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Lock Blog

A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals

5 Things To Know Before Installing Your Mailbox Lock

by Hugo Reed November 8, 2017
Locking Mailbox Lock

Mailbox theft is a lot more likely to occur than most people know. There is a chance that you have been an unwitting victim of mailbox theft, but you never realized it because they didn’t take anything of extreme importance. I would wager that there are very few people who have ever taken the time to assess the security of their homes, apartments or offices in a way that helps them see that their mailboxes have to be kept safe and secure. The truth is there are many people who take their mailboxes for granted and they forget to secure it.

Mailbox locks are a very important element, especially if you are concerned with tightening your overall security and negating the existence of any vulnerabilities. If you take the time to really think about a mailbox and mailbox locks, you will see that the latter is an important aspect that you should always have in place. Most of the mail that people receive on a daily basis consists of important documents that are filled with portions of personal information. As such, you want to make sure that no one gets a hold of your information and violates any part of your coveted privacy.

Why Is Mailbox Security Important?

The desire for an increase in privacy is often the main driving force behind the installation of a mailbox lock. From my personal experience, I see mailbox locks more widely used in commercial spaces and apartment buildings. This is mostly because mail delivery is less personal in commercial spaces and in apartments. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that people do not have a semblance of privacy in these spaces, but simply that most of these mail pick up locations in commercial spaces are similar to common areas. This makes it much easier for people to infringe upon your privacy and make off with important personal or company information.

Securing a mailbox is very similar to securing a front door, in the sense that you have to take several different factors into account, simply to make sure that you are implementing the most suitable solution for your scenario. There are variations to a mailbox lock, and not every variation is suitable for some people. Here are some of the things you need to know before you install a mailbox lock:

1. Which Locking Method You Are Going To Use

You have to realize that there isn’t one locking solution that you can use on a mailbox lock. This rings true for just about any other locking mechanism that you will come into contact with. There are many different options to choose from which allows homeowners, renters, and commercial building managers, to choose a lock that is tailored to their needs. Before you install a mailbox lock (regardless of the location) you have to take the time to figure out which locking method you want to use. Taking the time to identify the best locking method will make the lock installation process much easier, and it will also greatly reduce the chances of any errors being encountered during the installation process. The most important reason for identifying the locking method is it gives you the opportunity to choose the right mailbox lock that will fit your needs and your purposes.

Depending on what these needs might be, you can choose from an assortment of padlocks, locksets and locking mailboxes. Anyone who has ever taken the time to explore the history of padlocks can attest to the fact that they can be used to lock just about anything. However, padlocks aren’t suited to be used as a mailbox lock for every type of mailbox. This is mostly because not all mailboxes have a section for the that the padlock can be attached to effectively. There is always the option to retrofit your mailbox to work with a padlock. This is usually done as a means of allowing you to choose the level of security that you want. By this I mean that people will have the ability to choose any padlock that they want to use, which leaves some of the best padlocks of all time at your disposal.

Most of the locksets that you might find on a mailbox lock are very similar to some file cabinet locks and they are put in place to ensure that only you have access to your mail. Keep in mind that I am referring to the locksets that are already built into mailboxes, not the ones that have padlocks added to them later on. The use of mailbox locks helps increase your privacy and allows you to keep your mail much more secure. Although these locks are suited to mailboxes, they pale in comparison to many of the locks that are used on residential and commercial properties like deadbolts and mortise locksets. It is best to choose a mailbox and mailbox lock that are approved by the postmaster general. You can get most of these mailboxes at your local hardware store, as a majority of them have to be approved by the postmaster general before they are made available for retail.

Locking mailboxes are also an option that homeowners can explore in some cases. A locking mailbox might make use of a mailbox lock set on the front of the mailbox, which is used to give patrons access to their mail. In other instances, the mailbox might be built in a way that seals off your mail once it is inserted into the mailbox. This is usually accomplished by having an access panel built into the side or the front of the mailbox, similar to a large scale piggy bank.

2. How The Mail Is Accessed

Before you install your mailbox lock, you need to take the time to consider the manner in which you access your mail, and also factor in any other potential access methods that can be used. This is important because it will help you install the right lock in the right place. Being able to choose the right mailbox lock to install is only a partial solution, because the mailbox lock will be ineffective if it is not installed correctly. The main reason for installing a mailbox lock is to negate the possibility of any unauthorized individual accessing your mail, so you want to make sure that your mailbox lock is installed in such a manner that satisfies this criteria.

