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Master Keying

Master keying is a way to make multiple keys operate one lock. It creates a level of convenience for owners, managers, janitors, etc. to have access to multiple doors while controlling the access of individuals for certain doors.  Master keying creates a security issue due to “ghost keys” being created. A ghost key is a key that is never cut but is still created in the lock. In most medium to large master key systems, for every door that has a master key and one operating key, there are at least 32 ghost keys that can open that door. This makes for a lot of convenience but really degrades the security of the door.

Maison Keying

Maison (from the French meaning “house”) keying is generally used on the main or common door of an office suite or an apartment building. It allows all tenants to have separate keys to their space, but also have their key operate the main door. The doors to each space are “single keyed” and as secure as a lock can be, but the common door while being very convenient for everyone, is very unsecure. Many multiples of ghost keys exist for this door, sometimes hundreds, depending on the number of occupants requiring access and also how the system is designed.

Before Scheduling

In order to avoid additional charges due to multiple trips to your site it is best to gather some basic information required for every master key system.  Begin with a floor plan of each building. Go to each door and determine the following:

  1. Key blank used
    All doors must use the same keyway in order to work with a master key system. If your doors have more than one keyway, you will have to change some of the equipment out to match. We can help you decide which keyway is the best choice.

  2. Type of cylinder
    SFIC, LFIC, European style, mortise, cylindrical, etc.

  3. Type of lock, and brand
    Exit device (panic bar, panic device), cylindrical (deadbolt, lever, or knob), mortise, multipoint, etc.
    The type, and brand, can affect the time spent on site re-keying the lock, and the availability of compatible parts.

  4. How you wish each door to work with the master system
    Label each door with one of the following:

  • KA = Keyed Alike

  • KD = Keyed Different

  • SKD = Single Keyed – not on master **

  • GM = Grand Master (only)

  • GGM = Great Grand Master (only)

  • XX = Sub masters

  • Housekeeping

  • Breakrooms

  • Training and Conference Rooms

  • Administration**

  • Exam rooms

  • Utility rooms (Electrical, plumbing, information network systems)

  • Other areas that can be grouped together

** Human Resource file room, or patient file room, may need to be keyed different. It is not recommended, and possibly against HIPPA rules, to have doors to these files on a master key system. Please check with your regulating agency for their rules.

To maintain the integrity of your master key system we:
  • Use manufacturer specified pins where available, not universal pins.

  • Cut all keys to manufacturer specifications. No hand files. No copy machines. We strongly discourage copying of keys. Copied keys can be frustrating to use since they often do not work very well (if at all), and can cause damage to your locks.

  • Offer key marking, or stamping, with information that helps you maintain key control, and makes it easier for you to order extra keys.

  • Offer restricted and high security keyways to greatly reduce the chance of unauthorized keys being made.

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