Several years ago I painted a mailbox for my stepmom (the wonderfully talented author, Diane Chamberlain). Her house was on a busy street and the mailboxes on this street were a prime target for mailbox baseball. I wanted to paint her mailbox as a surprise for her birthday, but the thought of spending hours painting the mailbox only to have it bashed did not appeal to me. Plus, this was supposed to be a surprise, and she might notice if her mailbox was gone for a few days (you think?!)
I came up with a solution that worked brilliantly! I painted the design onto automobile magnetic sign material (purchased from a sign shop for about $20). Wrapped it around her metal (won’t work on plastic mailboxes) mailbox and drilled the mounting screws through the magnetic material and the mailbox.
Believe it or not, that mailbox never took a hit by a bat (to my knowledge).
Here is how I did it:
First I wrapped the magnetic around her mailbox and cut it down to size. Then I traced the locations that needed to be cut out (bottom door hinges and flag bracket). The magnetic material cuts very easily with an x-acto knife or utility knife.
Then I sanded the surface to get rid of the smooth glossy surface. Next, I added a coat of primer. After gathering my picture reference, I painted a portrait of her Bernese Mountain Dog on both sides using acrylic paint. Finally, I sealed the painting with 5 coats of exterior varnish or polyurethane.
More recently my good friend’s plastic mailbox had a hole blown in it by a firework. For her birthday, I decided to buy her a new metal mailbox and paint another custom mailbox magnetic painting.
This time I painted a daytime scene on one side and a nighttime on the other.
My boys helped me with the painting. I used their fingerprints to create bumblebees on the day side and fireflies on the night side.
A few weeks ago, my friend told me that the mailbox was hit by a baseball bat. I immediately asked how the painting was. Her husband proudly told me that the painting looked perfect. He was able to bang out the dent and put the mailbox back on the post. Although, he told me a secret. He said when installing the mailbox on the post, he used finish nails to attach it so that if someone tries to hit it again it will just pop right off.
The good news is that even if the mailbox is destroyed, you should be able to simply peel off the magnetic and attach it to a new mailbox. This would be helpful if you move one day and want to take your mailbox art with you.