Table Top Surface and Table Covers

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Top tips to help you choose your ideal table tennis table.
Part five - which table top and table tennis table cover is best?

 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Part One  |   Part Two  |   Part Three  |   Part Four  |   Part Five  |   Part Six


Table Tennis Table

In this six-part series we're looking at how to choose a table tennis table that'll be exactly right for YOU, and we've already covered parts one, two, three and four.

In part one we looked at the size dimensions of a table tennis table, how much room you need to play and how your table will be used, and in part two we looked at whether an indoor or outdoor table would be more suitable for your needs.

In part three we looked at the different types of indoor tables which are available and in part four we looked at the different types of undercarriage which are available.

Want to buy a table? See my recommendations here.

Well, let's now take a look at the most important part of a table tennis table - the top surface, and then how we can protect it with a table cover.


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What colour surface is best?

Blue table tennis table

The colour of the table top surface is important because it needs to provide a good contrast between the floor, the walls and the background colours of the playing area.

Traditionally, the surface of a table tennis table was always green or grey but, in order to make them visually better for television audiences, there was a period of experimentation with different colours during the early 1990s.

A matt blue colour was eventually chosen as the preferred colour, primarily because it complemented the (reddish) colour of the floor covering which all the top tournaments were using.

This change meant that the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) would only authorise blue or green tables.

However, in 2016 the ITTF voted to amend this requirement.

It was noted that around 8% of the male population with North European ancestors have problems in distinguishing green and red, so the requirement now is that the playing surface of an ITTF approved table must have a dark, matt colour.

Note: The technical specification defines what constitutes "dark" but we do not need to be concerned with that definition here.

The first use of this change in top colour was the DHS table used at the 2017 World Championships in Germany. It had a black playing surface.

DHS table tennis table with black playing surface

2017 World Championships DHS table with black playing surface


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What type and thickness of table top do you need?

The type, and thickness, of the top surface will have a significant effect on its' playing characteristics.

Table tops are usually made of either plywood, particle-board, plastic, metal, concrete or fibre-glass and can vary in thickness between 12mm and 30mm (0.47 - 1.2 inches).

However, the best tables have wooden tops with a thickness of 25-30mm (1 inch).

Generally, the thicker the top surface, the better the table will be. And for major tournaments, only wood or wooden derivates are allowed to be used.

The Rules

The rules of table tennis state that the playing surface can be of any material but that it has to have a uniform bounce of about 23cm (9 inches) when a standard table tennis ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30cm (12 inches).

The rules also say that the playing surface must be uniformly dark coloured and matt, with a 2cm wide white line along each edge of the table.

And if you're playing doubles, each court must be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white centre line, 3mm wide.


I recommend...

that you buy the thickest wooden table top available, especially if the table will be used by top quality players. However, a thinner top surface may be more affordable and will be suitable for beginners.

You can see all my recommendations below.

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Table Tennis Table Cover

Table tennis table cover

When your table isn't being used, a good table cover will help to extend its life span.

Table tennis tables need to be stored in a cool place to prevent warping of the table surface.

Moving your table between different climatic conditions - hot / cold / damp - will also have a detrimental effect on it.

You'll also find that over time, the top surface will start to lose adhesion and it'll become shiny, making the ball skid rather than bounce properly.

This will need to be rectified and you'll need to get an expert to repair, re-cover and re-paint the top surface - or else you'll need to replace the table.

Table covers are generally only available for tables when they're in the upright storage position.

So ... if you've now decided which table tennis table is best for you, you may need to know whether it appears on the list of ITTF authorised tables.

Only tables which appear on the list of ITTF authorised tables can be used in authorised events.

So lets take a look at the table tennis table manufacturers and see which of their tables are authorised.


Part One  |   Part Two  |   Part Three  |   Part Four  |   Part Five  |   Part Six


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For more information, tips and recommendations about table tennis equipment, take a look at my other articles...

Table Tennis Rackets (paddles / bats)


Table Tennis Tables


Table Tennis Nets


Table Tennis Balls


Table Tennis Shoes


Table Tennis Robots


Table Tennis Manufacturers/Suppliers


Interviews with Table Tennis Manufacturers/Suppliers


Recommended Table Tennis Equipment

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This web site receives thousands of visitors every day and therefore, to keep it completely free to use, advertising and affiliate links appear on this web site.

However, these adverts and affiliate links do not influence the advice and recommendations given on this web site.

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