Posted by DDH Staff on 4/30/2020 to
Understanding how the keys and key cylinders work for residential hardware remains a mystery for many. For others, ordering new door hardware for a remodel or new construction home can be overwhelming and some people forget to even address the issue of keying when ordering hardware. Ideally, a homeowner has only 1 key required to open all locking doorknobs, handlesets or deadbolts to enter the home. This can be planned for upfront when ordering new hardware so you don't have to deal with many different keys to their respective locksets around your home or pay to have your doors keyed alike after your hardware is installed or worse, realizing the locksets you bought are not compatible and cannot be keyed alike even by a locksmith. A locksmith can come to your home and re-key compatible hardware in your home and there is a time when doing so is your best option. Direct Door Hardware.com offers free keying alike for residential hardware you purchase from us and if you understand even the basics of how keying works, we can save you tons of time and money by allowing us to offer this service to you. When ordering a door hardware package, we can arrange to have all of your locksets ship to you already keyed alike so they are ready to install out of the box. There are many, many different types of keyways and keying systems out there especially for commercial doors, but for the purpose of simplicity we will talk now only about the most common residential keying types.
What is a keyway?
The keyway of a lock cylinder is the size and shape of the keyhole used to insert the key into the tumbler to operate the pins and locking mechanism that allows you to rotate the cylinder and lock or unlock your door hardware. Characteristics like the key length, number of cuts or grooves along side the key all determine compatibility. There are many different types of keyways that are mostly proprietary from brands such as Weslock, Kwikset, Weiser, Schlage, etc. Think of it like phone chargers. If you have an Apple i-phone, you need an i-phone type charger to properly charge the battery on your phone. You wouldn't be able to use an i-phone charger with a Samsung phone. Likewise, you wouldn't be able to order locksets from different brands and expect them to all be able to be keyed alike. This is the case with most keyways, although there are several hardware manufacturers that use a common and widely used cylinder called a Schlage keyway.
Which locks are compatible?
Let's first talk about which locksets are not compatible. Weslock products are the only ones to use a Weslock keyway. If you like a Weslock handleset for example and having only 1 key is important enough of a convenience to you, you would need to also select only Weslock hardware for other exterior doors to your home.
Kwikset is another popular keyway that is not widely used outside of the Kwikset Brand. Certain Baldwin and Weiser products use a Kwikset keyway because of the affiliation between these brands. Kwikset has a standard keyway and another type of keyway called Smartkey. Smartkey is a clever way Kwikset came up with that allows you to key your own Kwikset locks alike at home without the help of a locksmith. All Kwikset brand hardware comes standard with Smartkey keyways. Sure-Loc hardware also uses Kwikset standard keyway
Schlage keyways are standard for many other manufacturers of door hardware. Emtek, Schlage, Baldwin Estate Series, Deltana and EZSet all use the standard Schlage keyway. There are some alternate keyways available for some of them but unless requested otherwise, they will all ship with Schlage Keyways.
Admittedly, this is all very confusing! As a general rule, if you stick with the same brand hardware or a known compatible alternative, you wont have any problems having all of your hardware keyed alike.
What does keying alike mean?
Once you know you have hardware with compatible keyways, you can have the locksets keyed alike by us or a locksmith. This is a technical process that involves changing the pins inside the tumbler to different lengths so they match the key desired. The cuts on your key determine what is called a key code. A key code is a sequence of numbers 5 digits long alot like a zipcode. This 5 digit number is usually stamped or etched into your original keys that come with a new lockset. If you already own hardware but are needing to buy additional locksets and wish to have them both keyed alike, all you need to do is provide the keycode found on your existing keys. If you make a copy of your original keys, the code likely will no longer be there. If you have a key with no 5 digit code stamped on it, a local locksmith can guage your key and tell you what your keycode is. Using the example key below, a person could order additional matching hardware and provide the code #15564 and the key will work with both the old and the new hardware. When ordering online through our website, you can type this code and keying request into the "keying/comments" box at checkout.
As always, we are here to help if you have any questions about ordering the correct hardware or keying. Call 307-886-9449.