A few years ago, I purchased a table tennis table for my home. It was an agonising decision. Do I have enough space? Where am I going to store it? How much should I spend? Who am I going to play with? Am I really going to use it? Will I improve my table tennis skills? So many questions.
After weeks of deliberation and careful planning with my measuring tape, I bought a table – a Butterfly Easifold indoor table tennis table. It wasn’t the most expensive table available, but suited my needs and budget. I set the table up in my garage, purchased a robot and played a lot of table tennis.
Since that original purchase, I have purchased three more tables! My garage got converted to a bedroom, so I bought a 3/4 size table top for my lounge. My kids eventually outgrew this, so I purchased an outdoor table for my garden. Then I decided to build a room in my garden, so we could play table tennis all year round. For my new garden room, I purchased a lovely 22mm JOOLA World Cup Table.
With all these purchases, I’d like to consider myself an expert at buying a table tennis table to use at home. So in this blog post, I’ll share some advice about buying a table and give a few recommendations of decent (and affordable) tables you can buy.
How much space do you need?
The first and most important thing to consider is space. Do you have enough space in your home for a table tennis table?
Let’s look at how much space you need…
The length of a full-size table tennis table is 2.74 metres. The width of a full-size table tennis table is 1.525 metres. But you obviously need more space behind and to the side of the table to be able to play table tennis.
In an ideal scenario, you would have 4 steps back (approx 2 metres) behind each end of the table and 2 steps (approx 1 metre) at each side of the table. This space is still a little on the tight side, but you will definitely have enough room to play.
So you can see from the diagram above, ideally you need a room which is at least 6.74 metres long and 3.525 metres wide.
Options if you have less space
If you don’t have a room with this much space, you still have a few options.
1. Squeeze in
You could just play with less space if your room isn’t quite as big as the measurements above. If you only have space for two or three steps back from the table, rather than four, you can still play, but it’s going to be tighter. You’ll have to play close up to the table all the time. If you go back from the table too much, you’ll bash your bat against a wall (not good). So it’s possible to play with less space, but you’ll be more restricted in how you can play.
In my garden room, I have about 1.5 metres space either end of the table, which is less than the diagram above. But I mainly use it to play with my kids, so it is fine for this purpose. And if I use it to train with my robot, then I just push the table towards one end, and this gives me loads of space to play.
2. Buy a ¾ size table tennis table
It’s possible to buy a smaller table, one which is ¾ the size of a full size table. I think this is fine if you’re only going to play for a bit of fun with friends and family. You’ll get plenty of enjoyment from the table.
If you want to do serious training, a ¾ size table is not so good. You’ll have to adjust from playing on a smaller table at home to a bigger table at a table tennis club, which isn’t ideal.
- Butterfly Junior Table Tennis Table
- JOOLA Midsize Table Tennis Table (note: this is 2/3 the size of a standard table)
3. Buy a table top
Some people have a room which is big enough, but the space is already taken up by a dining room table. In this situation, you could consider buying just the table top. This can sit on top of the dining room table when playing and then stored away when not in use. There are different sized table tops available, some smaller (to fit smaller dining room tables) and some full sized ones.
A purchased a table top, after my garage got converted into a bedroom. It was very easy to set up and after use I was able to store the table top in my shed. I found it absolutely fine to use with my kids when they were small.
A table top is probably a better option if you just want to play for fun with family and friends. It may not be so good for serious training, as the height of the dining table may be different to a table tennis table.
4. Push table up against wall and use a robot
When I purchased my first table for my garage, there wasn’t enough room either end of the table for two people to play. So I couldn’t actually have a two player game.
Instead I just used my robot – RoboPong 2050 – to train with. Because the robot didn’t need any space back from the table, I could push the table right against the garage doors. This then gave me space at my end to play. It was also great fun whenever we had a party. Everyone loved trying to play against the robot.
Related link: Can a table tennis robot help you improve?
5. Go outside
If you really do not have enough space inside, then your only other option is to get an outdoor table tennis table.
When my family expanded in size, my garage had to be converted into a bedroom and I had nowhere to put an indoor table. So I purchased an outdoor table – a Cornilleau Outdoor 600x Crossover.
It was a little hard to play if there was too much wind, but on a fine sunny day, playing outside was great fun. Between April and September is the best time to play outdoors. And you usually get two or three days each week when the weather conditions are good enough to play.
Related link: Tips on buying an outdoor table tennis table
If you have enough space, the next thing you need to consider is table quality. There’s a lot of different table tennis tables available to buy – some very cheap, some very expensive. How do you know if a table is any good or a load of rubbish?
As a general rule, you should judge the quality of a table by the thickness of the wooden top. This will range from 12mm (poor quality) to 25mm (excellent quality). So the thicker the wooden top, the better the quality will be.
