For starters, this post will not tell you which one to buy (sorry!). Simply because much like every child is different, every home is also different. Both of these products have amazing qualities. I am just here to help in your decision by rounding up my pros and cons of both the durable Tuff Tray and the flexibility of the Flisat.
Let's first dive in to why you would get a Tuff Tray or a Flisat table in the first place. Most families will buy one or the other in order for their children to engage in messy play, or sensory play. This type of play is fantastic for children's development as it stimulates all five senses, provides excellent hands-on learning opportunities and contains mess in one area.
Full disclosure, I have both a Tuff Tray and a Flisat table. The Flisat is a newer purchase (just under one year) and I have had a Tuff tray for around 3 years. At the moment, I never use the Tuff Tray at home, unless I am setting up something outside only and I feel I could use it. I use some for my sessions as they are great for designated areas and easy to hose down afterward but I wouldn't use one indoors again.
Now, let's get down to the differences between the two to help you make a decision on which one (if any!) to purchase.
Tuff trays were once the more cost-efficient option, but in recent years with increased production and shipping costs, they have shot up in price. Average cost for a Tuff Tray is around €30-40 now and if you factor in a stand to add height that's another €60-80 on top.
The Flisat Table is listed at €69 plus you would need the two Trofast containers at €4 each. You can also get a stool (or a few) for as little as €15
The Tuff tray is super awkward and cumbersome to move around, empty and clean. It can also be tricky to store due to its size. It's about 1m x 1m so it would need ample space if it was to be a permanent fixture in your playroom or living room. Due to the size, it can also be difficult for small children to access the entire tray if on a stand. However, it is amazing for floor play as children fit very nicely sitting in the middle of the tray surrounded by mess! As it is large, it is also great for several kids to engage with it at the same time.
The Flisat is a part of your playroom furniture. It has a great aesthetic and is very neat in its appearance. The size is great for children to stand at or sit around, but it cannot really be used for sitting on the floor! The trays can come out and be placed on a towel on the floor for younger toddlers or babies to engage with.
Here is where the Tuff tray shines! It is the Queen of messy play. There is so much space on the tray for kids to go wild with their mess. Water, jelly. flour, paint, slime, the Tuff Tray can handle it all! Plonk a baby in the middle of a Tuff Tray full of gloop or sand and they will be delighted for at least 10 minutes. Older kids can stand around the tray adding, mixing, pouring, swirling and splashing. If you have a child who loves to get their hands dirty, then a Tuff Tray is probably your best bet.
The Flisat has its limitations regarding mess. It has two plastic containers (can be shallow or deep) that can contain some messy materials such as water, slime, rice or sand. The remainder of the table is wood so it is more susceptible to water damage and staining. Children can still partake in active sensory play, just maybe not as wild as they could with a Tuff tray.
The Tuff tray is large, heavy, and pretty awkward to clean. I would always clean it outside with a hose and usually getting it from inside to outside was pretty comical as you try to tilt it through the doors (but not too much so it doesn't spill onto the floor)! For this reason, I only use Tuff Trays outdoors. If there is alot of messy material on them it can also be hard to empty it all into a bag or bin as the tray is so large. In saying that, the plastic nature of the tray makes it very washable with soapy water and a hose and it dries quickly ready to go again!
The Flisat is also very easy to clean. With the two smaller removable trays the material inside can easily be binned then washed out in the kitchen sink. The wooden part of the table can be wiped down with a damp cloth if needed.
I can honestly say both of these products are pretty amazing when it comes to durability. The Tuff Tray can at times become warped and bouncy based on how they are made and they can occasionally become scratched or scuffed. Nevertheless, they are extremely hard-wearing and have even survived me driving my car over one (by accident!) I have also used Tuff trays at my sessions for almost 2 years and they are still in perfect working condition. That's alot of shoving in and out of my car, hundreds of kids jumping on and lots of scrubbing, they have been through alot! The stand for the Tuff Tray needs to be well maintained on the other hand to avoid becoming rusted, stiff and flaky.
The Flisat is also extremely durable, though possibly less so as it is an indoor, wooden piece of furniture. It has been climbed on, used for lots of water play, and used as a chair by both children and grown ups and it still works just as well as it did on the first day. The Trofast containers are also still in excellent condition.
The Tuff Tray has its own hashtag, that's how much it is being used now in early years services all around the world. It is amazing for providing engaging play opportunities, invitations to play and encouraging independent play. You can take almost anything and use it on a Tuff Tray, containing mess, blocks, paints etc in one handy area. Tuff Trays can also be used both indoors and outdoors, allowing for flexibility. There is nothing really you can do with a Flisat that you cannot do with a Tuff Tray.
Similarly, there is nothing you can do with a Tuff Tray that you cannot do with a Flisat. It also provides the same amount of play opportunities just on a smaller scale. I also like the Flisat as you can use it to draw, colour, or paint on without the table bouncing up and down, as can happen with a Tuff Tray.
Overall, it really is going to come down to a matter of personal choice. Both of them have amazing qualities, but I would argue that the Tuff Tray has slightly more cons than pros, just due to its sheer size. In our home, the Flisat would get alot more use as it is more suited to my daughter's interests and fits into our home better, We have had some amazing Tuff tray moments, and likely will again with the arrival of baby #2. I hope this guide has helped you make a choice, they really are both great options that can grow with your child through the years and no matter which one (if any!) you invest in, it will be a great addition to your playful life!
Other options if you don't want to consider either:
Under the bed storage containers
Large plant saucers/planting trays
Washing up basins
Shallow Gorilla Tub
Some crates and a board of wood
Any coffee table from the charity shop
Let me know if you found this helpful!