Building Protection 101: Understanding Masterkeying

LaForce’s keying experts design effective keying systems that maintain superior building security. We guide building owners and facility managers throughout the keying process. When planning a key system, we consider the current system’s functions and potential future needs. Customers often request a key that opens one door, but not another. “Can we make it so that Door A opens with Key A and Key B, but not Key C?”

The short answer is most likely: “Yes!”

With masterkeying, LaForce can design and implement a key system that allows specific and select brass keys to pass different key cylinders. And that is the crucial concept: most of masterkeying’s magic actually happens within the lock cylinder, not the key.

Why is this significant?

Simpler is often better, more reliable, and less expensive. As we ask our key cylinder to pass more keys in more situations, the chances that a false key will also pass increases. As a rule of thumb in masterkeying, the more restrictive and secure the system (such as patented keyways, signature-authorized technologies, etc.), the more expensive and more difficult it will be to get new keys made, or make quick changes down-the-road.

The opposite is also true: a system that has patent-expired or “open” technology (uses inexpensive replacement keys that are available at any local hardware store) can be serviced by any local locksmith, and is inherently less secure.

Security is a balance of trade-offs. Often, conversations that begin with keying questions are resolved by educating the customer about how masterkeyed systems work, where specific trade-offs lie, and how they would like to balance cost and ease-of-service against absolute security. There is no one right answer or universal solution to fit all buildings, but  LaForce staff can help customers find the correct balance between ease-of-use and security. More information about our keying services can be found here and here.

We want to answer your door industry-related questions! Our wide range of expertise include DoorsFramesHardwareKeyingSecurity IntegrationBuilding SpecialtiesArchitectural ServicesFire Door InspectionsPre-InstallationInstallation, and Custom Pre-Finishing. Submit a question by commenting on this blog or on our social media posts, or email.

Special thanks to Mike Morse, a LaForce Building Products Consultant in Madison, WI. He also contributed practical tips in these previous blogs:

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