Generally I would avoid buying a table with a 12mm table tennis top. The price will be low, but the quality will be poor. The ball doesn’t bounce very well on thin table tops and the construction of the table always seems a bit flimsy to me.
As a minimum, you should look to get a table with at least a 16mm table tennis top. The table I first purchased for my garage was 19mm and the quality was fine for training with a robot.
If you can afford to get a table with a thicker top (22mm-25mm), go for it! These are the tables which are used in competitive leagues and tournaments (so very high quality). I now own a 22mm table and it is a joy to play on.
- Butterfly Easifold Indoor Table Tennis Table
- JOOLA J15 Indoor Table Tennis Table
- Cornilleau Sport 250 Indoor Table Tennis Table
- Butterfly National League Table Tennis Table (22mm)
- JOOLA World Cup Table Tennis Table (22mm)
- JOOLA Duomat Pro table tennis table (25mm)
- JOOLA Inside Table Tennis Table
- JOOLA Motion 18 Table Tennis Table
- Cornilleau Sport 250 Indoor table tennis table
- JOOLA Motion 25 Table Tennis Table
- Butterfly Easifold DX 22 Table Tennis Table
- Cornilleau 500 Indoor Table Tennis Table
Other things to consider
There’s a few other things you need to consider too. The following aren’t as important as space and table quality, but worth thinking about before purchasing a table tennis table.
Ideally your table tennis room will have wooden / laminate flooring. This is the easiest surface to move around on, plus it’s durable – you’re not doing to cause any damage as long as you set up and tidy away your table with care.
You can play on carpet. This is ok. But be warned! The carpet will get seriously worn if you play too much, especially if you have a nice thick carpet. A thinner carpet would be better, but even this is going to get worn down after a while. You could put down a rug to protect the carpet, but then there is always the danger that rug may slip beneath your feet and then CRASH!
Tile flooring is ok, but can get slippery if too much moisture builds up in the room.
A concrete floor is also ok, but it’s not very forgiving on the body. If you have weak ankles, knees or hips, it’s best to avoid playing on a concrete floor.
I wouldn’t worry too much about ceiling height. There’s not much you can do about this anyway, unless you decide to rebuild your home! As long as you can stand fully upright in your room, it’s fine to play table tennis. You won’t be playing international competitions in your home, so a high ceiling doesn’t matter. If you do have a low ceiling the only thing you’re not going to do is lob the ball up high. Everything else will be fine.
Playing in the garage
I’ve read articles online about how you shouldn’t buy an indoor table tennis table if you’re going to keep it in your garage, as the cold conditions can warp the table. These articles advice you should get an outdoor table tennis table instead.
Honestly, I wouldn’t pay that much attention to this advice. I kept my indoor table in my garage for several years and it was absolutely fine. The table did not deteriorated at all. And it wasn’t as though I had a super-duper-state-of-the-art garage. It was actually in a pretty bad shape / gradually rotting away. As long as your garage doesn’t have water leaking from the roof, it’s fine to keep an indoor table tennis table in it.
Looking after your table tennis table
Looking after your table tennis table is really easy. It is very low maintenance. All you need to do is give the surface an occasional clean with a lightly damp cloth and that’s pretty much it.
If you keep your table in a dustier environment (like a garage), you can buy a cover. This will keep off all the dust and grime.
Robots, nets, collectors and balls
I will finish the blog post with a few recommendations of items you can buy to get the most enjoyment from your table tennis table.
Table tennis robot
A table tennis robot can be a useful way to train, especially if you don’t have anyone at home to practice with. I have a Robo-Pong 2050, which I am very happy to recommend. It’s a mid-range robot. It has loads of features compared to cheap robots, but it’s not as expensive as a top range robot. I have had this robot for several years and it has always worked perfectly. Another very good option is the PowerPong robot. This has more functionality than the Robo-Pong, but it does cost more. Probably the best robot available.
Table tennis net
Do not buy a really cheap table tennis net. Cheap nets are notorious for falling to pieces after a short period of time. Spend a little more and you can buy a net which will last for a number of years (if you look after it). I used to have a Butterfly clip net on my table in the garage and it survived for many years. I have since upgraded to a JOOLA Pro Tour net for my table in my garden room, which is more expensive but very sturdy. I am happy to recommend both products.
- Butterfly Clip Table Tennis Net (buy in UK | buy in USA)
- JOOLA Pro Tour Table Tennis Net (buy in UK | buy in UK)
Ball catch net
A ball catch net is vital if you have a robot without a net attached. It can be a useful thing to have if you want to do a lot of service practice. You attach the net to the table and it catches the balls as you play with the robot of practise your serves. This means you don’t have to pick up loads of balls off the ground.
Table tennis balls
And finally, balls! You need plenty of balls. I recommend getting a box of training balls. These are still decent quality, but you can get a lot more for your money than competition quality balls.
Related link: Guide to the best table tennis balls