Robert is a professional journalist who’s also a freelance writer in his free time. He loves science-fiction stories and documentaries about UFO. Robert is also planning to write his own science-fiction novel in the nearest future.
Gary has been playing table tennis for as long as he remembers and is a winner of numerous regional and a few international tournaments. In his free time, Gary loves jogging and camping with his wife and two kids.
Last updated: December 18, 2022
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Ping Pong is not that expensive a sport, especially if you want to get into it from the comfort of your home. As shown below, you don’t even need to spend a penny over $500 to get a table equipped with a net delivered to you.
Notably, we’ve reviewed many ping pong table offerings and found those listed to be sufficiently impressive in terms of dimensions, weight, playing surface thickness, warranties and more. After all, even ping pong tables used for professional games are judged against these same criteria. As such, if you’re in the market for budget-friendly options, you should keep reading.
For its affordable price, we were pretty impressed with the Joola Indoor ping pong table. The manufacturer got it right with this MDF table by packing many premium features in this model.
Of course, we had high expectations from the beginning since Joola is an Olympic name brand. This model has a play surface made of 15mm medium-density fiberboard. While 15mm is thin by professional standards, Joola also has 18mm and 25mm models for a higher price. In any case, you won’t notice much of a difference when playing amateur games.
MDF is the preferred material for indoor table tennis tables because it is affordable and offers excellent play characteristics. It is hard enough to resist warping and soft enough to impart reliable bounce by absorbing excessive vibration. Joola even added 1.5” steel tube aprons around the tabletop for extra durability.
The frame is powder-coated steel with 1.5” legs for support. It rests on 3” caster wheels for easy movement, which can be locked for added stability during play.
When you want to do some solo play, put the table in the playback position by raising one half and locking in the spring-loaded safety latch system to keep it firmly and safely upright. This is handy if you’re practicing for a tournament between friends.
What are its best features?
The Joola Indoor Professional MDF table is perfect for entry-level and hobbyist ping pong players. It stores easily in your basement or garage when not in use and is sturdy enough to handle many years of enthusiastic playing.
This table even comes with a heavy-duty clamp-style net set, which is actually of very good quality. Also, the fact that you can play solo games is definitely an upside. Considering its price point of well below $500 and a 1-year warranty, we think this is a top-tier combination of premium features and affordability in a mid-range ping pong table.
What could be improved?
The only real bummer here is the relatively thin 15mm tabletop. It may be great when playing for pleasure, but it doesn’t offer enough bounce for ping pong enthusiasts and pros. Also, the MDF material doesn’t fare well in moist and high-temperature situations, which tend to cause warping and deterioration.
The HEAD Summit seamless folding table gets a high rating on our table, and it is easy to see why. The manufacturer clearly places value on quality, with its excellent construction and accessories. Also, the sporty red and black finish is aesthetically pleasing.
However, what takes the cake in terms of impressive features is the 18mm / ¾” playing surface. It’s made of dense MDF and a plastic veneer and gives a super smooth play surface. The table is regulation size, so that guarantees a competitive and pro-level playing experience.
Such a heavy table requires a tough frame to support it, and this unit doesn’t disappoint with its powder-coated black steel frame. It folds into two separate halves, allowing you to store it easily with minimal space occupied.
You can set it up in the playback position if you want to up your game so you can show off to friends. Also, the eight casters make it easier to move the table, even with the weight being overwhelming for some.
The table comes largely pre-assembled with the legs and castors already connected. Set-up also doesn’t take very long, especially if you’ve got an extra pair of hands for help. Lastly, this table comes with a competition-grade net ready for use.
What are its best features?
This is a high-quality table and definitely worth the higher price. It is very sturdy and will likely last long with good maintenance. Additionally, it can handle some rough use.
Also, accessories such as a competition-grade net are another plus. Notably, the best feature is probably the top-notch ¾” play surface. This makes it the thickest on our list, and the play experience and bounce consistency are exceptional.
What could be improved?
The only real problem is that this table is super-heavy. Moving it thus proves tricky if you’re alone. That said, the caster wheels included may reduce some of the load to anyone moving the table.
The first surprise you get from this table is that it comes in four parts, not two. This presents challenges during assembly and also when playing. It needs to rest on a completely flat surface when playing to ensure that it aligns perfectly.
