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Can You Paint Your Mailbox? (And Does Color Matter?)

Can You Paint Your Mailbox? (And Does Color Matter?)
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Let’s face it, mailboxes go through a lot. They stand stoically outside our homes in the rain, snow, and blistering heat. These functional items add to the overall street appeal of your home, so keeping your mailbox in mint condition is important, and with some creativity and upkeep, it can be a showpiece item that sets the tone.

There are no restrictions limiting the color of curbside mailboxes in the United States. The mailbox color must contrast with the color of the carrier flag so that it is highly visible. While the box can be any color, carrier flag colors are limited and exclude green, brown, blue, yellow, and white.

If your mailbox is ready for a makeover, you’ve come to the right place. If you stick to some fairly simple USPS regulations, this can be a fun and creative project.

Can You Paint Your Mailbox?

Mailboxes can be a fun way for homeowners to express their personalities. While there are set specifications around minimum size, position, access, and lettering required on a curbside mailbox in the USA, there is plenty of leeway for some serious creativity.

However, homeowners should always keep in mind that although the USPS doesn’t have any particular limitations on the color of a mailbox, specific local homeowner’s associations may have their own regulations. Before you plan a colorful mailbox makeover, check that your intended style is in line with the look and feel of the neighborhood.

While the USPS does not limit the color of the actual mailbox, the color of the carrier flag does have some exclusions. These are green, yellow, blue, brown, and white.

These excluded colors have been found to be less visible for mail carriers from a distance. When viewing a mailbox, carrier flags in those colors can be hard to see depending on the season or the background.

When deciding on a color for your mailbox, keep two things in mind:

  1. The mailbox and the carrier flag must be contrasting colors, so the flag is highly visible when in the raised position
  1. The carrier flag may not be green, blue, yellow, brown, or white. The USPS notes that the preferred color of the carrier flag is fluorescent orange. However, the most important thing is that it stands out sharply in contrast with the mailbox.

When planning a mailbox-makeover, view your mailbox and home as an entire picture. The mailbox should complement the overall look and feel of the front of your home.

You can create a fun feature to match the landscaping, a theme, a season, or a statement piece that reflects your personality.

How to Paint a Metal Mailbox

Painting a mailbox is a fun project and an easy way to decorate. Remember that your mailbox is a functional item, so only remove it when you are ready to do the makeover and replace it as quickly as possible.

The mailbox on the curbside is usually the first thing you see when approaching a house. Let’s go through the steps required to give your metal mailbox a facelift and make it a showpiece in front of your home.

Don’t forget to refresh the pole that the mailbox stands on as part of the project.

  • Step 1: Remove the mailbox from its post and disassemble the parts.

Work in a defined space, so you don’t mislay essential parts during the project.

  • Step 2: Prepare the surface.

Whether you need to give your mailbox a facelift or want to change color schemes, first prepare the surface. Fresh paint will not adhere well if there are patches of peeling or cracked old paint.

Use a sanding block and get to work removing the old paint. Pay special attention to any areas where moisture may get in. Your mailbox needs to protect your mail in all weather conditions.

  • Step 3: Check for any dents or scratches that may show through the new paint.

Now that you have stripped off the old paint check it over for any rough edges or dents. Sand over deep scratches and hammer dents out from the inside using a small hammer.

  • Step 4: Apply a primer

Primer will protect a metal mailbox from corrosion and create an excellent adhesive surface for your final coat of paint.

A spray paint primer is ideal for this application since you can easily spray it into all the corners. Let the primer dry thoroughly before painting.

  • Step 5: Apply the final coat of paint

You can choose any color for your mailbox, but keep in mind that the paint should be specifically labeled for use on metal and exterior applications.

  • Step 6: Add finishing touches

This is the fun part. If you want to add some decorative stencils or unique designs to your mailbox, now is the time to do so.

  • Step 7: Reattach the carrier flag

While painting your mailbox, it is also a good idea to refresh your carrier flag, so it looks bright and new.

  • Step 8: Fix the mailbox back on the pole

Use new screws if required to reattach your mailbox in position on the pole firmly.

How to Paint Mailboxes Made from Other Materials

Not all mailboxes are made from metal, although they are the most common material. A mailbox can be made from wood, plastic, or other material, but specific guidelines need to be adhered to regarding minimum thicknesses and qualities of the structure.

In addition, the carrier flag, the base of the mailbox, and the door may not be made from wood. This is to avoid condensation on the mail, and the daily handling of the flag requires it to be made of more durable material.

However, it is possible to paint your mailbox no matter what material it is made from, provided you use suitable paint. If your mailbox is plastic, ensure that you use a paint specifically designed to adhere to plastic.

