Last Updated: February 21, 2020
Coleman and Intex are two of the top brands in above-ground swimming pools on the market today. Some would even argue they are the best. If that’s the case, which one should you choose for yourself?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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