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To the Letter: When And How To Replace Your Mailbox

Your mailbox is starting to look a little… old. It’s rust-covered and bent a bit to the side like it’s become your own personal Leaning Tower of Post. Plus, you’re pretty sure the holes in the wooden support aren’t from weathering.

After a decade of use, it’s time for the old box to retire.

But how do you go about upgrading? You’re not even sure where to begin.

Fortunately, there are a plethora of choices when replacing a mailbox, and finding the right one is easy with our handy guide. We’ll take you through the entire process of replacing your mailbox, from choosing the right one all the way to installation.

By the time we’re done, you’ll say “good riddance” to that old, rusted creature that haunted your drive for years.

Signs It’s Time

First off, let’s discuss when it’s really time for that grotesque, hunched thing by your driveway to go bye-bye. After all, no one wants to spend their extra money unless it’s necessary.

1. Danger

While it’s not likely to chomp off the mailperson’s hand, mailboxes can be dangerous.

If your mailbox is structurally unsound (for example, you’re worried it might take out a passerby strolling down the sidewalk any day), it’s time to replace it. Look for rotted wood or signs of poor mounting.

Likewise, if the item projects into the sidewalk or road, it is hazardous to drivers, bicyclists and more.

Even the material can be dangerous; the United States Postal Service (USPS) recommends avoiding any posts that are unyielding. Instead, posts should be stable but should bend or fall if a vehicle crashes into them.

Dangerous mailboxes can lead to liability cases, so it’s best to get these types replaced right away.

2. Broken or Damaged

If the poor thing isn’t functioning correctly, it’s a nuisance to you and the mail carrier. Get it replaced to make everyone’s lives better.

On the same note, if the product is damaged (for example, rust-covered or dented), consider replacing.

3. It’s Just Plain Ugly

Sure, some folks don’t mind having an ugly mailbox, but if you want something with a bit more curb appeal, it may be time for an upgrade.

Thankfully, it’s easy to find a mailbox that is a perfect fit for you and your home.

Steps for Replacing a Mailbox

So you’ve determined the box’s final days have come. Now, it’s up to you to find the right replacement.

Choosing a Product

There are five main types of personal mailboxes. Your first step in replacing the old bean is determining which type is right for you:

  1. Roadside: This is the type of mailbox you most likely have and the ones that are seen on roadsides across America. They make it easy for the mail carrier to slide post into the box without getting out of the car.
  2. Door Slots: Door slots are used often in small towns or apartment complexes. A small opening in the door allows carriers to deposit mail.
  3. Pedestal-Mounted: If you want a refined, old world look, a pedestal-mounted mailbox will do the trick. These come in various sizes and with different amounts of doors.
  4. Parcel Locker: Do you send or receive lots of packages? A parcel locker is a locked mailbox that is big enough to send and receive large parcels.
  5. Wall-Mounted: For in-town residents, a walking mail carrier usually delivers mail. Consequently, homeowners and renters have boxes mounted to the house, usually by a porch or entrance.

Personalize It

After deciding on the type of mailbox you would like, personalize it. You can create your own unique mailbox or purchase one from a retailer. Mailboxes can cost anywhere from $25 to thousands of dollars, so it’s best to take finances into consideration at this step.

If you’re creative or low on funds, making your own is an excellent way to have fun and save money. But personalizing doesn’t have to mean making your own box. A simple floral base does wonders for appearances.

Once you’ve decided on what would look best, purchase or make your new addition. Always check to ensure a purchased mailbox has the Postmaster General’s seal of approval.


Now comes the dreaded installation, but we promise the process is easier than most people anticipate.

The USPS has installation guidelines depending on the type of mailbox you choose, so always check to make sure you’re on par with regulations.

Roadside, Pedestal and Parcel Locker

For any box that will be by the road and has a support, installation involves digging a hole so the box sits between 41 and 45 inches from the road surface. The front of the box itself should be 6 to 8 inches from the curb.

Set the mailbox in the hole, measure for the regulations and use a level to keep it straight. Secure it with two support beams at the center. Fill the hole with soil or pour concrete to about 3 or 4 inches before the top of the hole.

If you used concrete, wait for it to dry before filling the remainder of the hole with soil. Tamp down the soil and attach the box.

Wall Mount

To install a wall mount box, mark where you would like the box to sit. It should be easily accessible for the mail carrier.

Next, use the appropriate drill bit for the wall’s material and drill 1/8 inch deeper than the screws you’ll be using. Apply exterior-grade acrylic caulk to avoid water damage and hammer in the wall anchors once it dries.

Attach the box.

Door Slot

Installing door slots is complicated, so you may want to hire a professional.

If you’re a confident do-it-yourself-er, remove the door. Use a piece of cardboard to mark where the letterbox will go by tracing it on the door. The bottom should be at least 30 inches from the bottom of the door.

Drill a hole on each corner of the traced box with a 3/8 inch drill bit. Use the holes as starting points for your jigsaw and cut out the traced box. Sand the wood, then insert the letterbox.

Drill in the pilot holes and screw holes, marking as needed, and fasten everything down.

Avoiding Painful Parcels

If it’s time to say goodbye to the old box, use it to your advantage to find the mailbox that’s the perfect addition. With these simple instructions, replacing a mailbox has never been easier.

However, the task can get even more convenient. At National Mailboxes, we offer an assortment of residential mailboxes at a price that’s right for you. View our selection and change your letter holder into something that will make you smile.

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