Spring has finally arrived, so you know that the hot summer is just around the bend. Some people don’t like going to the beach because they don’t like the sand and the mass number of people. Others don’t have the time, so how do they keep cool? A private pool at home.
Though in-ground pools look better than the above-ground ones, they are much more expensive. For that reason, many people choose an easy-to-install, above ground pool. The two top companies for these pools are Intex and Coleman. Which is the better brand?
Both Intex and Coleman are well-known brands for quality products. Intex is known mostly for its inflatable products, such as toys, boats, airbeds, and other furniture. Coleman is famous for its camping equipment, such as tents and coolers.
Let’s make a quick comparison of the two brands, and you can choose the one you think would be best for you.
A Close Look at Intex Above Ground Pools
Intex pools come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so you can be sure to find one that will meet your needs. Some are small and shallow, which is perfect for little kids or floaters, while others are large enough to hold the whole family, plus some friends.
Intex is known for its simple designs. Its smaller pools have a ring around the top that you fill with air. Since air is light, it floats on top of the water. That air-filled ring is what holds the pool sides up. There is no frame.
Its larger above ground pools have metal prism frames that are powder-coated to prevent them from rusting. It’s a sturdy metal that will hold the pool sides standing tall and durable for a long time.
Liners and ground cloth
The liner of these pools is just as durable as the frame. It has three layers of PVC that is strong enough to protect against punctures.
When you purchase an Intex pool, it always includes a ground cloth for an extra cushion between the pool and any sharp rocks or twigs, a ladder to aid in getting in and out, and a cover to keep out falling debris and bird droppings.
Installation and Maintenance
Intex is also known for its easy installation process. The pools come with a detailed installation kit that’s easy to understand and follow, as well as a DVD in case you need to see someone putting it together.
Intex pools are easy to maintain as long as you keep up with it. The filters do an excellent job of keeping the water clean.
Intex is also known for its excellent customer service. They’re easy to reach and will help you with any need you may have.
There are a couple of downsides to Intex pools, though. First is the filter. The filters that come with the pool kits are not very good quality. They often have trouble maintaining good suction, and don’t remove as much of the debris as they should.
You may want to consider purchasing a better quality, sturdier ladder. The one supplied by Intex does the job, but it is very shaky and doesn’t feel very secure.
- Wide range of sizes
- Simple design
- Rust-resistant powder-coated metal prism frames
- Durable three-ply, puncture-resistant PVC liner
- Includes ground cloth, ladder, pool cover
- Easy-to-follow installation kit and DVD instructions
- Easy maintenance
- Customer service is easy to reach, and very accommodating
- Ladder shakes quite a bit
- Pump isn’t the best quality
A Close Look at Coleman Above Ground Pools
Coleman is a company that is known for making quality camping equipment in the USA. It has added swimming pools of all shapes, sizes, and depths to its product line.
Installation and Maintenance
Coleman above ground pools have simple installation instructions and don’t require the use of many tools. Their frames are heavy-duty steel, made with a unique Power Steel Technology that is resistant to corrosion and rust. It is strong and durable so that it will last you for years to come.
Coleman pools are above all others when it comes to maintenance. Most pools require regular maintenance, but the filters on Coleman pools keep the water clean, so they don’t need as much to keep running at peak performance.
Before you lay any pool, make sure that the ground is level, and you have removed any sharp objects that may puncture a hole in the bottom of the pool. Coleman knows that it is impossible to get a perfectly smooth surface, so it includes a ground cloth to put down first, giving you extra cushion between the pool and any harmful object.
The pool kit also includes the pump and a ladder. The pump efficiently cleans your water, while the ladder gives you a way to get in and out of the pool. The provided ladder isn’t very sturdy, though. You may want to consider purchasing a separate, better quality ladder to ensure safe stability.
Coleman also has other accessory kits available. These kits contain things like sturdier A-frame ladders, cleaning supplies, test kits, covers, and more. No matter what your needs are, Coleman has you covered.
Coleman is known for its quality products, so there isn’t a need to contact customer service often. That is a good thing, since the customer service department is difficult to reach and isn’t the most efficient.
- Known for quality products
- Made in the USA
- Many sizes and shapes
- Easy to install
- Power Steel Technology: frame is solid steel that will last for years
- Easy to maintain
- Includes ground cloth, pump, ladder
- Other accessory kits
- Customer service department is hard to reach
- Provided ladder isn’t sturdy
Is Coleman Better Than Intex?
Let’s take a look at the price, ease of setup, features, maintenance, longevity, and customer service. We’ll examine how each manufacturer stacks up in each category then sum it all up for you at the end.
Price – Intex Wins
We were really surprised by the results in this area. Intex wins it hands down. The two companies don’t always offer exactly the same sizes but on the ones they do, such as rectangular 18 x 9-foot pools, the Coleman pool costs over twice as much as the Intex model. Moreover, the pump included with the Coleman pool is seriously underpowered for a swimming pool this size.
