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Understanding Rekeying vs. Changing Locks: Costs, Difficulty, Time, and the Role of Locksmiths

When it comes to enhancing the security of your home or business, understanding the differences between rekeying and changing locks is crucial. Both methods serve the same purpose – ensuring that old keys no longer grant access – but they differ significantly in terms of cost, difficulty, time, and historical development. Let’s delve into these aspects and also discuss why hiring a locksmith is often the best approach.

Rekeying Locks

What is Rekeying?

Rekeying involves altering the internal mechanism of an existing lock so that it works with a new key. During this process, the locksmith rearranges the pins and springs inside the lock cylinder, making the old key useless.


Rekeying is generally more cost-effective than changing locks. It requires fewer materials, as the existing lock hardware is reused.


For those with some DIY experience, rekeying can be a manageable task. However, it requires precision and an understanding of lock mechanics. Mistakes can render the lock unusable or less secure.


Rekeying a lock typically takes less time than replacing it, as it involves fewer steps and no need to fit new hardware into the door.

Changing Locks

What is Changing Locks?

Changing locks means completely removing the existing lock and installing a new one. This process can involve drilling new holes or modifying the door to fit the new lock.


The cost of changing locks is higher, primarily due to the price of new lock hardware. Prices can vary significantly based on the quality and features of the chosen lock.


Changing locks is generally more complex than rekeying. It can require carpentry skills, especially if the new lock has different dimensions than the old one.


Replacing a lock usually takes longer than rekeying, as it involves more steps, including removing the old lock, possibly modifying the door, and installing the new lock.

Why Hire a Locksmith?

Expertise and Tools

Locksmiths possess the necessary skills and tools to perform both rekeying and lock changing efficiently and securely. They can handle various lock types and complexities, which might be challenging for an average DIYer.


A professional locksmith can ensure that the job is done correctly, maintaining the integrity and security of the lock. Incorrectly installed locks or improperly rekeyed locks can compromise your security.


Hiring a locksmith saves time and effort. They can quickly diagnose the best course of action and carry out the task with minimal disruption.

Historical Perspective

Development of Locks

The history of locks dates back thousands of years, with early examples like the Egyptian wooden pin lock. Over centuries, locks evolved in complexity and security, leading to the modern pin tumbler locks commonly used today.

Evolution of Locksmithing

Locksmithing as a profession has a rich history, evolving from blacksmiths who specialize in lock and key creation. The development of more complex locking mechanisms in the 18th and 19th centuries expanded the locksmith’s role to include skills like lock picking and repair.

Rekeying and Lock Changing

The concepts of rekeying and changing locks have been around as long as locks themselves. However, the ease and affordability of these processes have improved with modern technology and manufacturing methods.

Choosing between rekeying and changing locks depends on your specific needs, budget, and the condition of your existing locks. While rekeying is a cost-effective solution for maintaining the same locks with a new key, changing locks is ideal for upgrading to higher security or newer lock models. In either case, the expertise of a locksmith ensures that your locks function optimally, pr

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