I'm going to replace the locks in my home. I'm doing this because we are renting the property out and I want to get keys that are "un-duplicatable" (the kind where only the owner is allowed to make duplicates).

I've never done this before, so I'm coming here to learn about what I need to know.

I'm planning on going Schlage because I've heard they are high-quality.

I'm hoping to do the work myself. I'm not sure how difficult it is. Do you think that a novice handyman can do this work?

I think I can just take the old door handles and deadbolts out of the existing doors and replace them with my new locks. Does this sound reasonable?

I have three door handles and two deadbolts (not sure if this is important).

Are there particular things I should consider. Is Schlage a good brand to go with? What am I not thinking of?


  • 1
    The only type of key that can't be duplicated is electronic: eg those based on a passcode, bluetooth, keyfob or access card. It depends on what you're trying to accomplish, such as ensuring there are only a certain number of people/keys with access to the house vs ensuring you don't have to change the locks after tenants move out. If you can provide what your objectives are then someone might be able to suggest a better solution than stamping keys with "DO NOT DUPLICATE" and crossing your fingers that there are no dishonest minimum wage employees trained to press the 'duplicate' button.
    – gregmac
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 6:43
  • (And yes, btw, last time I had keys duplicated, it is actually a machine that takes a picture of your key, then can make as many duplicates as necessary. It took the guy not even 30 seconds of interaction with the machine to make me 4 duplicates).
    – gregmac
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 6:44
  • 1
    If you are moving into a "landlord" role, the practical approach to the possibility that your keys will be duplicated is to simply have 3 or 4 sets of lock hardware, and swap them at the end of the lease. When you put the locks that were on when they made copies back into use, it will be years later. Unless you have very patient bad former tenants that should keep you clear. Alternatively, just build a new set of lock hardware into every lease (and/or see what it costs to have just the cylinders/keys changed out, but hardware may be cheaper than a locksmith.) And add a deadbolt to door #3.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 13:13

1 Answer 1


Yes, a novice handyman can easily replace door knobs and deadbolts. All of these come with good instructions, so read and follow them and you will be fine. In North America, residential door knobs and door locks have a back set of either 2 3/8" or 2 3/4" - the backset is the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the hole for the door knob or lock. Measure the backset and buy replacements that will fit the same holes. Note that many door knobs are adjustable so they will work with both backsets.

One thing to consider is the security. Make sure the deadbolt strike plate in the door jamb has long screws that extends into the house framing that surrounds the door. Also, don't consider door knob locks to be secure - they are not as they can easily be kicked in. I always replace those type with a regular knob and a deadbolt.

BTW.... Good luck with the "unduplicatable" keys... there will always be someone who is persuasive or will badger some poor person into duplicating a key stamped with "do not duplicate". Your best bet is to find a lock where the blanks are unique or not readily available. I replaced the deadbolts on a house with Medeco a number of years ago. (At that time, Consumer Reports rated them the most secure locks.)

Every manufacturer has different grades of quality, so it is impossible to say every product from manufacturer X is good quality, and sometimes the quality of the parts is reduced to save costs. Read recent reviews for the particular model of lock you want to install. If you are able to examine the components of the lock before you buy it, examine the pieces to see if they are just cheap stamped metal or if they are made of something stronger.

  • 1
    Yah, especially today there is no such thing as an unduplicable key, or even a key with restricted blanks. You can almost always get blanks online, and if nothing else you can 3D print a key (and it really doesn't cost all that much). You might do better with a lock with easy to change pins.
    – Ariel
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 6:29

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