your pocket.
Outdoor Ping Pong
Outdoor Ping Pong
Outdoor tables are typically constructed with a tabletop thickness between 10mm to 18mm. The best will have the thickest tops with a 6 to 7mm coating of melamine, (a durable type of plastic used in laminate coatings). The undersurface will either be wood or plywood depending on the quality of the table.
The strength of the frame is dictated by the material used. The thicker the frame, the better the stability: which means a more even and consistent playing surface. Frames that are durable and weather resistant are especially valuable if the table is going to be stored outdoors.
Additional features to look for in outdoor tables are easy net adjustment, tension adjustment, net height variability, corner protectors, racket and ball holders, ball dispenser, wheel brakes, and a storage cover.
Indoor Ping Pong
Indoor Ping Pong
With indoor ping pong tables, the requirements change just a bit.
By indoor we mean truly indoors… in a space where temperature and humidity fluctuations won’t be an issue, such as a garage or covered patio. If you’re looking to set your table up in one of these “not so indoor” spaces, then an outdoor or a crossover is your best bet.
The best indoor tables have an even thicker surface than outdoor models, ranging between 19mm thickness for economy models and 25mm thick for the best indoor tables. The thicker surface means a more even playing surface, and less variation no matter what point on the table the ball bounces.
Although stability is not as much a defining issue as it is for outdoor tables, (due to more variation outdoors in playing surfaces such as grass, or uneven ground), stability is still important. This is especially true for tournament grade ping pong tables. Tables with the thickest frames and more points of contact on the ground will give the playing surface the most stability.
Storage is a big factor in determining which table to purchase. Most quality ping pong tables fold-up for storage. But, some really nice ones separate and nest into each other, taking up as little space possible in the corner of your rec room.
The Purpose of the Purchase
The Purpose of the Purchase
The amount of money you’ll spend on a ping pong table will largely be dictated by your needs and intentions.
If you’re one of those families who love to gather around a good game of table tennis, where things may get a wee competitive between the type A’s in the family, you’ll want to look for the highest recreation level table for either outdoor or indoor use, based on where you intend to have the family play.
If, however, you’re going to be adding it to a recreation room or backyard to have available when the mood strikes from time to time, you may get away with purchasing a more economy model and be just as pleased, while keeping ample cash in your pocket. Needs for level surfaces and premium bounce won’t be as important to you in this case.
Now, if you have a rising ping pong star living in your house, maybe your son or daughter, you may want to invest in a tournament grade table. You’ll be paying the most of course, but there will be no adjustment between what your future Olympian plays on at home and what they’ll play on during a tournament.
Top Ping Pong Table Reviews
Best Deluxe Recreational Table
Cornilleau 500 Indoor Tennis Table
Deluxe recreational tables give you the best quality materials available within the recreational use price range. Differences beyond this level are so subtle, only tournament level athletes would benefit from the upgrades found in a tournament level table. Look for thick surfaces, broad, strong support, and smooth movement with these tables.
If ping pong runs in the family… if it’s just a part of your blood, you’ll want to invest wisely in a quality table that will last decades. You’ll be less concerned about storage and more concerned about the playing surface.
If this sounds like you, take a look at The Cornilleau 500 Indoor Tennis Table. The Cornilleau’s standard features include playback mode, patented anti-tilt safeties, and classic blue coloring.
The Cornilleau 500 also features a galvanized steel frame, 6” double wheels for easy moving, and 22mm thickness. At the top of the recreational level range, this table will cost a bit more, passing the $1,000 mark. But, it’s made by a company renowned for quality.
⅞” high density chipboard
1 ¾” galvanized steel frame
Ball and racket storage on each side of table
6” double wheel
Permanent weather-resistant polyester net system
Tension and height adjustment on net
Adjustable leg height
Weight 207 lbs
62” H x 64” W x 30” D
Best Compact Table
Butterfly Compact Table Tennis Table
A compact table is best for individuals or families who are short on space, but still want a quality product they can use to enjoy recreational ping pong. Compact tables are great for apartments, crowded rec rooms, or small homes. Although they tend to be the lowest on price, you can still find a compact table with quality construction and middle grade thickness to ensure quality of bounce.
The Butterfly Compact Table Tennis Table made by a well known ping pong table manufacturer, Butterfly, is a great choice when space needs to be economized as much as the table does. The Butterfly Compact may be small and fold up for closet storage, but still features a 16mm thick top and steel rails with corner pads… not too shabby for a modular surface.
Fully folded, this table only takes up three inches of depth. And, you can wheel it along the floor into your closet, avoiding potential back muscle injuries trying to lug it around. Best thing about it, despite its compact storage, is the table is still regulation size.
FeaturesTop thickness ⅝”
Rail/Rim ⅝” x ⅝”
Legs ¾” x ¾”
Weight 132 lbs
Safety Feature Release Lock
3 year warranty
JOOLA Tour 1800
Best Starter Recreational Table
JOOLA Tour 1800 Indoor Table Tennis Table
Starter recreational tables are ideal for people with a little more room. Fold up and storage should still be easy with these tables, since you may not always want the ping pong table out on display.
