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Install a new mailbox and post

Dear Ms. Builder: My neighbor installed a new mailbox and I really love it. I would like to buy a new box and I should replace the post too. Can I have some selection and installation tips? - Jessica K.

Dear Jessica: When you head to the home center, be prepared to find mailboxes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Typical colors are solid black, white or silver, but you will also find some unique styles and designs available. Local craft stores also sell more decorative styles of mailboxes.

Plastic mailboxes are durable and resist dents, but they may become somewhat brittle in cold weather. Vandal-proof steel mailboxes can be painted to match your house or adding a copper or brass mailbox adds a lot of class. Maintenance-free fiberglass and aluminum mailboxes are available.

EPM?s (800-779-1709) Vandalgard is an all-steel mailbox guard that protects your mailbox and puts an end to damage from baseball bats, rocks or beer bottles. A security lock mailbox is also available that includes two keys.

Woodendipity (800-876-1928) offers mailboxes that make a statement of your interest in pets, wildlife, sports, hobbies, etc. They are complete sculptures over a built-in steel mailbox. Fifteen designs crafted in cedar and rugged pine, hand-painted, signed, dated and numbered are available.

There are many attractive and decorative magnetic mailbox covers that can be placed over your mailbox. Change them easily for your very own signature, holidays or special occasions.

There are a few things that you will need to keep in mind when you replace an existing mailbox. There are federal regulations that you must adhere to. The regulation height is 42" from the bottom of the mailbox to the ground.

The mailbox needs to be accessible to the mail carrier. It needs to be on the right-hand side of the road. It should be located approximately two feet from the side of the road and your house number should be clearly marked on the mailbox with numbers no less than one inch high.

The first step is locating the hole for the post so that the mailbox is the required two feet from the road. With the post hole digger, dig the hole deep enough for gravel to be added for drainage and so that the post surface to which the bottom of the mailbox will be attached is the required height.

Pour approximately six inches of gravel into the hole. Follow the manufacturer?s instructions and prepare your concrete mix. Set the post in the hole and fill with the prepared concrete mix. To reduce any air pockets you can occasionally jab a stick into the concrete.

Slope the concrete around the base of the post for water runoff. Pour it to within a few inches of the top of the hole. After the concrete has set, cover it with soil to conceal it.

The next step is to attach the mailbox to the post. Attachment brackets are available that are designed to fit a standard 4x4-foot post. You can use your old brackets if your mailbox was installed that way. Also check to see if brackets came with your new mailbox.

Or if you prefer, you can cut a board to fit within the overhanging lips at the bottom of the mailbox. You will bolt the board to the post and then screw the mailbox to the board through the lips at the base of the mailbox.

Your final step will be to label the front and sides of the mailbox with your house numbers with paints, stick-on numbers or add decorative letters to the post. The lettering should be at least 1" high.

Tools and materials required: post hole digger, shovel, screwdriver, gravel, quick setting concrete mix, mailbox post, mailbox with included hardware, paint or stick-on mailbox numbers and letters

Send your questions to Ms. Builder, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com/msbuilder.