Which Table Tennis Table?

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Sport >> Table Tennis >> Guide to buying a Table Tennis Table

Advice on buying a Table Tennis Table
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What basic decisions do I need to make?
Table tennis is a very popular game - nearly everyone can play, and it is a great way to bring people of different ages together, and to encourage the children to get more exercise. However, there are many different table tennis tables out there, and quality does vary quite considerably - this can lead to some confusion and, especially for those buying a table for the first time, it can often be quite difficult to know if the table you have chosen really represents good value for money. Here at eurocosm.com we sell one of the broadest ranges of table tennis tables in the UK and we understand the differences between the various manufacturers and models very well. Not being tied to any one particular range, we can therefore expert advice with a level of impartiality that we are sure you will find reassuring. Our sales team is always on hand to advise, help and support customers who have bought, or are interested in buying one.
  • How much should I spend on a Table Tennis Table?
    Broadly speaking, there are three quality bands for Table Tennis Tables. The top band comprises, almost by themselves, competition-level indoor tables. These tables, such as the Butterfly Competition Range are ITTF* -approved for official matches, and will stand up to very intensive play. Such tables are suitable mainly for club and sometimes school use, where the table could be booked out all day, every day. Mid-range tables such as the Butterfly Playback Rollaway, Cornilleau 500 Sport Rollaway , Kettler Match 5.0 Indoor are some of the most popular, since they combine both good performance and robustness at more affordable prices, making them ideal for home and even school use. While there are subtle differences between these tables (we will be happy explain these to you on the phone), you will generally not make a mistake whichever of these tables you decide to buy. The third band is what we term Budget Tables. There are a large number of budget tables available on the market, and many cheaply-made models whose quality leaves a lot to be desired. We therefore advise our customers to be wary of buying this sort of table without taking advice first. Not only is performance likely to be poor, but breakages may occur in the first year or so, and spare parts may not be available. There are some budget tables, however, that really do represent good value for money, and are popular for home use: Butterfly Home Rollaway, Butterfly Easifold, Kettler Match 3.0 Indoor, Tectonic Pack 50

  • Indoor or Outdoor
    This the FIRST QUESTION you will probably need to answer, and depends mainly on where you wish to store your table. Indoor tables are usually made from wood (especially the playing surface and sometimes the frame too). Optimised for good performance rather than resistance to water, they should not be stored in damp or humid conditions, and should certainly never be left out in the rain. Even a single rain shower can cause irreversible warping to the playing surface. Indoor tables also last longer wher the temperature remains fairly contant over the year - normal seasonal temperature changes are ok. Not all garages dry enough for storing indoor tables, so if in doubt you may be better to opt for an outdoor table (if in doubt, please do call us for advice). Good outdoor tables are generally more expensive than an equivalent indoor table, but are designed even to be left outside for years without rust or deformation. The table tops of these tables may be made from specially-treated wood, such as the Kettler Match 5.0 Outdoor, or melamine (a very tough, and stiff non-warping material, sometimes used to make placemats) such as the Butterfly Outdoor Tables and Cornilleau Sport Outdoor Tables.

  • Storage?
    Some people leave their table set up permanently, but most people prefer to store the table away when not in use so they can be more flexible with their use of space. Modern "Rollaway"-style tables like the Kettler Champ Tables are easy to fold down and fold back up again without requiring a lot of effort, and can simply be rolled away to the side of the room/garage/patio etc for storage. Such tables also usually offer a playback facility, whereby one side can be left in the vertical position, enabling a single player to play against themself . Even more compact than Rollaway tables, are non-rollaway tables, such as the Butterfly Compact, which are usually lower-priced owing to their simplicity. The disdvantage of these tables is that you need to exert more effort when setting up the tables, as you need to lift the panels (not a problem at all if there are two people to do it).

How can I compare Table Tennis Tables?
Once you have assessed your budget, decided whether you need an indoor or outdoor table, and have considered your storage requirements, you will probably wish to look at different tables that are available. At this point, you will probably wish to understand better how you can compare tables. The two main aspects of a table are Playing Surface, Top Frame and Undercarriage:
  • Playing Surface
    The quality of the playing surface is important as it defines the quality of play. The main indicator of quality is the thickness of the table top. For indoor tables, whose tops are usually made from a specially-coated wood derivative, such as chipboard or MDF. A acceptable thickness for an indoor table starts at 16mm, but a 19mm thickness is much better for home use. A 22mm top on an indoor table provides a very firm and satisfying bounce, but is by no means absolutely necessary for a very good game at home. If you are buyng an outdoor table tennis table, then thickness is not always the only indicator. For a given thickness, treated wooden surfaces on outdoor tables are similar in terms of play to indoor tables. An outdoor table with a 19mm top is perfectly good for home use. For a bonded resin and melamine tables, however, thicknesses are generally less. A 5mm melamine top, for example, provides very good play. Very thin melamine tops (below 4mm) are not very satisfactory as the bounce tends to be too hollow and "tinny", and they don't often manage to keep their flat shape for very long. Good melamine tops might last longer than treated wooden tops - for example, Cornilleau offers a 10 year guarantee on their bonded resin tops as opposed to 5 years maximum guarantee on weatherproof wooden tops. Whichever surface you choose for an outdoor table, and whatever the guarantee, the lifetime of a table stored outside can be prolonged by using a cover, which keeps the worst of the elements at bay, including direct sunlight which can have a detrimental effect on a table over many years.

  • Top Frame
    The Top Frame is the structure that supports the table top and keeps it in a flat plane. The frame is usually made from metal, which provides the most ridgid support.

  • Undercarriage
    The undercarriage comprises the table tennis leg and folding mechanism, and defines the overall strength of the table. A strong undercarriage is preferable if the table is going to be used intensively and competitively, particularly if the table is being used for school or club use. Enthusiastic teenagers will often lunge over the table to reach to win a hard-fought ralley and if your table is going to need to stand up to that sort of impassioned play, a good undercarriage may well be a good choice.

  • Guarantees and Spare Parts
    A good table tennis table has the potential to last for many years. Guarantees are usually different for different parts of the table, and the maximum length may even be given as 10 years. If you wish to make a guarantee claim so far into the future, it is worth making sure, as we do, that the manufacturer is a reputable company that is still very likely to be around then. Just as important as guarantees is spare-parts availability. We focus on selling tables, whose manufacturers are committed to providing a full spare parts service, should you ever need to replace a component - not many table-tennis manufacturers can offer such a service these days.

Other Things to Consider
There are other aspects of a table tennis table that you may wish to take into account when making your choice:
  • Colour
    Five years ago, almost all the tables that we sold were green - the traditional table tennis table colour. These days, more and more customers are choosing blue tables. Cornilleau have always offered a large range of blue-coloured tables, and now other manufacturers such as Butterfly and Kettler are introducing the blue option too. The advantage of blue tables is that they somehow "lighter and airier" than the tradional green colour. The ball colour that contrasts best with blue tables is orange by the way. Some people consider green for a table that is being stored outside, as this colour may blend better into the garden. It is worth noting, however, that if a cover is being used, it is the colour of the cover, not the table, that will have the biggest impact on blending.

  • Fixed Net, or Detachable Net
    Traditional detachable table tennis nets always need tightening, adjusting and repairing, and would often need replacing. They were often likely to scratch and damage the table itself ofer time. These days, many tables, especially the Rollaway type, have fixed nets that keep their position without needing adjustment. The disadvantage of a fixed net is that the overall width of the table in the storage position is increased, as the posts are permanently held away from the table itself. These days, detachable nets are often of the "clip-on" type and are much more reliable the the detachable nets of old.

  • Assembly
    Most tables are flatpacked and requre some sort of assembly. High-end tables may well arrive ready assembled, such as the …"". Tables with very simple undercarriages, such as the … may also come ready assembled. Mid-range Rollaway tables often require assembly of the undercarriage. All the tables we sell come with explicit easy-to-follow instructions and require no special tools or strength. Typical assembly time is about 30-40 minutes if you ar doing it for the first time.

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