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The Very Best Table-Tennis Tables

Photo-Illustration: retailers

As long as you have a little hand-eye coordination and a paddle, you can handle a game of table tennis. As two-time table-tennis Olympian Sean O’Neill says, “Table tennis is ubiquitous. Everyone is playing it. Everyone is having fun.” The other must-have for a good game of table tennis is, well, the table. And not all tables are created equally. Some tables are lighter than others and are designed to be easily stored or to withstand the weather outside. Then there are tables that look so good you’ll want them to be on permanent display.

To find the best table-tennis tables for every type of player and space, we spoke to eight experts for their recommendations for all types of players and budgets. If you don’t want to scroll through all the options, you can click any of the links below to jump straight to the table tennis that sounds right for you.

Best overall | Best less expensive | Best for beginners | Best midrange | Best professional quality | Best outdoor | Most stylish

What we’re looking for

Table thickness: The thickness of the top of a table will be one of the first things you look for when shopping. The playing surface should be at least three-fourths of an inch or 20 millimeters thick. When you play with tables less than 25 millimeters thick, “the bounce is lower and not as consistent,” says Yanjun Gao, a former National Collegiate Table Tennis Association champ and the head coach of NYU’s table-tennis team. “It’s not high enough for quality playing.” Recreational players should invest in thicker, professional-quality tables that are approved by the International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF. According to O’Neill, “The thicker table reduces vibration, which you want to get rid of” in order to achieve that consistent high bounce. “Remember, the ball is only two ounces, so you don’t want that vibration transferring to it,” he says.

Storage: Certain features such as wheels will make your table easy to transport and store, while other tables need to be kept in one spot. Folding allows tables to be stored compactly when you’re not playing. Personal playback, which gives users a chance to practice on their own, is sometimes an added feature with folding tables that have automatic anti-tilting locks.

Assembly: If you order online, you’ll likely receive a flat-packed table that will require assembly once it arrives at your location. Some are easier to assemble than others — and may not even require tools — while others could probably use the buddy system (or several) to build. We make note of the assembly requirements for each table so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Best overall table-tennis table

25 mm. | Foldaway with 4 heavy-duty wheels | Preassembled

Maryland Table Tennis Center, one of the premier tennis-table clubs in the United States, uses the ITTF-approved official-competition Joola 3000 SC tables. John Hsu, a coach at Maryland Table Tennis Center, says they’re “as good as any other tables in the world. We like them at our club because of their very high quality.” Along with providing consistent ball bounce, the thicker wood is “more even and straighter,” Hsu says. “With thinner tables, you can have a bend in the table that will create an inconsistent bounce.” This model folds up easily and has “heavy-duty, durable wheels with brakes on two of the four wheel,” he adds. Gao likes the 3000 SC, too, calling it “the best table.” Of the ten tables the NYU team uses, eight are 3000 SCs. If you need a further endorsement: It’s the table Gao uses at home.

Best less expensive table-tennis table

25-mm. aluminum top | Two-piece foldaway design with playback mode | 10-minute assembly with tools provided

For long-term, multiuse durability, Hsu also recommends the Joola Nova Pro Plus, which has “an aluminum coating that makes it more durable to withstand weather.” Some of his students own this table and are happy with it — and it’s a third less expensive than our best overall pick (and the cheapest ping-pong table on our list).

Best beginner table-tennis table

23-mm. wooden top | Two-piece foldaway design | Easy assembly

For novices who want something lightweight for recreational use — or for kids to play on — Westchester Table Tennis Center owner says Will Shortz Kettler Tables are budget friendly and reliable. Although “they aren’t as sturdy and don’t last as long as higher-quality tables,” a Kettler table such as the Indoor 11 is ready to play out of the box and makes for a good option if you just “want something to hit on in your basement.”

Best midrange table-tennis table

25-mm. wooden top | Foldaway with 4 wheels, playback mode | Assembly required

Professional-grade tables like this one are hassle free and much more durable than budget tables. “When you put a table like the Waldner Classic 25 up and down, it folds smoothly. It’s easy to put away,” says Judy Hoarfrost, a USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer and the owner of Paddle Palace. A “really solid table can withstand running into it as a player,” O’Neill adds. “Or if you are playing doubles and someone gets bumped into the table, it is not moving six inches.”

Best professional-quality table-tennis table

25-mm. wooden top | Foldaway with 4 wheels | No assembly required

“As a former professional player, I have used many different brands in different tournaments. The Butterfly table is the best I have ever used,” says California Table Tennis Club head coach Gao Jun. This durable table is what she uses at her own club. Wang Chen, a former Olympian and the founder of Wang Chen Table Tennis Club, concurs, calling Butterfly “the best brand for professionals … They’re quality, used by world champions.”

Best outdoor table-tennis table

19-mm. weather-resistant top | Foldaway with 4 wheels | Assembly required

Butterfly is also good for folks who want to play recreationally — and at a very amateur level — and O’Neill likes this one for “outdoor, beach, pool, backyard, and garage play.” There is a challenge, however: To protect the wood from warping, these tables have a protective coat made to withstand rain, heat, and humidity. If you’re a pro, you might notice the difference, but the rest of us won’t be able to tell.

Most stylish table-tennis table

25-mm. non-glare top | Static design, not foldable | Difficult assembly, video included

At his facility outside of New York City, Shortz uses Double Happiness Rainbow Tables from the Chinese brand DHS. While Shortz also likes Joola (Germany) and Stag (India), he prefers DHS for its unique, colorful, “gorgeous” designs. And he’s not alone. O’Neill calls these tables “pieces of art.” One thing to note before you buy, however: “You can’t fold this up,” Shortz says. “It’s pretty permanent. It’s not easy to take apart and put together again.” O’Neill compares it to a jigsaw puzzle and says “it takes four people to put together.” But the design is top notch. A huge benefit to the rainbow-leg design is the fluidity of movement it allows for players. There are no corner posts to block movement under and around the table, allowing for a more physical game.

Our experts

• Yanjun Gao, a former National Collegiate Table Tennis Association champ and the head coach of NYU’s table-tennis team
• Judy Hoarfrost, a USA Table Tennis Hall of Famer and the owner of Paddle Palace
• John Hsu, a coach at Maryland Table Tennis Center
• Gao Jun, the head coach of California Table Tennis Club
Sean O’Neill, a two-time table-tennis Olympian and NBC Universal color analyst
• Mitchell Seidenfeld, a former Paralympian and the CEO of Minnesota Table Tennis Club
• Will Shortz, the owner of Westchester Table Tennis Center
• Wang Chen, a former Olympian and the founder of Wang Chen Table Tennis Club

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The Very Best Table-Tennis Tables