Installing a new mailbox

There’s a fine line between having your mailbox too close or too far away from the street, and in those cases where mailboxes end up being too far back from a slanted asphalt curb (like we see in most plans of new homes these days), homeowners often install pavers beyond the curb to prevent tire ruts from mail vehicles. Most pavers do best in the long run if they are installed on a compacted layer of gravel, to serve as a base.

This homeowner added a row of precast pavers between the asphalt curb and the mailbox to prevent tire ruts from mail vehicles.

This homeowner added a row of precast pavers between the asphalt curb and the mailbox to prevent tire ruts from mail vehicles.

Mailbox size

I prefer a large mailbox, one that easily holds magazines, large envelopes and even small parcels. If you wish to go even bigger, the US Postal Service (USPS) refers to those extra large mailboxes as being “next generation” with dimensions of:
13.63” wide
7.75” tall on sides (12" tall at center)
16.5” deep

Looking at the current 2019 US Postal Service regulations for mailboxes we find these additional details:

Every new mailbox design should be reviewed and receive the Postmaster General’s (PMG) seal of approval before it goes to market. If you opt to construct your own mailbox, it must meet the same standards as manufactured boxes, so show the plans to your local postmaster for approval.

Placing the Mailbox

  • Position your mailbox 41" to 45" from the road surface to the bottom of the mailbox or point of mail entry.

  • Place your mailbox 6" to 8" back from the curb. If you do not have a raised curb, contact your local postmaster for guidance.

  • Put your house or apartment number on the mailbox.

  • If your mailbox is on a different street from your house or apartment, put your full street address on the box.

  • If you are attaching the box to your house, make sure the postal carrier can reach it easily from your sidewalk, steps, or porch.

Installing the Post

The best mailbox supports are stable but bend or fall away if a car hits them. The Federal Highway Administration recommends:

  • A 4" x 4" wooden support or a 2"-diameter standard steel or aluminum pipe.

  • Avoid unyielding and potentially dangerous supports, like heavy metal pipes, concrete posts, and farm equipment (e.g., milk cans filled with concrete).

  • Bury your post no more than 24" deep.


As with any digging project, it’s extremely important to locate all utility lines, electric dog fences, television cable lines, lamp post wires, etc before starting to dig. Most areas have an “811” service you can call to have them mark the major utility lines.

Bob has a good set of posthole diggers for this and other projects, since other than the mailbox posts you can hammer into the ground with a sledge hammer, it really helps to have a good set of posthole diggers when digging a narrow 18 to 24-inch deep hole for a 4x4 wooden post:

Mailbox plantings

Finally, when landscaping around a mailbox that’s close to the street, you should use plants that are salt tolerant since road salt may get into the planting bed. Find a list of salt tolerant plants here.