When we tell you to think about a mailbox, there’s a very specific type and shape popping into your mind, right?
What most people don’t realise is that this picture may vary extremely between one person and the next. Depending on where they have grown up, whether they stayed there or moved, and if the environment is urban or rural, the mental image changes. Another huge determining factor of what a mailbox looks like for you is the country, and indeed continent you live in.
So yes, shapes, sizes and conventions may vary, but there are a few general types of mailboxes that can be commonly found almost anywhere.
And here they are:
Table of Contents
Apartment / Cluster Box
Apartment mailboxes are basically grids (or clusters) of individual mailboxes stacked so that the maximum amount of boxes fits into the minimum amount of space. This, obviously and unsurprisingly, comes in particularly handy when you’re dealing with multiple-residents situations like apartment buildings, sky scrapers, business blocks, etc.
Typically, apartment mailboxes can be accessed individually by the residents (one slot per flat, usually demarcated by either a number or a name-tag, or both) and -in order to save time- in bigger chunks by the mailman, whose key opens the whole front of a grid.
Apartment mailboxes are usually either mounted outdoors on the walkway leading up to the main entrance, or inside in either a separate mail room or wall mounted in the hall of the ground floor.
Collection Box / Rear Access
Collection boxes are an interesting mix between column mounted boxes, mail slots and wall mounts.
Basically, they are boxes with a slot for the postman to deposit letters in. What makes them special is the fact that they can’t be opened from the front, but rather you can only access them through the back.
This gives you ultimate privacy, as there is no way another person can access your mail. But this also means that you’ll have to plan for using one of them in the process of designing you home or (at least) fence, since you will need to figure out where to put them to give both you and the mailman easy access.
Just as the name suggests, Column Mount mailboxes are typically set into a column (or wall). This means, that they typically are a bit flatter than your average mailbox so that there is no need to completely hollow out the column. They tend to make up for that by being high where many other types are deep, in oder to make sure every letter size fits in them.
Column Mount mailboxes can be accessed from the front by both the mailman and yourself.
Freestanding / Roadside
Freestanding roadside mailboxes are the big brother of your average pole mounted mailbox. They typically are tower-like structures that stand directly on the ground.
Depending on your needs, they can have locked compartments to keep your incoming mail safe from prying eyes, and they may come with space to leave outgoing mail for the postman to pick up.
Not really a box in the common sense, the slot is the classic way of getting your mail delivered. Located on your front door, incoming post is pushed through the slot and either falls to the floor inside your home or gets caught in a box or basket mounted at the inside of the door.
A parcel box is the perfect choice for people who tend to receive a lot of parcels. Similar in build to the free standing roadside box, this mailbox comes with an additional, bigger locker suitable for parcels. Depending on your online buying habits (because, really, that’s where the parcels come from, don’t they?) you may want to make sure your average parcel size fits the designated space.
Post Mount or Rural / Roadside
This is your classic “American roadside mailbox” if there has ever been one. Think a dusty road crossing the wide prairie, endless farmland, or the edges of a desert, a lonesome (farm)house set far back from the road, and, next to the turnoff, a mailbox with (very likely) a rounded top and a flip-up flag to signal post has been left inside.
And yes. This is exactly it.
Wall mounted mailboxes are typically hung on the front of a building and typically come big enough to handle a variety of letter, newspaper, and catalogue sizes. Speaking of the latter, some types come with designated paper scrolls affixed to the bottom of the box. Most wall mounted mailboxes are lockable in order to keep your correspondence safe from nosey neighbours or sticky-fingered young jokesters. Generally speaking, these mailboxes are designed only to receive but not to send mail.