Interchangeable Cores and Rekeyable Cylinders

interchangeable coresRekeys have a reputation for being an expensive and tedious process. Time consuming, frustrating, and difficult are just a few of the complaints.

Luckily,there is a way to make things much easier: Interchangable cores.

Interchangeable cores are one way to reduce all the issues mentioned above. This article will teach you the ins and outs of the process and price range to expect.

Life Without Key Systems

Key systems are a vital process of your security system and if done correctly can greatly reduce the amount of frustration you’ll deal with when it comes to employee turnover.

Without a key system, when an employee is dismissed from their position or decides to move on to a different job, you’ll scramble to find a way to make sure your facility remains secure. You may not be sure what key the former employee has.or which doors they can access.

This situation can keep a facility manager tossing and turning through the night. Not to mention the budget worries when it comes to cost!

Interchangeable Cores to the Rescue

Interchangeable cores can make all of these worries dwindle down to almost nothing!


Standard cores cost less upfront, but you’ll add spend each time call a locksmith to come out and perform a rekey.

This is one of the biggest flaws with standard cores.

The purpose of a key system is to help with the management of rekeys. Without a key system, you can’t perform rekey yourself, at a moment’s notice. This creates a situation that’s not on inconvenient, but can be costly and put your facility at risk. quite inconvenient.

Interchangeable cores are looking better and better, r, right?

How Do Interchangeable Cores Work?

Interchangeable cores are taken in and out of of a cylinder using a control  key. This can be done by the average joe and no technician or special training is required.  You need a couple of things to complete the process.

  1. The new core
  2. The control key for the existing core
  3. The control key for the new core
  4. The new keys

After you have all of the required items, you can get to work.

(Don’t worry. I swear it’s not difficult.)

Your first step is to remove the old core with the coordinating control key. Once you’ve gotten that out, insert the new core with the corresponding control key. Then, simply, test the new key to confirm that it works with the new cores and voila! All done.

The process only takes a few seconds to complete and not only do you save a ton of time, but you won’t spend any extra to hire a technician to come out and rekey the cores for you.

User-Rekeyable Cylinders vs. Interchangeable Cores

There is also the option of user-rekeyable cylinders in the world of key systems. These also are done by whomever you have in house and do not require any sort of special training.

The difference between user-rekeyable cylinders and interchangeable cores is the part of the lock you change. With interchangeable cores you replace the entire core, but with user-rekeyable cylinders you actually repin the cylinder. With one option you’re purchasing new cylinders and with the other you have to purchase new keys.

User-rekeyable cylinders repin the core by using proprietary technology that changes the pins in each lock change to match the next user key. The two most commonly used brands are InstaKey and U-Change and both come with detailed instructions on how to go about repinning the cores.

User-rekeyable cylinders don’t cost much more than the average key system and actually cost less than interchangeable cores, which run about $30-$40 for each core. (That can add up quickly when you have to change out the cores on a lot of doors in your facility.). On average, you will pay about $10 more per cylinder but that is offset by the amount of money you save on rekeys.


As with any purchase, there are a couple of considerations that need to be brought to light before you make your final decision regarding interchangeable cores and user-rekeyable cylinders.

One major consideration to think about if you decide to switch to interchangeable cores is your current hardware. If you switch to IC cores, you will need hardware that is compatible with them. An interchangeable core can’t be used with just any hardware, so, for example, any leverset that has a standard cylinder in it will not work with any interchangeable core.

You also need to take note that there are two separate formats when dealing with interchangeable cores. You have large format and small format. They both function the same but this is something with which you may want to stay consistent. A large format core cannot be installed within small format compatible hardware.

There are many details involved in switching to a key system in your facility and it’s helpful to have someone around who can answer questions for you. On LockBytes we have quite a bit of material dedicated to giving you answer to some of the most frequently asked questions we get. I’ve linked to that here and it’s a good place to start if you’re just beginning your quest for key systems.

As always we have many people here on hand who are willing to answer any questions you may have. You can contact us here or feel free to leave your questions in the comment boxes down below. We look forward to hearing from you!

About Whitney Danhauer

Whitney Fay is the Content Manager at LockNet, handling content creation, presentation development and manages all of the social media for LockNet. She has a ridiculous amount of pop culture knowledge that has yet to make her rich and famous. You want to know that one actress in that one movie? Ask Whitney.

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