Is your mailbox broken? Is it time for a new one or is your current mail holder overdue for repairs? If you’re wondering how to install a mailbox or how to repair the one you own, see our how-tos and tips.
How to Build a Mailbox Post
A mailbox post is easy to build. It’s as simple as cutting a horizontal piece to support the box and a vertical piece to bury in the ground.
What You’ll Need
- Dimensional lumber (One 4″ by 4″ post, and two 3/4-inch pieces)
- Circular saw
- Deck screws
- Exterior paint
- First, make a half-lap joint. Mark cut lines where the vertical post and the horizontal piece will cross.
Use a circular saw to cut 1/2 the thickness of the post and the width of the post where the two pieces will meet.
- Make several cuts every 1/8th inch or so between the lines.
- Remove the remaining wood by removing it with a screwdriver or tapping with a hammer.
- Repeat the above process on the horizontal wood section.
- Fit the two notches together. They should meet at a 90-degree angle.
- Attach a few deck screws to hold the pieces together and them in place.
- For an extra sturdy post, add a diagonal support under the side that will support the mail holder. Cut a piece of 3/4 inch lumber to fit into the recess located under the box.
This makes it easier to attach the mailbox to your new mailbox post.
- Paint your post to coordinate with your home’s color scheme, and install.
What are the USPS requirements for placing and installing a mailbox?
Home repair expert, Danny Lipford says, “Start by contacting your local post office to make sure the mailbox and location you would like to install it meets with their approval.” The first rule of thumb when adding a new mailbox is to ensure that your mail carrier has open access to the mail holder at all times.
An approved mailbox usually has the words, “US MAIL” and “APPROVED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL” on the door or front. See below for an overview of the USPS Standards for curbside, door slot, and wall-mounted mailboxes.
Mailbox Size and Construction Standards for Curbside Mailboxes
A mail holder that has the Postmaster General’s (PMG) seal of approval will meet U.S. Post Office size and construction standards.
If you would like to custom-build a new mailbox, it must meet USPS standards. Contact the US Postal Service Engineering office to obtain measurements for building your own. If you wish to add a mailbox big enough to hold packages, refer to the post office information about Next Generation Mailboxes.
Where should I place my mailbox to meet post office requirements?
Install your mailbox, vertically, 41″ to 45″ from the road surface. Measure up from the road to the bottom of the mailbox or to the point of mail entry.
Place your mail holder, horizontally, 6″ to 8″ back from the curb. No raised curb? Contact your local post office for guidance.
What about adding house numbers and my street address?
Attach your house or apartment number to the mail holder. Adhesive numbers are available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
If your mailbox sits on a different street from your home, add your full street address to the mailbox.
What are the rules for installing a mailbox post?
The Federal Highway Administration recommends a 4-inch-by-4-inch wooden post or a 2-inch aluminum or steel pipe to use as a support. Bury the support in the ground at a maximum depth of 24 inches.
Choose a material that will provide strong support but will bend or break in case of damage. Do not use concrete, brick, iron, or heavy metal supports.
What are the rules for setting up a newspaper delivery box?
According to USPS, federal law prohibits the placement of non-postal items in mailboxes. USPS states that a receptacle for holding newspapers delivered by private companies, may be attached to the post of a curbside mailbox.
The newspaper holder must meet these conditions:
- It does not touch the mailbox or require any part of the mailbox for support.
- The newspaper holder does not interfere with the delivery of mail, block the view of the mailbox flag, or present a hazard to the mail carrier.
- It does not extend beyond the front of the mailbox when closed.
- It does not display advertising. An exception to this rule is the publication title.
Maintaining Your Mailbox
Over time, your mailbox may look worn or become difficult to open and close. In most cases, the property owner is responsible for the maintenance and repair of personal mailboxes.
It’s a good idea to do a yearly mailbox check to avoid mail delivery problems. Here’s a few tips on maintaining your mail holder.
- Check the door or slot for loose hinges and tighten
- Replace any rusty or loose hardware. New mailbox parts may be purchased at your local hardware store.
- Clean up both green and black stains on your mailbox with Wet & Forget Outdoor.
- Replace any missing, loose, or faded house numbers and letters.
- Always keep the walking or driving path to your mailbox clear. For curbside mailboxes, trim back shrubs and plants. Avoid displaying outdoor decor near the mailbox.
- Contact your local post office before moving, replacing, or installing a mailbox.
Bonus Tip: Attach reflective letters and numbers to your mailbox to help visitors and emergency services locate your home.