9 Types of Mailboxes That Look Great & Keep Your Mail Safe
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Before the internet took over with email, various types of mailboxes have been a staple in every household. Since its introduction in 1775, the humble mailbox has come a long way, just as the process of sending letters and packages has.
From food cartons to old cans to Roy Joroleman’s signature tunnel USPS mailbox to being online, mailboxes have had quite the journey.
9 Types of Mailboxes
Did you know the first mailboxes in the USA were installed in the late 1850's, attached to lampposts or building exteriors? It wasn't until the 1890's that free-standing mailboxes were installed nationwide. Here’s a collection of all the different types of mailboxes in use around the world.
Also known as ‘roadside mailboxes’ (since they’re commonly found there), freestanding mailboxes are very professional looking. Since they stand directly on the ground, as opposed to being mounted on a post or the wall, these mailboxes take up more space.
Freestanding mailboxes are quite secure (they need to be, given that they’re in a place as public as the roadside) and therefore, feature a locked area that protects your mail. There is also a designated space where you can keep any mail that you wish to send out.
Freestanding mailboxes can be quite heavy—weighing around 60 pounds—which is why they’re a relative rarity in for most types of houses in residential settings.
Column Mount Mailboxes
Column mount mailbox types defy traditional mailbox-shape standards, flatter and slimmer than their long, rectangular counterparts, especially when recess mounted in a column.
However, don’t let the slimness fool you—these mailbox styles are deceptive, with ample spaciousness for mail received.
Column mount mailboxes come in a range of colors and styles but you should always look for durability and the ability to withstand your region’s weather conditions. Your mail should be amply protected so that it doesn’t get damp and ruined, so look for a sealed mailbox.
Post Mount Mailboxes
Post mount mailboxes make life much easier for postal workers since they don’t have to walk all the way up to your door or leave the vehicle, to deliver mails—these mailboxes are situated at the beginning of the driveway no matter what types of driveways you have, away from your home or apartment, on the roadside so the mail truck can reach it easily.
These are especially common in the countryside and rural areas, with their large sprawling estates and lonely farms.
Post mount mailboxes are generally large enough to accommodate small parcels too and not just letters. These classic American mailboxes feature a flag on their side that indicates that you have mail ready to be picked up, sorted, and delivered.
Remember, if you’re getting yourself a post mount mailbox, space it sufficiently from the road so that no one actually clips it or runs it over. The longer the mailbox, the farther back from the road it should be.
Additionally, ensure that the post is strongly and correctly cemented (using cement or cement alternatives) into the ground so that the weight of the post and parcels doesn’t cause it to tip over.
Wall Mount Mailboxes
As the name suggests, these types of mailboxes are mounted on the walls in front of the house or building.
These are large enough to handle quite a bit of mail and mail types and most of them lock, ensuring that your private correspondence stays how it’s meant to be—private.
However, these mailboxes do not feature a separate area to place outgoing mail.
This makes these mailboxes great for those who expect to receive a lot of mail but not send out as much. Wall mount mailboxes come in a range of colors, sizes and styles, so finding one to match your needs and aesthetic preferences won’t be a Herculean task.
Wall mount mailboxes can accommodate letters, newspapers and catalogs and some even come with paper scrolls affixed to the box’s bottom.
If the internet is your one-stop shopping center, you’ll love a parcel mailbox. These mailboxes are great for those who expect a lot of parcels, providing a safe and secure spot for your packages once they’ve been delivered, instead of sitting on your porch, open to all for stealing or damage.
Since their main purpose is to accommodate parcels, parcel mailboxes are larger than the average mailbox. Some may also have a separate designated area for letters, while others may only be designed to accommodate parcels.
These mailbox types also make life easier for postal workers, who don’t have to wait for your signature for safe delivery.
Remember to get a parcel box that locks—it may be quite counterproductive if you get one that doesn’t and may as well have your parcels left on the curb.
Mail slots, as the name implies, are simply holes or slits in the wall or door for mail delivery. While these are extremely convenient for homeowners, it may be quite inconvenient to postal workers, who’ll have to come all the way to your doorstep to deliver mail.
Mail slots are exposed to natural elements—rainwater, for example, can flow into the house. Therefore, these should always be protected with a quality cover to prevent damage, ruin and animals making your mailbox their new home.
Additionally, wind may blow through the slot, if you live in a windy area and some folks are also concerned that peekers can easily get a view into the house. But at least you can keep whatever types of door knobs you have installed locked and secured.
The major drawback with these types of mailboxes, though, is that there is no designated space for outgoing mail, which means a trip to the post office is warranted each time you want to send a letter or parcel.
Also known as ‘rear access mailboxes’, these mailbox styles are a hybrid between wall mounts, column mounts and mail slots, combining the best of all three.
The most distinguishing factor of these mailboxes is that they can only be accessed through the back and not the front—hence, ‘rear access mailboxes’.
Therefore, collection boxes have a slot that the postal worker puts letters into, which you can then collect from the back. These boxes are the epitome of privacy, since no one else can access your mail.
However, installing these can take a little effort, as you’ll have to figure out a spot that’s easily accessible to both you and the postal worker. You may also have to decide whether to integrate it into your walls or have it as a standalone fixture.
Also known as ‘cluster mailboxes’, apartment mailboxes are ideal for apartment buildings or for buildings that house a lot of different businesses. These feature individual mailboxes stacked in grids so that a minimum amount of space fits the maximum number of mailboxes.
Instead of a row of mailboxes on the roadside, which is heavily space consuming and unattractive, an apartment mailbox brings all mail to one central location that everyone in the building can access.
This clustering also makes things much faster for postal workers—they can group all mail to the building and then insert them in the labeled slots. It’s also quite secure, since the key to each mailbox is with the concerned person/resident.
Sometimes, the postal worker may have a master key that lets him open the entire front of the grid, so that extra time isn’t spent locating slots and pushing letters through them.
These mailbox types can be quite expensive, but when you consider the individual costs of separate mailboxes and the amount of space consumed, apartment mailboxes are quite beneficial.
Cluster types of mailboxes are ideally mounted on the walkway that leads to the main entrance, wall mounted in the ground floor hall or in a separate mail room. When outdoors, it's a great place to implement some of your apartment garden ideas to spruce up the place.
If you like happy, bright colors or certain silhouettes and themes, you should consider getting a mailbox that reflects that. Novelty mailboxes come in a range of styles and colors, adding a touch of fun to normal mailboxes.
If you can’t find a ready-made one, you can even hire someone to make one for you or try your hand in it, too.
Remember, unless you’re prioritizing looks over functionality, ensure that the mailbox you’re getting has ample space and can hold the amount and kind of mail that you’re expecting to receive.
Some novelty mailboxes have different shapes, which means that there may be a compromise on the amount of space available. It’ll also make it more difficult for your postal worker to fit mail into your mailbox.
Types of Mailboxes for Every Home & Building
Before communicating with people became synonymous with online and digital, mailboxes were a necessity everywhere. It all started with Roy Joroleman’s USPS mailbox—a lightweight, metal, easy-to-build post box with a metal flag that could be raised to indicate that someone had mail.
From there, the mailbox has gone through many evolutions, with the above-discussed being the main mailbox styles available today—apart from the digital ones of course.
Additionally, mailboxes can also be differentiated based on the material they’re built using—metal, plastic or wood.
However technologically evolved you may be though, the charm of a mailbox and receiving mail cannot be beaten.
This could explain why, despite the advent of technology, a majority of the houses in the United States still feature different types of mailboxes. If you’re planning to get one, pick one of the above styles and experience the joy of mail.