Affordable and fun, buying an above ground pool for the summer is a real investment in creating memorable moments and family fun. From paddling pools through to full on swimming pools, every shape, size and build quality is out there to choose from.

There’s such a wide range on the market it can be a little bewildering sorting through all the options.

But really buying an above ground pool comes down to just three main things: how big, how much and for what, and of course the fundamental, which manufacturer?

When choosing an above ground pool manufacturer things become a little less bewildering. There are really only two companies worth considering buying from, Intex or Bestway.  They dominate the affordable above pool market place for two good reasons. Price and quality.

It’s as simple as that, if you produce a great product, at a great price, then people are going to buy, and that’s just what Intex and Bestway have done.

This is not a promotional article or advertisement for the two companies, it is just a statement of our opinion, based on our experience.

We are going to look at their above ground pool ranges, from the generously sized Intex Ultra range of swimming pools through to the Bestway range of small plunge and dip pools.


13 intex above ground pool Ultra Pool Party

above ground pool cost


It’s obvious that the installation time and final cost of an above ground pool is hugely different to a built in one.

The only preparation required for an above ground pool is to level the site and to ensure it is clear of debris before erecting the pool. Everything can be done by anyone with a little practical skills, and there are plenty of info guides on how to do it are on line to watch or read.

The cost of a huge 32 foot Intex pool, with extensive ground levelling should still come in at well below $2000.00. That’s ready to swim, chemical treatment included.

A built in pool?, Yikes!! You can do the homework and math on that.

snorkle above ground pool


Your above ground pool can easy benefit from a wide range of accessories, nothing that an in ground pool offers cannot be added to an above ground .

To make for an even more fun experience for the children, lots of available add ons to take the fun to another level. We particularly like the waterfall feature we have highlighted in our accessories guide >>

Pool maintenance, is made easy with sand filters and saltwater filter systems being commonly fitted to to keep the pool sparkling and safe. . Skimmers are a nice addition  to help clear floating debris.

The list of accessories is long and available to make for a really enjoyable, fun  and safe pool experience.

maitenance above ground pool


Most of us are buying above ground pools to enjoy fun summer days with our children. So of course safety is everyones priority. 

The child’s entry point to the pool is raised high off the ground.  Given that the large pools reviewed here have sides of 42 inches or more, means it’s easier to secure the pools access from very small children. Normally it just means taking the ladder away. 

Child alarms are also available for above ground pools. A smart investment we think.

Five of the Best Pools Reviewed
2.2 Intex Ultra Frame


12.3 Intex Ultra Frame






8.3 Intex Prism Frame


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These are swimmers pools. They comes in three sizes, large, larger and enormous.


The Intex Ultra range offers the only above ground pools that we would call real swimming pools.

Produced in round and rectangular options, the Ultra range gives the owner the benefits of a built in pool, for just a fraction of the cost.

The largest 24 and 32 ft rectangular Ultra models are a particularly convenient shape to fit into even a modest backyard space.

Many owners have built decking, and created planters around these models to transform the basic out of the box look into stunning landscaped focal points.

The Ultra is the Intex above ground pool flagship range, and as always along with quality comes a premium price tag. But as these pools are a seasonal products prices do fluctuate depending on the time of year. The good news is that there are occasional deals;  and bundled packages on offer, even through the peak summer months.

Ultra Frame Intex Above Ground Pool – Rectangular.

Intex 18ft X 9ft X 52in Ultra Frame Rectangular Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover
  • Engineered for strength, the ultra frame pool is supported by strong, durable Steel frames which are powder coated for rust resistance and beauty
  • With a contemporary appearance and increased strength the Intex ultra frame pool is the standard for luxury in the market
  • Connect the Krystal clear sand filter pump to enjoy clear, sparkling water. Ready for water in 60 minutes
  • New dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation resulting in better water hygiene and clarity. The newly designed ladder also provides greater support and stability
  • Water capacity: (90%) 4, 545 gallons. Includes: Krystal clear sand filter pump 1, 200 GPH (110 - 120V). ladder. Ground cloth. Debris cover. Set-up and maintenance DVD

The Ultra range does comes with various size options, but erecting the pool is essentially the same for all. The main thing is to be methodical through the assembly.  The easy lock system on the tubulars makes for fast assembly of the frame. Build time will vary on size of course, but shouldn’t take much more than a morning, even with coffee breaks.

