Should You Replace or Rekey Locks?

Marissa Hermanson
Updated July 19, 2021
A locksmith changes a door’s lock
Valentyn Semenov / EyeEm/EyeEm via GettyImages

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Your lock is your first line of defense when it comes to your home's security. Whether you just moved into a new house or have been in your home for a decade, it may be time for a professional locksmith to rekey or change your locks. But what’s the difference, and which route should you take?

Rekeying Your Locks

Rekeying is a quick way to upgrade your current locks. If you have a quality lock that works well, rekeying it is your best option.

Some locksmiths may tell you that you should change your locks. But in many cases, you can just rekey them, which means changing the existing lock system so a new key operates it. A locksmith simply replaces the tumblers and pins to create a lock that can be opened by a brand-new key. The locksmith can also check on the lock’s condition and add lubrication to maintain your lock.

When rekeying your locks, you pay primarily for the labor, not the parts, which makes it more affordable than changing out the lock completely. The cost of rekeying can range from $20 to $50 on average.

Make sure you have the old key. The locksmith can always pick your lock, but that will cost extra.

Reasons You Should Rekey Your Locks:

  • You have locks in your home that require multiple keys. Lighten the load on your keychain and eliminate confusion by rekeying every lock to the same key.  To do this, locks throughout your home need to be the same brand or have the same type of keyholes to rekey. Before calling your locksmith, you can test this out by trying your keys in the locks you want rekeyed to see if they have the same keyholes. If they slide right in, you’re good to rekey.

  • You recently moved in and want to ensure you’re the only one with working keys. After moving into a new home, you don’t know who else has a key to your door. Ensure that just you and your family have access to your new home by having your doors rekeyed.

  • You lost a key and are worried someone may find it and use it to access your home.

  • You are changing concierge services, like housekeepers, babysitters, or pet sitters, who have a copy of your house key.

A hand unlocks a door by using a key
inga/iStock / Getty Images Plus via GettyImages

Changing Your Locks

When you change your locks, a locksmith installs an entirely new lock with a new key. This service is pricier than having your locks rekeyed, as you are paying for not just the labor of the locksmith, but also the hardware of a whole new locking system. Changing your locks costs around $75 per hour.

Reasons You Should Change Your Locks

  • You want to upgrade or change the look of your lock. For example, if you are changing up the metal hardware throughout your home and want a more cohesive look.

  • You have a traditional deadbolt and want to switch to a modern keyless lock system.

  • Your locks are different brands and types, and you want them all to work with the same key.

  • You lost the key to your lock, and the price of picking the current lock to rekey makes it more worthwhile to change the whole unit.

  • You have a low-quality or older lock. If you already have high-quality locks, opt for rekeying.

  • It’s falling apart or rusty. If it’s getting stuck and lubricating the hardware doesn’t help, it’s time to upgrade.

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