Your mailbox does more than just provide a receptacle for your bills, letters and magazines. Mailboxes are one of the first things that visitors to your home may notice. Peeling paint or weathered surfaces on your mailbox and post can detract from the overall view of your landscape design. The type of paint you need to use to refurbish the mailbox post depends on a number of factors, including the material and your personal taste.
A primer can help paint adhere to the surface of both metal and wooden mailbox posts. A primer coat helps the paint bond to the underlying material. This initial coat also provides an extra layer of coverage that helps hide the color or pattern of the original material. Primers come in both oil-based and water-based formulas. Oil-based primers work well with most paints, including water-based colors. If your mailbox post is metal, select a primer labeled for use on iron, aluminum or galvanized steel. These specific primers help paint adhere to slick metal surfaces.
Water-based paints, such as latex and acrylic paints, are among the most common finishes for exterior structures, including mailbox posts. This type of paint cleans up easily with water yet forms a strong bond on porous surfaces, such as wooden mailbox posts. The flexible surface of water-based paints allows the underlying material to shrink and contract. Water-based paint is suitable for covering galvanized metal posts and other surfaces that won't rust. When painting a mailbox post, use a water-based latex paint that contains an all-acrylic binder to provide durability during adverse weather.
Oil-based paints are better for covering wooden posts that bleed tannin or sap, as well as metal posts that tend to rust. Oil-based formulas tend to provide more even coverage, especially on stained surfaces. Paints with an oil base adhere better than water-based paints, although using an oil-based paint over a water-based primer can result in peeling and chipping. Even though oil-based paints take longer than water-based paints to dry, they usually require fewer coats.
Exterior paints for your mailbox post come in various finishes that range from flat to glossy. Flat finishes are better at hiding small imperfections in the post, while glossy finishes are easier to clean. Paint with a satin finish can provide a finish that cleans easier than a flat paint but shows fewer imperfections than a glossy paint.