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Mailbox Options-Which One is Right for You?


Are you planning on replacing your old and rusty mailbox? There are different types of mailboxes to consider. While a mailbox can instantly add character and style its serves a greater purpose than just decoration, so its important to find one that will best fit your needs.

Different Types of Mailboxes | Which One Is Right For You?

Dear James: Now that I am living alone, I can finally install a neat mailbox to replace my old black one. What types of decorative mailboxes do you recommend, and would it be difficult for me to install one myself? — Connie C.

Dear Connie: The array of decorative mailboxes is nearly endless. You can find them at home center stores, craft shops, summer craft fairs and many online sources. If you have the skills to get the old mailbox off the post, or the entire post out of the ground, you will have no problems installing a new one.

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Decorative mailboxes are attractive and they give your home character, but they sometimes attract unwanted attention from vandals. High school kids like to drive by with a Louisville Slugger and play “mailbox baseball.” In some areas vandals destroy up to 35 percent of the mailboxes each year.

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It’s a good idea to check with local police to find out if mailbox vandalism is a serious problem where you live.

Some decorative options can be quite expensive and you wouldn’t want to replace yours several times a year. If your neighborhood  has problems with mailbox vandalism, consider installing a  strong, steel mailbox.

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It would be less likely to draw attention and, should vandals take a swing at it with a bat, it would damage the bat more than the mailbox. Another option is a protective steel cover made to fit over it

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Plastic is another option and they tend to resist dents.

Plastic can be painted to a color of your liking, and it is easy to drill holes into it. You would be able to decorate it however you want to. In cold climates, however, plastic can become brittle during the winter. So even a glancing blow from a bat or a thrown rock might crack it.

One attractive way to make a mailbox unique is to create a decorative, hand-painted wooden sculpture to fit around an existing metal or plastic mailbox. Woodendipity  800-876-1928) offers these in various themes — wildlife, sports, pets, hobbies, etc. They are made of cedar or pine and signed and dated. Your nearby craft shop might offer inexpensive mailbox covers for holidays or special occasions.

Installing a Mailbox

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Many mailboxes are installed on a four-by-four wooden post. Check with your post office, but generally, the bottom of the mailbox must be installed 42 inches above ground. It should be located approximately 2 feet from the side of the road and your house numbers on it should be at least 1 inch tall.

To install one, dig a hole in the ground with a posthole digger. Dig to a depth below the frost line in your area so the post does not heave during winter. Make the hole big enough so there is plenty clearance around the post. Pour some gravel in the bottom, place the post in the hole and fill it to the top with gravel. Use the mounting brackets that came with the mailbox to attach it to the post.

You might want to set the post in concrete, but you should check your local municipal building codes beforehand. Many local building codes have been changed to prohibit the use of concrete for safety reasons. If a vehicle runs into a mailbox with its post set in gravel, the post will pull out more easily, lessening the chance of injury to the occupants of the vehicle.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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