Outdoor table tennis tables
Outdoor table tennis tables, or ping pong tables, come in a variety of configurations and constructions. The table surface is normally made from either metal (usually aluminium), wood with a thick protective outer layer, or some sort of laminate construction. Legs are usually made of coated metal (aluminium or steel) or well-treated and protected wood. Since these tables are designed to be left outside, they need to be water proof and be protected against types of exposure, like UV radiation from the sun.
These types of tables are normally only used for recreational use, the performance of these tables is usually secondary, as long as the table does produce a decent bounce of the ball. Because of all these extra design features inbuilt to protect the table from the elements, these tables are usually a lot more expensive than a similar indoor modelsÖ but of course they offer the advantage that these tables can also be both indoors AND outdoors...and they are made to last!
Aluminium topped tables are generally accepted as the best, as the aluminium does not rust and is hard and durable and unaffected by UV. Since the table-tops need a thicker layer to produce a good bounce, they usually consist of a wooden inner layer (often MDF), with outer aluminium layers to protect it. Some of the laminate table-tops can be very good too, and are becoming more and more common.
As with indoor table tennis tables, the thickness of the top is still a
very important consideration. Not only does it produce a better bounce
of the ball due to itís more solid construction, but it also reduces the
chances of warping of the table. Warping obviously affects the
performance of the table, but it can also produces crack in the outer
protective layer, exposing the inner layers to more moisture, and the
effect will grow a lot worse much faster. Of course if the inner layer
is not made of wood, this wonít be an issue.
Alumimium frames are usually the best option, as they tend to be much lighter than steel or solid wood, with little downside in strength. If youíre going to be moving the table around a lot, make sure it has a good undercarriage with solid and weather-proof wheels as well. Having the option of being able to fold up half the table to practice against is offered by some brands as well, although in reality this configuration is hardly used, and very restrictive in the practice it offers.
Performance is usually measured by how good a bounce the ball produces. Since youíre already outside and the slightest bit of wind can easily move the ball, this requirement is usually secondary, but generally the more solid and thicker the top of the table, the better the performance. Another issue to consider is the surface finishÖsome table have a real shine on the surface, and since there is a lot more light outside than inside, a matt finish to reduce the glare is highly
These tables require virtually no maintenance as they are solid and tough. It is always a good idea to put some sort of cover over the table when itís not being used, to give it that extra little protection, and to keep it clean, but itís not essential. A bit of a clean with a soft and wet cloth is usually a good idea before you start play, and any tiny bits of dirt on the surface severely affect the bounce of a table tennis ball.
Usually the tables come with a net as well, although in some cases this net is not weather-proof, so it needs to be taken down after you finish using it. Some table come with balls and bats, and these are obviously easy to take inside when youíre finished playing, so the weather-proofing are not such a big an issue.
Since the table is designed to be solid and tough, there is no reason it cannot be used as a normal table as well. Itís highly recommended to at least cover the table with table-cloth to protect the paint from spillages and such.
Where to buy?
Tables are generally bought via your local club or dealer, or via an online
shop, who will generally ship it directly to your door. If you are considering purchasing the table from
anywhere, make sure you get a quote
for the complete package including shipping, as these can be high additional costs.
It is also worthwhile to see if they can include a net (if not included
already), as you can usually get this at a better price when you both both
OOAK Online table tennis store
USA based options: Megaspin