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Understanding USPS Regulations for Curbside Mailboxes

Two imperatives dictate the height and depth of curbside mailboxes. After those are met, creative variations on column mailbox design can be expanded upon, making the possibilities endlessly fascinating. 


  • The Mailbox face must be inset 6-8" from the curb,

       (so the mailman can reach it from his truck without having to ride the curb).

  • The base of the mailbox must be 41-45" from the ground

      (the perfect height for your postal worker to access the mail receptacle from the truck).

Compliance - Understanding USPS Mailbox Choices


Since we can easily accommodate the height and depth requirements when building column curbside mailboxes, the next step is to understand how the various mailbox styles fit into this scenario.


A traditional curbside mailbox, (shown in the illustration), will vary in height from 6" to 15" tall. We help our postal carrier reach the mailbox latch by mounting shorter mailboxes at 45" in height, (at the base of the mailbox), and taller mailboxes at 41" in height.


The same holds true for locking and chute-style mailboxes: 

  1. Determine that you locking mailbox is USPS approved

  2. Mount taller doors so their base is as close to 41" as can be managed

  3. Keep your hinges and chutes in working order by lubricating them yearly.

Slide Show - Click on Image for Larger View & Description

Building Columns to USPS Specifications


Mailbox columns are not dissimilar to chimneys. At Plano Column Mailboxes we prefer to build the framework from double-thick brick. However, for certain mailbox designs, a combination of brick and cinderblock provides better support. This internal framework not only provides the core strength that supports the column facade, (built from either brick, stone, or stucco); it also conforms to the type of mailbox that will be inserted. (See Image 2).


  1. Before Beginning, contractors need to know the dimensions of your mailbox

  2. Be sure to inform them if a chute-style mailbox is desired - the inner workings of this design must be incorporated to the internal framework before the first brick is laid.

Slide Show - Click on Image for Larger View & Description

Column Mailboxes - the Basic Design


A column mailbox is similar to a chimney with a topper. Once the basic column has reached sufficient height to house the mailbox of your choice, you can decide whether to incorporate an arch, a pitched roof-like top, or a flat-stone topper suitable to mounting a solar lamp or housing a large planter.


USPS states that any lips incorporated into the design cannot protrude more than 2 1/16" beyond the face of the mailbox. Other than that minimal restriction, design options are wide open. 

A little-known fact is that column height is not addressed in the USPS manuals (you can download PDF versions below or visit their site here). Once the mailbox has been mounted with it's base between 41" to 45" high, and the front of the mailbox has been set to within 6" to 8" from the curb, it would seem that adaptations on the column's theme are completely plausible. Although this omission opens new possibilities for these roadside sentinals, it is always best to check with your local USPS service to determine whether they have incorporated any restrictions on the height of your column.

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Slide Show - Click on Image for Larger View & Description

Column Mailbox Designs with True Curbside Appeal


When coupled with raised raised bed retaining walls, column mailboxes can make an astounding visual statement. Note that this mailbox is set precisely 8 inches back from the curb, and that the retaining wall is so elegantly formed that it captures the mood and style of this homeowner's architecture.


We liked this picture so well that we embellished it with some artistic enhancements. It looks like a picture painted at the turn of the century, doesn't it? (Please click on the first image to see full-sized versions of the images).


For more great ideas about column mailbox shapes and adornments, go to Google Images and search "Column Mailbox Designs". In the meantime, enjoy some of our favorite designs by clicking on the slideshow at the left.

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