Woman unlocking office door with key.

Updated 12.06.2023

Your locks can be one of the best lines of defence for your home or business. According to a survey, burglars reported that they looked for minimal security, open doors and windows, poor security systems, and detectable keys were all top reasons for break-in attempts.

While you cannot necessarily foil all potential criminals, you can take steps to reduce the risk with a secure lock-and-key system. A Master Lock System can simplify the process for you and your business.


What Is a Master Lock System?

The Master Lock System, also known as a Master Key System, is a special locking system that provides a specific level of access for each set of keys. The key with the highest level of access will open all the doors in a specific facility. In contrast, the other keys can access particular doors depending on their authorisation level.


Master Lock Systems: The Basics

With other key systems, employees would have keys for their specific offices, rooms or spaces. Employees, such as office managers, needing multiple areas, could find themselves carrying around numerous keys on large rings. This would be bulky, cumbersome, and inconvenient. If a key was lost, it might not even be noticed immediately and could be challenging to track down.

Worse, as people come and go or buildings and locks change, keys can get lost or become obsolete. With new staff, new responsibilities and growth, the keyring grows, and more time is spent looking for the right key to unlock the doors.

At this point, a standard door lock system can become a serious security risk because people start leaving their doors unlocked or sharing keys.

With a Master Lock System, each person has their key, eliminating the issues associated with individual keys, including:

  • The frustration and confusion of juggling keyrings
  • The risks of losing a key
  • The dangers of leaving rooms and buildings unlocked entirely.

The bottom line is Master Lock Systems keep facilities, rooms, and people safe. Senior staff will have their keys unlocking each or most doors in their offices or company.

These keys can typically be designed to unlock:

  • Deadbolts and padlocks
  • Warehouses
  • Storerooms
  • Offices
  • Staff areas
  • Departments
  • Individual doors

Building Managers, Department Heads, and Office Managers will have keys to unlock their specific offices or departments, and individual employees will have keys for their offices and any other areas for which they are responsible.

Master lock and key system diagram.


Does a Master Lock System Require More Keys?

It is a common fallacy that the Master Lock System reduces the number of keys you need to juggle. Having more keys, or a key for each lock, might initially sound like a good idea. However, that also means more keys get lost or mixed up. Ultimately, it can increase your risk and vulnerability to break-ins and loss.

With a Master Key System, you can increase your level of security by having fewer keys. Each person can manage their key. With just one key to keep track of for all accessible rooms and areas, the risk of loss or misuse is significantly lowered. If that one key is lost or stolen, the risk can be contained faster by quickly and efficiently rekeying the compromised locks.


Types of Keys in a Master System

There can be several keys involved in a Master Key system, each offering varying degrees of access according to your needs, including:


Master Key

This is typically the highest-ranking key in a Master Key System, and it will open all the locks in a system.


Sub Master Key

This key can also be called the change key, which will only open certain locks at that specific access level. The Master Key can also open these locks.

Some systems include higher levels of access that necessitate different keys, including Grand Master keys, which will open additional Master Key Systems.

Master key systems diagram of how it works.


What Kind of Locks Are Needed for a Master System?

Master Lock Systems can use a variety of locks and keys. However, the majority use basic pin tumbler locks. Pin tumbler locks work a little like a puzzle. The grooves in the driver pins of the lock must match up with the grooves in the key before the lock opens. If the level of access is appropriate, the key will turn, and the lock will open.


How Are Locks Master Keyed?

Conventional lock cylinders that use one key have a set of pins on the bottom and a set of pins on the top. When the correct key is inserted, the keys create a shear line along the cylinder, freeing it from the pins and allowing it to turn freely.

Master keyed cylinders have additional sets of pins. This enables them to be used with multiple sets of keys. The pins are stacked, creating different shear lines.

In a Master Lock System, only some keys have all the grooves needed to fit each pin. The system is graduated so that the level of access can be adjusted according to need. When a dual combination key is used, up to 17 million locking combinations are possible. Keys can be colour coded to ensure a visual backup for the level of access.


Are Master Lock Systems Safe?

Some of the most secure systems in the world use Master Key Systems. High-security Master Key systems are used in some of the best-protected areas in the world, and for a good reason: They are highly safe and secure.

A single “master key” is used to operate all locks, while other keys will operate specific locks depending on the amount of access granted. There can also be an overriding Master Key that gives universal access.

Only authorised signatories are eligible to order new keys, ensuring that all keys are correctly accounted for. You will always have complete control over the issue and quantity of keys.