Ideally, you want to make sure that your mailbox lock does not impede the access that mail couriers have to it, but you also do not want random strangers to have access to your mail. This is usually accomplished by having one part of your mailbox used as a dedicated mail deposit slot and another that allows you to securely collect your mail. You have very likely come across mailboxes that look like this because many of the public mailboxes are built in this fashion. There is usually a mail delivery chute that allows people to deposit their mail and a collection access point that is guarded by either a padlock or a lockset that has been put in place. Understanding how your mail is accessed and deposited will influence the type of mailbox lock that you choose to get, and it will also help you determine how your mailbox lock is installed, which is something we will explore a little later on.

3. The Material Of The Mailbox And The Mailbox Lock

Mailboxes and their accompanying mailbox locks sit outside most of the time. This doesn’t always hold true for commercial mailboxes or apartment mailboxes, but most residential mailboxes are kept outside. This is why you will have to take the structure of the mailbox into account before you initiate the process of installing a mailbox lock. The material that the mailbox and mailbox lock are made of will be telling of how strong the structure will be as well as its longevity.

The last thing you want to do is install a mailbox lock that will not last over time or one that will be easily bypassed. The material of the mailbox and the mailbox lock go hand in hand to give you a more rounded scope of security. Ideally, you should strive to choose a mailbox and a mailbox lock that are weatherproof as well as tamper proof. The same concept applies to the material of the locks that you want to have in place, make sure that they cannot be tampered with or forced open. Similar to the ways in which burglars use bump keys, there are methods that burglars can use to attack your mailbox and mailbox locks.

4. How The Mail Is Received

Before you install mailbox locks, you should have a good understanding of the way in which you receive mail. This might sound slightly confusing, but I will take the time to explain it as I continue to talk about mailbox locks. Your mail pattern is telling of two things. This generally tells you about the average amount of mail that you receive on any given day as well as the way in which you receive them. Having a basic grasp of your mail pattern will help influence where you decide to install the lock and how you decide to do it. For instance, if you receive a large volume of mail you will most likely opt to have a much larger mail retrieval door or access point, which will most likely require the use of a bigger mailbox lock.

This tends to get much more complicated when you are looking at commercial and apartment mailbox locks. The reason behind this is because you cannot exactly tailor the security of every mailbox to the expectations of every single tenant or employee. Essentially, you will have to use mailbox locks that provide everyone with an adequate amount of security without jeopardizing the integrity of their mail. In order to do this, you have to be cognizant of the way in which mail is delivered to these locations and then set up a system that works in conjunction with this.

5. Installation Method

The installation method that you prefer to use should be set and determined before you install your mailbox lock. Essentially there are two types of installation methods that you can choose to go for when it comes to mounting and installing your mailbox locks. For most residential properties you can go the DIY route if you are entirely comfortable doing so, but for commercial properties and apartment complexes, there is a lot more that has to be considered.

The main issue here is that you will be installing multiple mailboxes and mailbox locks and this is much better suited to a professional installation method. There will usually be no major installation required if you opt to use a padlock as your mailbox lock. However, if you want to retrofit an existing mailbox with some good locks, you should most likely leave the heavy lifting to a commercial locksmith. They will be able to help you navigate the entire process as well as recommend which locks you should use to maximize your security.

Do not get me wrong, I completely understand the desire to want to go the DIY route, it saves you money. However, if you have a true grasp on how much it costs to install any kind of lock, you will realize that you are going to be sacrificing your time and your security. The last thing you want to do is try and save money by going the DIY route only to leave your mailbox security in an even more vulnerable state.


In some ways installing a mailbox lock is similar to any kind of lock installation process that you will have to go through, but there are just a few things that you will have to approach differently. Remember, the most important question that you will have to answer before you install your mailbox locks is ‘what works for you’? Every situation is different, and there are several different mailbox solutions that you can take advantage of to suit your needs. Once you answer that questions, the points outlined above should help you install the perfect mailbox lock.

Category: Commercial, How To's, Lock Types, Residential

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