Before painting, any wooden areas on your mailbox must be sealed with a weatherproof primer. A wooden mailbox requires more regular maintenance than a plastic or metal one.

How to Paint a Mailbox Pole

When painting your mailbox, don’t forget about the pole it stands on. A quick lick of fresh paint will work wonders to complete the overall neat, crisp effect.

In particular, wooden mailbox poles require regular maintenance to keep them weather resistant and less prone to rot and pests like wood termites. Ensure that you will be able to work right down to the base of the pole. This often means trimming vegetation at the bottom of the mailbox pole.

Next, remove any removable numbers from the side of the mailbox pole. Put them somewhere safe so they can be reattached later.

Unless the mailbox pole is new, it will need to be cleaned and sanded before applying a new coating. Use a wire brush and medium-grit sandpaper to clean off any old paint to create a smooth surface.

When you have finished sanding, wipe the entire pole with a damp cloth to remove any loose bits of debris or flakes of paint.

Not all mailbox poles are the same, so the first step in any makeover project is to check what material it is made from. Some look like metal, but on closer inspection, you may find that it is made of a dense plastic material.

Once you have determined what your mailbox pole is made from, you can gather the suitable materials:

Metal poles – Weather-resistant exterior paint. It’s a good idea to use one that includes a rust inhibitor.

Wood – A primer plus exterior paint. These can be applied separately or purchased as an all-in-one product. The main thing is that it must be specifically made to use outdoors.

Plastic – choose a spray paint specifically made for plastic or an all in one primer-paint that works on plastics.

Apply the paint and let it dry. Then add a second coat to provide excellent coverage and durability.

Can You Decorate Your Mailbox?

Decorating your mailbox is allowed, and it can be a lot of fun to theme it according to the seasons or for special events. You need to be aware of a few stipulations as the mailbox must remain fully functional and easily accessible for the USPS carrier.

Things you can do on your mailboxThings you may not do on your mailbox
You can attach decorations to the mailboxDécor may not interfere with the mail delivery
You can paint your mailbox any color that contrasts with the carrier flagThere must not be any safety hazards, e.g., sharp edges or protruding nails
You can stick stickers on your mailbox so long as they are purely decorative and not advertising a company, or serviceUse a carrier flag that is blue, green, yellow, white, or brown
You use decals and stencils on your mailboxYou may not include advertising material or informational flyers on your mailbox.
You can include lights, flowers, ribbons, and wreathsNo political stickers should be on a mailbox as these constitute advertising
You can tie seasonal décor to the mailbox pole so long as the mailbox remains easily accessibleYour mailbox may not be transparent, toxic, or flammable

There are specifications around other elements like size, height, and position of the mailbox, so you can’t move an existing mailbox or use another type of box rather than a USPS-approved mailbox. They do have very specific, easy-to-follow regulations regarding mailboxes.

Remember to check with your Home Owners Association that it is okay to go ahead with your mailbox decorating project, as some areas have strict policies in this regard.

Can I Move My Mailbox?

If you are not happy with the position of your mailbox, or you need to move it because of home alterations, it is essential that you first check with your local post office.

To make mail delivery and pickup easier, USPS has some pretty specific regulations about where and how mailboxes are positioned. Here is a quick summary of their requirements:

  • Mailboxes must be installed at the height of between 41 and 45 inches, measured from the road’s surface to the inside floor of the mailbox.
  • The front entry point of the mailbox should be set back 6-8 inches from the front edge of the curb to the mailbox door.

While it is unlikely that your local Post Master will object if you need to move your mailbox a few feet to the left or right, it is always better to get the necessary go-ahead before making any changes to its current position.

How Can I Make My Mailbox Nice?

Creating something special doesn’t only mean bold colors and lavish decorations. By thinking out of the box, your mailbox can be a reflection of your style.

A unique, understated, and creative idea is to add a layer of highly patterned decorative wallpaper to the inside of a conservative-looking black mailbox. This is an unusual touch and naturally very much enjoyed by the mail carrier each time they made a delivery.

Mailboxes on their poles can look very attractive when positioned in small definite garden areas or have hanging flowering plants attached to the pole. There are plenty of creative ways to make your mailbox a showpiece and not simply a functional box for receiving letters.

You can theme your mailbox to fit the season or the region. Mailbox poles in desert regions can feature cowboy elements like wagon wheels and be situated in cactus gardens. More formal settings can be adorned with ironwork accents or set in ornate stone bases.

So long as your Home Owners Association approves and your mailbox meets the basic regulations required by the USPS, your mailbox can be a unique work of art or statement piece in front of your home.

Final Thoughts

The USPS has set no limitation on the colors allowed for mailboxes. The only restriction is that the carrier flag needs to be a visible color that contrasts with the mailbox. The flag may not be brown, white, green, blue, or yellow.

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