Master Keys work with a wide range of systems, including:

  • Abloy Pro
  • Binary Plus
  • Galaxy
  • Kaba Expert
  • Generation 6
  • Lockwood Twin
  • Status 6 They can even be tied into your electronic access control via card and keypads.

Master keys being cut by a machine.


The Benefits of a Master Lock System

A Master Lock System offers multiple benefits to your business, including greater security, convenience, and affordability.

  • Greater Security

With a Master Key System, access can be restricted as needed. Individuals will have keys that allow them entry only to the areas to which they need access. Their keys will not provide entrance to any other location to which they do not have access.

This can enhance security- For example, if an employee quits or is terminated, only their level of access will need to be rekeyed. Even rekeying can be avoided when a restricted key system is used.

Restricted keys can only be sold and duplicated through specific companies or locksmiths, eliminating the risk of the key’s reproduction. The key cannot be copied without prior authorisation through the company. This saves you and your organisation the expense of rekeying any locks when an employee is let go.

  • Convenience

When you have to carry numerous keys and remember which one goes to which lock can get complicated; with a Master Key System, you only have one key to keep track of, which will open every door you need to access. Just one key is necessary whether you are a clerk, an office manager, senior staff, or the owner.

  • Affordability

The financial benefits of a Master Key System might not be apparent immediately, but they add up over time. If a key needs replacing when staff changes or a key is lost, the entire system does not need to be rekeyed. Instead, the individual lock can be changed. This can significantly lower costs without interfering with critical access needs.


What Is the Process for Installing a Master Lock System?

At Diamond Lock and Security, our goal is to provide you with a fully customised system that works for you. We start by surveying your doors and locks and identifying the best way to meet your needs. Next, we will design and install your system based on your goals and preferences.


What to Expect from Your Installation

If you decide that a Master Key System is right for you, our Diamond Lock and Security experts will sit down with you to plan your system. A simple design can be mapped out in a few minutes, but a more complex system will take time and planning.

Our team begins by developing a lock access floor plan based on your information. We ensure each staff member has access to the appropriate doors and locks. We will ensure that keys for one set of doors will not inadvertently open any other doors. To help with this, we will provide key charts with specific cuts for the different access levels to make the new system easier to understand.

Because this is a customised system, we do not have your locks and keys on hand, but we will arrange for their manufacturing. Once your keys and locks have been made, Diamond Locksmiths will deliver and install them. At your request, we can even include a Key Management program to ensure you have better control over access.

Generally, you will not need to have new hardware. On occasion, if a building is particularly old, you may need some new hardware. If this is the case, we will inform you and get your approval before moving forward.

Changing door lock.




  • Do I Need a Security Check-Up?

The short answer is yes. Our clients tell us they are shocked when they discover the many ways their present system falls short. A professional evaluation is the most convenient way to see where you have gaps in your security system or simply if you have room for some improvement.

  • Will Adjusting to the New Lock System Be Difficult?

In the majority of cases, employees at all levels appreciate the ease of carrying one key instead of a ring full of keys. Some people tend to resist changes and might need more time to use the new system for a while to see the way it makes life easier. On rare occasions, someone may object to giving up their old ring of keys because they see it as a symbol of their status or importance within the company.

  • Is a Master Lock Padlock the Same as Other Master Locks?

The confusion between the two is easy to understand, but a Master Lock Padlock is a product produced by the United States lock manufacturer Master Lock. The Master Lock System is a term used for a series of keys designed to open locks in a building depending on the permissions associated with the key.


How Do I Maintain My Master Lock System?

Once your lock system is in place, it is vital to maintain and manage it. Keeping your system secure is primarily a matter of ensuring the keys and locks are in good condition. Plan to periodically check to see if there is any wear and tear visible. Additionally, if a Master Lock Key or a lock is damaged, contact Diamond Lock and Security right away. We will make the necessary repairs and return you to work immediately. If you have many keys involved in your system, we can customise a solution that fits your needs.


Can Diamond Locksmiths Create a Customised Security System for My Company?

The experts at Diamond Lock and Security are proud industry leaders. We are the authorities in Master Key Systems. We make sure you have quality products, and we use only high-security locks and standard or restricted keys. Our team can help you develop a fully customised security system, including the following:

  • Electric locks and strikes
  • CCTV systems
  • Access control systems
  • Lock installation
  • Intercoms

While some businesses believe installing a Master Lock System is a one-and-done proposition, Diamond Locksmiths will continue to make sure your security is up to par. As your security needs change, we can ensure that your system grows with you without ever compromising on safety or security. Contact our team to learn more or schedule a security evaluation today.

A team of locksmiths standing out the front of Diamond Lock and Security office and workshop.

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