Q: My mailbox has fallen victim to a game of “mailbox baseball.” I’d like the next one to be encased in brick. How are brick mailboxes built?
A: Mark off a 2-foot square for the mailbox foundation and dig it out about 8 inches deep. Level and compact the soil. Add 2 inches of gravel and compact it with a tamper. Fill the foundation with fast-setting concrete to ground level and let it cure. The mailbox case is built with an interior core of stacked 8-by-8-by-16-inch cement blocks surrounded by courses of brick. Center and square two blocks side by side on top of the concrete footer. Mark the location, remove the blocks and apply mortar to set the blocks. Lay the second course of blocks perpendicular to the first, and alternate the orientation of succeeding courses. Apply a layer of mortar on the footing around the base of the block foundation. Press the first course of bricks gently into the mortar, checking for level and plumb. Repeat the courses of block and brick all the way up the structure, removing excess mortar as you go. You’ll need to leave an open area facing the street for the mailbox, which you can anchor in a bed of mortar and brick around as if it were a concrete block. Step up the remaining courses of brick to cover the mailbox for a decorative appeal. Fill any gaps with mortar. Before the mortar dries, shape up the joints with a jointing tool.