Whether you are selling your home or settling into a new house for many years to come, curb appeal matters. Your mailbox- and any mailbox decals on it- is one of the first things people see as they enter or pass your home- and it says a lot! When I moved to Hawk Hill- my mailbox said BORING, and that was not the message I wanted to send!
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to layer homemade Cricut cut decals or custom vinyl decals to create a classy mailbox design that’s functional and attractive.
One of the fastest and easiest but most dramatic home improvement projects I have tackled is one of the very first projects I did after purchasing Hawk Hill. This lovely old home had a terribly generic mailbox with dirty peel and stick house-number stickers. It had no character- so it had to go!
Replacing the mailbox was tempting. I felt like either a replacement with an old fashioned mailbox or an upgrade to a newer style locking mailbox would improve the curb appear, but I decided that rather than spend an afternoon and three figures installing a new mailbox, new, unique stick-on address numbers might do the trick- and I was thrilled with the result!
Although elegant vinyl numbers alone would have been a huge upgrade to the number stickers already on the mailbox, I decided to be playful and also place a subtle background image.
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First, I calculated the size I’d need, (about 3″ high for the letters) and purchased a background image, birds on a branch, in a fairly dark color from a seller on etsy. Then I purchased, peel and stick vinyl house numbers in a highly visible shade of bright white, from another seller.
Contrast is extra important on the mailbox- the way your house numbers standing out or blend on your mailbox can be the difference between getting utility repairs on time or getting packages delivered to the right house.
Because no one wants dinner guests calling 15 minutes late 3 miles down the road- make sure any background image is subtle and mostly blends into the background. The letter or numbers on your mailbox decal should be big, printed in an easily readable font, and cut from a highly visible color of vinyl. Be sure to check the final results after dark, to ensure the numbers are readable.
If you plan on applying house number decals to your mailbox, remember to order or die-cut 2 sets of all your decals. You’ll need one set for each side of your mailbox.
After spending much longer than I anticipated scraping the old number decals off and cleaning the road grime from my mailbox, I used a product called Rapid Tac to apply and float my decals around on the mailbox till they were in the right spot, then used a rigid card to squeeze out the floating solution and adhere the decals permanently. I really recommend the rapid-tac, as it saved a lot of time.
Since you are going to the expense of custom decals, the surface treatment works out to be a good investment. I’m the worst at placing decals, even after lots of practice applying large decals to a horse trailer, but since I started using a surface spray to pre-treat my surfaces I keep having great results.
The background image was standard-grade vinyl decal and the house numbers were outdoor grade decals. I did this project back in 2011 and have been exceptionally pleased with the durability- the “after” picture was actually taken after my decals had weathered 2 years on the mailbox! [Update Fall 2020: I recently replaced this mailbox but WOW was I ever impressed with how long this decal lasted out in the sun.]
Deb was particularly impressed with this project, though less impressed with the fact that I made her practice her being-tied-up-patience while I worked on it.
Are you Sure Mailbox Decals are Allowed?
You may find some sources on the Internet indicating that decals are not allowed on mailboxes, but this misconception usually stems from a homeowners association rule rather than a requirement by the United States Postal Service. Mailbox decals may also be forbidden on USPS-owned mail receptacles (like those grouped units that serve multiple houses on a cul de sac or apartment building). If you own the mailbox, however, you are allowed to decorate it.
A quick search of decorative mailboxes shows that actually, all kinds of decorations are allowed on mailboxes as long as they don’t obstruct the function of the mailbox. While big, intricate decals are technically allowed on a mailbox, it’s best to play it subtle when adding decoration to your mailbox because mailboxes are used to help visitors and delivery drivers locate your home. Make sure the most prominent visual on your mailbox is your street address.
Painting a plastic mailbox
Technically, there are spray paints formulated especially for painting plastic. Unfortunately, the technology in these paints hasn’t quite produced a paint that adheres to plastic that is exposed constantly to UV light from the sun and the abrasion of daily use. For this reason, I don’t recommend painting any plastic item – including a mailbox – that will be outdoors full time. Instead, replace your mailbox or apply a mailbox cover or decal.
Deciding how Big your Mailbox Decal should be
Your mailbox decal can cover your entire mailbox – as long as the mail carrier is able to open and access your mailbox. When I created my mailbox decoration with vinyl decals, I went BIG but not solid. The birds and branches stretch across the mailbox in a mid-tone color, blending into the background. This allows the house numbers to stand out boldly.