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Types of Mailboxes: Pros and Cons

Thursday October 19, 2017

Mailboxes come in many different shapes and sizes, and not all provide the same convenience. That means it's important to choose the right kind of mailbox for you. Not sure what to pick? Here are the pros and cons of the major mailbox types:

Residential curbside mailboxes

This is the most common kind of mailbox, and it's what most people think of when they hear the word "mailbox." A residential curbside mailbox is the archetypal variety located at the end of the driveway where the mailman can drive right up and drop off mail. Typically, residential curbside mailboxes are attached to a vertical post and have a weatherproof box with a closing door on the front. The main advantage is that these boxes have a "flag" that can let the mailman know there's mail to pick up, making it easier to send, as well as receive, mail.

A potential disadvantage of the residential curbside mailbox is that you have to leave the house to get to it, which may not be pleasant in inclement weather. However, this can also be a plus – after a heavy snowstorm, you do not need to clear your driveway and walkway to receive mail, because the mailman does not have to walk up to the door. This can also be good for dog owners who don't want a barking fit every afternoon when the mailman comes.


Door slots

Door slots are the older type of home mail receptacle and are more common in Europe, as well as larger American cities where space is limited. In an urban environment, it may be problematic to crowd the sidewalk with curbside mailboxes, so a mail slot in the door makes a good alternative. The advantage with these is that they take up no space and weather is not a factor. But to send mail, you have to hang it outside the door and hope the mailman sees it – not exactly ideal. Another disadvantage is that, depending on the design, a mail slot could allow a stranger to peek into your home. They may also cause drafts near the door.


Lobby mailboxes

Multi-unit buildings almost never have individual mail delivery to each unit. Instead, a set of lockable mailboxes in the lobby allow a central mail drop-off point for the whole building. The biggest advantage to this method is security: your mail is put into a locked box and cannot be stolen. The biggest disadvantage is that this is delivery-only and you have to go to the lobby to get your mail.

What kind of mailbox do you prefer? Why?