Re-keying every lock in your house all by yourself

A few months ago, I moved into a new house on a couple acres with a few outbuildings. I don’t know why the person who built the place did this, but they put both a deadbolt and a locking door handle on every building door (sheds, barn, coop), including multiple outside doors on the main house. The locks were from all kinds of different brands and there was a separate key for each lock.

I don’t know what’s weirder, the fact that someone put a deadbolt and a locking door handle on a chicken coop, or that we had a new pile of 12 different keys with at least one lock we couldn’t even find a working key for. Ideally, my dream was one key for the whole property, so that every lock on every door was keyed off a single key in my pocket (I hate carrying keys and change, one key is enough).

I researched getting a locksmith to come out, but it would run hundreds of dollars in their time plus you can only re-key locks to a key made by the same manufacturer, and by my count we had at least four different brands of locks spread among all the doors. I could save money by bringing the locks to a locksmith’s store, replacing off brands with a single brand and re-installing myself, and there are esoteric expensive kits on Amazon for locksmith-style rekeying, but each brand requires it’s own $80 box of materials plus many hours of practice to master.

While researching the options, I kept coming across the Kwikset line’s “Smart Key” feature that offered simple re-key abilities built-in for homeowners. About 2/3 of my locks were by Kwikset, and the main front door lock was Kwikset, so I decided to see if I could do this myself.

First, here’s a great demo at 1m 25s into this video of how easy it is to rekey your locks with the feature. It literally takes just a few seconds to do it:

Going into this, I’d never replaced a full doornob and deadbolt before so I watched a few videos about it. Here’s a basic one featuring a child replacing a lock that I followed to the letter. If a child can do it, surely I could too:

My first door took me about a half hour to replace but my second took maybe five minutes and my third and fourth doors took just a couple minutes. I can swap door hardware in my sleep now.

Bonus: If you have doors that don’t quite shut right, or locks that don’t quite align, or an IoT door lock that doesn’t run reliably, you can make a few very easy small tweaks to get your doors working better. I used the lessons in the following video and adjusted a couple door strike plates and hinge screws so they all close and lock buttery smooth now.

To convert all my doors to Smart Key, I bought 3 sets of these ~$36 combo kits, plus a couple designy deadbolts for doors where it matched some nicer hardware (like my front door). In all, I had to spend about $170 total to replace every lock on my property with a Smart Key variety.

After I swapped in each new door handle and lock, I took each new key, turned them 90º, then used the special tool to insert my existing front door key, and in a matter of minutes, I rekeyed every door in every building all to the same key. The best part was my original key wasn’t even a Smart Key, but the existing Kwikset key that came with the house.

I know there’s a security weakness in having multiple buildings all use the same key, but I can change every door on the property to a new key in a matter of minutes, plus the Smart Key tech claims to be more secure than a typical lock tumbler, and resistant to basic lock picking techniques.

I went into this knowing even with security drawbacks, the convenience of getting everything down to one key on my keychain instead of a pile of unlabeled keys was a big win, and I’d always have the option to update my entire property’s locks in a few minutes.

There aren’t a lot of products that live up to their claims. “Liquid Plumber” drain cleaner that has saved me from calling a plumber on multiple occasions, and totally lives up to its name. Kwikset’s Smart Key is just that like that: you actually can rekey your own locks and you may never need to pay a locksmith again once you’ve installed them.

7 thoughts on “Re-keying every lock in your house all by yourself

  1. Its also just as easy to get through a smartkey as it is to use a key. There is a bypass for smartkey…. Not good locks. If you want security, at least go with Schlage. You should of consulted a locksport community about it.

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    1. Like the media, imxres just blurts out an accusation with zero details or support. Fear mongering at its best! No reasons why there is a security issue, and no reason why one is better or more secure than the other. It could be an honest opinion – or just trying to promote a competitor brand. Either way, WORTHLESS comment! I have used both Kwikset (incl SmartKey) and Schlage – and like both (for different reasons). The article’s purpose is well taken, and the author’s disclaimers well noted. Unless you are going to put bars on every window and live in an iron clad house, the best door lock is only securing one access. Don’t cave into fear – THINK for yourself – as you should do in the next election!!!

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  2. I just did basically the same thing last week! Unfortunately I had to call a locksmith for some other reasons, and he confirmed that the Smart Key setup is pretty secure—secure enough that he said that if you lost key the lock is set to, they would need to drill out the lock and replace the tumbler. He recommended that I retain my old lock tumblers in case I needed to swap in a new tumbler in the future.

    I’ve been pretty happy with all my Smart Key locks!

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  3. if you loan a key to someone (a housekeeper, say) and they have the kwikset tool, could they rekey your house?

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    1. Yeah, technically that’s possible. For me, I give people a guest account on my front door’s august lock, so they use an app to get in instead of a key.

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