Despite that, this is a pretty great table with a heavy 15mm tabletop surface. The play surface is MDF, but it is covered on both sides with PVC to resist moisture and give it an even surface.
The frame is made of 1¼-inch steel tubes with powder coating to resist rust. Also, the whole table rests on 2” locking caster wheels when folded for easy transportation, which is good because it is pretty heavy.
Notably, assembling this table yourself might be a pain. If customer reviews are to be trusted, you may experience a few misaligned screw holes, manual tightening, and an unclear instruction manual. Consequently, you will need some time and extra help to pull off putting this table together. A trip to the hardware store may also help shorten the assembly timeframe.
Once you have it put together, you can get to playing the game. If you can get the four quadrants to align properly, the playing surface offers consistent bounce. Plus, the table even comes with a set of paddles and a pair of balls so that you can get your game started right away.
What we liked
The MD Sports Table Tennis Set is the ultimate budget ping pong set. Once you’ve set it up, it plays pretty well, and you will get many hours of fun out of it. The PVC laminate is a nice touch to help keep off moisture.
The four-piece design makes it even more compact during storage. If you’re looking for a ping pong set where your bank account doesn’t take much of a hit, this is the table for you.
It also seems you’ll be given paddles and balls to get started.
What could be better
The four-piece design is hardly ideal when putting the table together for a game. There are too many pieces making it harder to align them correctly. Consequently, the edges may lead to infuriating deflections when playing. Lastly, this table is not very durable, and there are no guarantees that it will last long.
The all-aluminium Pro-Spin mid-size ping pong table is one of the most rugged options on our list. It features a thick 15mm play surface made of an aluminum composite panel (ACP).
ACP makes a great substitute for MDF because of its low density and smooth surface. The sandwiched materials also resist warping and moisture, making ACF a great material for outdoor ping pong tables. To complete the structure, an aluminum chassis helps the table stay outdoors while resisting corrosion and rust.
Notably, this table is not standard regulation size. It measures ⅔ of standard ITTF regulations to make it more compact. As such, it fits a patio, gazebo and other small outdoor structures quite well. Nevertheless, there’s no rule against putting it in the basement. Also, the total weight of this table is only 34 pounds.
Unlike the other tables that can be split into pieces, this one features a singular design. However, it folds in half for transport and storage. That said, you can’t set it up in the playback position for solo play like the Editor’s choice.
What do we love it for?
The ruggedness of this table is its best asset. It resists warping and water even better than all-aluminum tables, making it suitable even for harsh coastal environments. Plus, the lightweight and portable design makes it easy to handle and set up every time.
More importantly, the Pro Spin Mid-Size ping pong table has a thick play surface, which offers excellent bounce characteristics for a table that’s not made of wood.
What were we disappointed with?
The fact that the table folds inwards means you can’t set it up for solo play. This is a significant disadvantage for some, but it may not be a deal-breaker for you. Also, the lightweight construction means that it needs to be stabilized when set on carpets and other non-flat surfaces.
When Stiga calls this table “competition-ready,” they mean it, especially in terms of construction and accessories. However, it may fall short of that description where size is concerned. Just the fact that this is a Stiga table speaks volumes, given that the brand is one of the world’s best for table tennis equipment.
This 2-part table features a ⅝” / 15mm play surface, which is decent for the price. The MDF tabletop is finished with repeat roller coating and UV curing to give it a tournament-ready surface. The silk-screen striping is printed directly on the tabletop to give it a smooth and durable feel, and the final result is a tabletop that is supremely playable.
Stiga also added ½” aprons around the tabletop to give it extra protection on the edges. The whole table rests on ½” self-opening legs and sturdy 3” casters for easy transportation and storage.
The Stiga Advantage is designed to fold easily for storage. You can also put it in a playback position for single-person practice sessions and lock it in with the spring-loaded safety latch system.
Assembling the Stiga Advantage is quick and fun, thanks to the QuickPlay design. The two halves come pre-assembled, which means that setup is easy. Lastly, the table does come with a high-quality 72” tournament-grade net and post set.
What we liked
The Stiga Advantage may not be the kind of ping pong table you find at the local sports club, but it is definitely competition worthy for your kids. It features high-end construction for excellent playability with top-notch bounce consistency, thanks to the striped silk tabletop.
Also, the net is just as important as the table in a ping pong game. Since you’re given a high-quality one, you have less to complain about. Lastly, the table seems built for easy storage and assembly.
