Is It Better to Rekey or Change Locks?

Losing house keys and firing a disgruntled employee are just two scenarios where the notion of changing locks may come to mind. Most people fail to realize that there is a cheaper and superior approach to changing locks-rekeying. Below is an overview of rekeying when it should be done so that you can make the least expensive decision.

What Does Rekeying a Lock Involve?

Rekeying a lock means that you change out the functional key to a lock, i.e. same lock, new key. This is accomplished by dismantling the lock and changing out some of the pins, also known as “tumblers.” Changing out the tumblers means that the old key cannot sync up with the lock and is rendered useless. A skilled locksmith can rekey a lock in just a few minutes. Rekeying leaves the lock just as secure as it used to be. If you want more security, that is the time when you might resort to changing your locks instead of rekeying. Both of these tasks can be done by a competent locksmith.

Considering the cost of pins, rekeying locks is much cheaper than replacing them. Rekeying jobs are only the cost of labor-changing locks incurs parts and labor. Every lock can be rekeyed by design but not all locks are rekeyed in the same manner. Rekeying is also a useful idea when you want multiple locks to work with the same key. You just need to make sure that all the locks you are rekeying are the same brand or at least have the same keyhole design.

When to Rekey

  1. You lie the locks but want to invalidate existing keys.
  2. You want to simplify the number of keys in your life.

When to Change Locks

  1. You want to change their aesthetics.
  2. You want to upgrade to high security or electronic ones.
  3. You have different brands of locks and want to unify them to a single key.

If you have multiple locks in place but don’t have all the keys, you need to sit down and assess the cost of getting a new lock over rekeying with a key present. While the latter approach is doable, it tends to cost more labor. Having to pick and then rekey a lock is usually going to be more expensive than just changing your lock.

Note: Locksmiths can supply you with several locks to go with a key and most hardware stores will freely match purchased locks.

“How About Doing It Myself?”

The ease of doing these sorts of tasks on your own is entirely dependent upon the task in question.

Changing a Lock

Changing out a standard lock is something anyone can do with a Phillips-Head screwdriver, also known as a “Plus-head” screwdriver in Japan. If you somehow manage to screw up changing out a lock, you really do not risk doing any damage to the lock.

Rekeying a Lock

This is where you are likely better off with hiring a professional. Rekeying a lock requires training, practice, and the right tools. To be clear, the sort of equipment necessary to properly rekey, rather than ruin, a lock is more than the cost of 10 brand-new basic locks. To reiterate, trying to rekey a lock on your own could risk completely ruining the lock’s usefulness if you miscalculate at any point during the process.

Note that there are some brands of lock that provide an easy at-home method or rekeying. While these models are growing in prominence, the technology involved is far from flawless. Unless you plan to make rekeying your locks a regular part of your life, it would probably be best to hire a professional locksmith to handle the task.

To Review

When it comes to reworking how you secure your property, you can either change out the locks entirely or keep the locks intact and just rework their key pins, known as rekeying. Changing a lock is easy, if expensive while rekeying a lock is a cheap task best left to trained professionals. Carefully consider your particular security needs and choose the form of modification best suited to your budget and needs.