You may have recently moved into a new place, changed roommates, have trouble with your key in the lock, lost your keys, or had a change in staff at your business. In any of these cases and others that may arise, it may be time to replace or rekey locks at your home or work. Most locks can be rekeyed or replaced, but how do you know which method to use?

What’s the difference?

First, it’s important to know the difference. To rekey locks, means that the pins in the lock are changed to fit different or new keys, disabling the old keys, and the lock is returned to its original location. To replace locks involves removing the original lock and installing completely new lock hardware. As long as there is no damage to the lock mechanism and the lock is not broken or worn out, it may be possible to forego the replacement and just rekey locks.

How easy is it?

If you are taking on the project to rekey locks yourself, how long it takes or how easy it is really just depends on how well you understand the basics of pin and tumbler locks, and if you have any previous experience with locks. Depending on the type or brand of lock want to rekey, it is usually possible to purchase a lock specific kit from a home improvement or hardware store. The other option is to hire a professional locksmith.

Is it expensive?

Rekeying locks is generally considered less expensive than replacing locks, because there is less hardware involved. If you rekey locks yourself, the cost involved is the kit, ranging in price from $12–$80, and the time it takes you to do the job. Hiring a locksmith will cost more, and would include the service charge and/or labor, cost of the keys and any additional parts or services required. However, using a professional greatly increases the chance that the installation will be done right the first time and be reliable. Ask detailed questions about the job when getting a quote from the locksmith so you know what charges to expect.

When hiring a locksmith to rekey locks, make sure they are verified and that you choose someone you can trust. If you rekey locks yourself, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to ensure that your rekeyed locks will be dependable.