Building sandcastles is as much a part of a beach vacation as eating ice cream. But you often get annoyed because a tower doesn’t hold the way you want it to or because the end result doesn’t look the way you planned. We would therefore like to show you the seven steps to success. With these steps (and a little practice), you’re sure to build a magnificent castle on your next vacation!
1. planning is half the battle
Well, dear amateur architect: Ready for your first big appearance? A really beautiful sandcastle needs a lot of planning and should be well thought out. Where do you want to place your highest tower? What does the general structure of your castle look like? Should it be more of a classic knight’s castle with four towers and walls in between? Do you want to recreate your favorite castle from Game of Thrones (editor’s tip: King’s Landing certainly looks great as a sand structure)? Or do you simply want to build your own personal castle according to your own ideas? There are no limits to your imagination, and: sand is a very patient building material. 😉
2. find the right location
The location of your castle is also crucial here. If you build the castle too close to the water, your structure may fall victim to the next wave. If you build it too close to streams of visitors, your architecture will be marked by one or the other footprint. In the blazing sun, your castle will dry out very quickly and crumble. The best location is somewhere away from water and large crowds of visitors, and as shady as possible. In an emergency, you can also help yourself with a parasol.
3. build a foundation for your castle
As in real house building, the foundation is crucial. A beautiful castle can only be built on a level and solid foundation. Therefore, we recommend that you remove foreign objects (plugs, stones, etc.) before you start building. Then moisten the chosen place and fix it by stamping steps. Finally, straighten the surface.
4. Prepare your building material
Just as cement holds mortar together, water serves as a binder for sand. If you think you can just mix any amount of water with any amount of sand, you’re wrong. Matthew Bennet, a scientist at Bournemouth University in England, has calculated the exact amount to be mixed and has also come up with a formula:
WM (amount of water) = 0.125 x SM (amount of sand).
In other words, one part water and seven parts sand make the perfect mixture with the highest stability. By the way, another professional tip: Use contaminated water for the mixture! The more dirt particles (algae, salt, mud,…) are contained in the water, the more likely it is that a crust will form during drying, which will hold the sandcastle together even then.
5. the right tools
The more shapes you have, the more individual you can make your castle. Anything that can be filled with sand and toppled serves as a mold. So feel free to be creative and also use things that at first glance should not necessarily be used for building sandcastles (e.g. an empty, cut-open sunscreen bottle or a funnel). For mixing, you’ll need a shovel and a bucket. We also recommend that you use finer tools such as a spatula or knife for the details.
6. the construction
It’s best to always start with your largest tower and then work your way up to the smaller floors. As soon as all towers are in place, you can start building the walls. Finally, add roofs and parapets. You can build larger towers simply by stacking several shapes on top of each other. Pay special attention to the stability of the lower floors. The best way to achieve this is to fill the sand as densely as possible into your molds. So go ahead and give it a good whack!
7. the decoration
Your base castle is up and looking good? Perfect! Then come the smaller details and decorations. Whatever you like is allowed and there are no limits to your creativity. Scrape small windows into your towers or make paths out of shells. Use small stones as walls or build a bridge out of sticks and seaweed. In this step, your castle gets its final touch.
We hope that these tips will help you make your sand dream come true! But always remember: The fun must be in the foreground and even a not so perfect sandcastle definitely radiates a lot of summer feeling – especially if it was built in the circle of your family or friends and you can listen to the sound of the sea in the background! 😊