What Is The Meaning, How We Rekey Locks, When Should You Rekey Your Locks & More!


New homeowners, customers who want to change their home or business locks for better security usually wonder what is the difference between changing the locks and rekeying locks.

First, a general explanation of what rekeying a lock means.

When a locksmith rekey a lock –

It means that you keep the existing lock, but changing only the key.

Therefore, the old keys won’t work, but you still get to keep the same lock you had.

In addition, you can choose to have all locks operated on the same key, giving you the convenience of having only one key. 

When can locks be rekeyed to the same key and when they must be changed?

The only way to rekey two locks to the same key is when they have the same keyway.

The keyway of the lock is determined by the lock manufacturer. E.g. Kwikset locks and Defiant can be rekeyed to the same key because they have the same keyway.

However, when locks have a different keyway, e.g. Schlage and Kwikset, they cannot operate on.

When should I rekey my locks?

  We recommend calling a locksmith to rekey your home or business locks in the following situations:

What locksmiths actually do when they rekey the lock?

The process is a pretty simple one. The core of the lock is taken out and instead of the pins that are currently there are taken out and replaced by new ones.

Thus, the old key won’t “fit” to the new “code” created by the new pins.

A locksmith will provide a new key that fits the new code and therefore unlock the lock.

Furthermore, when the locksmith matches the key for a few locks, he inserts the same code, or use the same pins for all the locks and therefore the same key will operate them all.

What to tell a locksmith for home or business when you need to change or rekey your locks?

1. First, mention the reason you want to rekey your locks. The locksmith may offer a better solution for you.

2. In addition, make sure to mention what type of locks you want to rekey. E.g. residential, commercial, deadbolts, door knobs, etc.

3. Furthermore, if you know the lock manufacture mention it as well. E.g. Kwikset, Schlage, Defiant, Yale, etc.

4. Moreover, discuss with the locksmith what is a better option to handle the security situation you have. Sometimes it better to change the locks or to upgrade your security system instead of rekeying the locks.

5. Finally, ask for a quote based on the information you provided.


Q: What is the cost to rekey a lock?

A: To rekey a lock ranges between $20-$50 depends on the type of lock, the labor involved to disassemble it and more.

Q: Can you give examples of locks that can be rekeyed to the same key

A: Yes. The most common brands today in the US are Kwikset, Schlage, Yale, and Defiant. Those can be found in most hardware stores. Kwikset, Yale, and Defiant can be rekeyed to the same key as they have the same keyway. Schlage has a different keyway and therefore can’t be matched with these other locks.

Q: What is the difference between locks rekey and locks replaced? What is better for me, to rekey my locks or replace them?

A: Well, that depends. generally speaking, as long as your locks are in good shape, and operate with no problem, then there is no need to change them completely. In this case, rekeying them will be as good. In situations where the locks don’t function well, and you need a new key we would recommend completely changing the locks.

Q: How long does it take for a locksmith to rekey a lock?

A: The process of rekeying a lock is involved in two phases: 1. Removing the lock from the door. 2. Rekeying the cylinder. For most residential and commercial door knobs and deadbolts, the process usually takes about 10-15 minutes, that of course in case you have the key to use the lock. In cases where panic bars, push bars, and other exit devices are involved, mostly for large businesses, the process should take up to an hour.

Q: Can a lock be rekeyed?

A: The answer is yes, depends to which key you want to match it. For example, Let’s say that you have a Kwikset lock, and you would like to rekey it to a different key. You can do that only to another Kwikset key. This won’t work with a Schlage key. Therefore, as long as you use the same lock brand, shouldn’t be any problem.

Q: How do you remove a deadbolt lock or doorknob lock?

A: The process of removing a deadbolt or doorknob lock is the same for most residential locks. Simply take a Philips screwdriver or flathead and unscrew the screws. Keep in mind, for most locks they are located at the sides of the lock. However, in some cases, you may have to remove a plate to get to the lock itself. In addition, in locks such as mortise cylinder, you will also need a smaller screwdriver to release a pin that holds the lock. This is especially relevant for business storefront locks.

Q: Is it cheaper to rekey or replace locks?

A: Generally speaking, it is much cheaper to rekey locks than to replace them.

The process of rekeying locks basically means changing the pins inside the lock cylinder as shown below:

In other words, you just have to change the pins to have a new key to operate the lock.

Replacing a lock means to completely change all the lock parts, including new cylinder, latch, housing, etc as shown below:

Therefore, changing a lock is more expensive. Sometimes it could cost up to 3 or 4 times more than rekeying the lock.

Finally, always ask to rekey your locks instead of changing them, especially if there is nothing wrong with the locks.

Q: Is it possible to rekey high-security locks cylinders as well? I know that these locks have a unique keyway and therefore it may be a problem to rekey them.

A: Rekeying high-security cylinders is possible, however, not any locksmith or shop can do that. In addition, it requires the locksmith to have a unique rekey kit specifically for the same brand as the high-security locks that need to be rekeyed. Therefore, it is much less common. We would highly recommend calling around to make sure the locksmith has the necessary tools and kit to do that.

Q: Can you rekey locks at Home Depot or Lowes?

A: Yes. Home Depot and Lowes, as well as other hardware stores, usually can rekey your locks on site. In addition, you can purchase new locks from them, and ask for the new locks to be rekeyed to your existing home key. Keep in mind that they only rekey most common brands and high-security keys or restricted keyways cant be rekeyed at Home Depot or Lowes.

Q: Can I rekey my door locks myself?

A: Yes, you can. However, you will need some special tools to do that such as rekey tools, the new key and pin kit. The total cost of these tools will be higher than just going to a hardware store and therefore we recommend you just let someone do it for you instead.

Here is an example of our work: