Indoor v Outdoor Table Tennis Tables: Differences, Which to Buy?

Outdoor v Indoor Table Tennis Tables

There are two types of table tennis tables, indoors and outdoors and there are some marked differences between the two in their usages. Find below which table tennis table should you go for, indoor or outdoor and when should you opt for either of the two.

If you are looking to buy a new table tennis table, you might want to head over to our piece here, which drills deeper into the factors you would need to consider before finalising your purchase.

One of the factors to be taken into account before purchasing a table tennis table is whether you are going to be playing the sport indoor or outdoors. Read on, to understand the differences in the table tennis tables used for indoor or outdoor play.

Please Note: If you are looking to jump straight to our in-depth recommendation on the best indoor and outdoor table tennis tables, you can click here (for indoors) and here (for outdoors).

Table Tennis, an Indoor Sport at the Serious Level

Table tennis is usually played in enclosed areas, in gymkhanas and in sports clubs, and typically speaking, table tennis tables are usually built for indoor use as a result.

Also, the weather sometimes prevents outdoor play anyway given the wind can make it very difficult for the players given the weight of the table tennis ball.

This is not to mention rains which render it impossible to play table tennis outdoors or blazing sunlight which might not be the best for any of the equipment in use and make it tougher for the players too given moisture on the racket thanks to the probable sweat.

In short, when played competitively, table tennis is usually an indoor sport.

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Tons of People Still Play Table Tennis Outdoors Though

Table tennis is the second-most followed and played sport in the world and the main reason for that is people are playing it at every level, not just at the highest level and competitively. There are numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with table tennis, with the sport often considered as a physical version of chess.

And at those lower skill levels, where table tennis is also referred to as ping pong (know your table tennis and ping pong differences here), some of the players might still play table tennis competitively, but for many of them, table tennis isn’t played as seriously as others.

In many of these instances the sport is still played outdoors without the worry of excessive winds, bitter cold or harsh sunlight. At these times, table tennis tables are often put up in parks, train stations, malls and outside classrooms in schools and universities.

The other issue with playing indoors, especially at non-competitive levels the size of the table makes it impossible to store it inside a house. Like sure, if you have a games basement or a room dedicated to it in your place – and wouldn’t we all want that! – you could look at keeping your table tennis table indoors, but that’s more an exception than a norm.

Instead, if you have a yard outside your house, or you stay in an apartment which is a part of a complex that has a table tennis table outside the building, then you would obviously go for an outdoor table tennis table.

And we haven’t even spoken about Table Tennis X or TTX, the sport’s newest version which is made for the very casual players and audience. It’s typically played over 6-10 minutes and the table can moved to wherever needed, including on a beach – yep, you must have heard of beach tennis but imagine beach table tennis!

Point is, there are vast opportunities and needs for table tennis to be played outdoors as well. Below, we have listed the differences between the two and their uses.

What is the Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Table Tennis Tables?

As mentioned earlier, table tennis can be played both, indoors and outdoors. If you are preparing for a serious tournament or playing competitively, the sport needs to be played indoors but otherwise it can also be played outdoor.

And based on where you think you would be regularly playing, you need to take a decision to buy your table for table tennis. This is because there are a couple of differences between table tennis tables meant for outdoors as compared to those meant for indoor use.

So what are the differences?

For starter, a full-size table tennis table, whether for indoor or outdoor use has the same dimensions [length X width X height]. The difference comes in the form of the material used to make the top of the table tennis table, with the usage dictating the need along with a couple of other points.

Indoor table tops are can be made from solid wood without any material added to it which isn’t the case with the outdoor ones. The need to protect the tops while playing outdoor necessitates the manufacturers into making the outdoor tables sturdier and more attuned to the wear and tear of the table tops.

As a result, outdoor table tops have a combination of wood and metal added along with a coat to prevent the effects of rain, wind and sunshine. The metal used could be stainless steel or aluminium, or at times they could also use concrete or plastic.

Typically the aforementioned setup makes the outdoor table tennis tables slightly more expensive as well. In fact for some brands, a high-end table tennis table for indoor play costs the same price as the medium-level outdoor table.

While buying an indoor table, you might not have to worry too much about going for a folding option. However, for the outdoor version, it’s best you go for one which folds in order to ensure storage is easy after the match is over.

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Can Indoor and Outdoor Table Tennis Tables be Interchangeably Used?

The straightforward answer to this is no. Indoor tables aren’t manufactured to endure the elements of nature, and the table top could crumble with regular use under the sun.

Rain’s not the best for either tables too but more importantly, an indoor table should be kept away from the moisture.

On the other hand, as far as the sturdiness of the table is concerned, an outdoor table can be used be used indoors but there are other issues.

Since the table top of an outdoor table is made up of a different material than one used for the indoors, there could be a difference in how the ball bounces and if you are used to playing on a normal, indoor table, especially if you are playing at a serious level, you would notice the difference and might even struggle as a result.

Also, if you are playing indoors, it doesn’t make too much sense to buy an outdoor table which would be way costlier.

However, between playing with an indoor table outdoors or vice versa, it’s always better to use the outdoor table indoors if need arises. For instance, if there’s heavy rain in the area and you have an outdoor table tennis table, you can carry it indoors and play despite the aforementioned issues.

What Table Should I Go For While Playing Table Tennis in a Garage?

Always go for an outdoor table tennis table if you want to keep it in the garage. Typically, indoor table tennis tables need to be played in locations which insulated from excessive cold or heat and that’s something you will usually not get in a garage.

There is also a higher chance of the tables catching moisture in a garage than indoors.

What about the Space Needed for Either Table?

For indoor tables, it is imperative you check the room where the table tennis tables are stored and if they have enough space for it. Once transported it isn’t the easiest to transport them back if you find the table doesn’t fit in your room (and you must consider space for the playing area too).

Here’s a list of differences between an indoor table tennis table and an outdoor one.

ParametersIndoor Table Tennis TablesOutdoor Table Tennis Tables
Material used for ConstructionTable-top made entirely of solid woodTable-top made of a combination of wood and metal
Protective Coating on the TableNo coating used on the table topA coating is used on the table top as a protection layer from the elements of nature
Where to Use the Table?Indoor tables should not be used outside to avoid wear and tearWhile outdoor tables play differently to indoor tables, they can be used indoors with worrying about wear and tear
Ball BounceBall bounce is more trueThe bounce is slightly lower because of the combination of material used
Effect of WeatherNo worries about elements of natureNeed to be careful not to put it in too much of a line of fire
Buy a Folding Table?Not mandatory to buy a folding versionBest if a folding version is bought to protect it when not in use
Cost FactorThey aren't very costly, not as much as outdoor ones for sureOutdoor table tennis tables, on account of their sturdiness and weather-proofing are costlier
Best TablesOur Best Indoor Table Tennis Tables GuideOur Best Outdoor Table Tennis Tables Guide

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at https://twitter.com/StanBooneTennis.

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