Things to Know When Buying a Mailbox
We tend to focus so much on our home’s interior that we don’t give the outside its fair share of respect. Case in point? Mailboxes. These essential designs are usually one of the first things people notice about your home (and certainly the main thing the mailman looks at each time he stops by). That’s why it’s so important that they embody your sense of style and reflect your home’s overall aesthetic. From irresistibly unique pieces to time-honored classics, we’re taking a look at everything you need to know about finding the right mailbox for your home.
Things to Consider
- Weather and the Elements: When it comes to shopping for mailboxes, weather is one of the most important factors you’ll need to consider. You’ll want to choose a design that can withstand the elements, whether that’s heavy rains or extreme temperatures.
- Size of the Household: You’ll also want to consider how many people in your household will be receiving mail on a regular basis. If you have a large family, you may want to choose a larger design or even a multi-family unit.
- Walk Up or Curbside Delivery: Wall-mounted mailboxes and mail slots are ideal if your postman delivers mail to your front door. Post-mounted and column-mounted mailboxes are better suited for curbside mail delivery or rural residences.
- Do you need a locked mailbox? Keep your mailbox safe and secure with a locked design. These are especially ideal for people who travel regularly or are away from their homes for extended periods of time.
- Style: Love the timeless good looks of Victorian mailboxes? Charmed by farmhouse designs? The mailbox you choose gives visitors a first impression of your home, so make sure it shows off your personal sense of style.
- Installation: From surface mounts and pedestal mounts to in-ground mailboxes and mail slots, every type of home mailbox has its own specific installation technique.
- Materials: Today’s mailboxes come in a wide variety of materials to suit your preferences and needs. From metal styles in copper and bronze to plastic designs, there’s no shortage of options from which to choose.
Weather and the Elements
Today’s mailboxes come in a wide range of materials to accommodate different types of weather conditions. One mailbox may last years in a sunny area but rust instantly in a rainy one, while another may not fare well in extreme heat. That’s why it’s so important to understand which types of mailboxes are best for different climates. Materials like steel and aluminum can do okay in rainy cities if they’re treated for water-resistance, while brass needs a lot of upkeep to prevent moisture-induced patinas. Plastic isn’t the best choice for a hot region, stainless steel mailboxes can withstand rough weather, and pricier galvanized iron and steel mailboxes are especially durable choices.
Types of Mailboxes
Wall Mounted Mailboxes
Wall-mounted mailboxes are a popular choice for dense urban areas where postmen deliver mail door to door. These designs attach to the outside of your home, and they’re oftentimes placed right next to your front door or entryway gate. These mailboxes allow for quick and easy mail retrieval, and many of the designs feature overhangs or awnings that keep your mail protected from the elements, as well.
Mailboxes with Post Included
Post-mounted mailboxes, on the other hand, are freestanding designs that are usually found along a curb or at the end of your driveway. These designs are more popular in rural communities where mail is delivered by vehicle, and they make it simple for the postman to deliver your mail without leaving his car. Not only do these particular mailboxes come in a wide range of colors and styles, but they also add charm and character to your home’s exterior.
Surface Mount Posts
Surface mount posts are essentially made to mount onto a concrete sidewalk, street, or walkway. These designs are generally best for areas where space is more limited, and they’re a staple in downtown cities and main streets. Many of these mailbox posts include mounting hardware to make the installation process easier, and they can usually be placed in either existing concrete pads or newly poured concrete, depending on your needs.
Shop Surface Mount Posts Here>
As their name suggests, in-ground posts are placed directly into the ground wherever you desire. Many in-ground designs are sold in sets and include both a mailbox post and a decorative base cover. These mailboxes look gorgeous surrounded by flower beds and are suitable for a wide range of landscapes.
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Collection Boxes, Chutes and Letter Plates
When it comes to streamlined mailboxes, it’s hard to beat traditional mail slots, chutes and letter plates. These vintage-inspired styles were one of the first types of mailboxes ever invented, but they became less popular starting in the 1980s. These designs are particularly safe since the mail comes directly into your house, but they do require installation and can cause problems if Fido happens to eat your bills.
Collection boxes are a great solution for this. These mailboxes are actually mounted through a wall and feature an opening in the front for a letter plate slot or chute to be installed for incoming mail. The mail drops into a collection box and is then retrieved from the secure access door in the back. Just be sure to check with your local post office to verify that this type of delivery is possible in your area.
Not sure which mailbox is right for you? Read “Picking Out the Perfect Mailbox for Your Home” for additional considerations.
Depending on your location, climate, and maintenance needs, you’ll also want to consider what type of mailbox material will suit you best. From lightweight aluminum designs to the resilience of galvanized steel, we have plenty of options to accommodate your unique circumstances.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is known for its light weight and general durability. That being said, it’s a good idea to treat aluminum for water-resistance. This particular material is best for short-term use or in milder climates. It doesn’t fare as well in rainy regions, as it will eventually rust unless treated.
- Cast Aluminum: Cast aluminum, on the other hand, is heavier than traditional aluminum (and more durable, as well). This material doesn’t rust like its aluminum counterparts, so it’s an ideal choice for damp climates. Low-maintenance and built to last, cast aluminum can withstand rain, snow, and heat without showing signs of damage.
- Brass: Perhaps the highest-maintenance option on the list, brass requires a steady amount of care and upkeep to help it look its best. It’s prone to developing a patina from exposure to outdoor elements, so it requires regular polishing and shining. Nevertheless, it’s one of the more elegant and polished choices for mailboxes.
- Zinc Iron: Zinc galvanized iron is created by coating the iron in a protective zinccoating in order to prevent unwanted rust and corrosion. Regular iron has a tendency to rust when it’s exposed to any type of moisture (like rain or even humidity).
- Brushed Stainless Steel: Brushed stainless steel holds up quite well in the elements and rusts at a slower rate than many other materials. It’s also extremely durable and heavy. Despite its longevity, it’s a good idea to powder coat the interior and exterior of a stainless steel mailbox to protect it from salty outdoor air or moisture even further. Stainless steel is a good option for oceanfront properties, but avoid placing a stainless steel mailbox near a pool. (The chlorine can compromise its coating and lead to rust.)
- Galvanized Steel: The ultimate choice in durable mailbox materials, galvanized steel takes the durability of regular steel to another level. Coated with a thin layer of zinc, this material is resistant to corrosion and can handle moisture well with one exception: salt water. For beachside properties, stainless steel is a better choice.
Further customize the mailbox of your dreams by choosing a finish in your favorite hue. From verde green color pops and weathered metals to rich shades of bronze and black, the right finish helps complement your home’s exterior and boosts its overall curb appeal.
- Verde Green: This pretty green finish harnesses the natural beauty of the great outdoors. From deep forest hues to leafy greens, verde lets you add a little color contrast to your home’s exterior.
- Hand Rubbed Bronze: Give your guests a warm welcome with a mailbox finished in hand rubbed bronze. This rich hue is as sophisticated as it is striking, and it’s a softer take on one of the most popular metallic tones.
- Oil Rubbed Bronze: Prefer deeper, darker shades of bronze instead? Then try an oil-rubbed bronze mailbox. Almost chocolate in its appearance, this rich tone blurs the line between black and metallic.
- Stainless Steel Swirl: This patterned take on stainless steel offers a hint of texture for extra flair. Perfect for contemporary homes, its cool finish stands out from the crowd in the most subtle of ways.
- Black: It doesn’t get more stylish than basic black, and you can’t go wrong with a mailbox in this dynamic shade. Use a wall-mounted style to add contrast to a white exterior, or use a post-mount design to spruce up a traditional brick home.
- Swedish Silver: Fans of industrial style will appreciate the understated beauty of Swedish silver. This powder coated metal boasts a matte finish that’s timeless and charming to boot.
Pro Tip: Prep for the holidays and “Give Your Mailbox a Festive Look” with our seasonal styling ideas.
Styles of Mailboxes
Once you’ve selected your preferred material and finish, you’ll want to narrow down your options further by choosing your favorite style. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to suit your home to a T. Whether you’re looking for a traditional mailbox with old-world beauty or searching for a more contemporary option that’s sleek and refined, there’s something here for everyone.
- Traditional: Step back in time with traditional mailboxes inspired by the good old days. From classic post-mounted designs to scrolled silhouettes, these pieces are a timeless choice for today’s homes.
