When you have problems with your door locks and keys, it is best to determine a solution as soon as possible. Sometimes, a solution could be as simple as rekeying by changing the key to a newer and better one, and other times, the solution could require changing the whole lock system. 

So, it is crucial to analyze and choose the best option. But, how does someone decide between the process of rekeying vs. changing locks? The following sections explain which solution to opt and in what situation.

Difference Between the Process of Rekeying vs. Changing Locks

Rekeying a lock simply means to substitute the older keys with a brand new finer set of keys while keeping the old lock at its place. This also means that the inner function of the old lock has also been changed to match the ridges of the new keys. Thus by changing the internal springs and pins of the locks, locksmiths rekey locks.

On the other hand, changing locks mean the whole lock has to be removed from the door, and the mechanism and deadbolts have to be removed by the locksmiths to replace them with a brand new system. Sometimes, the whole lock is just removed and replaced with another brand new and unique functioning lock.

When to Rekey Locks

The process of rekeying locks is simple and can be quite cost-effective, which is why most people opt for this solution. But it is imperative to judge your situation and decide whether rekeying locks would be a wise choice or not. Here are some circumstances when you should choose the rekeying locks option over changing them-

  • When you have lost your keys and have absolutely no idea about the keys’ whereabouts, you should choose to just rekey the locks rather than changing the whole lock. 
  • When you have moved into a new home, you might think of changing the locks of the house. But that is not very necessary. As you don’t have any idea who has the keys of the locks, just simply change the keys by rekeying the locks, so that old keys don’t work anymore.
  • In situations like divorce or separation, you may have given the lock keys to another person, and now you do not want that person to enter your house. You can just rekey the locks instead of changing the whole lock. Rekeying locks is enough when you’re trying to prevent a third person who possesses the lock keys from entering your house. 
  • If the locks are of the same brand or have the same keyhole, and you have multiple keys for different locks in the house, it is effective to change the keys to match one single key. To do this, locksmiths will just simply rekey your locks and change the internal function of the locks to match one unique key.

When to Change Locks

Changing the whole lock of the door is required in much more serious cases. Replacing the entire lock might be expensive, but it is far more secure. You should look to change the whole lock-in situations like below-

  • When there is a theft or break-in your house and the lock has been broken, you should immediately seek to change the entire lock to a newer and much more secure system. 
  • When the previous locks are old, rusty, and have been used for many years, it is advised to shift to a brand new and updated security lock system.
  • If you have moved to a new place and want to upgrade to the latest security system, it is recommended to change all the locks of every door of the house. It may be quite expensive but handy in the long-run.
  • In commercial offices, it is vital to change the entire locks to a fresh set of upgraded security systems in times of inspection or after a catastrophic accident occurred inside the building.
  • If you want all the locks to function with the one key and the locks are of different brands, it is required to change the entire locks to one single unique brand. 


The ongoing debate of the process of rekeying vs. changing locks is never-ending, as choosing one over the other is a difficult job. But, one should be careful in deciding which one is better than the other.

There are situations where the process of changing locks is required and could be cheaper than rekeying the locks. It is advised to take time to understand each solution and consult professionals in determining which solution is best suitable for you and your house.