Once you have found a paddle that suits your hand and playing style, you want to get the most possible use out of it. Fortunately, many table tennis rackets are made specifically so that players can replace the rubbers as they wear out or become damaged so that you can keep using the paddle you love for longer.
In this post, we’ll walk through how to replace the rubber on your paddle and cover some of the reasons why you should consider replacing them.
Why change the rubber on your paddle?
There are several reasons to change the rubber on your table tennis paddle, but these are the most common:
The rubber has become damaged
Over time the glue that holds your rubber on to the blade will begin to wear off and your rubber will start to peel off. You can get table tennis glue to stick it back on but if the rubber is starting to come off it won’t be long before it’s off completely and you might need to replace it. Over time the rubber’s pips can get crushed or come off completely so again this might be a sign that you need to replace it to get the best out of your paddle.
The rubber has degraded over time
The rubber and sponge layers that make up the rubber on a table tennis paddle over time will begin to break down. If you notice spots on the surface where it’s not as firm or the bounce and spin are inconsistent or different it’s another sign to replace your rubbers.
You want to improve or upgrade your rubber
The rubber and sponge are a big part of how you generate power, spin and control with your racket. So, if you want to enhance one of those you may want to upgrade to a new rubber that will boost your game. Quite often players will choose different styles of rubber for each side of the paddle so they can have more options when choosing what type of shot they want to play.
How often should you change your table tennis rubbers?
Because some amount of damage or degradation is inevitable, every table tennis player needs to replace their rubbers periodically. How often you change your rubbers depends a lot on:
- How much you play. This will determine how much wear and tear your rubbers will be exposed to overtime.
- How much care you take of your paddle. Since heat, cold, UV light, and simple dust and dirt can reduce the lifespan of the rubber.
- Your experience level. Since intermediate players often want to try different rubbers to see what is best for their playing style.
Most casual table tennis players will need to replace their table tennis rubbers about once a year, while more frequent players may need to replace them every season. The rubber should always be changed if it shows any sign of damage or their performance changes at all.
What equipment you’ll need to change your table tennis rubber
Firstly, you need to have a table tennis paddle on which the rubber can be changed. Some paddles are not designed to have the rubber replaced, and use “permanent” rubber. Make sure that you have one that can be replaced before attempting this.
If you have a paddle with replaceable rubbers, you will need:
- Your new rubbers
- A glue designed specifically for sticking table tennis rubber (we like this one)
- An applicator or sponge (which often comes with the glue)
- A rolling pin or hard brayer
- A sharp pair of scissors or a craft or utility knife
- Edge tape (optional)
How to remove the old rubber
To remove the old rubber, gently and carefully peel it off along the whole surface of the blade. Use even, gentle pressure and be patient, using a “peeling” motion rather than a “ripping” motion. The video below shows how to do it properly.
Once you have removed the old rubbers, inspect the blade to ensure that it is clean and smooth. You may need to rub or scrub away any old glue residue that’s leftover. If the blade is damaged or there’s a lot of glue left over, you may want to use some soft sandpaper to smooth the surface, although a severely damaged blade should be replaced.
How to apply the new rubber
Once your blade is clean and prepared, you are ready to apply your new rubbers. Follow these steps:
- Apply a thin layer of glue to the back of one of your rubbers.
- Use a sponge, brush or even a credit card to make sure the glue is applied in a thin, even layer. Take your time to make sure the coat of glue is even.
- Allow the rubber to sit while you apply a layer of glue to the blade.
- Use the sponge or brush to ensure that the layer of glue on the blade is also thin and even.
- Wait for the glue to dry on both surfaces until it is tacky and sticky to the touch, but not wet. For the rubber, this will typically take 5-10 minutes. On the blade, it will typically take 3-8 minutes, but check the instructions that come with your glue to determine optimal drying times.
- Line up the bottom edge of the rubber with the bottom edge of the blade. If your rubber has a logo, it should be centered over the bottom of the blade.
- Curling the top of the rubber up away from the surface, and press the bottom edge of the rubber down into place.
- Unroll the rubber slowly down onto the blade surface, preventing air bubbles.
- Smooth and press the new rubber into place.
- Use a rolling pin or brayer to press and smooth the rubber down.
- Use a craft knife to trim the edges of the rubber down to the edges of your blade.
- Repeat these steps for the other side of the paddle.
- Then at the end, you can always add some table tennis edge tape to put on the edges of the blade and give it a nice finish.
If you frequently replace your blades and use a water-based glue, you should consider using a blade sealant. A coating of sealant protects the surface of the paddle from repeated peeling and gluing and preserves the surface of the paddle.
Replacing your table tennis rubber allows you to keep using the paddle that is right for you while replacing or upgrading your rubbers as needed. It’s a great way to get the most value out of your equipment and keep your game at its most competitive.
But remember, you can’t replace rubbers on all paddles. Some are designed for beginners and so the rubbers aren’t meant to be taken off. Always make sure your bat can have new rubbers put on or you’ll be having to buy a new one.
If you haven’t got a paddle yet and want to know which ones we recommend head over here to read the reviews of some of our favorites.