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Sandcastle Building 101: Tips and Designs For Building an Epic Sand Castle

If you didn't build a sandcastle, did you really even spend a day at the beach?

Margo Gothelf · 17 days ago

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Heeral Chhibber

On your next trip to the beach, take your earth-based masonry skills to the next level and dive into these epic sandcastle designs. These tips will give you everything you need to become a sandcastle master. Who knows, you might even get good enough to build a real-life palace out of sand! 

Sand Castle Designs to Try

1. Classic Pail Sandcastle

Sandcastle Tips

Heeral Chhibber

No matter your skill level, anyone can master the classic sand pail castle: Fill a bucket with moist sand, pack it down, flip it over, and caaaaaaarrrefully remove the pail. This sandcastle is perfect for new beachgoers or little ones who love to fill up buckets with sand. The best part about this design is it can pretty much be turned into anything. Use multiple pails to make a small city, or use pails of different sizes to create a whole array of sandcastles. You could even switch it up and add a rectangular bucket into the mix to create different shaped castles.

2. Giant Castle

Sandcastle Tips

Heeral Chhibber

Looking for a new place to live? Well, if you play your cards right, your new home could easily be a beachside property with a giant sandcastle. You're going to want to make sure your new castle-turned-home has all the classic fixings like giant archways, a textured roof, and a flowing moat. Plus, any time you want a remodel, all you have to do is let the tide come in and knock out part of the wall. 

3. Sea Creatures

Sandcastle Tips

Heeral Chhibber

Spotting massive alligators, jellyfish, or sharks typically isn't something you want when sitting on the beach. Luckily, these creatures will be made out of sand, so you'll have no problem outrunning them. Want to transform the sand into a creature of your very own? Start with a large pile of wet sand and slowly sculpt away to bring your creature to life. Start with the base of the animal and then add in the details like scales or fins. The key is to keep slowwwwly adding water, to keep the sand packable and carve-able.

4. Drip Art Castles

Sandcastle Tips

Heeral Chhibber

Sure, you could build a sandcastle with pristine edges and mathematically-perfect arches, or you could ditch the accuracy and go with a drip castle. Drip castles are pretty much exactly what they sound like. They use a whole lot of wet sand that dribbles right through your hands to make a super textured structure. The wet sand is key since it gives the castle its signature drippy texture.

5. Sandcastle City

Sandcastle Tips

Heeral Chhibber

Why build just one sandcastle when you can build a whole city? Transform the sand into a city of your own filled with loads of epic castles. Use buckets and pails, the drippy technique, and even add in a few sea creatures to combine all of the amazing designs into one city. By the end of the day, you'll have so many castles around you'll be mayor of the beach!

Tips For Making The Ultimate Sandcastle

1. Strong Supplies

To build all of these epic sandcastles, you're going to need a strong supply of tools to help you get the job done. Start off with the essentials and grab a few sand pails. Use one to help set up the structure and fill another with water — this way, you won't have to keep running back and forth to the ocean. You'll also want to have a solid shovel. If you want to get technical and take your castles to the next level, you'll want to bring along to the beach a metal cooking spatula to help with edges, a straw to blow off excess sand, and a pencil or pen to help form the details like bricks or windows. Of course, you can substitute the items for whatever you have around. Use plastic cups to make smaller castles and shells from around the beach for decoration. Don't be afraid to get creative!

2. Location, Location, Location

Choose an area on the beach that will provide a strong foundation for your future castle. You don't want to pick somewhere too close to the water, only to have the tide come in and knock it all out. Pick somewhere that is accessible to the water but somewhere where you won't get a ton of foot traffic so people won't get in the way of your creation. 

3. It’s All About That Ratio

The real secret to getting those smooth edges and intricate details in your sandcastle is all in the sand-to-water ratio. You’ll want to keep the sand wet, but not so wet that it just slumps down. Think about trying to make the sand similar to a concrete mixture when combining it with water. The sand should be pliable so that it can stick together easily in your hand and not slide right out.

4. Make It Topple Proof

Nothing is worse than when you spend half of your day at the beach working on your sandcastle, only for it to come toppling down as you are putting on the finishing touches. Stay ahead of that happening and make your castle topple-proof! How exactly do you do that? It's pretty simple really, all you will need is a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Just flip it upside down when you are getting ready to build and fill the inside with sand. Then jiggle it around a little bit, making sure everything is nice and tight. When everything is in place, gently slip the bucket out for a sturdy structure. The bucket will help set the sand, making sure the rest of your castle stays put. 

5. Putting in the Details

When it's time to add in all the details, start from the top and work your way down. This is when you're going to want to pull out the spatula, pencil, straw, and duster. The tools will help you get those fine edges and carve out details like bricks, windows, and doors. If you're having a hard time forming that smooth edge, use the straw or duster to remove that stingy clump of sand.

6. Split the Jobs

If you have a few friends or siblings with you at the beach, chances are you're all going to want to work on the castle together. Instead of having everyone do the same thing, split up the jobs to make the sandcastle building run smoothly. Pick someone to fill buckets with water, let someone mix the sand, and have someone else start building the foundation. When it's time to design the castle, let everyone pick a section and see what they come up with. It will be the most abstract house on the oceanfront! 

7. All About The Practice

One day you might be the LeBron James of sandcastle making, but it's going to take a lot of practice to get there. Don't get frustrated if the castle doesn't come out as planned. Stay flexible and have fun with it. You'll have the whole summer to practice and master those sandcastle building skills!