You don't always need to buy a full-size table tennis table - sometimes a conversion top is all you need. On this page, we review four of the best ping pong table tops to help you pick the right one for your home.
If you don't have the space or budget to buy a complete ping pong table, a topper could be a viable alternative.
Conversion tops are just a playing surface without the legs or undercarriage, so they can be placed over other gaming tables or even dining tables. They are easier to store, cheaper and can turn almost any table into a ping pong table.
Sounds too good to be true? If you're skeptical whether a top can provide a high-quality playing surface, I don't blame you. I used to think the same, but after playing on a few high-quality tops I've been pleasantly surprised by how well they can play.
Just like buying a regular ping pong table, however, it's vital to get a high-quality topper that matches your requirements.
The best models can rival mid-range tables for bounce consistency and quality, so they are a great alternative to a full table - at least for beginners or keen amateurs. There are also many poor quality table tops on the market though, which have terrible bounce and may even damage the table underneath.
That's why I've put together a list of the best ping pong conversion tops. Keep reading to see my top picks!
Listed below are four of the best table tennis conversion tops, along with mini reviews of each. The right model for you depends on your requirements and playing experience, so make sure you read each review carefully before deciding on the best pick.
My top pick for a table top is the excellent Joola conversion top. Joola have a reputation for high-quality table tennis tables (click here for some examples), and this model is no exception - even without the undercarriage.
The Joola is suitable for billiard tables, pool tables or even dining tables, as the bottom is covered in foam padding to prevent scratching. Like standard tables, the playing surface is split into two halves for easy storage.
A net is included, so you can start playing straight away. The net is designed to avoid contact with the table underneath (assuming it's the correct size), which prevents damage.
One of the most impressive things about the Joola is the 15mm MDF playing surface. This would be slightly too thin for a regular table, but for a topper it's relatively thick and provides a true bounce. The MDF also prevents warping, so it should last a long time.
A minor downside is that this is a heavy table top. It won't shift during a match, but the weight makes it more awkward to store. It doesn't take up much room though.
Summary: The Joola Conversion Top is easy to setup and plays great. The 15mm playing surface is too thin for serious practice, but for fun games with family and friends it's an excellent choice.
Another excellent conversion topper is made by Harvil. Like the Joola, it has a 15mm playing surface and attractive blue color scheme - plus it's available for a very reasonable price.
Like all the best conversion toppers, the Harvil is easy to setup and is built to a high standard. It's around 15lbs lighter than the Joola, which makes it more convenient to move around the house - although you'll probably still need two people. The dense wood and tough design also means it should last a long time.
Most importantly, the Harvil plays great. The surface is responsive and relatively consistent, even for more advanced players. It also comes with a black metal net, so you only need paddles and a ball to start playing.
One of the differences between this model and the Joola is the padding. The Harvil has EVA foam patches on the underside, rather than a sheet of foam across the whole surface. These patches protect the table below, but I prefer the full foam coverage of the Joola for extra peace of mind.
Summary: The Harvil is similar in design to the Joola. It plays great, is available for a reasonable price and comes with a decent net. The only drawback is that the protecting EVA foam doesn't cover the entire table.
One of my favorite conversion tops is the Martin Kilpatrick by Butterfly. It's an outstanding model with a thick playing surface and stylish design, plus it's available in three colors.
The best feature of the Martin Kilpatrick is the playing surface. Unlike most toppers, which are relatively thin, the Martin Kilpatrick is 19mm thick for an excellent bounce and fast play speed. If you're looking for a topper that can match regular tables for playing quality, this is the one to get.
Aside from its playing surface, the Martin Kilpatrick also comes with a 1.5" metal rail for extra stability, two-part design and foam pads to protect the table underneath. The net also doesn't extend past the bottom of the table, so it's suitable to use on 5' wide pool and foosball tables.
The biggest problem with the Martin Kilpatrick is that it's difficult to find! It's often sold out at major retailers, so you might need to look for a second hand model or wait until it becomes available. If it wasn't for the issues with stock, it would probably be higher up this list.
Another drawback is the weight. This table is very heavy at 150lbs, although this is to be expected considering the thick playing surface. You'll need two people to move it around though, so it might not be the best choice for a portable topper.
Summary: The Martin Kilpatrick by Butterfly is the best conversion topper for high-level play and serious practice. Its 19mm playing surface provides excellent bounce, while the net attachments make the top suitable for a wide range of tables sizes. I would have placed it at #1 if it was easier to find - sort out the stock issues Butterfly, please!
