How to install a Mailbox

When we moved in to our house over 6 years ago, the charming place came adorned with a dorky cow mailbox. I didn’t like it, and neither did Sam. So guess what we did for 6 years? Haha… nothing.

How do you install a mailbox? Turns out there are some local and federal regulations that you must follow for mailbox placement. If you are part of a Home Owner’s Association, there are most likely rules and guidelines for your mailbox as well. After checking with the City/County, and/or HOA, follow the United States Postal Service guidelines:

“General USPS Requirements for Curbside Residential Mailboxes

Mailboxes must be placed 6 to 8 inches away from the curb; the slot or door must be 41 to 45 inches from the ground. Curbside mailbox posts should be buried less than 24 inches deep and made from wood no larger than 4 inches high by 4 inches wide.

Mailbox placement regulations. There you have it.

Why are there mailbox regulations?

Mailbox regulations are for the USPS delivery drivers, and for your city’s liability. Delivery drivers need to be able to quickly place your mail in your box so they can quickly get on with the delivery 100’s of other citizens mail on their route. Thus, the mailbox height at 41-45 inches off the ground is perfect for a mail delivery driver.

Mailbox placement 6-8 inches away from the curb is a perfect distance to reach for the delivery driver. It’s also important to note that if you live in an area with a lot of snow, the city may make rounds with their giant snow removal trucks. If your mailbox is placed too close to the curb, and gets damaged one winter during a snow removal pass, the city will not be liable for replacing your mailbox.

Mailbox Door Replacement

Our mailbox door was coming off it’s hinges long before we actually replaced the whole box itself. As it turns out, it’s actually cheaper to replace the whole box, than it is to order a door by itself. A case where it may be sensible to order a door by itself, is if your box is enclosed by a cement or brick structure, or if it’s a custom built mailbox.

On to our project:

Our little cow mailbox was also awkwardly placed, being a little too close to the driveway. When we had our trash cans set out for the weekly pickup, we had to line the cans as close to the driveway as possible, as requested by our mailman, so they could drive up to our mailbox without being blocked out by garbage cans.

Well, Dad got us started on our new project the other day when he didn’t see the mailbox, and backed his truck into it, pushing the pole a bit off center. We needed a bit of motivation to replace this guy! And to be honest, I almost did the same thing when moving my SUV last winter.

Sam got out all the tools he needed, and started working on removing this thing.

A man sitting on the ground next to a damaged mailbox that was painted with cow spots

And took the mailbox off it’s stand. Goodbye cow mailbox. How I won’t miss thee!

A man standing next to a bent mailbox pole holding a damaged mailbox that has been removed from its stand

Next, Sam pulled out this post, using his truck to move it back and forth a few times. The thing was dug down and set a full 2 feet underground, just like the guidelines state for mailbox placement. And believe me, we needed the truck to pull that post out.

Sam came inside while I was cleaning up the house, and asked me to look up how far off the ground a mailbox has to be. “Google it.” So I did, which is when I found out about all of the guidelines and regulations about mailbox placement as described above.

I missed some after photos of removing the old metal mailbox pole, and some before photos of this lovely mailbox post, and so we pick up here, with this 4×4 oak post cemented into the ground. Here’s what you missed

  • 1. Dig a 1-2ft hole. Using a manual post hole digger is the easiest method for this project.
  • 2. Pour your cement: you can mix the cement in the hole, or in a separate container.
  • 3. Insert your post, and make sure it is level. We used our handy saw horses and a wood clamp to secure the position of our new wood mailbox post overnight. Let the cement dry for at least 6 hours.
  • What kind of post should I use for a mailbox?
  • The USPS regulations states that a wooden post 4×4 inches is the largest that should be placed for a wooden stand, and for a metal post, the largest that you should use is 2 inches in diameter.
  • An oak 4x4 cemented in the ground with sawhorses and clamps around it for support

    Our post wasn’t quite long enough, so my engineer Sam inserted some heavy duty bolts in the end of this piece of oak, before placing it on the top of the hole filled with wet concrete, which extended its length about 6-8 inches.

    And the rocks placed around the concrete ended up there quite by accident. They came from the 2 foot hole Sam dug, for this post. When the cement we mixed started spilling out of the hole a bit, the rocks were a welcome addition to our new mailbox stand.

    Kind of charming, eh?

    Next came the stand/frame for the mailbox to sit upon.

    Mailbox Mounting Bracket

    While Sam and I were at the store buying our new mailbox, I thought we should purchase a mounting bracket as well. Sam said “Nah, I don’t think we need that kit.” So we went without the mounting bracket, and instead; here comes our instruction #4:

    4. Build a frame. (If you’ve purchased a stand with a frame on it, you can skip this step) Sam mitre cut and built the frame, and added the middle bracer and the angled support.

    How do you Secure a Mailbox without a Mounting Bracket kit?

    As it turns out, you can mount the box on top of a frame, and attach the box through pre-drilled holes on the bottom trim of the mailbox itself. See below how we accomplished this task!

    An oak mailbox post with a frame and support for the mailbox to be placed upon

    And last of all?

    5. Place and secure the mailbox! Sam built the frame so this box would fit right over the frame. Secure the mailbox using screws or nails, attaching along the bottom sides of the box, through the pre-punched holes in the metal.

    A woman standing next to a new black mailbox installed on a wooden post.

    6. Place your house/apartment numbers on the mailbox for your postman/woman to view easily. Hey- this also helps food delivery drivers too!

    Where can you buy mailbox stickers?

    Most home improvement stores stock your standard mailbox stickers. You can also use your imagination! Craft stores may have some more unique fonts as well as stencils that can be re-used for other DIY projects. Paint on your house/apartment numbers instead!

    And, Viola! You’ve got… mail!

    With Love, Erika Nora


      • Yahoo! We finally replaced the cow mailbox! Thanks Tiffany. Now we are getting on to finishing more of the inside of the house. Progress has been slow, but sure 😊


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