Hi - newbie here and very confused. I want a pool for the backyard for me and my kids to play in. I've gotten a permit from the township so that is good. I am trying to decide between an intex ultra frame 18' X 48" or a pro series 16' X 48".

When my oldest was a toddler, we tried one of those easy set pools, the 10 X 30 one. It rapidly turned into a science experiment and we eventually gave up. I have since learned 1. the filters they sell the pools with are underpowered and 2. salt water generator makes things much simpler?

A friend recently got the pro series with the intex salt water generator and I love how it looks in her yard, love the skimmer, they seem to be having good luck with it. So I was all set to go that route - and possibly upgrade to a sand filter - when I realized that for $100 more I could get the intex which is 2 feet bigger and has a better looking ladder - platform on top vs open, which is a perk to me because it seems safer for little kids plus my youngest doesn't seem to really like to go in the pool but likes to hang out beside it so it would give him a little seat. (My dad has a 25' above ground pool and 2 of my kids love to be in the water, 1 likes to hang out on a raft, but the youngest just wants to sit and observe)

PLUS presumably it would require less fiddling to plug and play the intex sand filter up to it and so on. No adapters. And I read about some of you adding a skimmer and I really like the idea of sprucing the pool up myself.

But. I am totally confused over the need for plunger valves to add the sand filter to the intex pool. It seems the pumps used to come with them... and now they don't? And it looks like it will be $100 more to buy them? Do they come with the pool? Is there a way around this? Am I over thinking this??

It seems I can also get a 2500 gph paper cartridge filter that might also be an improvement without needing the plunger valves? I really like the idea of sand but maybe that would be another way to go.

The more I try to figure out which way to go, the more confused I get. Is putting a sand filter on a pro series going to be easier in the end? Since maybe all you need is that $23 adaptor piece?

I think I am mostly ticked about being nickle and dimed for these plunger valves for the intex. I just don't get why they aren't included. What if I did a different brand of sand filter, like a hayward? (I think that is the brand?) Would that be better? If/when we add the skimmer thing, will I need another adaptor to go from the skimmer to the pump? Unless I start out with a Hayward pump? If I ultimately intend to do the skimmer thing, should I just start with a hayward pump?

Speak slowly. I want to do this right.

edit - what size sand pump do I want if I do this? I was thinking the 14 inch? I feel like I came across some sort of optimal gallons per hour ratio for upgrading but now I can't find it.