Intex is arguably the top manufacturer of above-ground pools, which is no surprise given the strong recommendations found in pool owners' Intex Metal Frame reviews and Intex Ultra Frame reviews. Each type of pool is available in several sizes; the Metal Frame pools are circular and the Ultra Frame pools are rectangular or round. (There's also a line of oval pools that are a hybrid of inflatable and metal frame.)
The metal-frame variety consists of a multi-layer PVC lining attached to a painted (white) rust-resistant steel frame. Intex Metal Frame pools reviews for the 15' x 48" model (starting at $240, Amazon) -- one of our picks for best cheap swimming pool -- commend its durability and stability. In a review on Sears.com, a parent writes appreciatively of the metal frame, which includes a ring around the top that offers children a safe and sturdy grab bar. Consumers also like the speedy, tools-free setup; all the metal parts pin or snap into place, and several Intex pool reviews report that two people can assemble the 15' x 48" pool in less than an hour.
Intex's Ultra Frame line of swimming pools also earns acclaim from consumers. The rectangular 18' x 9' x 52" model is the smallest and cheapest of the four-sided pools, which are held up by galvanized steel piping. As with the metal-frame pools, the shell of the Ultra Frame pool also serves as the liner. In Intex Ultra Frame reviews on Poolproducts.com, owners rave about the fast, user-friendly assembly -- look ma, no tools! -- because the pieces click together. The job probably requires two people, though. The durability of this model also impresses owners, who comment in reviews posted on Intheswim.com that leaving the pool standing over the winter, even in Michigan and New Hampshire, doesn't cause any damage.
All the accolades aside, Intex is not immune to consumer carping about the pumps, filters, and skimmers that come with these models. Intex above-ground pools reviews simply say the standard cartridge filter pumps don't sufficiently scrub and circulate the water -- the filter isn't big enough and the pump is too weak -- and the solids skimmer is too chintzy to keep the water clean and sparkling. Many owners write about upgrading to more powerful systems, all to good effect. Another alternative involves buying a sand filter or Intex's saltwater system, which dispenses with the need to dump chlorine and other chemicals into the water. The larger Intex Ultra Frame pools usually come with the sand filter or saltwater system. Other minor gripes that we noted in Intex above-ground pools reviews concern the occasional appearance of pinhole leaks in the liners and the need for a sturdier ladder.
The Metal Frame line of Intex pools comes in seven sizes, with a starting price of $150 for the smallest (10' x 30") and swelling to $935 for the largest (24' x 52"). Round Ultra Frame pools measure 16' x 48" (starting at $545) or 18' x 52" (starting at $800), and the three rectangular models start at 18' x 9' x 52" and balloon out to 24' x 12' x 52" (starting at $1,070) and 32' x 16' x 52" (starting at $1,528). All the pools come as a kit. The metal frame models minimally include a filter pump, with more goodies added (e.g., ladder, ground cloth, cover, volley ball set, maintenance supplies) as the size and price increase. The two round Ultra Frame pool kits include a filter pump, ladder, ground cloth, and pool cover; the smaller model also comes with a maintenance kit and the larger comes with a volley ball set and deluxe maintenance kit. The rectangular model kits include a filter pump, ladder, ground cloth, cover, volley ball set, and deluxe maintenance kit.
All in all, you can't go wrong with Intex. Consumers' Intex above-ground pools reviews attest to their value in a variety of dimensions, from longevity (five years is about tops) to ease-of-assembly to total fun. We're convinced.