Outdoor Table Tennis Tables – A Comprehensive Guide

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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 aluminum), wood with a thick protective outer layer, or some sort of laminate construction. Legs are usually made of coated metal (aluminum 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 models … but of course they offer the advantage that these tables can also be both indoors and outdoors. ..and they are made to last!

Table-Tops:

Aluminum topped tables are generally accepted as the best, as the aluminum 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 aluminum 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 it's 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 produce 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 will not be an issue.

Frames:

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 you're 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 severely used, and very restrictive in the practice it offers.

Performance:

Performance is usually measured by how good a bounce the ball produces. Since you've 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 finish … some 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 desirable.

Maintenance:

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 it's not being used, to give it that extra little protection, and to keep it clean, but it's 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.

Accessories:

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 you're finished playing, so the weather-proofing are not such a big an issue.

Other uses:

Since the table is designed to be solid and tough, there is no reason it can not be used as a normal table as well. It's 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 through 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 at once.

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Source by Alex Van

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