Painting Your Mailbox. Make Your Mailbox Look Cool.
How to Paint a Mailbox
Is your mailbox looking a bit dull and dated? Or has it faded beneath the hot sun? Whether your mailbox is just old, faded, or even rusted, it is possible to give it a new life with just a few coats of paint. This article will show you how to paint your mailbox. It will also give you a few ideas on how to add some final touches to it.
Preparing for Painting
Remove the mailbox from the wall or post, if you can.It should be screwed on. Be sure to save the screws some place safe so that you can reattach the mailbox later. If you cannot remove the mailbox, you will need to cover the post or the surrounding wall with some masking paper and painters tape.
Remove all parts from the mailbox, if possible.This includes the numbers, flag, hook, and latch. If you can't remove them, then you can at least mask them off.
Clean everything using an all-purpose cleaner.Spray the mailbox down with an all-purpose cleaner an scrub it well with a scrubbing sponge. This will remove all dirt, oils and dust.
- If you are planning on repainting the post, you will need to clean that too.
Rinse the mailbox with water and let it dry.If you cleaned the post, be sure to rinse it too. Let these parts dry overnight.
Use a wire brush, steel wool, or sandpaper to remove any rust or mold.If you are working on a wooden post, you might use a flat, sanding sponge. You can also use an electrical sander on the post to get the job done faster. This will give you a smooth, clean surface to work on.
- If you see any rust on the flag, latch, or hook, be sure to clean it off too.
Wipe away any dust residue using a tack cloth.If you don't do this, this dust will get caught in the paint, and give you an uneven, grainy finish.
Cover any parts you don't want painted with painters tape.If you weren't able to remove the hook or latch, cover them with painters tape. If you weren't able to remove the flag, wrap it with a plastic bag; secure the plastic bag with some painters tape.
Priming and Painting the Mailbox
Check the weather conditions.Choose a dry, windless day to prime and paint your mailbox. If it is too damp or humid, the paint may not cure properly. If it is too windy, dust and debris can get caught in the paint.
- Paint will dry the fastest on a hot day – but don’t choose a day that’s too hot. Then, the paint twill dry too quickly and you’ll end up with a bad finish.
Work outside or in a well-ventilated area.The best place to work would be outside. If you cannot work outdoors, then be sure to leave a window open so that you do not get a headache.
- If you get a headache while painting at any time, step away from your project and take a back. Return to your project once the headache goes away.
Apply spray paint primer to the mailbox.Choose an outdoor quality spray paint primer that is intended for metal. It does not matter what color your use, but a medium grey seems to give you the most neutral base to work on. Hold the can 6 to 8 inches (c to c centimeters) away from the surface, and apply the paint using light, even strokes. Spray using a side-to-side motion. Over lap each stroke by a little bit; this will help prevent any gaps.
- If you are planning on painting something that is currently covered up (like the flag) wait until you are completely done priming and painting the mailbox.
- Paint the entire mailbox first, then open the flap and paint the rim that's normally covered up by the flap. Wait until the paint dries before you close the flap, or it will get glued shut.
- If you weren't able to remove the flag, you will have to paint around the flag. Do this by painting the mailbox, then moving the flag, and painting the bare patch that was underneath.
Wait for the primer to dry before applying a second coat.It is better to apply multiple thin coats than one thick coat. Not only does this give you a smoother finish, but it prevents any drips and puddles.
Apply the first coat of spray paint once the primer driers.Choose an outdoor quality spray paint that is meant for metal. Hold the can 6 to 8 inches (c to c centimeters) away from the surface, apply a light, even coat using a side-to-side motion. Overlap each stroke by a little to prevent any gaps.
- As before, paint the mail box once with the flap closed, and once with the flap open. Never close the flap while the paint is wet, or it will get stuck.
- If you left the flag on, remember to move the flag up and down as you paint, so that you get the areas under it.
Allow the paint to dry before applying a second and third coat.Allow each coat to dry before applying a second or third one. If you don't wait for the paint to dry, it may not cure properly, and result in a sticky, tacky finish.
Prime and paint the flag, hooks, and latches.Spray them with your primer first. Once the primer dries, apply your outdoor spray paint. You can match the color to your mailbox, of you can experiment with different colors. For example, if you painted your mailbox white, try painting the latches and hooks black, and the flag a bright red.
- If the parts are loose, simply set them down onto a plastic tablecloth or masking paper. Be sure to flip them over so that you can get the back too.
- If the parts are still on the mailbox, then pull off any painters tape and plastic bags. Make sure that the paint on the mailbox is dry, then wrap the mailbox in masking paper or plastic, but leave the hooks, latches, and flag exposed. Wait until the paint dries before removing the paper/plastic from your mailbox.
Let the paint on all parts dry completely before moving on.Just because a paint is dry to the touch does not necessarily mean that it is fully cured and dry underneath. Refer to the label on your paint can for specific drying times. Some paints require only 2 to 4 hours to dry and cure, while others may need anywhere from 6 to 72 hours.
- Keep in mind that both temperature and humidity levels will affect drying times. Paint will dry faster when the air is dry, and it will dry slower when the air is humid.
Attach the flag, hooks, and latches back onto the mailbox.Get out the screws from before, and screw everything back on tightly.
Screw the mailbox back onto the wall or post.Make sure that it is facing the right way and hanging straight.
Priming and Painting the Post
Remove any numbers from the post.This will make it easier to paint it. Most numbers can be just unscrewed. If they were hammered into the post, you might have to pry them off; keep in mind that if you pry the numbers off, you might bend them. If that happens, you will have to get new ones.
