How to buy a mailbox
A mailbox buying guide
Mailboxes serve a simple purpose, but there are different types of mailboxes for different settings. Deciding how to buy a mailbox for your specific needs involves considering various mailbox designs, mailbox sizes and mailbox styles. Become familiar with the different features of mailboxes so that you can hone in on the best mailboxes for your home or workplace.
>> How many mailboxes do you need?
The first step in the process of how to buy a mailbox is determining how many mailboxes you need. Think about the function of the mailbox. Will it collect mail for one home or multiple homes? Do you need a mailbox to sort mail for multiple people in an office?
Your options for types of mailboxes include single mailbox units or cluster units. The former are for gathering all of the mail that the post office delivers to a single address. If you're the only person receiving mail at an address or you're willing to sort the mail for other people sharing your address, you can look at single mailboxes. A cluster mailbox contains multiple mailboxes in a single unit. If you want the mail carrier to sort the mail at your address, this type of mailbox is appropriate. These are also used apartment buildings, condominiums and homeowner's associations. If you need a cluster mailbox, make sure it contains an adequate number of individual boxes to meet your needs.
>> Consider the type and quantity of mail you receive
There are many different mailbox sizes and determining which one you need is an important aspect of deciding how to buy a mailbox. You can choose the right size by assessing how much and what kind of mail you receive. If you get a large amount of mail daily, or typically receive small packages, then you'll want a larger mailbox that provides the space you need. A smaller mailbox should suffice if you usually receive only regular envelopes and magazines in normal amounts.
When you consider different mailbox sizes, it's often best to err on the side of a larger mailbox. If your mailbox fills up, you might have to go to the post office to pick up the overflow of mail. A mailbox that's a bit bigger than you need helps ensure that you receive all of your mail at home.
>> Choose how to mount the mailbox
When you shop for mailboxes, think about how you want to mount your unit. There are two mailbox styles when it comes to mounting: post-mounted and wall-mounted. Your local mail carrier might deliver the mail from a vehicle, and the post office might not permit him or her to leave the vehicle. If your home is set back from the street, the only way you might be able to receive mail is with a curbside mailbox. A post-mounted mailbox, which is a freestanding post that supports a mailbox, might therefore make more sense than a wall-mounted one. There are mailbox posts that you need to insert into the ground for stability, and you can also choose from a variety of unique mailbox base poles. These are poles that use bottom-weighting for stability. If you want your mailbox to accent your property, you should also consider decorative mailbox posts.
Wall-mounted mailboxes attach directly to a wall outside of your home or apartment building, or a wall inside your apartment building's foyer. These make sense if your local mail carrier operates on foot. He or she can walk right up to your home or apartment building to deliver the mail, making your trip to retrieve the mail a bit shorter. Consult your local post office if you're unsure whether or not you can use a wall-mounted mailbox.
>> Choose the mailbox material
Manufacturers use different materials to produce different types of mailboxes. Choosing one of these materials is another important aspect of how to buy a mailbox. The table below briefly details the benefits and features of different mailbox materials.
Benefits and features
|Aluminum ||Lightweight and rust-resistant. Might have a powder coating for extra protection against wet weather. |
|Steel ||Durable and rust-resistant. Might have a powder coating for extra protection against wet weather. |
|Copper ||Durable and classically stylish. Retains newer appearance longer if you periodically apply a lacquer finish. |
|Brass ||Durable and classically stylish. Also benefits from a lacquer finish, and you can polish it to restore its luster. |
|Wood ||Attractive and popular for country homes. You can periodically apply sealant to maintain the wood's appearance. |
|Plastic ||Durable and easily maintained. The thicker the plastic is, the more durable the mailbox is likely to be. |
Aluminum, steel, copper and brass are all metal mailboxes and therefore highly durable. You might prefer wood if your home is in a rural setting. If you prefer a mailbox that requires little to no upkeep, plastic is a common choice.
>> Consider mailbox features
You'll also want to consider certain features when determining how to buy a mailbox. Locks and rear doors are two of the more common and convenient features of a mailbox you might want. If you would like to protect the contents of your mailbox, you might want to look at security mailboxes. These mailboxes feature a locking mechanism that grants access to only you and possibly your local mail carrier. Some security mailboxes have a lock for which only you will have a key. They usually have a slot into which your mail carrier can insert your mail. Many cluster mailboxes have a master lock on the back for which your mail carrier has a key. The master lock enables the mail carrier to open the back door of the cluster unit and distribute the mail to the boxes in the unit. Individuals each have their own unique key for their mailbox so that they're only ones who can retrieve mail from it.
Some mailbox designs have a rear door. This gives you the extra convenience of retrieving your mail without stepping into the street. You might appreciate this feature on a curbside mailbox if you would like to stay near the sidewalk when getting your mail.
>> Choose your mailbox accessories
When you shop for mailboxes, look for accessories that complement the unit you choose. Mailbox flags signal to your mail carrier that you have outgoing mail. Mailbox numbers are necessary additions, but they can also add style to the unit and help guests and other people see your address more clearly. Choosing the right accessories therefore helps you get even more benefits from your mailbox.
Be sure to read up as much as you feel is necessary on the specific mailboxes you are considering. This way you can make an informed decision on whether or not those mailboxes are the right ones for you.