For most homeowners, when they face a problem regarding the locks for their house, they will almost always choose to replace the locks completely. However, they don’t do this because it’s the best option they have. In fact, many homeowners simply assume that replacing their locks is the only option they have. 

A good portion of homeowners seems to have never heard of rekeying before. This is unfortunate since, when it comes to rekeying vs changing locks, rekeying can many times be a smarter choice than replacing your whole lockset. 

But if you’re not sure which process to go with, don’t worry. We’re here to help. So continue reading and we’ll walk what it means to rekey and replace your locks and how they can affect your home’s security.

What Does It Mean to Rekey Your Locks?

The process of rekeying is surprisingly self-explanatory. Simply put, a locksmith will go about changing the internal workings of a specific lock. This way, that lock with work with a new key. 

The goal is to do all of this without compromising on security.

To put it another way, you’re going to be keeping your old lock but the original key you had won’t work with it anymore. Because you’re not changing or replacing the lock body, rekeying is usually a cost-effective process. All a locksmith has to do is adjust a few important parts so that the lock will work with a new key. 

To start the process, a locksmith is going to have to obtain access to the lock cylinder. In order for him to do this, he will first have to take the lock off of the door that it’s attached to. 

It is possible for a homeowner to rekey the lock themselves if they have worked with locks before. But for someone who is rekeying for the first time, they will likely find it a difficult task to complete. And it’s certainly never worth compromising the safety of your home because you don’t want to call a locksmith. 

If you attempt to rekey by yourself and end up making a mistake, then you will likely sacrifice the lock’s ability to accurately work. This is why only people who are well experienced with locks should be rekeying. 

The locksmiths at our business are experienced with all kinds of locks. We can rekey mortise locks, which increase a lock’s security and complexity. We also perform commercial rekeying

The Lock Rekey Process

When it comes to rekeying a lock, the locksmith is going to mainly work on the lock cylinder and the key pins housed inside the cylinder. These are the main components that will need to be changed and rearranged so that your lock can be properly rekeyed. 

You’ll also need the corresponding key nearby. If the key can’t be found, the lock is going to have to be picked. 

Inside the lock, the key pins are arranged in such a way that they will correspond with a unique key. By changing or rearranging the key pins, then that original key will no longer be able to open the lock. In order to properly adjust the key pins to their new arrangements, the person performing the rekey will need to know which pin sizes are going to correspond with the key depths. 

Having a depth chart, pinning size chart, and key decoder on hand will be extremely helpful. A key decoder is able to eliminate the guesswork when a locksmith is figuring out the specific key pin measurements to use. 

The Benefits of Rekeying a Lock

Now that we understand how rekeying works and what it is, let’s check out its benefits and disadvantages. First, we’ll look at the pros of rekeying. 

A Greater Sense of Safety

When you completely reset your key control and invalidate any other key that originally corresponded with that specific lock, you are able to gain a greater sense of safety.

In fact, it’s recommended that homeowners rekey their locks right when they move in. Rekeying is a cost-effective way to stop prior residents from gaining access to a home that they no longer live in. This will help the homeowner feel secure right off the bat. 


As we said earlier, to rekey a lock you have to readjust the key pins that can be found in the cylinder of the lock. When you compare that to how much replacing a whole lockset costs, you’ll see rekeying is almost always less expensive. This makes it a great choice for homeowners who want to feel more secure but don’t want to spend more than they have to. 

Fast and Easy

An experienced and reliable locksmith will be able to rekey your lock in a very short amount of time and with very few tools. In fact, all a locksmith needs in order to do their job is a key decoder, the original key for the lock, a catch tool, and a spanner. 

The Disadvantages of Lock Rekeying

The biggest negative when it comes to rekeying a lock is that you’re limited in how much you can increase your security. As we already stated, rekeying a lock can certainly make your home more secure. But it won’t give you any other safety features.

And if you feel like your current lock isn’t giving you the amount of security that you want, then rekeying won’t help. Rekeying a lock won’t make that lock stronger. But if your biggest worry is about people with corresponding keys entering your home, then rekeying is all you have to do. 

What Does It Mean to Replace Your Lock?

The main difference between replacing a lock and rekeying one is that with replacing, you’re using a completely new lock. This means that your lock body will be completely different. Although this process will likely cost you more money, it can also give you more control over what your lock can provide you. 

And the primary reason why replacing a lock costs more is that you have to buy a new lock. So the first step to lock replacement is picking which lock you’d like to install. 

There are several factors that you need to think about when you are buying a new lock for your home. First, what kind of budget are you working with? You also have to consider what kinds of preferences and features would you like your lock to provide. 

After you pick which lock you want to buy, you can either pick it up from your local hardware store or order it from a locksmith. 

The Benefits of Lock Replacement

As you might’ve guessed, there are several pros and cons to replacing a lock. Let’s look at them below. 


When you’re installing a lock, you will have complete control over what kind of security you’re getting. You’re going to get to choose how the lock looks and feels. 

You’re also going to be in charge of how the lock on your door works alongside any other security setup you have in your house. If you end up replacing your lock, you essentially have full reign over your security options. 

The Chance to Upgrade

By replacing instead of rekeying your locks, you have the chance to upgrade your locks and security.

For example, if you currently have installed on your door a Grade 2 deadbolt lock, then you can’t upgrade to a Grade 1 lock by having someone rekey for you. Instead, you have to do a complete replacement. 

The Disadvantages of Lock Replacement

The main disadvantage of lock replacement is that you’re going to end up paying more for parts and labor. While rekeying a lock is quick and relatively inexpensive, when replacing a lock you have to pay for a whole new lock and then also pay someone to remove and install your locks. 

The cost for a new lockset is typically much more than your traditional key pins. If you’re a homeowner with a lot of money at your disposal, then buying a new lock probably won’t be an issue. But those with a tight budget should weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision. 

What Should You Do with Your Locks?

Every person’s situation is unique. So there is no easy answer. But we can walk you through the most important things to consider so that you can come to a more informed result. 

Depending on the scenario, one process may be preferable over the other. Let’s look at a few different scenarios to help you with your decision. 

Are You Happy with Your Lockset Brand?

If your locks are in good working order and you’re totally satisfied with them, then you probably don’t need to replace them. Rekeying should be enough. 

Did You Recently Lose a Copy of Your Keys?

Losing keys is a very common occurrence. And it’s so easy to do. If the idea that someone else might be in possession of your keys makes you worried, then you should definitely take action. 

Rekeying is typically all you have to do to rectify a lost key situation. That’s because that lost key will no longer work after the process is over.  

Are You Looking to Change Your Locks Because of Security?

If you want to improve your security, rekeying or replacing your locks can do the trick. Since both of these processes will improve your security, you should first figure out the specifics of your goals. 

For example, someone who’s looking to upgrade their entire home security system, including the locks, may want to replace the locks. This is common for people who are trying to make their homes smarter and more connected. If you plan to replace your locks, make sure that you do your research to find the right lock for you. 

However, if you just want to have more control over the key situation at your home, then rekeying may be enough for you. 

How Big Is Your Budget?

More often than not, a person’s budget is the deciding factor for if they choose to replace or rekey their locks. As we’ve already mentioned, there tends to be a steep difference between these two processes. 

If you don’t think your security is going to be compromised and you like the state of your locks, then rekeying will likely be the affordable choice. 

Is It Time for a Lock Upgrade?

Although we usually don’t think about it, it’s important to point out that locks don’t last forever. Whether you notice that your locks are getting old or an immediate emergency takes place, you will have to replace them at some point. 

If you have an old lock and also want to improve the security of your home, then replacing your lock may be the best move. Especially if it looks like the lock will need to be replaced in the not too distant future. 

Still, it’s good to remember that even the best lock is practically useless if you don’t remember to lock it. Believe it or not, 27.8% of all burglaries start by a criminal just entering through an unlocked door. 

Knowing What’s Better for You When It Comes to Rekeying Vs Changing Locks

Hopefully, after reading the article above, you feel you have a better understanding of what these two processes are. And now you can make a more educated decision when it comes to rekeying vs changing locks.

Are you interested in getting your locks rekeyed or replaced? Contact us today and see how we can help!

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