A few table tennis nets are sold together with the tables, but mostly you will have to purchase them independently. If your net is going to be used in International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) sanctioned events, it will have to meet the requirements of ITTF.
The ITTF demands that the upright post must be a dark mesh and have a white or pale yellow top not more than 15mm high. The mesh should be made of spun fibre rather than a single filament, and the knots ought to be regular and firm. The net must be 1.83m long and 15.25cm high.
The bottom of the net is supposed to be as close as possible but not touching the playing surface, while its end should be attached to the supporting posts from top to bottom.
However, if you are just up for some recreational play or trying to get a cardiovascular workout, you don't have to stress it. Your table tennis net doesn't have to meet all these requirements. This offers you a vast range of nets to choose from.
Types of a Table Tennis Net
Clamp and Screw
This type of net comes with tension and height adjusters that ensure the net is the appropriate height and doesn't sag in the middle. It also comes with posts clamped down firmly on the table's surface and screwed tightly to keep the net taut.
This is the type of table tennis net used in ITTF sanctioned events. So, if you are looking to go professional, consider this line of nets. Clamp and screw table tennis net comes at a much higher cost compared to the rest.
A retractable table tennis net is a rollable net that is up to 2m long. It can be adjusted to fit any table with a thickness not exceeding 5cm, including your normal at-home table that you may have converted into a table tennis table.
Retractable nets are the most economical on the list and easy to set up for fun-play as they are not designed for professional use.
This is a mid-range table tennis net that consists of a spring-activated clip post. It is made of high-quality steel with internal rubber padding that prevents the clip from scratching the table.
This type of table tennis net is so quick to set up, making it a popular choice among beginners and intermediate players. It is also ideal for recreational play or training.
Other Things to Consider
The official table tennis laws require that the net bears a white stripe along its top edge and must not be wider than 15mm. It may come in a dark green, dark blue, or black shade. However, if you are not looking to go into an ITTF sanctioned event, you can play around with colours.
You should consider a soft dark mesh net made from spun fibre if you are getting a net for serious play. However, if you are just up for some fun play, this should be the least of your worries.
You will also need to buy a net gauge alongside your table tennis net. A net gauge is made of plastic material. It allows you to set your table tennis net to the required height, 15.25 cm high. You may also use the gauge to determine the thickness and flatness of your table tennis bat rubbers to align with the ITTF requirements.
A retractable table tennis net does not necessarily require a height and tension adjuster if it is used for casual play. Nonetheless, it would be best if you still considered it because a saggy net will spoil the fun.
A sagging net can kill your play experience; therefore, you must consider a table tennis net that is sturdy and reliable. See to it that you assess the attachment mechanism to ensure it is steady enough or can be adjusted to prevent it from sagging during play.
Rubber protectors are sheets designed to protect your rubbers from getting dust and dirt from the playing surface.
Some nets are time-consuming to set up than others; a retractable table tennis net is so quick to set up, whereas clamp and screw nets take longer
If you are purchasing a net for outdoor use, go for an all-weather table tennis net to brace the tough outdoor conditions.
If you are a beginner or an intermediate player, you should consider a retractable net or clip-on. Not only are they cost-effective, but also easy to set up.
If you are training for official plays, you will benefit the most from a clamp and screw net, as this one is ITTF approved.
Ease of Setup
The ease of setup varies with each table tennis net. A retractable net is the easiest to set up. The clamp and screw table tennis net is difficult to set up and requires a bit of patience.
Settle for a table tennis net that is firm and steady enough to at least last an entire play session without sagging.
It is ideal to purchase a table tennis net that comes with a warranty so that you can salvage your investment in case of a malfunction.
It saves you time and energy when you know your purchasing limits, as it will help you narrow down the available nets.
Table Tennis Net Maintenance
If well maintained, table tennis nets could last you over a year. After several uses, you will notice that your net requires cleaning. Do not wash your table tennis net in a machine, as it will reduce its lifespan. Instead, soak your net in warm water with a small amount of detergent and let it sit for 30-60 minutes, then gently hand-wash. Give it a rinse, and then allow your net to air dry before using it again.