Filtration systems may vary depending on the pool size with the largest 32 foot rectangular pool using a salt sanitation system. Many owners of the smaller pools have opted to upgrade to this system too.

The extra cost of the upgrade is worth it in terms of overall pool experience, and the money spent on the upgrade will be recuperated by the elimination of often costly chemical treatments. We would definitely recommend thinking about that as an “add value” option.
Intex 32ft above ground pool

The new Ultra Frame models are shipped with dual suction fittings and a hydro aeration system to assist cleaning. 

In terms of above ground pools, whatever size or shape you choose, things don’t get much better than this.


Size Options:   32 FT x 16 FT x 52"xxx24 FT x 12 FT x 52"xx18 FT x 9 FT x 52"

Ultra Frame Intex Above Ground Pool – Round

Intex 16ft X 48in Ultra Frame Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover
17 Reviews
Intex 16ft X 48in Ultra Frame Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth & Pool Cover
  • Ready for water in 45 minutes, - follow the instructional DVD for easy set up, and enjoy the fun! Water capacity: (90%) 5,061 gallons.
  • Includes: Krystal Clear Sand Filter pump 1,200 gph (110 - 120V). Ladder. Ground Cloth. Debris Cover. Set-up and maintenance DVD.
  • SUPER-TOUGH laminated PVC sidewalls.
  • Convenient drain plug that connects to a garden hose so water can be drained away from pool or house area.
  • New dual suction outlet fittings improve water circulation resulting in better water hygiene and clarity.

The round Intex Ultra above ground pools come in a very large, often bewildering range of sizes. There should be a pool here to suit most gardens and budgets.

Being from a quality manufacturer the entire range has the same quality of materials as the rectangular series, and there are often bundled deals to be found on all diameter models.

Setting up the round pool range is even easier than the rectangular. Best with two people, even large pools shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours.

There is no salt water filtration option in this series though. Particularly on the larger models we do urge buyers to consider this upgrade. The standard filtration system is great but the salt system does add many benefits to the user in terms of water quality.


We think the Intex round pools are brilliant, they give an opportunity to enjoy fun family pool days throughout the summer, and at prices that won’t make your eyes water.

In fact the smaller models can be found at less than $400.00, with accessories. Now that’s a budget price for an awful lot of family fun.


Size Options:    CURRENT PRICESxxxx14 ft x 42”  16 ft x 48”  18 ft x 52”  20 ft x 52”  22 ft x 52” 24 ft x 52”  26 ft x 52″

Final Intex Ultra Above Ground Pool Reviewer Notes

The 32ft Ultra model will allow the serious swimmer a chance to do some laps, and the recreational family swimmers will enjoy its generous space too.

You’re not going to be bumping into other anyone else when you’re cruising up and down in the Intex Ultra.

The Ultra range is shipped with pretty much everything to get the party started. Consumables like salt, chemicals and sand do have to be bought separately though.

  Be aware that large pools need large quantities of these start up products. Once the water has been treated then just simple maintenance is required. 

From the top of the range you expect the best, and the Ultra really does deliver on that. These pools are as close as you are going to get to a below ground pool at a fraction of the price.


The Best Smaller Plunge and Paddle Pools

Let’s look at what is on offer, and why buy.

2 Intex Oval Frame Above Ground Pool

above ground pool cost


Reasonably sized plunge pool cost just a few hundred dollars, and paddling pools coming in at less than $100.00.  This has got to be one of the best investments ever in summer fun, and relaxation. Test small pool ownership before committing to buying a real swimming pool at almost unbelievable budget prices.

snorkle above ground pool

Family Fun

Anything to do with water in the summer has the kids hooked. They’ll not only cool off while having fun in the slash pools, they might even take their first swim strokes in a larger plunge pool. While a pool is not an entertainment hub, it certainly turns into a focal point for the family on hot summer days, and nights.

maitenance above ground pool

Easy Maintenance

Different pool sizes require different maintenance commitments. In general though all the pools reviewed here are really easy to take care of. Most of the larger model actually come with filtration systems, so keeping the pool sparkling is easy. Buying a cover can be a good idea. If you get chance to put it on, the pool is normally busy!!.





