How to Paint, Stain and Repair a Leaning or Worn Mailbox
Are you embarrassed by your roadside mailbox? Is the paint chipped or does it lean like the Tower of Pisa? The mailbox is the “introduction” to your home. It’s usually the first thing guests notice when they arrive. Make the postman a happy camper by repairing your worn, leaning or broken letter holder.
How to Repair a Leaning Mailbox
Mailboxes mounted on posts tend to lean over time due to soil conditions, rotting wood or physical damage. If the lean is slight and there’s no concern of a broken, rotting or damaged post underground, follow these steps to straighten the stake.
- Dig a shallow hole around the perimeter of the mailbox post, until the stake moves slightly.
- Wedge the post to an upright position by filling the hole with hardscape materials such as rocks, sand, gravel, or a concrete mix.
- Compact the hardscape material firmly into the hole. If you’re using rocks, pour in the sand to fill in any air pockets.
- Replace any fill dirt and grass to ground level.
Choosing and Installing a New Mailbox Post
Mailbox posts are sold at hardware stores and home centers, and available in a wide range of materials:
Molded plastic posts are available in a variety of shapes, color, and designs. Some have extras such as newspaper holders. Plastic mailbox posts are very durable and will outlast most wood or metal posts.
Metal- Galvanized Steel or Aluminum
Galvanized steel posts are very durable, but aluminum posts, although more costly, won’t rust like galvanized steel.
Wood posts are economical and a natural looking choice. They are available in pine, cedar, redwood and other wood varieties and both untreated and pressure treated.
A simple 4×4 or 6×6 cut from the hardware store or home center can serve as a sturdy post. You’ll also need a 3/4″ to 1″ section to serve as a base support for the mailbox. Size the length of this piece to leave some free space at the front so the mailbox door can open and close freely.
Installing the Post
Using a post hole digger, dig a hole 18″ to 24″ deep. If you have rocky soil, use a mason’s bar to pry up and remove large rocks.
Throw 4″ to 6″ of gravel or small stones into the bottom of the hole to improve drainage. Hold the post upright as you fill it, making minor adjustments as you go.
Tamp down the soil with a shovel handle or a mason’s bar, packing it in every 6″ to 12″ or so, filling in around the post. Check to make sure the post is vertical as you go. Use a level by placing it on the side of the post.
- Before filling the hole, add a few large rocks around the post for support.
- Check with your local US post office concerning postal mailbox regulations regarding box placement, including height, location, and distance.
Painting or Staining Your Mailbox
If your mailbox has a chip in it or is faded and dirty, freshen it up with a new coat of paint or stain.
First, clean the interior and exterior of the box removing any mildew, mold or lichen. Spray on Wet & Forget Outdoor mold and mildew cleaner being sure to saturate any growth. Walk away, and let the rain and wind do the work for you – no scrubbing or scraping required.
- Drop cloth
- Cleaning rag
- Soapy hot water
- Wire brush
- Painter’s tape
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Spray paint or stain for metal, plastic, or wood; your selected color, plus red
- Narrow foam brush
Find a well-ventilated area to do the job, such as the garage. Put down the drop cloth.
Remove the mailbox from the post with a screwdriver. Set the screws aside.
Dip a cleaning rag in hot soapy water and wipe down the surfaces, inside and out, removing oils, dust, and dirt. Rinse and dry.
Check the mailbox surfaces for signs of rust. If you find a rust spot, use a wire brush to remove it. Wipe away any loose metal shavings or paint flakes with a clean rag.
Wrap the mailbox flag in painter’s tape to protect it from overspray.
Spray the mailbox with primer making sure to cover the door, back and the area underneath the door. Applying a primer will provide a textured surface for the paint to adhere to more easily. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours.
Apply the paint, spraying in sections in slow, even strokes. Let dry 24 hours.
After cleaning your mailbox, sand the wood evenly to remove any extra debris on the mailbox.
Spray the mailbox in sections with your stain. Wipe off excess stain for a lighter coating, or apply the stain a second time to get a darker coat on your mailbox. Let the stain dry for 24 hours.
Remove the painter’s tape from the flag. Paint the flag using a narrow foam brush and a dab of red metallic paint.
When the mailbox and flag are dry, place the box back on the post and reattach it with the screws.
Mailboxes can wear and tear as they are regularly exposed to the elements. Your mailbox will be looking brand new after repairing the post and painting the surface! Sprucing up your mailbox will add significant curb appeal to your home.
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