How to refurbish a ping pong table

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so today’s post is all about something green. Our new(ish) ping pong table.

Refurbished pingpong table

This ping pong table was a bit of an experiment. We found the top (in two pieces) in the barn when we first moved in. It was pretty dirty and had even been pooped on by the swallows that live in the barn.

I am always optimistic, so one day last summer, I dragged the two halves outside. I have no idea how I managed to move them by myself because each piece is extremely heavy. I haven’t been able to carry them on my own since. I scrubbed with a brush and sprayed with the hose until all of the poop and dirt (and a fair portion of the original green paint) washed away.

Damaged pingpong tabletop

Matt did not share my optimism that the table could be rehabilitated. That night he tucked the pieces deep into a corner of the driveshed. I have no idea how, though, because the tabletop is heavy even for him to move on his own.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the project, Matt did help me carry the top into the house. Then, one weekend while he was out of town, I went to work.

This project was a total experiment, and I’m sure ping pong purists out there will be horrified. But (spoiler alert) everything worked out, so I’m sharing my technique with you.

There were two big issues with the table: 1) We had no legs to go with the top. 2) The top itself was not in great shape.

The leg issue was easy to solve with six trestle style legs from Ikea (Lerberg).

Ikea Lerberg legs for a pingpong table

The top took a little more effort.

I started with a coat of fresh white paint over the lines. After sleeping on it for the night, I realized I really should have sanded the top first, so the next morning I basically started all over again. I sanded down the top, which was not an indoor task. Sanding resulted in a fine green powder over the whole room–not the best scenario with our nice light carpet. There was a defined line between where the drop cloth had protected the carpet and where the green dust had floated beyond the drop cloth’s reach. I was very glad Matt was not home to see the mess I had made.

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

The Shop Vac erased the green mist, and I was able to get back to the painting.

White paint went on again, and, then once it was dry, I taped off the lines. Since painter’s tape doesn’t come in ping pong line widths, I had to very carefully trim it.

Cutting painters tape to narrower width

Then the tape got a quick coat of white paint to seal it, and after some drying time I moved onto the green. Since I wasn’t sure if this was actually going to work, I used some regular latex paint that we had left over from Matt’s office. It’s Manor Green from Benjamin Moore in case anyone’s interested.

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

The green took about three coats, I think. On the final coat, I carefully peeled off the tape to reveal the white lines. Some of the white flaked off (I think giving the white more time to dry, or even doing two coats would have been helpful).

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

Chips aside, the finish was a massive improvement over the table’s previous state. In fact, Matt was so impressed when he arrived home that he started to think that maybe I wasn’t entirely crazy in wanting to save the table.

So now I had a tabletop and I had table legs. How to put them together?

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

It turned out that the Lerberg legs are a bit shorter than regulation ping pong height of 30 inches–hey, I have some standards. Using a few 2x3s and my Kreg Jig I built a frame to attach to the underside of the tabletop.

Using a Kreg Jig to screw 2x3s together

I screwed the frame to the tabletop… or at least to one half. The top ended up being too unwieldy and heavy as one big piece, so I didn’t screw everything together. We set the top on the frame and the frame on the legs, and we think each piece is heavy enough to stay in place on its own.

Frame for the underside of a pingpong table

The six Lerberg trestles mean the table is very leggy. However, we really needed the support in the middle of the table as well as at each end.

We got a very simple cheap net at Walmart. It’s called an “everywhere table tennis” from EastPoint, and we just clipped it onto the table. Again, I wasn’t sure that this refurbishment was actually going to work, so I didn’t feel the need to invest in a professional net.

Anywhere table tennis net by East Point

With the table set up, Matt broke out the paddles, tapped one of the balls across the net, and it bounced. It worked! We had a functional ping pong table.

I had no ping pong skills, but after a week of daily practice, I’ve improved a lot. I finally won a game against Matt yesterday (he also may have let me win one). My ping pong prowess aside, refurbishing the table was a definite win.

Have you ever rehabbed a piece of furniture that seemed beyond hope? Anyone have any ping pong pointers? How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

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8 thoughts on “How to refurbish a ping pong table

  1. Hey, great job! It looks almost like new. I don’t have any ping pong pointers, but I remember that it’s quite a bit of fun. We had a table growing up, and my brother and I had many a tournament. Enjoy!

  2. Looks great! In my previous house, I had a huge upstairs game room and I had a regulation ping pong table. I played a little, but the room was not heated or air conditioned so there were several months that it was no fun to be up there!

    You did such a great job refurbishing your table! I hope you enjoy lots of games on it!

    I wore green today, that is about the extent of my St. Patrick’s Day celebrating!

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