On the various circular pools from each company, once you adjust the prices to account for the cubic foot per dollar, Intex wins again. Intex also includes the newer cartridge filters with most of their above-ground pools instead of the old standby sand filters. These are initially more expensive than sand filters yet they deliver them with lower-cost pools than Coleman. Definitely a win for Intex.
Ease of Setup – A Tie
When setting up an above-ground pool there will be some unavoidable prep work on the ground under it. The ground should be level under the pool as well as an extra two feet all the way around for the braces to extend outward. Don’t set it up on sand, mud, or any kind of soft or loose soil. Once the ground is level, lay down the ground cloth.
After that, follow the step-by-step instructions in the manual. They’re more-or-less the same on all above-ground pools. With two people working together, you should be able to get your pool set up in one afternoon. Filling it will take a little longer.
This was basically a tie between the two brands. Some of the connectors are different, but once you get used to them you can move along very rapidly. There’s no clear winner on this aspect.
Filters – Intex Wins
Except for the rectangular pool, all the Intex swimming pools come with cartridge filters.
Sand filters have been around as long as swimming pools have because sand provides a good filtering agent while still allowing a reasonable amount of water flow through it. It will catch everything except the smallest bacteria and algae.
The main problem with sand is its weight. Common dry sand can weigh as much as 100 pounds. When it’s wet, it weighs even more. When you purchase a pool with a pump and filter, you have to buy the sand separately. You have to bring it home and you have to dump it into the filter tank. Cartridge filters are different.
Swimming pool cartridge filters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are uniformly lightweight. Most of them are small enough to hold in one hand. Some are large enough to require two hands, but because of the weight so much, but because of the sheer bulk of them.
Swimming pools that have cartridge filters are easier to set up and maintain than ones with sand filters. They also catch much finer particulate matter, bacteria, and algae than sand filters do. Sand filters have to be back-washed to clean them, which is a bit of a messy job and it drains some of the water from your pool. Cartridge filters can be rinsed off with a garden hose.
Pools with cartridge filters are easier to maintain and the long-term cost if pretty much the same. Therefore, since Intex delivers most of their above-ground pools with cartridge filters, we have to give them the win in this area too.
Other Features – Another Tie
Both companies deliver their pools with ground clothes, hoses, frames, pumps, filters, ladders, maintenance kits, and instructions. Nothing is left out. These are complete packages. Except for the type of filter, which we already discussed, on the features of these pools, it’s – if you’ll forgive the expression – a wash.
If you’re keeping track that’s Intex – 2 and Coleman – 0, with 2 ties. Let’s continue.
Maintenance – Also a Tie
Swimming pool maintenance covers the gamut from manual brushes, skimmers, and nets, to chlorine tabs and other chemicals, water testing kits, automatic cleaners, manual cleaners, automatic skimmers, and floaters. Don’t forget pool covers and winterizing kits for use during the off-season.
Once a swimming pool is in place and set up, there’s really no difference from one brand to another. We can’t justify giving the advantage to either one on this issue, so once again it’s a tie.
Longevity – Coleman Wins
Once you’ve got your pool – and assuming you take good care of it – how long will it last? One of the biggest determiners of life expectancy for a pool is rust. This shouldn’t come as any real surprise; metal support legs and frames, coupled with water, are a perfect recipe for rust. If you put a saltwater pump on your pool the problem is magnified.
Coleman swimming pools have continual problems with rust, not only on the frame and supports but also on the ladder you use to climb in and out of the pool. Many of them become virtually useless by the end of the second year. Considering their cost, you’d expect more than two or three years of use before they break down.
Intex, on the other hand, has an old pool/new pool problem. The older model pools had excellent lifespans, ranging from six years and up, pretty much across the board. Six years seemed to be about the average, but some were still working fine after eight or even nine years.
The newer models, purchased this year, have a significant problem with leaks. Not all of them, but enough to make us suspect something at Intex has changed. We don’t know what it is, and they claim everything is fine, so it’s hard to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Since two to three years of use before succumbing to rust is better than no use at all because of leaks, we have to give the win to Coleman this time.
Customer Service – Coleman Wins
Coleman edges out Intex on this issue, but it seems as if they’re in a race to the bottom.
Coleman will replace broken parts after you “prove” to them it wasn’t your fault while Intex just gives you the runaround, leaving you in “menu limbo” trying to navigate through a useless series of menus without ever getting a chance to talk to a real, live, human being. It’s not unlike running around in a Lara Croft tomb looking for a way out.
Again, a slim margin of victory to Coleman.
Pools offer you a place to cool down and have fun with family and friends in the privacy of your backyard. Intex and Coleman both make quality pools. We can’t say anything against either one.
The only real difference that we found between them was the customer service. Intex offers excellent service, while Coleman’s service department is often challenging to reach. What it ultimately boils down to is your preference and if you trust one company over the other.
Technically the score is 2 wins for each company along with some ties, leaving the overall score also tied. But like the judges are fond of saying on Project Runway or Dancing With the Stars or whatever, someone has to win and someone has to lose.
That being the case, we’re giving it to Coleman. Some customer service is better than none, and a couple years of use is also better than none. Both companies seem to have gone downhill over the past few years, but for the time being, Coleman is the winner.