Is it better to replace or re-key locks? – Locks Cabin

Physical keys are most people’s everyday attributes. We lock the door using keys and come back home to unlock the door. It is quite tiny to easily lose it or sometimes brake it in half inside the lock. There are mainly 3 reasons people rekey or change locks such as key loss, match for the same key, and preventing access to previous tenants. We will discuss in detail what is rekey and lock change, and most importantly when or why you need to choose one of the options.

It is better to re-key locks because it’s cheaper than replacing all hardware. Especially if your locks are from high-end brands such as Baldwin, some Kwikset, or Schlage it is much more financially feasible to rekey them. Rekeying means replacing parts inside an existing lock namely – pins, while changing locks is actually removing an existing lock with a brand-new lock

There are situations when you can either rekey or/and replace yourself. Rekeying locks requires specific tools that can cost more than 300 USD, moreover, it will take effort to rekey it the right way because pin replacement needs quite a precise shoot. While replacing locks most of the time requires simple screwdrivers.

What is lock rekey exactly?

Lock Cylinder with Key

Rekey is a procedure of re-doing = re-keying. It means the current key that allows unlocking the lock will be replaced with another key that will authorize that lock to turn the cylinder, thus moving the latch away from the frame.

When you call a locksmith, usually a technician arrives in his/her minivan that has all the required tools such as pins, shim, plug lock follower, cylinder removal tool, lock pinning tray, and a new unique set of keys that will replace his predecessor.

Most of the residential cylinders (picture to the right) have 5 pins, and some commercial cylinders have 5 and 6-pin systems. The goal of a locksmith technician is to remove the cylinder from the lock and empty the old 5 pins that are deployed specifically for the previous key. Then, new different 5 pins (can be the same numbers as the previous pins, but changed order) are inserted inside the cylinder so that the new key will be working for that lock.

What is lock change or replacement exactly?

Lock replacement is literally means replacing a lock itself – a lock that you see on the door. Many people confuse between lock change and lock rekey.

If you already have one key that open all door locks, and you want change the key so that nobody else can enter your house then that would be rekey, so you don’t need to buy new hardware.

If you have for example 4 kwikset locks that have a same key and 1 schlage lock that is obviously will be a different key. It means you will have to carry 2 different key at all times in order to have an access to your house. In this case 1 schlage lock will be replaced/changed with 1 brand new kwikset lock, so that all 5 locks are operated by a single key

How much is an approximate price to rekey locks?

The pins are very cheap. Most of the expense will be coming from labor. Depending on the region and company rates, rekeying house locks ranges between $15 up to $55 per cylinder. For commercial is a totally different pricing which usually ranges between $95-180 per cylinder. If you are interested to find out what are the average prices for certain types of locks, you are welcome to read the price range that we think is fair, at least in Houston, TX, and overall in the United States.

Moreover, there is a separate service call fee ranging between $19-85. A quick tip: if you feel that services would cost you a lot, you can nicely ask if they can possibly remove a service call or lower it. That will definitely work and nothing bad to ask


I am Rauan, I have over 4 years of experience as a locksmith tech and then as the owner of my own company. I live in Houston, TX, and love to provide valuable insights related to locks. Enjoy reading

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