You’re done with dinner. Then what? You and your family could go your separate ways to your rooms or you could engage in a heaty game of ping pong. Back in the day, it was super hard to access tournament-worthy ping pong tables for home use. Fast forward today and things are a little different. Since ping pong became the sport of choice for many, tables have become a lot easier to find. All you need to do is find a design that you like at a price that you can afford and your new table will be delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days.
There is so much variety in the market that you will be spoilt for choice as to which table you should invest in. Believe it or not, this can be a good thing because you want a wide variety so that you can make the best choice possible. But just how are ping pong tables made? Here is everything that you need to know:
What types of material should ping pong tables be made of?
The rules of ping pong state that the playing surface can be made from any material as long as it provides a uniform bounce of approximately 23 cm or 9 inches whenever a standard ping pong ball is dropped onto the surface from a height of 30 cm or about 12 inches. Most tabletops are typically made from plywood, plastic, metal, particleboard, or fiber-glass and can vary in thickness. However, the best ping pong tables come with wooden tops that have a thickness of about 25-30mm. usually, the thicker the surface, the better the ping pong table will be.
Only wood or wooden derived surfaces are allowed for major tournaments and competitions. The surface of the table tends to have certain characteristics that include:
- A 1/8-inch center line and 3/4-inch sidelines
- The surface always has a matt finish with 60-degree specular gloss at the maximum
- CIELAB must be up to 44% light
- The surface should have a smooth finish that is free of any dents, textures or marks
Does the color of the ping pong table matter?
The color of the ping pong table may be the last thing one has to worry about, but it is important. The surface of the table must provide good contrast between the walls, floors, and other surrounding background colors of the play area. In the past, the surface of the ping pong table was traditionally green or grey. However, to make the surfaces pop better for TV audiences, there was an experimentation phase in the sport that saw the use of differently colored tables in the early 90s.
Eventually, matt blue was selected as the preferred color because it complemented the red carpeting of the floor at most tournaments. As such, this means that the International Table Tennis Federation would only authorize the use of blue or green tables. Things took a turn in 2016, however, when the federation received complaints from players that would have problems distinguishing between green and red hues. As it stands now, the ITTF states that ping pong tables must have a dark, matt color.
What type of paint is used for the surface?
Most tables are painted using a sprayer or roller. A primer must be used first before more coats (usually 2) are added. Alkyd paint is by far the most commonly used type of paint for ping pong tables. Alkyd paint typically has thinners that are made from alcohol or mineral spirits. The thinners offer a smooth finish and great durability as well as resistance against damage and abrasion. Alkyd paint is available in primarily green and dark green hues.
What about the nets?
Ping pong nets are supposed to be 6 feet long and 6 inches high and can be made from a range of materials that ran the gamut from cotton cloths and nylon mesh to synthetic plastic. When cleaning your ping pong table, you must remember to care for the net as well so that it can provide you with great service.
The ping pong table undercarriage
Affordable ping pong tables usually come with a frame installed under the table’s surface that is mainly made from aluminum. These kinds of tables are great for novice players and learners. However, professional players and seasoned champions find it hard to play with a table that has an undercarriage as they tend to get very shaky and are even known to break down after some time. Check this in-depth article for more info.
The legs of the ping pong table can either be oval or have a square tubular shape. The legs are usually made using the same material as the undercarriage, most likely heavy steel or aluminum. Heavy steel is the number one choice for high-quality ping pong tables as it offers more strength and stability. The wheels themselves are made from rubber.
Always use a protective cover when your ping pong table is not in use
Finally, a word about keeping your ping pong table protected. Even though most ping pong tables, especially outdoor varieties are made using strong materials capable of surviving the harsh outdoor elements, they are still not indestructible. If you leave your table unprotected all year round, you will be surprised by the amount of damage it can sustain.
Your table will stand a better chance of lasting if you fold it up after every use and storing it in a protective cover. Protective covers are essential investments because they not only help to extend the lifespan of your ping pong table, but they also protect the table from the elements. Dirt, dust, moisture, sweat, pet hair and spills can lead to the rapid deteriorationof your pride and joy.
High-end tables generally come with a cover provided but if you don’t have one, you can easily purchase one at your local sports goods store. When shopping for your ping pong table cover, you will need to pay attention to the dimensions, shape, as well as material used for construction. And with so many options available to choose from, there is no doubt that you will get a solid, durable cover that will keep your table safe.