Monday, July 20, 2020

Intex Above Ground Frame Pools: What To Know Before You Buy

Wrap your Intex pool in reed fencing for an upgraded look
Image via Home Depot

Yesterday I set up an Intex 12ft above ground pool frame pool. Over the past couple months of trying to research it, I had such a hard time finding any kind of info in layman’s terms, so I thought I’d make a blog post to help you figure out: 
- How to buy one while they are sold out everywhere
- What you will need to prep and set up
- What chemicals and accessories you will need for an Intex above ground frame pool (or Bestway, or Summer Waves.)

I’ve heard these are sold out everywhere, but there were tons new in box on eBay, and of course, they all dropped $100 after I bought mine. I don’t have much patience for auctions anymore, so I sorted by Buy It Now + Accepts Offers and made offers until someone accepted. The 10ft frame pool kits with filter were significantly cheaper. 

If you’re in Georgia like me, you’ll get at least two more months of summer heat. That was enough for me to justify the cost. 

Speaking of cost: 
My pool cost what I would have spent had three friends with summer birthdays wanted to have a fine dining dinner + drinks out at a few bars or, way less than what I spend each year on a beach trip where 15+ people split one beach house for one week, carpool, and mostly cook at home. That was enough for me to justify my Covid quarantine pool, but I acknowledge what a luxury all of this is. 

What you will need to do to prep: 
It’s important to level the area where you will set it up, or you could risk the water putting too much pressure on one area and bursting. I chose a place that looked level to the eye, and then a very kind friend still had to spend many hours with a 2x4 and level making sure it really was smooth. Hand pick out any rocks and twigs. I did not require actual professional grading, but it was important to make sure the area is level. 

What else will I want to buy? 
- I bought two tarps significantly larger than the pool, 16x20. One to have a larger area to keep feet clean, one to cover the pool when not in use to keep bugs out and save water + conserve heat by preventing evaporation. Update: maybe just cover at night. It's 4PM here and the pool feels like a hot tub after being covered. 

  • I bought one heavy duty 12x12 tarp for under. Heavy duty tarps are $$$ so I went bare minimum size for that one. 
  • I have no problem stepping into the 30” tall pool, but you may want a ladder. 
  • My pool came with a filter. I probably could have saved some money by separately eBaying filter + pool, but I couldn’t find much info online and was worried about compatibility. Go ahead and get extra filter cartridges on eBay.
  • Huge bag of baking soda ($8), for bringing the water back to the right levels after a rain. Optional: get some pH down in case you overdue it. 
  • Clorox pool care starter kit for small pools. I was afraid to buy too much of any one chemical for a small, temporary pool, so this was the best choice for me while I get the hang of how to do the chemicals and test the water. I have since bought more test strips, and these small bottles of algae guard and clarifier, which I may not have needed if I realized from the start that you need to add a bit of pool shock weekly. Check out the chemicals guide linked at the bottom of this post! This may seem daunting, but I took a few min to set up recurring alarms on my phone of when to add what, and now it's easy peasy. 
  • Landscape staples for securing tarp
  • Pavers for under the feet. More surface area = less sinking. I had pressure treated wood scraps and used those instead. 
  • Outdoor extension cord (optional depending on your space)
  • Floating chlorine dispenser (some are really cute, like rubber duckies or flamingos)
  • I chose to buy 6ft x 16ft bamboo fencing for $25 and 6 stakes for it, since I’ll feel more relaxed with a little privacy from neighbors. I’d also like some 30” reed fencing to wrap the pool and make it look nicer. Free shipping from Home Depot on $45 or more. 
  • Backup filter cartridge, in case your filter arrives empty

Why not just do a stock tank / feed tank pool?
Had a bunch of questions about why I didn't just go with the hero of quarantine summer, the Pinterest lauded stock tank pool. 
- Cheaper (based on a figure from some very handy DIY friends who recently make one)
- Simpler (almost everything I needed was right in the box)
- I like the option to take this down at the end of the summer.
- Larger (I think. I haven’t seen 12ft tanks.)
- No worrying about creating watertight seals and pairing pump + filter properly. 
Also these tanks seem to be sold out everywhere, so I worry about folks who actually need them for livestock. This just seemed so much easier for a newbie like me, and lower commitment as a first time pool owner. 

Set up pointers: 
- Spread out your large tarp. Spread your small tarp on top of that (my pool did not come with a ground cover cloth.) Use landscape staples hammered into the ground to secure both.
- I set this up solo, and spent 4 hours hands on and trying to understand the instructions, not counting filling time. Would have been way faster with a helper. 
- I laughed when the instructions suggested baby powdering the beams to make them slide, but I wish I had done this. I ended up trying to use baking soda instead. If you want some anyway just for summer sweat, I like this talc-free Burt's Bees baby powder.

How to make it look better: 
See above for a reed fencing example, I think a person could even repurpose 30" busted bamboo blinds for the same effect. 

2 X Swimming Pool Shelf Brackets Suits 45Mm Top Rail / 35Mm image 5

Further reading: 
Swim University's guide to Intex chemicals


  1. So was the 12x30 ok in size and did u enjoy it..

    1. Yep it was perfect! Really glad I did that. Looking forward to getting it cleaned + prepped for this summer here soon!

  2. Replies
    1. 30". Since it's mostly adults using, we're able to just step over, and didn't require a ladder. For our heights, we can sit in there comfortably, or float!


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