Concrete Ping Pong Table Explained: Try Making One on Your Own!

Here, we take a closer look at the history of concrete ping pong tables, their benefits and how to build one yourself
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Last updatedLast updated: November 10, 2021
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The thing that comes to mind when you mention ping pong or table tennis is an Olympic sport that looks a lot like regular tennis, but the court is a table, and both the rackets and balls are much smaller. Most ping pong tables come in one of two construction options. Either they’re made of plywood or fiberglass, especially at the highest levels of play. However, these tables are rarely taken outdoors as they tend not to handle UV light very well. That said, an alternative in the form of concrete ping pong tables has emerged in the previous years and seems well-suited to the outdoors scene. As such, it looks like an interesting idea to try out in your backyard. This is especially true if you’re into the sport and want a spot where you can play a game impromptu without much preparation or setup.

Short History of Concrete Ping Pong Tables

Concrete Ping Pong Table Explained: Try Making One on Your Own!

Concrete ping pong tables became widely popular thanks to the Ping Project – a collaboration between England Table Tennis Association and Sing London

The English, especially London residents, know a thing or two about concrete ping pong tables since more than 100 of them are available on the streets and across most of London’s landmarks. According to Table Tennis England Trusted Source Ping! Project—Table Tennis England Ping! is an innovative three year project that will provide new opportunities for the public to participate in social and competitive Table Tennis free of […] tabletennisengland.co.uk , this resulted from a partnership between the England Table Tennis Association and Sing London. 

It was part of the Ping project, which was meant to provide Londoners the opportunities to play both social and competitive ping pong for free. At the time, it caused a frenzy, and more people would stop and play just as directed by the signs on the table before going on with their busy lives. 

The rackets and balls were left on the tables, only being picked up when the next two users needed to have a game. Most of these tables remained in place after the project ran its initial course and are present to date. In fact, the project was so successful in promoting the sport that it has been replicated in many other metropolises since. 

Nevertheless, it turns out that London wasn’t the first place to have concrete outdoor ping pong tables. China seems to have had them since the early ’70s. This makes sense as, according to Facts and Details Trusted Source TABLE TENNIS IN CHINA | Facts and Details Table tennis, known as ping pang qiu in China, is a popular and revered game in China. For a long time it was really the only sport in China, sort of like football, basketball and baseball all rolled into one, except a hundred times more popular. factsanddetails.com , ping pong/table tennis or what is called ping pang qiu” in China was made the national sport of the country in the early 1950s. 

Currently, outdoor ping pong seems like something that won’t go away any time soon. In fact, they have invaded places like Toronto in Canada, Kiwanis Park in Arizona, and many more. 

Benefits of Concrete Ping Pong Tables

Concrete Ping Pong Table Explained: Try Making One on Your Own!

Concrete ping pong tables are extremely weather- and spill-resistant

Of course, picking concrete as the tabletop surface for your ping pong tables does come with some benefits, especially if you build it outdoors. One is that concrete doesn’t stain easily. If you were to look at most of the ping pong tables installed in London during the Ping project, you’d notice they’re still in pristine condition. 

This is despite beverage and maybe even some chemical spills over the years. Concrete is naturally porous, and thus most of these fluids will just flow through. If not, it’s possible to seal the concrete to prevent it from retaining these fluids or even accommodating some particles.

The weather resistance is another positive of DIY concrete ping pong tables. They can withstand the sun, rain, and snow without warping and making the tabletop uneven. Additionally, they’re too heavy for the wind to carry. 

Speaking of heaviness, they’re also too heavy for thieves to carry and hence are theft-proof. Another pro is durability. When well constructed, concrete ping pong tables can maintain their form for years to come and without needing any maintenance. Some cleanup may be needed to eliminate dust and debris from the tabletop, but other than that, it’s smooth sailing. 

Finally, concrete ping pong tables are not overly complicated to construct. They might use up some pretty expensive materials, but other than that, making them is fairly easy. 

How to Build a Concrete Ping Pong Table

Ultimately, the benefits of a DIY concrete table make constructing it in your backyard an attractive option. If you’ve considered it, we will tell you how to make such a table in this section. First, source the tools and materials needed for the project. The tools include:

  • Margin trowel
  • Drill
  • Circular saw
  • Clear mixing cup for the paint and thinner 
  • Rubber mallet
  • Gloves
  • Painters tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulk gun

As for the materials, they are:

  • Wood screws
  • Waterproofing paint
  • 1-2 bags Cement
  • Cement glue
  • Cement sealer
  • 12” x 24” stainless steel wire mesh
  • White paint
  • Green paint
  • Plywood panels
  • Caulk
  • 6 mm diameter rebar steel
  • Gravel
  • Sand

Once you’ve accumulated all materials and tools, here are the steps to making that concrete ping pong table in your backyard. 

Mold

Concrete Ping Pong Table Explained: Try Making One on Your Own!

As the first step in building a concrete ping pong table, decide on the size of it and cut plywood panels for the mold

First, decide on the size of your table. Notably, the standard size for Olympic ping pong tables is 274 × 152 cm, although there are other variations such as mini ping pong tables as well. As a side note, the recommended tabletop height is 76 cm from the ground, although this information is useful much later in the construction process. 

