A Master Key Suite or a Keyed Alike system?

Which one is right for me?

From time to time I am asked the difference between a Master Key Suite and a keyed alike system. This article will hopefully clarify the differences between both systems.

What is Master Keying? 

A master key system enables the owner/manager of a building (or group of buildings) to control the access rights of inhabitants and visitors to their property.

  • Master key systems include the option of a master key which may allow access to every part of the property, while individuals may be issued with a key which allows them access to their own room/area, and shared areas of the building, whilst at the same time, keeping them out of other areas where they do have permission to be, such as the room/apartment/house of another person
  • Any building or group of buildings can be master keyed, from a basic system such as having a home secured all on one key, to the more complex systems where several buildings are secured on one master key, with each individual room also operating on an individual key.
  • Master key systems are produced by software using mathematical algorithms to generate a set of cylinders' pinning and key cutting information. The software calculates the system based on the data entered by a locksmith or designer. This is why it is so important that we get ALL of the relevant information about the suite before it is designed. 


Factors to be considered

Master key systems are designed using mathematical algorithms, and no two sets of pinning will be the same. Therefore, it may be possible to get the maximum 60000 differs from one suite, but only 50000 differs from another. This is because all suites are generated in the first instance from a master key bitting combination. Some bitting combinations will allow for more differs than others due to the number of odd/even cuts and the size of the steps between cuts.

Your first order for a master key suite may only call for a small number of cylinders, but as the building becomes extended or the room designations change, you may need to add more cylinders, or include the use of a common entrance. You may even need to add another building to operate under the same master key.

We would need to know these future plans (to the best of your knowledge) at the point of suite design, otherwise such extensions may not be possible.

The addition of subs and common entrances on your master key suite will decrease the maximum number of differs possible on the suite. 


Keyed Alike locks

What does Keyed Alike Mean?


Keyed alike means one key fits all locks, for example your front and back door locks can both use the same key or every lock in an office can use the same key. Having your locks keyed alike is very beneficial if you want to open & close all your door locks with one key.

Want to know if keying alike is a good idea or not?



  • Time Saver – Saves time without having to carry a set of keys around for every lock in the house or building.
  • Save Money – You will only need to buy one key, even if you have 5 locks.
  • All your house locks on one key – no need to have multiple keys for your home.
  • Losing your keys – If you lose your keys you will only need to get one replacement key (note most locksmiths recommend replacing the lock if you lose a key ).

This is why most businesses, offices and residential homes will use Keyed alike locks as it means having one key for two locks, or even one key for five locks.


Some are concerned keying alike your door locks may reduce the security of your property, but this is simply not the case.


What Locks CANNOT be Keyed Alike? You are not able to key alike a Euro Cylinder lock with a lever operated (mortice) lock.

Can I have every lock in my home Keyed Alike? As long every lock in your home is the same type then yes. If your locks are different, they will have to be changed in order to use the same keys for all of them.

Can Padlocks be Keyed Alike? Padlocks can be keyed alike, in some instances padlocks can also be keyed alike to other locks so you could use your padlock key to open the front door lock.


Here at Anubis Lock Shop, we tend to use the higher end of the scale cylinders as the tolerances tend to be more accurate. Also, the cylinders are British Standard, 1 star rated as the de-facto standard, although we can upgrade to 3 star cylinders if you want.  You will also find that they have a higher longevity to them. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

If you think that either of the above systems would suit your situation, we can assist with the design and build of such a suite.

If you have any questions, please give us a call on 029 22745120.