Lock Talk: Rekey Vs Lock Change

Rekey Vs Lock Change

I am asked often which is better: rekeying or a lock change. Rekeying will simply allow a new key to rotate the plug(part key goes into). When the plug turns, it will operate the rest of the hardware, locking or unlocking your door. Rekeying is the most cost effective way to ensure an old key will no longer work.

Replacement cost is higher because new hardware must be purchased and keyed to match; however, sometimes it is required to match keys or replace broken hardware. Therefore, the best solution for your situation can vary. In this article we will cover the question of rekeying or replacement.

Lock Change / Rekey
  • Plug with Correct Key
  • Turns Smooth with Working Hardware
  • Two Main Parts:
    • Plug
    • Housing

Solution Rekey

  • Best Used When Hardware Works Well
  • Control Access - Establish New Key
  • Change Keys if Lost or Stolen
  • Establishes Key Control
  • Keep Current Locks - Change Key

Solution Replacement

  • Replace Broken Hardware
  • Match Key System
  • Upgrading Lock and Key


Where does issue exist?

  • The key will not turn, but it did before:

In this situation, you can try to use some lubricant to get the key to turn. This is a very temporary solution. Contact someone or bring the lock into a shop before it stops turning.

  • The key turns smoothly, but I must jiggle the key:

Rekeying will resolve most issues related to the key and cylinder. Wear and tear, buildup, and key damage can all prevent a cylinder from working well. Wear and tear and key damage are resolved with the replacement of pins and keys. Cleaning and lubing the cylinder will solve any buildup issues. 

  • The key is very difficult to turn:

This is often a problem with the hardware. It is possible to resolve this issue with cleaning the latch, lubing the hardware, or adjusting how the hardware rests on the door. If none of these options fix your issue, a replacement is most likely needed.

Lock Replacement

Although rekeying will always take care of your key control needs, sometimes locks need to be replaced. If the current latch or otherwise associated hardware is not working well, a replacement may be the best choice. In addition, you may need to replace hardware to match keys. Locks that all have the same keyway can be keyed to match; however, if your key will not enter the lock, then they cannot be keyed the same. Consequently, a lock replacement may be needed to match the key system. Lastly, new hardware may be required if you are switching keyways to upgrade the lock and key. Hardware is often not built to be interchangeable. Therefore, upgrading keyways may require the purchase of new hardware. Essentially, if the lock works well and looks good, rekeying is an easy way to control the key. Otherwise, maintenance or replacement will be your go to solution.