Beautiful custom painted mailboxes are left out in the elements and take a beating, so correctly painting and sealing the mailbox is priority. The following article will show the process of how Cottage and Cabana paints steel enamel coated mailboxes.
The first step in painting custom painted mailboxes is to prepare the mailbox for painting. In its production, a mailbox might have oil residue left on it, and in shipping and storage it can collect dirt and dust, so the mailbox needs to be cleaned. Dish soap removes both, dirt and oil, so we use dish soap and water and then rinse and dry well. Then the mailbox flag needs to be removed or taped up with painters tape if it cannot be removed.
The next step is priming the mailbox. Understanding that the purpose for priming is to ready the mailbox to best receive the paint, and there is more than just one way to prime a mailbox for painting. The enamel coating on metal mailboxes is too smooth and the paint on your paintbrush will not adhere to it very well, so the enamel needs to be roughed up a bit. Our preferred method is to use fine grade (around 300) sandpaper and sand the entire mailbox. The reason this is our preferred method is that it creates a surface where the clear coat sealer will also adhere much better. Once the shine has been lightly sanded off the mailbox, wipe the mailbox off with a damp cloth.
Now is the time for the magic to begin. The mailbox is ready to be decoratively hand painted. We use acrylic paints as well as enamel paints. They are relatively inexpensive, have a large assortment of colors available, are easy to work with, and offer soap and water clean up.
The last step is to seal the mailbox. Once the mailbox has been decoratively painted, we leave it over night to dry thoroughly. Giving it ample time to thoroughly dry is another way to help the sealer adhere to the mailbox. The purpose of sealing the mailbox is to add a clear outer covering that forms a shield/shell in which to protect the mailbox’s painted artwork. There are clear coat sealers which can be brushed on or sprayed on, as well as made for metal and plastic application. Though the spray clear coat is more expensive, it is our preference because of its ease of use. Spray the clear coat in slow and steady even sections, being careful to lightly coat every inch of the mailbox. We apply 3 light coats of the clear coat sealer.
Once the clear coat is completely dry (the can will indicate the wait time) reattach the flag. Now its time to mount your beautiful custom painted mailbox and show your artwork off to the world.
Keeping hand painted mailboxes looking beautiful is much easier than you think. And if you’ve watched the movie, Karate Kid, you already have one leg up on everyone else. (Karate Kid – one leg up! get it?!) Okay, don’t groan, that’s enough with the lame jokes. If you think I’m about to tell you that caring for your mailbox is a ton of work, just as Martial Arts can be, you’d be wrong. As I said, it’s actually very easy. So now you might be wondering what the connection to the movie and caring for your mailbox is. While there won’t be a Mr. Miyagi coaxing me along, if you listened very carefully while I cared for my own mailbox, you might hear me quietly chanting, “Wax on, wax off….” For any Daniel-san want-to-be or anyone wanting to keep a beautiful mailbox, I have outlined here in this article, the most important thing you can do to keep your hand painted mailbox looking great.
Forget those outdated instructions telling you to re-seal your mailbox each year, and disregard what you’ve heard about the need for constant and frequent washings of your mailbox. These things are simply not necessary. Provided your mailbox has been finished (sealed) with a quality sealer, such at Rustoleum, (which is what Cottage and Cabana uses) you’ll find that keeping your mailbox beautiful will be a snap. The formations of clear coat sealers has improved greatly over time and now have long lasting and durable finishes.
First, an important step to remember in taking care of hand painted mailboxes is to not do anything to your mailbox for about 3 weeks and let your mailbox do all the work. Yes, during the first three weeks, your mailbox needs to do a work-out of its own. You might be wondering just what kind of working out does a hand painted mailbox do? Naturally, it will need to do an aerobic work-out. Well, not THAT kind of aerobic work out; its an aerobic curing to be precise. An aerobic cure is more technically referred to as an out-gassing. The solvents in the sealer need to out-gas (evaporate).
Once your painted mailbox has out-gassed, you can then wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth to make sure its dirt free. (Its important that there is nothing that will be abrasive on your mailbox.) Then gently apply a liquid car or boat wax and with a soft cloth, very gently buff it. The car or boat wax (any brand) will provide an additional layer of protection for your mailbox. Waxing your mailbox twice a year is sufficient, but for those of you who live in extreme climates, waxing your mailbox once each season is optimal.
As I mentioned, its important that you wait 3 weeks to allow your mailbox to out-gas before you wax it however. Waxing before the mailbox has out-gassed can cause the sealer to permanently cloud up. An additional measure to keep your mailbox looking new is to use galvanized screws to mount your mailbox. This will help insure that no rust from the mounting screws will stain your mailbox.
As you can see, it’s easier than ever to keep your mailbox art looking great. Waxing your painted mailbox will significantly prolong the life of your mailbox. It is an extremely easy and cost effective method of getting additional years to enjoy your beautiful hand painted mailbox.