What could be better
Stiga seems to be having a problem with shipping. A lot of customers complained of damage to the playing surface, missing bolts, and misaligned holes. However, Amazon and Stiga will have you sorted out if you experience any of these.
Featuring a 12mm thin play surface, this particular set is designed for compact spaces. The “mid-size” in the name means that it is ⅔ of the regulation size: 72” long instead of 108” and 36” wide instead of 60”.
Each half of the table is a perfectly square piece measuring 36” x 36”. This makes it the perfect size to throw under your bed or lean on the side of your garage when not in use. Plus, it is light and portable, weighing only 50 lbs.
The two square halves rest independently on pre-attached, foldable legs. There are no wheels for movement, but the table is light enough that they aren’t needed. The fact that it comes pre-assembled means that setup is easy, and you just need to unfold the legs, connect the two halves, and clamp in the included net set.
What makes it special?
One excellent aspect of the Joola Midsize Indoor table is that the two square halves are the perfect size for a card table. This makes it great for other games, especially if you buy it for kids.
Its compact design is also a big plus, making it suitable for city apartments and other smaller spaces. Given that it goes for under $200, this is the perfect beginner’s table if you are just starting and aren’t ready to invest a fortune in ping pong just yet.
What cons did we find?
The MDF play surface on this table is thinner and thus more susceptible to warping. It requires extra care during play and storage and should be kept far away from moisture and heat. Furthermore, placing anything heavy on top of it while it is in storage may lead to a deformity over time.
Its flimsy construction also means that the table is much more likely to suffer damage during shipping. Be careful to inspect it before assembly and take advantage of the 1-year warranty if necessary.
When it comes to outdoor tables, the Stiga XTR series table is an excellent option. Known worldwide for superior performance and resistance to water and temperature fluctuations, the XTR series is one of the best for outdoor table tennis.
The reason why this table has such rave reviews is its 6mm aluminum and plastic composite play surface. Composite material offers excellent resistance to warping and degradation from the weather. As such, you can leave it outside for a few hours with no notable degradation to the surface.
The table’s play surface rests on a sturdy frame made of 1.25” / 32mm of welded steel. Three-inch casters provide mobility even on surfaces such as grass, and everything is powder-coated to prevent corrosion and rust.
Like the other Stiga ping pong tables, assembling the XTR Indoor/Outdoor table is very easy and fast since it comes 90% pre-assembled. Folding is super-easy, thanks to the design of the chassis. Also, each half folds up, which makes it easy to store. You can as well set it up into the playback position for solo play.
What do we love it for?
The all-weather design makes the Stiga XTR ping pong table the perfect option for your backyard, porch, or deck. It is rugged enough to handle rain or sunshine, although extreme temperatures may still cause rippling.
The casters make for easier movement between rooms if needed. Also, the fact that the components come pre-assembled means you barely have to do anything during assembly. Lastly, this table doesn’t take up much of your garage space.
What were we disappointed with?
Despite the build quality, the playability on this table is bad. You would find it a challenge to compare it with wood on MDF tables because of its poor ball bounce. And, despite the all-weather functionality, extreme temperatures could still cause subtle ripples on the surface that will likely cause ball deflections.
Buying a ping pong table under $500 is a balancing act between premium features and affordable pricing. Even knowing what makes a good ping pong table, manufacturers use different designs and materials, thereby introducing variations in quality. As such, you should be able to spot these differences if you’re going to make a quality purchase and the section below helps you do that.
What to expect from a ping pong table under $500
To the untrained eye, there isn’t a lot of difference between ping pong tables that cost upwards of $500 and those that cost below. Features like the build quality and durability obviously matter a lot, but some of the difference also lies in the playability of the surface.
Those under $500 are likely to have thinner playing surfaces which can impact the bounce negatively. However, you can still find exceptional offerings that aren’t that far off in terms of quality when compared to higher-priced tables.
Also, sub-$500 tables tend to be built with recreation and home use in mind. As such, some of them may not conform to professional table standards in terms of size and are likely to be easier to store.
How to choose the best ping pong table
Even with the budget restrictions, it’s pretty easy to choose the best ping pong table to suit your needs. You just need to consider your own unique needs and which tables best meet them.
