Have you ever looked at photos of amazing sand castles and wondered how they were built? Chances are you’ve built a sand castle at some point in your life but it’s likely that it was pretty simple. If your sand castle building method involves turning a wet bucket of sand upside down and calling it a day, it’s time to step up your game. We have all the information you need to build an amazing sand castle like the professionals.
Collecting the Essential Supplies
In order to build an awesome sand castle, there are a few pieces of equipment you’ll need to take your creation to the next level.
1. A Good Shovel
Building an amazing sand castle involves a lot of digging, so a shovel is an essential tool. If you’re imagining a small plastic shovel like the ones that came in the sand toy sets you played with when you were a kid, think again! While these can work in a pinch to build a small castle, you really need something that’s a little more durable and able to move a lot of sand at once.
It’s important to remember that the further down you dig, the wetter and heavier the sand will get. Use a shovel that won’t break under the weight and can handle large volumes of sand. This way, you’ll spend less time digging. A metal shovel with a narrow scoop and a long handle works best.
2. A Sturdy Bucket (or Two or Three)
You will definitely need a minimum of two buckets. One is used to carry water, an essential ingredient for making sand castles. This bucket should be large enough so you can get as much water as you need without making too many trips. That said, make sure it’s not so big that you won’t be able to carry it easily when it’s full. Three to five gallon buckets are a great choice.
A second bucket is used to mix the sand and water. Since you’re going to make an awesome sand castle, you’re going to need a lot of wet sand. It might be easier to have a few buckets mixed and ready to go. You might also think about having some smaller ones around to use as molds when you begin building.
Any bucket, even a child’s toy, will work. Just keep in mind that wet sand can be very heavy and if you want to use your buckets over and over again, it might be worth investing in some that are a little more durable.
Something else you might want to consider is making a bottomless bucket. This is a great way to build tall, solid towers when you get into making the base for your castle.
3. A Spray Bottle
One key to keeping a sand castle together is to keep it wet. You do not want it to dry out because it will start to crumble. A spray bottle supplies just enough water to help keep the sand sticking together without saturating it so much that it loses its shape.
4. A Pair of Thick Gloves
If you’re really serious about creating a cool sand castle, you will be doing a lot of digging. A pair of good gloves can protect you from callouses or blisters. They’re certainly not necessary, but they can come in really handy.
5. A Handful of Detailing Tools
To get the fine details that will really make your sand castle stand out, small tools are essential. You don’t necessarily have to buy anything special because you can find things around the house that will work perfectly.
You might try a garden trowel, paint scraper, or butter knife for shaping the fine details like bricks and windows. A drinking straw or small paintbrush comes in handy to remove loose sand from any small details you’ve carved. Use your imagination!
Gathering the Main Ingredients
If you think all you need is sand and water, you’re right. It’s getting the right mix of these two ingredients that is the key to building a cool sand castle.
Sand has to be wet in order to be shaped. The more compacted your sand and water mixture is, the more solid it will be. Solid sand is easy to carve and less likely to crumble.
You can never really use too much water because it will ultimately evaporate, especially on a hot day at the beach. If you find it’s too wet, just wait a bit and it will be fine. The more sand castles you build, the more you’ll be able to determine the ideal amount of water.
When mixing your sand and water, make sure to tamper the mixture down. Tap and shake the bucket to make sure all the sand inside is equally saturated. It should be uniform throughout with no dry spots or air pockets. If you forget to do this step, there’s a chance it will crumble later on when you’re trying to carve it.
Building for Success
In order to build the sand castle of your dreams, there are a few things besides tools that you need to set yourself up for the best result.
1. The Right Location
The very first thing you need to do is to find the perfect location. Now, you might be thinking that you can’t get much better than the beach. This is true, but choosing the right spot on the beach is essential.
Proximity to the water is important and you must keep the changing tides in mind. You don’t want to build too close to the water only to have your creation knocked over by the ocean before you’ve even finished building it! That said, you’re going to need a lot of water to build properly and that involves frequent walks to the water’s edge. If you pick a spot that’s too far away, hauling water to your building site will be difficult. Take the time to research when high and low tide are before you head out.
The ideal spot has plenty of open space for you to move around your castle as you’re building. While it’s not always possible, finding a place where there is not a lot of foot traffic is a good idea, too. You won’t have to worry about small children, dogs, or anyone who’s not paying attention accidently knocking down your creation.
2. A Solid Base
When you were a kid, you likely built simple castles by overturning a small bucket of sand to build towers and using your hands to shape walls between them. Building awesome sand castles like the professionals requires some of the same techniques. That said, rather than getting right into building walls and towers, you first need to think about your base.
You should have some idea of your final product before you can begin. You don’t have to plan every tiny detail, but you do have to know how tall you want it to be, how many towers it’s going to have, etc. Once you have the basics figured out, it’s time to start building your base.
The wider and higher you build the base, the wider and higher you can make your cool sand castle. The goal is to build a mound of wet, solid sand that takes on the basic shape of what you’re hoping to end up with. Make it as compact as you can. To make towers, use your bottomless bucket. Fill it up, lift it off, and repeat. If your sand is the right consistency, you can get a pretty high tower using this method.
3. The Fine Details
Once you’re happy with your base, it’s time to put your tools to use. Start with a trowel or other wide, flat tool to carve out the basic shape. In this step, even out the towers and carve out the walls. You’ll remove the largest pieces of sand from the base in this step so that your castle begins to look like a castle instead of a mound of sand.
Smooth edges and do some fine tuning, continuing to remove sand until you get the shape you want.
Next, the fun begins. Use smaller tools to carve out the details: bricks, windows, flowers, animals. Take your time and remember to keep your spray bottle handy so that your castle doesn’t dry out and crumble as you work on the details. Use your paintbrush as you go to brush out any loose sand and create a smooth finish.
Small details are what’s going to take your sand castle to the next level, which is why it’s a good idea to plan them ahead of time. You can even bring beads, ribbons, or shells to add extra embellishments.
Building cool sand castles takes planning, time, and the right mix of supplies. It all starts with the perfect mixture of sand and water. From there, let your imagination take over and you just might end up with the castle of your dreams.