- Contemporary: Enhance your contemporary residence with a modern mailbox that suits the here and now. These minimalist-approved designs offer clean lines and angular silhouettes for an effect that’s striking in its overall simplicity.
- Country: Decorate the outside of your farmhouse with a mailbox that’s big on country flair. These mailboxes vary from quaint styles to colorful pieces with their own personality, from distressed metal finishes to weathered white posts.
- Victorian: There’s something so stately about Victorian homes, and Victorian mailboxes follow suit. Crafted with fancy details like gentle curves, decorative motifs, and scrolled arms that hold your daily newspaper, these designs embody ornate style.
Pro Tip: Check out our “Summer Mailbox Makeover Ideas” for extra styling inspiration during the hottest months of the year.
Special Features for Mailboxes
Rust Proof Options
You want the mailbox you choose to last for years to come, and weather-resistant, rust-proof materials are the best way to help preserve its original beauty. Plastic is naturally resistant to rust and is relatively easy to maintain, but it’s not the best choice for climates that are prone to extreme heat. Cast aluminum and galvanized steel are more durable options that are both excellent at resisting rust. Cast aluminum is especially ideal for damp climates and can withstand rain, snow, and heat. Galvanized steel is coated with zinc to boost its resistance to weather-related corrosion. This option is a smart choice anywhere except oceanfront properties.
Newspaper Tube Options
You look forward to reading your daily newspaper, but no one wants to fetch one that’s muddy, dirty, or dripping wet. That’s why mailboxes with newspaper tubes are such a smart idea. These hollow tubes are just the right size for your local paper, and they keep it thoroughly protected from the elements. A place for everything and everything in its place isn’t a new concept by any means, but it’s definitely the best approach to receiving and retrieving your mail.
Illuminate your outdoor space and keep your mail secure at the same time. From mailboxes attached to lampposts and lanterns to wall-mounted exterior lights, it’s a great idea to keep your home’s exterior well-lit. Not only does this enhance your general safety, but it also makes it easier to check your mail in the evening. Shop for a combination kit that features both together, or position an exterior wet rated fixture near your mailbox instead.
Parcel Drop Mailboxes
Keep your packages safe and secure with the help of parcel drop mailboxes. These innovative designs are perfect for people who send and receive a lot of mail (hello, online shoppers!) or who regularly take trips out of town. Parcel drop mailboxes protect your packages from theft while guarding against the elements via interior locking compartments. Many of these receptacles also feature separate partitions for outgoing mail. Parcel drop designs allow you to receive multiple packages while you’re away on extended vacations, and some even offer vacation stoppers to temporarily suspend package deliveries. Ultimately, these mailboxes provide peace of mind thanks to their overall security features.
Mailboxes with Locks
Another great way to keep your incoming mail protected while you’re away? Locked mailboxes. These designs come with a lock and a set of keys to keep your mail out of someone else’s hands. Mail slots and letter flaps allow your postman to place the mail inside, but only you can unlock it with your key. This is a great idea for anyone who receives a lot of sensitive information or even medicine in the mail and needs to go the extra mile to keep their deliveries as secure as possible.
Mailboxes with Windows
Some contemporary mailboxes also include window panels for a decorative and functional accent. These designs range from front mail retrieval windows that slide up for easy mail access to clear front glass panels that let you see if you have incoming mail. Sleek and modern, these mailboxes feature everything from large window panels to tiny cutouts that offer just a peek at what’s inside.
Double Door Options & Rear Retrieval Mailboxes
Double door and rear retrieval mailbox designs are both safety-first options for picking up your mail on a busy road. Double door mailboxes feature two openings to allow the postman to deposit the mail on one side and the homeowner to retrieve it via the other side. Rear-retrieval mailboxes, on the other hand, typically have a flap on the front for the mailman to deposit the incoming mail. The homeowner can then retrieve it from a secure access door on the back of the design.
The mailbox you choose is one of your home’s first impressions, so shop for a design that represents your personal sense of style. Whether you’re a fan of traditional silhouettes or more contemporary selections, your mailbox puts your favorite aesthetic on full display. Browse our complete assortment of mailboxes for the designs that speak to you, and use the tips above to narrow down your option based on material, finish, location, climate, and general safety needs. Doing so will ensure that your mailbox meets your postal service requirements (and boosts your home’s curb appeal).