Here’s How Even You Can Build a Decent Sand Castle

We asked a sand-scultpting champion for tips on how to build a fortress that'll turn heads.
Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash.

This week, we’re rolling out our great big guide to the best beaches on the Mid-Atlantic coast. From the surf scene in Virginia Beach to Ocean City’s expansive boardwalk, we found the best bites and activities (yes, even in Jersey) that’ll make this summer by the shore your best one yet. Water you waiting for? Dive in. 

Tips on building a better sand castle, from Meredith Corson, reigning team champ of Virginia Beach’s sand-sculpting competition.

Get a five-gallon bucket and cut off the bottom.

At the beach, stick the pail into the sand, wider side down.

Scoop in several inches of sand, add a few inches of water, stir.


“Water is the glue,” says Corson. “Always put dry sand into water.”

After each layer, tap the sides of the bucket to settle the sand.

“Anytime you use something to contain the sand, it will be firmer. It’s called a pound-up.”

When it’s full, slide the bucket off, repeat.

If you get the hang of it, and are ambitious, you can use other containers—pros use custom wooden forms.

Admire your creation.

“The intrigue of sand sculpting is that it is a temporary art form. The goal is not to create something to stand forever.”

This article appeared in the July 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

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Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Bikes and Hikes, Fairs and Festivals, Great Small Towns, and the Washington Bucket List. She lives in Arlington.