Both the mailbox and its post or pole need a little TLC from time to time. Continually exposed to the elements, the paint on your mailbox pole eventually fades or chips, making it easier for a metal pole to rust or for a wood post to fade or rot. Any exterior weather-resistant paint that works on metal is ideal for a metal mailbox pole, including durable spray paints. A fresh coat of paint to the entire mailbox setup also adds a bit of curb appeal to your property.
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Prepping the Mailbox Pole
Both the mailbox and the pole holding it up should be cleaned or sanded before priming and painting them depending on whether you're painting new materials or old, weathered ones. If the pole is brand new, wipe it down with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to remove any greasy film that might be in place. Do the same for a brand-new mailbox.
For any mailbox pole that has already been painted or exposed to the elements for a while, wipe it down with a medium-grit sanding sponge to help remove loose paint. Wear a dust mask, eye protection, and even gloves to protect yourself from metal particles. A wire brush comes in handy for removing stubborn chips of chunky rust or old paint. Continue sanding until the pole feels smooth in all areas and then wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth to remove small debris. Wait for the pole to dry completely before applying any primers or paints.
Spray Paints for Mailbox Poles
As with brush-on paints, some spray paints are good for all-purpose paint projects, while others are designed for specific uses. Whichever type you use, make sure the label indicates that the paint works well for metal used outdoors. If your mailbox pole is actually a PVC pipe or some other material, choose a spray paint made for that material or an all-in-one primer/paint, such as Krylon Fusion All-in-One, that requires no priming and works equally well on metals, plastics, and wood.
Trim the lawn around the mailbox pole as needed to make it easier to paint the lower parts of the pole. If the pole is close to any immobile objects, use a sheet of cardboard to block paint overspray from reaching them. Shake the spray can for a minute or so and then spray the pole while holding the can about 12 inches away or as directed on the product label. Keep moving your arm as you paint to keep your sprays consistent and to avoid drips.
Spray paint tends to be thinner than brush-on exterior paints, so you may wish to apply more than one coat once the first coat dries. Like brush-on paints, spray paint comes in various colors and sheen levels, so read the label carefully before purchase to be sure you're getting what you want.
Brush-On Exterior Paints
Like spray paints, some exterior paints for metal are all-in-one products that include the primer, which eliminates the guesswork in whether or not the mailbox pole requires priming. Some metal paints include rust inhibitors; this is a good option if your mailbox pole has any rust on it. If it's magnetic, it is a ferrous metal and could rust at some point down the road, so there's no harm in using a rust-inhibiting paint.
Unless you're using an all-in-one product, prime the pole with an exterior metal primer, allowing it to fully dry before painting. As for paints, oil- and water-based paints for metal work well; just make sure the label says the paint is good for exterior metals. Oil-based paints are very durable but take a long time to dry. Water-based paints dry quicker and have far less odors or harmful fumes. Apply a second coat of the same paint for added durability once the first dries.