What Are Ping Pong Tables Made Of?

If you’re someone who is just getting into ping pong, the question “What are ping pong tables made of?” may have crossed your mind.

This question, surprisingly, has a bit of a convoluted answer as there are different types of ping pong tables and different materials. Fear not, we will answer everything about this in-depth during this article. 

Green ping-pong table and rackets outdoor

Make sure to invest in a high-quality cover to protect your outdoor ping pong table from the elements.

Different Types of Table

Before we get into what tables are made of, you should first be educated on the different types of ping pong tables in the world. There are two major types of ping pong tables: indoor tables and outdoor tables. There are also miniature ping pong tables as well as ping pong conversion tops.

However, these are not something you’d use in a competitive setting. Indoor tables are obviously used in indoor spaces where the climate and conditions are always dry and not too warm or too cold. If improperly cared for, indoor tables can warp or become easily damaged, creating a poor playing surface.

Conversely, outdoor tables can withstand a myriad of weather conditions and don’t require as much care and consideration as their outdoor brethren. 

Table Materials

Starting with indoor tables, many of them are simply made from plywood. However, depending on the quality of the table that you’re looking at, you may see that they’re built from particleboard or medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

MDF is generally considered to be the highest quality material when it comes to competition ping pong tables. But what is MDF then? Well, it’s actually just engineered wood that comes from breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals.

The reason it is favored over normal plywood is because of its increased density. If you’re looking to recreate a competitive setting, then you should be on the lookout for a table that is made with MDF. However, if you’re considering just building your own ping pong table, MDF isn’t required but preferred.

It can be expensive because of its increased durability and density. Otherwise, always shoot for a table made with an MDF tabletop. Moving on to outdoor ping pong tables, these can actually be made from a wide variety of materials.

This ranges from plastic, metal, or even fiberglass. What an outdoor ping pong table is made out of is not that big of a deal as no matter which material the table is made with, you won’t get the same quality bounces as you would from an indoor table.

That being said there is still some nuance with the material types. For instance, outdoor ping pong tables that are made of metal are generally considered the most durable. However, you need to make sure that the metal of the table has some sort of anti-rust coating.

This is especially true when looking at the legs or frame of a table as a rusty frame can mean the end of your table. If you’re wondering what type of material can provide the best bounce for an outdoor table, we would recommend looking into an aluminum-plastic composite surface.

This type of material makes the table very durable and is sure to last a long while providing a decent bounce. For the absolute best outdoor table, look for something with a resin laminate tabletop. 

Ping Pong Table Paint

Something that you might not have thought about immediately is the type of paint used on ping pong tables to create the markings you see all over them and to coat the tabletop. Thankfully, this is a very simple and straightforward topic as there’s really only one acceptable type of paint.

The type of paint in question is known as alkyd paint. It is more commonly referred to as chalkboard paint. This type of paint is used on ping pong tables due to its resistance to scratching, chipping, and other sorts of damage. This type of paint is sold by a variety of different retailers such as home improvement stores and some specialty retailers. If you have a ping pong shop in your town, it’s likely that you may find some paint there. 

table tennis player serving, focus at the net, player in the background

Nylon is the most common material used to make table tennis nets.

Net Materials

Of course, if you’re going to get or build a ping pong table, then you’ll obviously need a net. Again, this is a pretty straightforward buy if you’re looking for something that will work on an indoor table. Keep an eye on what the measurements are for the net, if you want a regulation net it should be 6 feet long and 6 inches high.

These nets can be made from cotton cloth, nylon mesh, or even synthetic plastic. If you’re getting an outdoor table you’ll need to make sure that you get a weatherproof net. Excessive rain can cause damage to organic materials, so most waterproof nets are made from plastic.

You can also get nets that are made from a nylon mesh that works just as well. Also, you may want to pay attention to the type of net you’re buying. There are three types of nets: clamp-on, retractable, and clip-on. The biggest difference between these three net types is how strong the grip will be on the table.

The clamp-on nets are the best as they have screws that securely fasten the net to the table. Clip-on and retractable nets should not be used by serious ping pong players. While they’re very convenient and easy to use, they don’t provide the high-quality stability of clamp-ons. That being said, they still work great in a pinch and should certainly be considered an option if budgeting is an issue. 

Undercarriage, Frame, and Legs

Finally, we arrive at the final piece of the ping pong table and the second most important part. Without a strong undercarriage, frame, and legs, then you might as well not use the table. This is especially true if you’re looking to buy an outdoor table.

That being said, what kind of materials are the best for the underside of a ping pong table? For both indoor and outdoor tables, galvanized steel is the best option. However, if you’re looking at outdoor tables, it would be wise to look for materials that have some sort of waterproof coating. 

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Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.