Indoor vs outdoor placement
There’s a reason why indoor tables are usually made of wood or wood composites, while outdoor models have some kind of aluminum or composite material for the playing surface. Wood has excellent playability, but it won’t survive the elements.
Aluminum sheets and synthetic composites are great at surviving the outdoors, but they have terrible play characteristics because they provide less grip on the ball.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) mandates a standard table size of length 107.87/2740mm, width 60.0”/1525mm, height 29.92”/760mm, and net height of 6.0”/152.5mm.
However, this size can sometimes be too big for indoor spaces, so some manufacturers design mid-size tables such as the Joola Midsize Compact Set.
These are typically ⅔ of the regulation size and can fit more comfortably in a garage or patio, and the play experience isn’t affected too much for recreational play.
Playing surface thickness
This is one essential feature of any ping pong table. Thin tables are cheaper but have bad bounce characteristics, while thicker tables are heavier and provide a truer bounce. That’s because thin tables vibrate more, which affects the light ping pong ball.
A thicker model such as the 18mm HEAD Summit plays much better, although the best tables start from 22mm to about 25mm or 1” thickness.
Durability is dictated by the thickness of the table surface and the ruggedness of the frame/chassis. Thick surfaces are more resistant to bending and warping than thin ones and thus more durable. Also, a sturdy steel chassis with larger caster wheels can better support heavier tables.
Adjustable legs or leg levelers on a ping pong table are essential for outdoor sets. However, even the high-end indoor tables come with levelers because they help you set up the table on uneven surfaces without affecting playability.
Table tennis accessories aren’t common in the sub-$500 range, although some do come with paddles, ball holders, scorekeepers, or table covers. All the tables in this writeup do come with a net set and posts.
Unless you have a dedicated game room where you never have to move your ping pong table, portability is a very important feature. This is achieved by having the table in 2 or more pieces which can then be detached or folded to reduce the physical footprint and make storage easier. Caster wheels also make the heavy tables easier to move.
The MD Sports Table Tennis Set has four quadrants, which makes storage a breeze. However, this introduces playability problems, so a foldable mid-size table such as the PRO Spin might be a better idea. Also, the weight matters as well if you’re going to have to lift it.
Some of the higher-end tables in this range come with interesting features that make them even better for home use. Most of these, for example, have a Playback feature where you can raise one half of the table and use it for solo play.
The Stiga Advantage is also quite impressive with its silk-screen printed surface, which gives it an ultra-smooth surface for excellent bounce and playability.
Both Stiga and Joola are premier brands in the ping pong world. The truth is, both have excellent tables and regularly offer their tables for the Olympic games. Stiga does seem to give more attention to detail and better customer service, but that’s up for debate.
There are also other very good world-class brands like Cornilleau and Butterfly. That said, it’s the table features that matter more than the brand.
There are many outdoor table tennis tables made of aluminum and composite. Stiga XTRs are popular the world over, but the Pro Spin Mid-Size ping pong table wins in our list because it is thicker, lighter, and offers better playability.
All things considered, picking one ping pong table as our best option is not feasible. That’s because each table is designed to meet specific needs. Some are indoor models, where our Editor’s Choice carries the day. The Joola Inside ping pong table wins with its ⅝” silk-screen striped play surface, giving pro-level playability. The tournament-grade net set is another positive.
The HEAD Summit USA Folding Table doesn’t disappoint either. It comes durably built and takes only a few minutes to set up. Lastly, it conforms to regulation standards.
Lastly, we have the MD Sports, which is the last full-size table tennis set listed. One big selling point for this purchase is the ease of storage since it can be split into four pieces. However, if you don’t have enough space in your home for our top three picks, the other tables are top selections as well. Remember, the best ping pong table for you should fit your situation and needs, including the fact that you’ve got limited space.
How to Choose a Table Tennis Table | PRO TIPS by DICK`S Sporting Goods
To get your table tennis game on point, you need the right equipment. But before you can bring your best game to the table, you need to find the best one for you. Table tennis tables vary in features, materials, size and more. This Pro Tips guide serves up everything you need to know.
What Is the Official Ping Pong Table Size? | SportsRec
Ping pong, or table tennis, is a popular, recreational game played in activity centers and basements. It is also an official Olympic sport. The tables used for competitive table tennis must meet certain dimension specifications. The tables used for recreational ping pong do not necessarily meet these same standards.