4-1 BESTWAY Steel Pro Frame Pool


5.1 Intex Oval Frame Pool


6.2 Bestway Splash Frame Pool

Five Of the Best Small Pools Reviewed

Bestway Steel Pro Frame Above Ground Pool

4-2 BESTWAY Steel Pro Frame above ground pool

The Bestway Steel Pro range has several size options from 10 through to 15 feet. The pool set up is a breeze, just clip the frame together with the T connectors, installing the lining as you go. It needs no special tools or knowledge. The steel frame is rust resistant, and the liner made with heavy duty 3 ply PVC. It is durable and tear resistant. 

Bestway is one of the giants in the inflatable goods and above ground pool industry. Their manufacturing knowledge insures many summers of enjoyment from this pool.

These models do not come with a filtration system, it has to be bought separately. That’s reflected in the price of course. Depending on the size of the pool a separate pump purchase should run between $50 and $130.00.

Amazon Buy Options:   10.00 FT x 30 INCHESxxx14.00 FT x 48 INCHESxxx15.00 FT x 48 INCHES

Intex Metal Frame Above Ground Pool

1.2 Intex Metal Frame Pool
This best selling range of above ground pools by Intex offers the full above ground pool package.

The steel pool frame carcass has been powder coated, so should see many summer seasons of use. Included in the purchase price is a quality krystal filter pump matched to the pool capacity.  For setting up, even the larger pools should not take more than an hour.  It’s simple, intuitive and requires no special tools. And for those who still have a DVD player, a DVD is included in the box to guide pool you through if you have any doubts.

To comply with safety regulations a ground fault circuit interrupter is fitted to the pump. This is a great pool choice from the top manufacturer.

Amazon Buy Options:   12.00 FT x 30 INCHESxxxxxx15.00 FT x 48 INCHES

Intex Easy Set Above Ground Pool

1.2 Intex Easy Set above ground Pool

This is a pump up pool, no real assembly required here, just a little muscle power to inflate the upper ring. Once the ring is inflated and the filter pump is connected it’s ready for water. Although it is made with heavy duty PVC fabric care should be taken to clear and level the ground before filling the pool.

Many extras can be purchased to ease pool maintenance. We particularly liked the skimmer that Intex sells to clear floating debris from the water. Another additional buy should be a pool cover, that should reduce evaporation in the summer heat and help to keep the pool clean. The smaller sizes are great for the children to have fun in, but the range goes up to a family size for everybody to enjoy.

Amazon Buy Options:   12.00 FT x 30 INCHESxx15.00 FT x 48 INCHESxx18.00 FT x 48 INCHES

Intex Oval Frame Above Ground Pool

Intex Oval Frame Above Ground Pool

A combination the Easy Setup pool and the metal framed one. This pool has been designed to fit into smaller spaces than the equivalent capacity round pools. We like the shape a lot, we think it looks pretty grown up, and it does allow users to actually swim a few strokes in it.

Designed with the same inflatable ring around the top perimeter as its cousin the Easy Set Up, but also incorporates a steel frame support system at the sides.  The same build quality goes into this pool as all the Intex range. We think the price for either of the pool sizes to be incredibly cheap, given the quantity and quality of materials, and the included filter pump.

This is a real bargain in our opinion.

Amazon Buy Options:   18.00 FT x 42 INCHESxxxxxx20.00 FT x 48 INCHES

Bestway Splash Frame Pool

6.3 Bestway Splash Frame above ground Pool

Basically a range of paddling and splash pools for children to enjoy. Once they are in it’s difficult to get them out. Loads of fun in the summer for them. Light weight but durable the pool just takes a few minutes to set up.

The same quality of materials are used on the “Splash” range as on the grown up pools. Pool maintenance is done with a chemical floater which is not included in the purchase price. A cover can be bought separately and we think it is well worth the investment at under $30.00.

Amazon Buy Options:   86" x 59" x 23"xxxxxx94" x 59" x 23"xxxxxx118" x 79" x 26"

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