What We Like
Inexpensive for a pool set
Requires very little maintenance
What We Don't Like
Requires a large, flat surface for setup
Needs access to a power source for the pump to work
Want to make a big splash with your kids this summer? An above-ground pool like the Intex 12ft x 30in Metal Frame Pool Set is a great option. Intex is known for its stellar reputation and low prices. We tested the company’s popular above-ground pool to see just how well it would do under child-induced duress.
Would the neighborhood youths flock to our yard like flies on honey for a dip? Would it hold up to a group of rowdy tweens? And, most importantly, how hard would it be to clean after a serious swim session filled with rambunctious kiddos jumping in, out, and back in again while covered in grass and dirt? Let’s dive in.
Setup Process: A literal snap
This pool arrived on our doorstep in one large box, which contained everything we needed to get started. Everything but water, that is. The box contained a pump, the laminated sidewalls, a DVD with video instructions, a couple of odds and ends to help hold the frame together, and the pieces to build the hard plastic and metal frame.
As expected given the minimal amount of parts in the box, setup was essentially snap-and-go. All it took was two people, some patience, and some elbow grease—we didn’t even need the DVD to get the frame built.
In order to get the main part of the frame built, we had to pin the side supports in the corners and then pin the beams, which only works if you have one person pinning while the other person is holding the pieces in place on the opposite end. The same goes for the liner—we needed one person to hold the heavy-duty pool liner up while the other person slid the metal beams through the liner sleeves.
We let a line of rambunctious kids hop in and out and back in again, day after day. The frame held up to the repeated pushes and pulls.
Once that was done, we simply snapped together the hard plastic support pieces of the frame with the metal ones and secured it with the thick band to give the framework a little bit of extra security against rambunctious kids. The paper instructions were plenty sufficient to get the job done, and it took less than half an hour from start to finish.
It is important to choose the right place for the pool. The location should be a flat surface cleared of sharp objects, with four feet of space all the way around. And yet, it needs to be within a reasonable distance of an outlet and water source. The manufacturer site warns that sand should not be used to level out the ground, as it could shift, putting pressure on the frame or causing it to become unstable.
You should also clear out any hardy grasses that could grow through the liner, including Bermuda and St. Augustine. It’s best to throw a tarp down underneath the pool to provide a barrier. If punctures do occur, the set comes with a repair kit.
The flat surface we found in our yard was pretty far from the side of our house, but we were able to connect the pool pump to a power source via an extension cord. As for water, we had to run a hose from a spigot on a second-story patio down to the pool. It took between six and eight hours to fill the pool to the fill line, which is about 90 percent of the 1,718-gallon capacity.
Design: No need to reinvent the wheel
Let us be quite frank here: The design of this pool is very basic. It’s a simple frame and pump system, which is about what we expected given the price. But in our opinion, the basic design is a huge selling point. We had no issues with setup, and should a part malfunction or get damaged, it can be easily replaced.
To test the pool’s resilience, we let a line of rambunctious kids hop in and out and back in again, day after day. The frame held up to the repeated pushes and pulls. A 70-pound child who wasn’t quite tall enough to step over the side to get into the water kept hurling herself up and over, often catching a piece of the frame on her foot. She even bounced while sitting on the side at one point—which, looking back was perhaps not the safest move, and we wouldn’t recommend—but still, she didn’t warp or damage any of the pieces.
Even with five or six kids in the water, there was still plenty room for them to stretch out and float without taking an accidental elbow to the nose.
While not large enough to feel intrusive in the yard, this pool is still big enough to accommodate a lot of kids. Our 8-year-old and 12-year-old were able to invite a few friends for a swimming session, and even with five or six kids in the water, there was still plenty of room for them to stretch out and float without taking an accidental elbow to the nose. This pool could easily fit a few teenagers, too. They wouldn’t be able to float as the little ones did—the water is too shallow—but they’d be able to hang out in it while cooling off and taking selfies, which is all our teenagers want to do anyway.
Maintenance: A breeze to keep clean
Overall, this above ground pool is pretty easy to maintain thanks to the 110- to 120-volt Krystal Clear Cartridge Filter pump system, which, according to the Intex website, has a flow rate of 530 gallons per hour. That isn’t bad for an under-$200 pool. The filtration system was simple to use (switch it on or off as you see fit, and it does the rest), and it proved to be effective at keeping the water clean.
We used the pool with the pump off the majority of the time and switched it on after heavy use by dirt-covered kids. It managed to combat the constant influx of dirt and grime from little feet jumping in and out of the pool. Our younger ones refused to wear flip flops when walking to or from the pool, so they gave this filtration system a run for its money between the bits of grass, leaves, and dirt stuck to their feet. Even with that influx of grime, the water turned from cloudy to clear every time we ran the pump.
The filtration system was simple to use, and it proved to be effective at keeping the water clean.
We did have to spend a bit of time scooping sticks and larger clumps of debris out of the bottom of the pool and removing any leftover particles from the filter, but that was to be expected. Keeping it covered when not in use will help to prevent some of this.
Note that, according to the manufacturer website, the pump and filter won’t completely prevent algae growth. In order to do that, Intex suggests purchasing an Intex Krystal Clear Saltwater System, which runs about $140 on the low end. A saltwater system will help maintain the correct chlorine and pH levels in the pool, which is necessary not only to prevent algae issues but also to kill any harmful bacteria that may be looming in the pool.
Maintaining the right chlorine levels and pH balance can be tricky to do on your own with chemicals—we struggled with this back when we had an in-ground pool in a humid, blazing-hot climate—and that saltwater system greatly simplifies that process.
Winterizing: Drain and disassemble
During winter, the brand recommends draining, disassembling, and storing the pieces in a safe location. To drain, remove the cap from the valve on the exterior pool wall and hook up a hose.
Price: A drop in the pool bucket
At under $200, this above-ground pool is a steal, and it can often be found at a discount. The construction is solid, and the pump system works like a charm to combat the dirt, grime, and gunk that comes with having kids jump in and out of a pool.
Competition: Top contender for the price
There are a number of similarly sized above-ground pools that compete with Intex’s 12-foot set, and one of the top options is the 12-foot x 33-inch Summer Waves Active Frame Pool. The sizes of the two pools are comparable; the Summer Waves pool is only 3 inches deeper.
There are a number of other differences between the two pools, though. The Summer Waves pool is certainly nicer looking, thanks to the woven details on the exterior, but it is slightly more expensive. Overall, the Intex won us over with its quality construction and reasonable price.
Your kids, wallet, and sanity will thank you!
A day trip to the water park with a couple of kids in tow can easily top $100, so we love that you can buy the Intex 12ft x 30in Metal Frame Pool Set and get a summer’s worth of entertainment for around the same price. This durable above-ground pool is a solid investment, especially if you’re looking for ways to coax the kids into being active under the summer sun.
- Product Name 12ft x 30in Metal Frame Pool Set Filter Pump
- Product Brand Intex
- SKU 28211EH
- Price $189.99
- Weight 55 lbs.
- Pool Height 36 in. or less
- Water Capacity 1,718 gallons
- Recommended Age 6+
- Material Puncture-resistant 3-ply material; laminated PVC walls; steel frame
- What’s Included Prism frame pieces, dual suction outlet fittings, 110-120V filter pump, instructional DVD, puncture-resistant 3-ply durable material pool sidewalls, pool repair kit/patches