Use your circular saw to cut a plywood panel into the 274 × 152 cm dimensions to match the size of the table you want. You then need to cut other strips of plywood that will connect to the larger piece and act as borders for your mold. After that, attach them to the mainboard using screws and a drill.
 

This is where you’ll pour your concrete. As such, you don’t want any spaces between the plywood sections as some of the concrete can seep through and cause problems for your project. Consequently, you should use either silicone putty or caulk and a caulk gun to fill in any gaps and spaces you can find. 

After that, the painter’s tape will come in handy in ensuring the putty is in a straight line. Dealing with caulk is easier since you can use your fingers. Nonetheless, you still have to remove the painter’s tape before the putty dries and then leave it as is for a few hours.

Load your diamond blades onto the circular saw and use it to cut the steel rebar to size to match the length and width of the mold. You then put the steel bars in the mold while ensuring a 10cm distance between them. 

Mixing Concrete and Adding It to the Mold

As for the concrete, you’ll mix fours parts gravel, one part cement, and two parts sand. The concrete should be about 0.250 m3, so you double that for the sand, quadruple the gravel, and add some water before pouring it into the mold. That said, this is only the base layer. 

The second layer should consist of 100kg cement, 0.045 m3 water, 0.179 m3 gravel, and, lastly, 0.199m3 of sand. Once this is done, finish with the top layer, which consists of 40 kg cement, 0.045 m3 water, 0.200m3 gravel, and 0.199m3 sand.  

While adding these layers, you should use gloved hands to spread them out and make the concrete even.

At this point, you’ll have filled the mold with concrete, so you need to even out the top surface. 

You can use a thick piece of wood with a straight edge for this part of the process.

Follow up by hitting the plywood part of the mold with the rubber mallet. It’s better suited for this part of the process compared to a hammer since you’re looking to eliminate air bubbles in the mix rather than add nails.

A trowel will then come in handy to smooth out the surface. Users recommend the Products 49120 Margin Trowel since it’s designed to spread mortar and concrete in thin areas. 

Finishing the Tabletop

Notably, concrete generally takes a while to dry and set. As such, leave it as is for three or four days. After that, remove the screws in the mold and take out the panel leaving you with a concrete slab. This will be the tabletop for your ping pong table, so smooth out the edges with sandpaper, and you can even remove any blemishes left on the concrete. 

Also, if you see any holes on the concrete top, you can cover them using cement paste, although you’ll need to sand the top a second time after the paste has set to achieve an even surface. Finally, you finish the tabletop by sealing it to prevent it from absorbing water. 

Mix 6 kg of cement glue and 2 kg of blue waterproofing paint before adding it to both the sides and the top of the slab. Let this dry before adding white paint to mark the middle and the two sections of the top. Users recommend Marine Coatings Topside Paint as it resists most weather conditions and will likely stand the test of time in your backyard. 

Supports

With the tabletop ready, you now need to place it on a sturdy base. There are multiple options for this, including concrete, wooden, and even reinforced metal legs. That said, if you’re going to use concrete to match the tabletop, there’s no standard way to design the supports. 

You can put them in the middle of the tabletop with extensions that reach the edges, or you can build edge supports that reduce the strain in the middle of the concrete slab. Either way is okay so long as you find the aesthetic and functional combination that works for you. 

Remember there are rules for mixing your cement to ensure it’s the strongest and most durable it can be. Consequently, the ratio we mentioned above of 4:1:2 of gravel, cement, and sand should apply. After that, you can apply your creative genius as much as you want to. 

The Net

Concrete Ping Pong Table Explained: Try Making One on Your Own!

You can put a metal sheet in the middle of the table to serve you as a net

There’s still one matter left, and that is the net part of the concrete pingpong table. Notably, there are two main ways to approach this. One is to use a metal sheet in the middle of the board. It should be 6” to match the Olympic level nets. Of course, you can attach it using cement paste as well. 

Some users will even opt to place it into the mold before it dries for a more permanent fitting. Alternatively, you can create a 6” high mold that you put on the middle of the table and then add some concrete. You’ll, of course, need to finish it with sanding, adding cement glue, and maybe some paint if you want to. 

If you’re thinking of buying regulation-size ping pong nets/net systems and using them on the table, it’s not a bad idea. However, their clamps are often 1.5” or smaller. On the other hand, DIY concrete ping pong tables are often thicker than 1.5”, so they don’t match. 

As such, you’ll have to pick either concrete or metal as your net. You can even use wood as long as it’s waterproofed and won’t deteriorate due to weather conditions.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately you can try multiple other pong table ideas, but if it’s for the outdoors, the concrete ping pong tabletop seems to reign supreme. Making it is relatively expensive and time-consuming. That said, it’s pretty straightforward, and after it all, you have a ping pong table that will likely be a prominent backyard feature for years to come. As a side note, it could even be multi-functional where you use it as a service table when you’re hosting. 

References

1.
Ping! Project—Table Tennis England
Ping! is an innovative three year project that will provide new opportunities for the public to participate in social and competitive Table Tennis free of […]
2.
TABLE TENNIS IN CHINA | Facts and Details
Table tennis, known as ping pang qiu in China, is a popular and revered game in China. For a long time it was really the only sport in China, sort of like football, basketball and baseball all rolled into one, except a hundred times more popular.
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