Cheap Locks vs Good Locks

Cheap Locks vs Good Locks
Kwikset Keys in a Schlage Lock

Question: “What’s the difference between a cheap lock and an expensive lock

The two primary differences are: 1) How long the lock will last under normal wear & tear, and 2) How much of a beating the lock can withstand before failing.

Cheap lightweight locks are easier to destroy. Expensive heavyweight locks have more metal, making the parts thicker, stronger and durable. Expensive high quality locks are generally made from brass, a strong alloy of copper and zinc. Brass has a natural low friction quality and resists the corrosive effects of weather. It’s much harder than copper, and when tarnished from exposure to weather is still visually attractive. Cheap locks are typically die-cast from non-ferrous metal. These metals are not as tough or as resistant to the effects of weather as brass, and they wear out much faster.

“I have Schlage and Kwikset locks in my home. Is there a way to make them all work with the same key?”

The short answer is yes. Schlage manufactures lock plugs with keyways for their competitor’s keys. I carry Schlage plugs for Kwikset keys in my truck.


Master Keying is a term used to describe a situation where one key fits all the locks while other keys work some of them. This would be useful where your gardener and pool guy only need access to your yard gates, while your key works the yard gates and your entire home.

Construction Keying is when copies of the “construction” key are passed out to the various contractors working a job. After the job is completed and the owner’s key is inserted into the keyway and turned, the construction keys no longer work. This saves having to re-key a second time. Construction Master Keys are also available for multiple projects.

Common Area Keying is almost the opposite of master keying. It’s where many different keys all work in one lock, for example; all 50 different apartment keys can open the front door of the building.

Finally there is Random Access Keying. This is where certain keys work in particular sets of locks, and is set up on a lock by lock basis, rather than the hierarchy usually found in master keying.




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