Having recently moved, we loved our beautiful new yard. It was spacious and neatly groomed with lots of seasonal foliage.
However, there was just one thing that needed a fix – our leaning mailbox. When I opened the box to collect our letters, the mail would literally fall right out.
To make matters worse, the wood on the mailbox post seemed to be rotting. And, there was the day that the mail was covered with ants.
Here we had this amazing yard with an eyesore of a mailbox. I was on a mission to fix the old mailbox.
Here’s a closer picture of our mailbox before the makeover. You can’t tell just how badly the mailbox was leaning in this photo, but you can see how badly the mailbox needed to be beautified.
I was hoping Ash would take on this mailbox fix project soon, but he was preoccupied building the shed.
So, I did want I do best, and I got project “how to fix your mailbox”rolling.
Planning Mailbox 2.0
To kick off fixing up our mailbox, I did what I usually do for exterior projects: I went on a few walks around the neighborhood looking at other mailboxes, deciding what I wanted for version 2.0.
Taking walks around your neighborhood is almost like searching through Pinterest. You can see what you like, see what you don’t like, and make an idea work for you.
For our updated mailbox, I decided on the classic look of a white mailbox post with a black mailbox, as it really made the red flag pop.
To keep the mailbox momentum going, Ash made the material list, and I offered to pick up the materials.
I love using Home Depot’s store pick-up, especially for heavy items, since the materials are already pulled aside and placed in a cart.
Then, all I have to do is get them from the cart to the car, which usually is not a problem.
This time, I struggled a little with the 6 ft posts – they were a lot heavier than they looked! Yet, I managed, as I was determined to not catch our falling mail anymore.
With the materials for the mailbox now laying around the garage, Ash started working on the new mailbox post. Victory!
How to Build a New Mailbox Post
The mailbox post design was fairly simple. It consisted of 2 perpendicular pieces of 4 x 4 pressure-treated wood joined together with a lap joint.
The vertical 4 x 4 would have about 2 feet submerged into the ground for support, with the remaining 4 feet above ground. The horizontal 4 x 4 served as a mounting piece for the mailbox.
Finally, a shorter piece of 4 x 4 ran diagonally below this horizontal 4 x 4 to provide additional support, stability, and aesthetic appeal.
The first step of the mailbox post process was cutting the 4 x 4s. After, Ash created the lap joint.
This joint was very simple to make and was very strong. It involved cutting out half the thickness of 2 pieces of wood, and combining them together, as in the diagram below:
He used his 7 1/4″ circular saw, with the depth of the blade set to half the thickness of the 4×4 (so 1¾”).
Then, he repeatedly ran many perpendicular cuts into the wood, staying within the confines of the outlined groove. This left him with slivers of wood that he easily removed with a hammer and chisel.
Finally, he used a small Mouse sander to smooth out the carved groove, since the chisel left it a little rough. If you happen to have a set of dado blades for your table saw, you can also use those to cut the lap joint groove. (I’ll have to remember that when I need a gift for Ash.)
After repeating the process for the second piece of 4×4, he applied some construction adhesive to the grooves and merged the 2 cuts. He further strengthened the joint with 2 lag bolts.
Using 2 more lag bolts, he attached the diagonal support piece to reinforce the mailbox arm. The new mailbox post now had its basic design.
How to Paint the Old Mailbox and New Post
I then applied 2 coats of white exterior paint to the mailbox post and let it dry overnight.
The next day happened to be Sunday, which was perfect for replacing the existing mailbox (no mail delivery). We didn’t want our mailman puzzling over where to deliver our mail.
The old mailbox came out quickly. I unscrewed the box itself and put it aside for some refurbishing.
I removed the red flag post and sprayed the metal mailbox container with some black exterior spray paint.
If you are looking to fix your mailbox – fresh paint works wonders.
How to Install a New Mailbox Post
As the paint was drying, Ash used a sledge hammer and pounded the old rotting mailbox post out of the ground.
We started to think about how to securely install the new post, so we wouldn’t have to deal with another slanted mailbox down the road.
The old post was just stuck in the ground with a long metal spike, and over time, it started leaning forward. So, in figuring how to fix our leaning mailbox, we decided to use concrete.
So, Ash prepped the new mailbox post by partially screwing in some lag bolts at the bottom.
These bolts would be engulfed in concrete and provide some extra grip to prevent the mailbox post from lifting up out of the concrete.
They would also give the mailbox post a lot of stability and help prevent any wiggling inside the concrete over time.
He then dug a 2 feet deep hole where the mailbox post would be going. Then, Ash made the hole about 1 foot wide for the concrete.
Of course, Ash sent me to Home Depot again for a 50-pound bag of concrete mix for fixing up the mailbox post. (Good thing I have practice from those 40-pound dog food bags!)
Before mixing the concrete, he had to get the mailbox post in place and leveled properly. He dropped it in the hole and used a level to get it standing straight up.
Then using some scrap wood, he nailed on some temporary wooden supports to keep the mailbox post in place.
For the concrete, Ash emptied the mix into the wheelbarrow. Then, he used the original packaging box as a measurement cup and added in the correct proportions of water per the directions.
He gave the mixture a really good mixing with a shovel until all the chunks were gone and a nice flowing slurry of concrete was left. After, he tilted the wheelbarrow and carefully poured the mixture into the mailbox hole.
Ash let the concrete dry for most of the day in the hot sun. By evening time, he was out working again. He removed the temporary supports from the mailbox post and gave it a gentle push.
The brand new mailbox post stood very firm and straight in the concrete.
Happy with the results, we covered the rest of the hole with extra dirt and packed it down tightly with an 8 lb tamper.
How to Finish Up Fixing the Mailbox
For decorative purposes, I had purchased a pointed plastic fence post cap to install at the top of this mailbox post. It made the mailbox look so stately.
Sized to fit a 4 x 4 mailbox post, it went on very easily. I secured it in place with some small screws.
Then, we attached the freshly painted mailbox to the new post, and adhered some exterior numbering stickers for the address.
Here’s a picture of our fixed up mailbox:
Our slanted eyesore of a mailbox became a stately structure almost overnight.
We now had a beautiful mailbox which suited the rest of the yard. This fixing up our mailbox project that had a huge impact for minimal cost and effort.
If you are looking to fix your mailbox, you can’t go wrong with price or simplicity. The total cost was under $20. We completed it over the course of a weekend. A prefabricated mailbox of this quality would cost at least $80. If you are looking to fix your mailbox up, doing it yourself is definitely the way to go.
The best part? Our mailbox stood perfectly tall at 90 degrees – which meant no more falling mail. You’re welcome, mailman 🙂