Carbon vs Wood Table Tennis Blades: Which Type is Best?

Choosing the type of blade for your paddle is one of the most important decisions a ping pong player can make. In this article, I’ll compare all-wood vs carbon fibre table tennis blades so you can decide which option best suits your playing style.

Carbon vs Wood Blade

Carbon table tennis blades are stiffer than all-wood blades. The stiffness of a carbon blade gives it more speed, but deadens the vibrations that the player will feel when the paddle hits the ball. All-wood blades are better for learning techniques because they offer more feeling.

Blade Layers

To properly compare wood and carbon blades, you need to understand the composition of a typical blade. Blades have several layers, typically 5 or 7, and these layers are usually made from either wood or carbon. You can find “all-wood” blades very easily, but all-carbon blades are much rarer due to the ITTF’s regulations.

The International Table Tennis Federation states that a blade much consist of at least 85% wood and any other materials used much total less than 7.5% of the thickness (or 0.35 mm, which ever is lowest).

So when someone refers to a “carbon” blade, it’s almost always a composition of carbon and wood. For example, you can get a 7-ply blade which has 5-layers of wood and 2-layers of carbon. Or you can get a 5-ply blade which has 3-layers of wood and 2-layers of carbon. Carbon blades are often referred to as “composite blades”.

It probably goes without saying, but 7-ply blades are thicker and heavier than 5-ply blades (if they are made from the same material). A thicker and heavier blade will offer less “feeling” and slower reactions, but more power and speed. This generally suits players who stand further back from the table with a more offensive style.

All-Wood Blades

Wood blades offer relatively low power and speed but are easy to control. Beginners, and any player who is learning a new technique should use a wood blade.

All-wood blades make it easier for the player to feel the vibrations that occur when the paddle hits the ball. This makes it far easier to learn new techniques because you can really feel when a shot has been performed successfully or unsuccessfully, allowing you to replicate successful shots much more easily. This makes the process of learning new techniques far more efficient and faster.

Some players also will notice that wood blades make it easier to apply spin to the ball because they are not as stiff. However, it’s the rubber that will make way more difference when it comes to applying spin.

Wood blades offer better feel than carbon blades because they are not as stiff.

The issue with this, is that it offers the player less power and therefore slower shots. That’s why you’ll need to put more effort into a shot to achieve the same speed with a wood blade compared to a carbon blade.

Take a look at my guide to blade hardness and stiffness to learn more about these characteristics and why they are so important.

Wood blades are also heavier than carbon blades which can slow down the reactions of the player. Typically, players who stand closer to the table will prefer a lighter blade because it’s more responsive and better for counter-attacking.

Check out my comparison between heavy and light blades to learn more about this topic.

Another complaint players may have with wood blades, is that they find them to be inconsistent. Wood changes over-time which means the bounce can weaken at the edges. Also, since wood is a natural material, it’s bound to be more inconsistent even when brand new compared to man-made carbon. This inconsistency can affect the bounce.

Advantages

  • Offers better “feeling”
  • Best for learning new techniques
  • Easier to control

Disadvantages

  • Less power and speed
  • Heavier (slower reactions)
  • Less consistent

All-Wood Blade (image links to Amazon)

Carbon Blades

Carbon blades offer limited feel but better performance compared to all-wood blades. The carbon layers mean the blade is stiffer, this limits the vibrations you’ll feel when you hit the ball, making it more difficult to learn new techniques efficiently.

On the flip side, the increased stiffness gives you more power and hence more speed. This is why many players use a wood blade for learning techniques and then switch to a carbon blade to increase their performance when they’ve mastered the skill properly, as the extra speed means that they can be harder to control for beginners.

Carbon blades are also lighter than all-wood blades which helps to improve the player’s reactions. This is useful when playing closer to the table, as you can respond to difficult shots more quickly with a lighter blade.

Another advantage of carbon blades that is often overlooked, is their consistency. Being a man-made material, carbon fibre offers a very consistent bounce across the entire blade, and is unlikely to deteriorate over-time.

It’s important to remember though that not all carbon blades are made equal. Before we discussed 5-ply and 7-ply blades. The arrangement of the layers will also make a difference to the overall performance. For example, having the carbon fibre layers closer to the rubber will offer better speed, whereas having then closer to the centre will offer better control.

So for a very offensive-style fast blade with lots of power, having the carbon layers located closer to the rubber rather than the core of the blade will be more useful. Having the carbon layers located closer to the core will give you a more balanced blade, offering better stiffness (power and speed) than an all-wood blade, but with more feeling than a blade which has it’s outer layers made from carbon.

Advantages

  • More power and speed
  • Lighter (faster reactions)
  • More consistent

Disadvantages

  • Does not offer much “feeling”
  • Not suitable for learning new techniques
  • Harder to control

Carbon blade (image links to Amazon

Which Blade is Best?

This really depends on your skill level and playing style.

Players who are just starting out will need to use an all-wood blade because it offers better feeling to allow them to properly learn new techniques more efficiently. Carbon blades will add speed, which suits offensive-style players, but will be less suitable for defensive-style players, regardless of their current skill level.

That’s why you’ll often see some professionals still using all-wood blades, because a lot of it is down to personal preference. However, most pros do use carbon blades.

Professionals who use all-wood blades: Kristian Karllson, Tibhar Lebesson and Miu Hirano

Professionals who use carbon blades: Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin and Ma Long

The best thing you can do is try both types of blade (but only once you’ve mastered the techniques you will be using), and figure out which you like the most. If you’re switching from an all-wood blade to a carbon blade, you should make sure that you are a competent player and aren’t using any new techniques. It may take a bit of adjustment, but give it a good try before making your decision.

Carbon and all-wood blades play different levels of emphasis on speed and control. Here is a table comparing some of JOOLA’s blades so you can see the different ratings.

JOOLA BladeTypeSpeedControlWeight
Air CarbonCarbon925472 g
Air FibreCarbon936060 g
Challenger CarbonCarbon977690 g
Classic CarbonCarbon948892 g
Challenger AllWood879290 g
Classic AllWood889680 g
K5Wood789585 g
VivaWood8010085 g

Here you can see the trends:

  • Carbon fibre blades are lighter than all-wood blades
  • Carbon fibre blades have a better speed rating than wood blades
  • All-wood blades have a better control rating than carbon blades

It’s Not Just About Blade Material

Although blade material is very important, it’s not the only factor to consider. You also need to think about:

  • Hardness
  • Thickness
  • Weight
  • The number of layers

I’ve written the following articles so you can understand the bigger picture:

Game and Entertain

Hey, I'm Heather, the owner and creator of gameandentertain.com. I made this website to help you learn more about setting up a home entertainment and games room. My favourite games are ping pong, darts and pool, but I also have experience in other games which I aim to share using this website.

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