How to Choose a Mailbox

Mailboxes are a small yet essential part of any home. The color and style of your mailbox can make it a charming accent piece, whether it’s on your front porch or at the end of your driveway.

Mailboxes are available in numerous styles, sizes, and materials, so there are many things to consider when choosing one. Fortunately, it’s not hard to find one that suits your needs and matches your home.

Which Mailbox Style is Best for Me?

Common mailbox styles vary widely, especially for urban and rural settings. The best mailbox style for you will partly depend on local regulations and the kind of home you live in. Choose a mailbox that is convenient for you, but still accessible for postal workers.

  • Post-Mounted

Mailboxes are often mounted on posts, especially in suburban or rural areas where postal workers drive between houses. The post is typically installed in concrete poured into the ground.

Red Galvanized Steel Plastic Post Mounted Mailbox
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Bronze Aluminum Post Mounted Mailbox
Black Steel Plastic Post Mounted Mailbox
Steel Black Post Mounted Mailbox
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  • Column-Mounted

Some mailboxes are built into columns, which often makes them sturdier. They also hold up well in frigid weather. Stone columns can add a regal element to your front yard.

Bright Red Freestanding Fiberglass Drop Box
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Red Cast Iron Column Box
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Gray Plastic Freestanding Vertical Column Box
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Gray Stone Post Mounted Mailbox
  • Wall-Mounted

Small mailboxes can be mounted to a porch column or the front of the house. These are more common in cities or in the suburbs with very short driveways. Some postal regulations may disallow these, especially in rural areas with long driveways.

Black Cast Aluminium Wall Mounted Mailbox
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Vintage Zinc Galvanized Iron Sheet Metal Wall Mounted Mailbox
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Gold Metallic Metal Wall Mounted Mailbox
French Bronze Cast Aluminum Wall Mounted Mailbox
Rustic Metal Steel Industrial Style Wall Mounted Mailbox
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  • Mail Slots

Usually, mail slots don’t have a box attached at all. Mail slots are best for urban homes and apartments. Postal regulations may disallow these in sparsely populated areas.

Bronze Steel Horizontal Mail Slot
Rubbed Bronze Brass Mail Slot
  • Multi-Family

These are typically most appropriate for apartments but may be a good option for urban duplexes. Multi-family mailboxes have a key for each individual unit’s mail. Though many are made of utilitarian steel or aluminum, they are also available in other materials and colors.

  • Mail Vaults

People who receive a lot of packages may want to invest in a mail vault. This is a large, locking mailbox that is designed to hold packages up to a specific size.

Black Plastic Freestanding Parcel Locker
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Medium Black Aluminum Wall Mounted Mailbox
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Tan Plastic Storage Delivery Column Box
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Wood Grain Steel Large Post Mounted Mailbox
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Which Mailbox Material is Best?

The most important aspects to consider are weather resistance and overall durability when choosing your mailbox material. Any of these materials can work well, as long as they are weatherproofed.

  • Steel

Steel is strong and can be formed into almost any shape and size. Although it is corrosion-resistant, it may require some additional weatherproofing. Painted steel is often highly rust-resistant and will hold up for decades.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum is not as strong as steel, but it is somewhat lighter. It also requires additional protection to be as weather-resistant as possible.

  • Plastic

Plastic is weaker than aluminum and steel but is very weather-resistant. High-quality plastic mailboxes can last for many years.

  • Stone

For column-mounted mailboxes, a stone exterior provides weather resistance and stability. Stone columns can be permanent fixtures if they are protected from severe damage.

  • Wood

Some mailbox styles have a wooden exterior to give it a rustic appearance. These mailboxes are attractive but may not hold up well over time unless they are properly maintained and treated.

What’s the Best Color For a Mailbox?

The best mailbox color for your home will depend on the overall color scheme of your home. Jewel tones make excellent accent colors, as do subtle blues and slate gray. Choose a color that matches your home’s existing external accent colors.

Black and white mailboxes were traditionally very common, but now, mailboxes are available in a wide range of colors. Even stone columns can be customized in various neutral tones.

What Size Mailbox Do I Need?

  • Post-mounted mailboxes come in a limited number of sizes, and most families get the standard 6.5” x 19” mailbox.

  • Large size mailboxes are 8” x 21”, which allows slightly larger packages and more mail overall. Column-mounted mailboxes are available in similar sizes.

  • Families with more than five people will definitely want the larger size, but even small families may need that size if they receive a lot of mail or small packages.

  • Wall-mounted mailboxes tend to be much smaller, and sometimes don’t fit large envelopes easily.

  • Mail slots are typically wide enough to accommodate magazines and envelopes less than 2.5” thick.

Should I Get a Personalized Mailbox?

Unless you’re planning to move soon, a personalized mailbox is an excellent addition to your home’s curb appeal. A personalized mailbox can be helpful for guests trying to find your house and to help postal workers be sure they’re delivering the correct mail.

Many mailboxes are available with customized, built-in personalization. Letter stickers can also be used to personalize a mailbox after purchase, but it’s better to have a professional do it.

Quick Tips

  • Post-mounted and column-mounted mailboxes are the safest bet for rural and suburban homes. Wall-mounted boxes and mail slots are an option for urban homes, especially ones that don’t receive much mail.
  • Most materials can be appropriately weatherproofed for years of use. Steel, aluminum, and plastic are common for post-mounted mailboxes.
  • Look for accent colors that provide a bit of contrast for the front of your home.
  • Choose a large size mailbox if you have more than five family members. Standard size will work for most smaller families.
  • Locking mailboxes are a solid investment, but newspaper holders and rear hatch access are optional.
  • Personalization is an excellent touch for long-term residents.

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