Although you might think table tennis tables can last forever if well looked after, this is not the case. Over time, tables naturally amass quite a bit of damage. This is true even if you treat yours with the utmost care like I do. Fortunately, if yours looks a little tatty, you can revitalize it if you know how to fix a ping-pong table.
This guide will cover our top ping pong table repair strategies and other useful tips.
Table of Contents
How Do Table Tennis Tables Become Damaged?
First and foremost, we feel it is important you know how table tennis tables become damaged — this can help prolong their life in the future.
One of the greatest hazards table tennis tables face is weather or moisture exposure. It should go without saying that an indoor table tennis table will quickly become ruined if left outside. However, after many years, even outdoor tables can show signs of wear from the weather. This is why we recommend purchasing a cover for outdoor tables.
Indoor tables, on the other hand, are highly susceptible to moisture. This means even if you keep your table indoors, you could see it bow in the middle. That’s why keeping your table away from humid areas is recommended. Think garages. They get very humid as they are not well insulated like a house is.
Unfortunately, your table will incur great damage just from regular use. Most of this will be in the form of scratches which is not really a big issue. However, after several years, you may take small chunks off of the table when you accidentally strike it with your paddle.
Damage in Transit
Table tennis tables are heavy pieces of kit, and when you move them to where you want to play, you can cause significant damage if you bump them into something hard. Even worse than that, you may accidentally knock your table over. This can cause serious dents or even bend the frame. Some broken ping pong tables are beyond repair, so treat yours with care!
Leading on from the moisture issue, indoor tables are made from wood and HATE water. So for the love of god don’t leave drinks on your precious table. Spillages can not only stain them and ruin their look but they too can cause your table to bow or become bobbly.
Read More: How to Inflate a Dented Ping Pong Ball
How Do I Know If My Table Is Repairable?
Most of the time, you can tell from looking at a table whether it is worth trying to save. If the bowing is too extreme or there are too many dents, you’re better off just buying a new one. To have fun table tennis games, you need a flat ping pong table surface, so if you can’t achieve this, I wouldn’t waste your time. That being said, if you’re on the fence and don’t mind giving it a go, it can’t hurt to try and save your table.
How to Refinish a Ping Pong Table With a Scratched/Dented Table Top — Step by Step
1. Identify All Damaged Areas
Your first step is to give your table a thorough look over. While you’ve obviously got at least one area in mind for refinishing your ping pong table, there may be others you can do simultaneously.
2. Net Removal
If the net obstructs any areas you want to repair, it’s got to go.
3. Clean the Surface
To remove dust and debris, take a wet rag and clean the surface. If there are still stubborn dirt areas, you can try adding a little detergent to your rag and give it a second take. Remember, we don’t want the rag drenched, as excessive water will damage the table.
4. Repair Scratches
While most scratches are very light and may not even need addressing, you may want to repair some of the deeper ones. You’ll have to use your initiative regarding whether a scratch simply needs some light sanding or whether you need to use wood filler. I’ll go into more detail on the wood filler in the next step.
5. Repair Dents
For more serious damage, you need to apply material to replace the missing wood portions. The best product for the job is wood filler. This is because other materials will not behave like wood. Therefore if the ball bounces on the repaired area, its bounce will not be consistent with the rest of the table — we don’t want that.
The wood filler I have selected is called PC WOODY. It’s made by PC Products and should make for an excellent filler. I chose this one, in particular, because it is made from real wood and has many properties. To apply the filler, mix parts A and B in equal volumes and apply to the damaged area(s) with the included spatula.
After around 90 minutes, the filler should no longer be tacky. This means you can get sanding. Start with medium grit and work your way down to fine grit until the surface is completely smooth.
6. Re-painting the Top
Although most paints are viable, you can use actual ping pong table paint. This is known as alkyd paint, or more commonly, chalk paint. You can pick it up as spray paint for easy application. When painting your ping pong table, apply a few coats, and color match as best you can so that the table looks great when the paint is dry. If you need to redraw the table lines use a painter’s table for a clean finish.
If your table has got to the point where it has actual holes rather than gauges, it’s probably time to write it off. However, if you’re really set on saving it, you can try by installing a piece of wood on the underside of the table beneath the hole. This will create a kind of bowl so that the filler doesn’t go straight through. Some websites also suggest using wax paper, although I fail to see why they suggest this.
Attach the wood plank using duct tape or glue and then pour in the wood filler. From this point, continue from step 5.
Ping Pong Table Repair for a Warped Top — Step by Step
Knowing how to resurface a ping pong table is one thing, but repairing a warped table is another entirely. Warped table tennis tables are much harder to fix than those with scratches or dents; as mentioned earlier, some will be beyond saving. There is only so much ping pong table surface repair can do.
1. Unscrew the Table Top From the Frame
The first step is to separate the table top from the frame. Depending on the model of table you have, this can be an easy or difficult job.
2. Lay the Table Top Face Down
Next, you should lay the table top face down. Be sure to lay it on a flat area and place something soft on the ground first to avoid scratching the playing surface. I wouldn’t recommend having the playing surface facing upward as the weights you are about to apply could easily scratch it.
3. Apply Moisture to Affected Areas
In order to assist with correcting the deformed sections, you need to apply some moisture. This will help the wood fibers expand back into the right position. Again, don’t go overboard with the water, a damp towel should do the trick. You can always apply more water later if you need to.
4. Apply Weights
Grab heavy objects like weights plates or sandbags, gently place them on the bowing areas and leave for up to 48 hours.
If you successfully straighten your table top, remove the weights and screw them back into the frame. However, if it didn’t quite work, you can go back to step 3 and give it another try.
If a table is damaged beyond your table tennis table repair skills, there is a chance you could seek help from the table manufacturer.
Some manufacturers offer repairs on their tables. To see if that is an option for your table, check on the manufacturer’s website. More likely, they will have spare parts available for purchase. While you can’t exactly buy an entire replacement ping pong table top for your table, you might be able to pick up a replacement net, spare wheels, legs, etc.
Return It if It’s Still Under Warranty
If your table develops an issue within its warranty period, you may be able to return it to the manufacturer for a replacement. Cheap tables can have as low as 30 days of warranty, while some of the best tables have as many as 10 years of coverage. You’ll have to check your warranty agreement to see how long yours is. Furthermore, check what the warranty includes. Most of the time, conditions are fairly strict. If your table developed damaged due to misuse, it will not be eligible for returns even if it is within the warranty window.
While table tennis tables are fairly resilient, they experience quite a bit of damage over time, especially if you play often or are a bit heavy-handed. If you’ve kept your table indoors and away from moisture, hopefully, you will have scratches and dents to deal with. Ping pong table repair should work on such damage — PC WOODY makes for a great ping pong table repair kit, and it’s pretty cheap. However, if your table has become warped for whatever reason, there is no guarantee that you can fix it. All you can do is follow the steps we have provided and hope that your table is salvageable.
If it’s not, you could always purchase a ping pong table top as a replacement. Otherwise known as conversion tops, they rest on a flat surface and can turn any raised platform into a table tennis table.
Read also: Cleaning Tips for Ping Pong Rackets
Freelance writer. Table tennis enthusiast. Lover of all things online. When I’m not working on my loop game I’m probably binge-watching some fantasy show.