Sand the post down if you have not already done so.This will not only remove any mold, moss, and mildew, but it will also give you a smoother surface to work on.
Consider filling in any holes and cracks.You can use wood filler or paste. Smooth the paste down using your fingers. If the paste is too sticky and grainy, dip your finger in water, and try smoothing it down again. You don't have to do this, but it will give you a smoother finish.
Apply two coats of paint primer to the post.Use a large paintbrush or a foam roller to apply an outdoor quality primer. This will give you a smoother surface to work on. Wait for the first coat to dry before applying a second one.
Paint the post using an outdoor quality paint.You can use a large paintbrush or a foam roller to do this. Apply the paint using long, even strokes.
Wait for the paint to dry before applying a second or third coat.Sometimes one coat will be enough, but usually you’ll need at least two coats in order to get enough coverage. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next.
Consider priming and painting the numbers.You can leave them as they were, or you can update them with a new look. Prime the numbers using an outdoor quality spray paint primer that's intended for metal. Once the primer dries, apply an outdoor quality spray paint. You can use any color you want, but a contrasting color might make them more visible.
Let the paint dry all the way before moving on.Just because a paint feels dry does not mean that it is fully dry underneath. Check the label on your paint can for exact drying times. Some paints require only 2 to 4 hours to dry and cure, while others require anywhere from 6 to 72 hours.
Re-attach the letters.If the letters were screwed in, simply place them back on the post and put the screws back in. If the letters were hammered in, you might remember how difficult it was to remove them. To prevent this from happening again, consider getting some screws, and screwing them in instead.
Consider painting a design onto your mailbox.You can leave it blank, or you can add some designs onto here. This section will give you a few ideas. You don't have to use all of them; just choose the ones you like the most.
- Make sure what you are using an outdoor quality paint.
- When you are finished painting your design, consider letting the paint dry, then spraying the mailbox with a clear, outdoor sealer. This will help protect your beautiful work.
Create a whimsical mailbox with your family.This works great on white mailboxes. Choose some paint in bright colors, then ask your family members to write their names on the mailbox. If you want, they can even leave behind handprints or a little drawing.
Use stencils to create unique designs.If you are using adhesive stencils, simply place them down onto the mailbox where you want the designs to go. If you are using non-adhesive stencils, then secure them using painters tape. Apply the paint using a foam brush or a stencil brush. You can also use spray paint instead. Whatever paint you choose to use, make sure that it is outdoor quality. Once you are done, pull the stencil off and let the paint dry.
- Consider using a color that contrasts with your mailbox; this will make the designs more visible. For example, if your mailbox is black, try using white for the stenciled part.
Paint different parts of the mailbox a different color.For example, the body of the mailbox can be one color, the flap another, and the flag a third. This will add some visual interest to your mailbox.
Consider painting the inside of your mailbox.You can use the same color as the rest of your mailbox, or a contrasting color to make it more interesting.
Paint some designs onto the mailbox.You can paint them directly using a paintbrush, or you can sketch the design out first with a pencil, and then paint over that. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Paint something garden related, such as butterflies, ladybugs, tulips, daffodils, or ivy.
- Paint some random designs, such as spirals and swirls.
- If you like animals, you can paint your favorite animal, or animals commonly found in gardens, such as birds, frogs, and squirrels.
- Paint the mailbox to look like something different, such as a cat, cow, or dog (the flap of the mailbox becomes the mouth). You can even paint it to look like a bus, barn, house, or anything else that has a similar shape.
QuestionAfter I sprayed my plastic mailbox and decorated it with a design using outdoor paint, do I have to spray it with a clear sealant?Community AnswerYes, if you want to protect your work from the weather. This is covered in the article - part 4, step 1.Thanks!
QuestionCan I paint over the number decals or do I have to remove them?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you would like a more professional look, removing is recommended. However, many just paint over them.Thanks!
QuestionDoes the flag have to be red?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, it can really be any color you would like. There is no law stating that it must be red.Thanks!
To paint a mailbox, start by removing the mailbox from the wall or post, taking all of the parts off, and cleaning everything with a multipurpose cleaner. Next, rinse the mailbox and let it dry completely. Then, use steel wool or sandpaper to remove any rust or mold, wipe the box down, and tape off any parts you don’t want painted. Once dry, apply a spray paint primer to the mailbox, wait for it to dry, and then apply a second coat. After the primer dries, apply the first coat of spray paint, allow it to dry, and then apply a second coat.
- If you're an artist, make a one of a kind mailbox, with your own design.
- For a personal touch, use number stencils, and paint your house numbers on it.
- You can use stencils, found in your local craft store.
- Be sure to use outdoor quality paint. Regular paint won't hold up to the weather conditions.
- Be sure to use a paint intended for metal when painting your mailbox.
- If you run out of ideas for your mailbox, go online or browse catalogues.
- You can find the paints, varnishes, and stencils at arts and crafts stores, hardware stores, and paint stores.
- Instead of painting the post, consider applying an outdoor stain, and a weather protectant sealer.
- This is a project best suited for outdoors.
- If any anytime you start feeling lightheaded, step away from your project and take a break. Wait until your headache clears before you resume painting.
- Always follow the manufacturers directions for the use of all products.
- Keep paints and varnishes away from children and pets.
- Wear gloves, protective eye-wear, etc.
- Be extra careful with old mailboxes as they may contain lead.
- Check to make sure there are no laws in your area against painting mailboxes.
Video: Painting your Mailbox in Bartram Springs - Homes for Sale
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