If you're looking for a relatively cheap table top board, the STIGA ST1100 could be one to consider. The 12mm playing surface can't match the other models on this list, but for recreational play it might be all you need.
An advantage of the ST1100 is that it's made with a hinge four-piece design. This makes it much easier to fold and store than some of the other table tops on this list. It also comes with sponge-rubber protection strips and is suitable for most tables of 7' or 8' in length.
The biggest drawback is the playing surface. While it doesn't play terribly, the 12mm thickness can't provide the same bounce consistency as the other models on this list. For family games or beginners, however, it's good enough for a fun game.
Note: The ST1100 doesn't come with a net, so you'll need to buy this separately.
Summary: The STIGA ST1100 has a thin 12mm playing surface, so it's not suitable for more experienced players. For casual games, or if you want a relatively lightweight table that's easy to move around, it's a great choice.
Theoretically, a ping pong table top can be just as good as any indoor table. The undercarriage of a regular model doesn't affect the bounce, so the quality largely depends on the thickness of the playing surface.
With that said, you'll be hard pressed to find a ping pong conversion topper that can match the quality of the best standard models (see our top picks here).
Many toppers are relatively thin, which means they have a low bounce that's horrible to play on. There are some notable exceptions - such as those listed above - but you need to be careful which you buy. Even so, for families, recreational players or even people who want to start taking the game more seriously, the best table tops can be a great alternative if you can't afford a full table.
There are a few things to watch out for though. Firstly, it's vital that the underlying surface (whether it's a pool, foosball, dining or even air hockey table) is smaller than 9'x5' if you're buying a regulation size ping pong top. If the surface is larger than the topper, it'll be awkward to play on. If it's too small, the playing surface may be unbalanced.
Other considerations include:
You also need to consider the height of the playing surface. More on that in a moment though.
Note: You can buy ping pong and pool combo tables from brands such as SoleX. Unlike toppers, these are specifically designed for two purposes. While they can be fun, the quality of both the pool and ping pong modes are usually low in comparison to specialist alternatives.
There are very few outdoor ping pong table conversion tops. Nearly all toppers are designed for indoor use, so if you want an outdoor playing surface you'll need to purchase a full table, as indoor material will quickly warp in wet weather. Click here for our top picks for outdoor use.
A regulation table tennis playing surface should be at a height of 2'6". For this reason, you should measure your table first to check the top will be close to the correct height.
In reality, a few millimeters difference is unlikely to have a noticeable effect, unless you're training for high-level competitive play. Most tables tend to be around the right height, or close enough to have an enjoyable game, but if there's a big difference it might be awkward to play on. The closer to the correct height the better.
This varies depending on the table. Most conversion toppers come with a net and posts, although some only include the top itself (such as the STIGA listed above).
It's rare for a high-quality conversion top to include paddles and balls though. You'll need to buy these separately unless you can find a full set.
The best table tops for pool tables have plenty of EVA foam padding underneath. This means the hard wood top shouldn't touch the pool table, so there's no chance of scratching. The foam should also prevent the playing surface from shifting during a match.
A number of brands manufacture ping pong toppers. These include Brunswick, Prince, SportsPower, Olhausen, Viper, Butterfly, Joola, STIGA, Dunlop and many more. The quality of these brands varies greatly, but my favorites are Butterfly and Joola.
Instead of thinking about the best brands, however, it makes more sense to consider the individual models. Even the top table tennis brands sometimes release dud products, while relative unknowns can surprise with an outstanding table. If you're not sure which to choose, any of the four models listed on this page can provide an enjoyable playing surface - but the Butterfly model is my favorite for serious practice.
The good news is that most major retailers stock conversion tables - and many offer regular deals and sales. Online stores such as Amazon, Sears, and Walmart all sell them, along with more niche stores such as Mega Spin and Dick's.
If you don't have the space or budget for a full table tennis table, a conversion top can be a great alternative. They are cheaper, take up less space when stored and can still provide an excellent playing surface.
The key is to choose a ping pong table top that's thick enough for consistent bounce. Thin conversion tops are cheaper, but the bounce is horrible - plus they usually aren't durable enough to last a long time.
To summarize my top picks, here are my recommendations for a table topper:
I hope this article has helped you choose a ping pong table top you'll enjoy playing on. If you have any questions or feedback, please use the comments form below.