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I Want to Build a Custom, Curbside Mailbox. What Rules Do I Follow?

When you want to improve the curb appeal of your home and improve its value, your mailbox is an easy to miss aspect of your overall presentation. After all, it has the unappreciated job of collecting bills, notices, and advertisements from the USPS.

However, your mailbox also collects packages, holiday cards, and other fun mailings, so why not create a custom, attractive mailbox?

Many homeowners build their own mailboxes, and we see mailboxes shaped like barns, fish, mini houses, and even outhouses (for collecting those pesky bills and the large volume of mail that is marketing.) Custom paint jobs can help the curb appeal of an entire property if the mailbox matches the style and palette of a home.

While there are thousands of ways to build your custom mailbox, there are some rules to follow to ensure that the USPS will be able to deliver to your mailbox safely and easily. Before you begin a custom build,

Check With Your Local Authorities First

You’ll want to do two things before embarking on your own custom mailbox, and that’s to check with the USPS and your local government.

Showing your plans to the USPS will help you determine whether your mailbox will be compliant with their regulations for curbside mailboxes. You can read more about these below, and during this step, you’ll want to ask for the postmaster.

Some cities and counties have their own additional regulations for mailboxes, including where they can be placed, and which materials are acceptable for construction. These usually tie to safety concerns such as winter weather or placement on state highways.

Some materials may be prohibited in some areas, such as metal mailbox posts or stone in your mailbox design. Again, these are tied to driver safety.

If you are confused, you can contact the US Postal Service Engineering department for more detailed instructions on how to construct your own mailbox. Measurements and illustrations are also available.

Follow the Right Dimensions

Knowing the expected dimensions of your mailbox is crucial to ensuring you receive USPS delivery when it’s completed.

First, make sure you have a location that’s six to eight inches back from the curb to install your custom mailbox. This location must be on the same side of the road or street as the other mailboxes on your stretch of road. If yours is the only mailbox in the area, check with the USPS to ensure you’re installing on the right side of the street. The USPS will not deliver to an odd mailbox that doesn’t line up with the others in the area.

If you don’t have a distinct curb, ask your local postmaster about how to proceed.

When choosing a mailbox and post, make sure the finished product (your custom mailbox) will stand between 41 and 45 inches high. This is to ensure the USPS employee can easily place and remove mail from your mailbox without stepping out of their vehicle and jeopardizing their safety. In other words, the floor of your actual mailbox needs to be this high from the ground.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to bury your post deep enough to keep your mailbox steady, but no farther than two feet in the ground. This will factor into the final height of your mailbox.

Use the Right Materials

No matter where you live, federal regulations ban the use of certain materials when putting together your custom mailbox.

Remember that while unfortunate, drivers hitting mailboxes is all too common, and the last thing you want to do is cause someone a life-changing injury. To avoid this, be sure that you use no “unyielding” materials to support your mailbox. All curbside mailboxes should “fall away” when struck to avoid damage to vehicles, drivers, and passengers.

Though it may be tempting, cannot use supports such as jugs filled with concrete, pillars of stone, or thick metal posts that won’t give way when struck by vehicles.

Metal posts shouldn’t be more than 2 inches thick and should be made of steel or aluminum. Keep wooden posts to 4 x 4 inches at the maximum.

The good news is that if your post is damaged or broken, it is easy and inexpensive to replace. Vendors such as National Mailboxes have posts for sale in a variety of styles.

Place Everything Correctly

When making a custom mailbox, you’ll need a flag and an address number. If your mailbox will be on a street other than where your home is, you’ll also need the entire street address on your mailbox.

This number should be on the front of your mailbox, or on the same side of your mailbox as those on your street.

Newspaper receptacles should not rest or be supported by the mailbox and should be flush with the mailbox. That is, they should not stick out farther than the mailbox itself. That’s why placing them to the side of a mailbox is often the best choice. Also be sure not to obstruct your address number or your mailbox flag, and of course, do not obstruct the mailbox itself.

Your newspaper receptacle should be blank or contain only the text for the publication which will be using it. Avoid any marketing on the receptacle.

Mailbox toppers are also available and can add a flair to your project for a low price. These are placed on the top of your mailbox.

Contact Us Today for Mailbox Accessories

Here at National Mailboxes, we offer many attractive accessories and replacement parts for your curbside mailbox. These include toppers, address numbers, mounting hardware, flags, and wraps to help you make your mailbox your own. You can also pick and choose and build your own custom mailbox from our selection. Be sure to reach out today if you have any questions regarding your project.