But the majority of the focus for this type of table shifts from storability to tabletop quality. While prices remain low with starter tables, quality manufacturers will construct their recreational tables with powder coated metal frames, and fairly thick table tops.
Our pick for best economy table is The JOOLA Tour 1800 Indoor Table Tennis Table. Joola is a well known company and sponsor of international table tennis tournaments. The JOOLA Tour 1800 has an 18mm thick table top, which is a decent entry level thickness for indoor ping pong tables.
The adjustable height, 40mm black powder-coated metal frame separates for easy nesting storage, and has dual safety anti-tilting devices for extra security. This is an especially good feature to have for homes with little ones.
The JOOLA can be set in playback position if just one person needs some practice time. At below $600, this economy table is a great pic for any household who wants a reliable, long lasting, and affordable indoor recreational table.
40mm black powder-coated metal undercarriage
Automatic folding legs
Double anti-tilting device
¾” top thickness
9’L x 5’W x 30”H
5” resin apron
2 inch caster wheels
Best Outdoor Table
Cornilleau 510M Outdoor Stationary Table Tennis Table
If you’re in the market for some heavy duty outdoor play, then you’ll want to look for outdoor tables that provide the most in stability. The wonderful thing about playing outdoors is that space is usually not an issue. So, the idea of putting a table in the backyard or patio and keeping it there for some time, is not as much of a problem as it can be for indoor tables.
Now, if you are short on space outdoors too, you may want to look at a table that can go either outdoors or in, with the ability to handle a bit of weather. But our pick for now, on the best outdoor table, stays firmly with an outdoor champ.
The Cornilleau 510M Outdoor Stationary Table Tennis Table offers an exceptional level of stability and durability for constant outdoor use. It’s a stationary table, so there’s no storing this thing. But there’s also no destroying it either. It’s meant for heavy duty playing, so start planning on the next family reunion tournament being at your house.
The Cornilleau 510M is built with a 7mm laminate top, a patented anti-glare MATTOP finish, and its supported by a 2 ¼” galvanized steel frame. Even the net is steel. This table is heavy too. At 169lbs, it won’t be blown away easily in the next storm. But just in case, it does come with a ten year warranty.
Features7mm laminate surface with glare reduction
Galvanized steel stationary frame
Stainless steel net
Can be bolted down
Meets ITTF bounce standards
Weight 169 lbs
Table base 76” x 42”
10 year warranty
Butterfly Centerfold 25
Best Entry Level Tournament Table
Butterfly Centerfold 25 Table Tennis Table
Tournament tables can get pretty expensive. But, if you’re just getting into the market and looking for a quality table that will provide a consistent experience from home to court for your Olympian-in-training, we suggest looking at The Butterfly Centerfold 25 Table Tennis Table. This table takes quality one step further than the best recreational tables, with added thickness, large wheels, and sturdier framing.
Approaching the $2,000 mark, this table is an unnecessary purchase for anyone looking for a high quality recreational table only. And, although this table is foldable, it really won’t fold as nicely for stowing as some of the smaller recreational tables do.
Highlights of this table are the 25mm top, one of the thickest you can get at this price point, an upgraded net set, and a five year warranty. The butterfly will be a table that will last as long as you need it to. It’s a heavy one too, so once you decide where it’s going, you may not want to move it for a while.
Features25mm scratch proof top surrounded by hard PVC band and steel rim
Safety latch for safe storage
5 inch locking rubber wheels
5 year warranty
No assembly required
Weight 270 lbs
108” x 72” x 30”
2” square steel legs
Best Ping Pong Topper
Viper Portable Table Tennis Top
If you just can’t live without ping pong, but you have absolutely no space to spare – not even in the closet – don’t fear. Just buy the top without the frame. The added bonus in buying a topper is that you can take it with you.
For instance, say you want to play ping pong at a friend’s house. But, they don’t have a table. What do you do? Just pack yours up and go!
For this reason we like The Viper Portable Table Tennis Top. It’s a trifold, meaning it folds up like no other ping pong table can. You can set it up on any traditional table with a big enough top… dining room tables, kitchen tables, and of course, pool tables. It comes with a net, paddles, and balls.
It also features a case for storage and travel, and a checker/chess board and backgammon grid on the reverse side. And at just over $100 it’s a steal of a deal. Of course, you won’t be able to take a round of ping pong seriously on this table. But, you’ll have a whole lot of fun.
84” L x 42” W x ¼” H
Medium Density Fiberboard Core
Checkers, chess, backgammon on reverse
Soft cloth carrying case
Now that you know what to expect at each level of the playing field, the search for a new ping pong table should be much simpler. We’ve given you our favorites in each category. And to give you a roundup, here’s our shortlist: