Rekeying vs Replacing Locks: Which One Should You Choose?

Key Takeaway

  • Rekeying a lock involves changing the pins inside the lock which will open with a new key, whereas Replacing a lock involves completely removing the old lock and installing a new one. 
  • Rekeying is often a good option for those who want to improve security without spending a lot of money, while replacing locks may be necessary for those who want to upgrade to a more secure lock or resolve specific issues with the existing lock.

One issue that is hotly discussed among homeowners is rekeying vs replacing the locks. Given the fact that rekeying is almost always cheaper than changing the lock, ideally this topic should have been put to rest by now. But no! It still divides the population.

In this article, I am going to throw light on the scenarios where rekeying and replacing the locks make sense and what they cost.  But first understand what they mean. 

Understanding Rekeying vs Replacing Locks

Understanding Rekeying vs Replacing Locks

Rekeying a lock involves changing the pins inside the lock cylinder, which opens only with a new key. This approach is used when you want to keep the existing lock hardware but at the same time limit the access to a key that has been lost, stolen, or given to someone. Rekeying is often quicker and more cost-effective than replacing a lock entirely.


Replacing or changing a lock involves removing the entire lock hardware and installing a new one. This approach is used when the existing lock is damaged or outdated or when you want to upgrade to a more secure lock system. Usually, replacing a lock is more expensive than rekeying a lock.

When Should You Rekey Your Lock?

Rekeying is advised for the following scenarios – 

  • If you’ve lost keys to your lock and you are concerned that someone else might have it, rekeying is a better option provided the lock is still properly functional. Such a job will cost you around $20-$50. You could also purchase a rekeying kit and make it a DIY project if you like. A rekeying kit would typically come around $10-$15.
  • When you want to change the configuration of your locks from keyed different to keyed alike. I did an extensive article on the same a while ago.
  • When you’ve moved to a new home (or office premises) and don’t want to spend too much on replacing the locks, then rekeying is a good option. Though I would suggest upgrading the locks if you are so concerned about the security.

When Should You Change Your Lock?

Changing the locks is expensive (cost around $60-$75 per hour) so one needs to be thoughtful about when to replace the locks. I recommend only 2 scenarios where it makes sense.

  • Worn out or malfunctioning lock: If you feel that the lock is worn out and is malfunctioning, then changing it makes much more sense as you will be getting brand new hardware.
  • Upgrading Security: If you want to upgrade your home security in general, then I would recommend investing in better locks than just changing the keys. 

Last Words on Price

Rekeying a lock is generally less expensive than replacing the entire lock system. Rekeying will cost around $20-$50 whereas replacement of locks will set you back by $75 at least.

However price should not be the only criteria to decide between the rekeying vs replacing locks. What matters more is the scenario you are faced with. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How do I know if I should rekey or replace my locks?

Answer – The decision to rekey or replace your locks depends on your specific situation and security needs. If your existing lock is in good condition and you just want to change the keys that operate it, rekeying may be the best option. If the lock is damaged or you want to upgrade the security of your locks, replacing them may be necessary.

Q2. Can I rekey my own locks?

Answer – Yes, it is possible to rekey your own locks if you have the necessary tools and knowledge. However, it is important to note that rekeying locks can be a complex process, and mistakes can compromise the security of your lock. If you choose to rekey your own locks, be sure to research the process thoroughly and obtain the necessary tools and supplies. Additionally, be sure to take appropriate safety precautions and follow manufacturer instructions carefully.

Q3. When should I consider replacing my locks?

Answer – You should consider replacing your locks if they are damaged or outdated or if you want to upgrade to a more secure lock. 


The decision to rekey or replace locks depends on various factors, such as your budget, the level of security needed, and the type and condition of your existing locks. While rekeying is often cheaper and quicker, it may not be the best option if your locks are damaged or outdated. On the other hand, replacing locks offers a higher level of security and may be necessary if you want to upgrade your home’s security system.

Whether you choose to rekey or replace your locks, the most important thing is to ensure that your home is secure and that your family and belongings are safe. By taking the time to invest in your home’s security, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is protected.

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Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.