Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Locksmiths Rated Highest in Quality?

A professional locksmith opens a locked car door for a customer.

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a locksmith that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified locksmith. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated locksmith and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Contra Costa County – Locksmith CATEGORY

Blaine Lucas is a 42-year veteran of the locksmith industry and owner of Foothill Locksmiths, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2004. He can be reached at (510) 621-7956 or by email.

Blaine Lucas

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Blaine Lucas: Unlocking Success

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

HAYWARD — As a third-generation locksmith, Blaine Lucas says taking up the family trade was a purely natural move. However, he also credits the support and instruction of his forebears as keys to his long-term success. “My grandfather started Foothill Locksmiths in 1956, and my dad followed after him in the business,” he recounts. “When I was a kid, my grandfather lived right next to the shop, and on Saturdays I would ride my bike over and mow his lawn. One Saturday, he asked if I wanted to come into the shop and learn how to fix a lock. That was pretty much the beginning of my locksmith career.”

Today, Blaine says Foothill Locksmiths continues to be a family affair. “My wife, Dolores, and my daughter, Katelyn, handle the administrative side, while my son, Dustin, helps me on the technical side. Dustin grew up in the business like me, and he loves it about as much as I do. I’m very proud to see our company in its fourth generation of family ownership.”

Outside of work, Blaine likes spending as much time as possible on the beach, whether at home or on vacation. “Dolores and I love going to Maui, which we’ve been able to do a number of times in the last few years,” he says. “We like sitting on the beach, enjoying the weather and watching the whales jump out of the water. We also like taking our dog on walks at Half Moon Bay.” Additionally, Blaine says he enjoys contributing his professional expertise by writing articles for trade publications.

In regard to his professional career, Blaine believes the best way to be successful is to take care of his customers. “When people come into our shop, we listen to their needs, answer their questions and explain things in ways they can understand,” he says. “We also give them the full extent of their options so they don’t feel like they’re being pressured into a particular choice. By making sure they’re happy with the results, we know they’ll come back the next time they need service.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Blaine says he’d return to his favorite island getaway. “I’d probably go back to Hawaii with my wife. After all, we’re already planning our next trip.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Sushiland in Hayward.

Q: What kind of music do you like?
A: Mostly ’80s rock, but I also enjoy Hawaiian music.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
A: Go to the movies.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Anything with strawberries on it.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old locks.

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Find a Good Locksmith Before You Need One

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HAYWARD — Nobody plans on getting locked out of their car or house, which is why few people take the time to research locksmiths before they need one. However, due to the potential consequences, it’s a good idea to find a quality… Read more

Guidelines for Selecting a Safe

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HAYWARD – If you’re shopping for a safe in which to store your valuables, keep in mind that the level of protection a safe provides depends on several attributes. Here are some important ones to look for: Fire resistance There’s no such… Read more

The Importance of Key Control

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HAYWARD — A crucial part of ensuring the security of your home or business is establishing key control—that is, knowing who has access to your property. When moving into a new home or business space, one of the first things… Read more

Code Compliance with Commercial Locks

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HAYWARD – When replacing or installing new locks in a commercial setting, a critical concern is keeping in compliance with local and federal standards. For example, lever locks are required in almost all commercial applications in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Finding a Locksmith Before You Need One

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Complete Video Transcription:

HAYWARD — Host, Sarah Rutan: While you can’t anticipate being locked out of your car or home, you can avoid a tough situation by finding a trusted locksmith… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

  • Medeco

  • Honeywell

  • Mul-T-Lock

  • Keri

  • Schlage

  • Kwikset

  • Baldwin

  • Emtek

  • Schlage Primus

Schlage Door Locks
KwikSet
Baldwin Hardware
Medeco
Von Duprin
Weiser Lock
Ademco
Aiphone
Mul-T-Lock
Dexter Locks
Best Locks
Yale Locks
Arrow Locks & Hardware
Primus Locks
Weslock
Master Lock
Chicago Locks
Alarm Locks Electro-Mechanical Hardware
Abus Locks
Adams Rite Magnetic Door Hardware
Emtek Hardware
Accurate Lock & Hardware
American Access Systems
DynaLock Hardware
Essex Hardware
General Electric Hardware
Lockmasters Door Locks
Multi Lock Hardware
Rocky Mountain Hardware

24 hour emergency locksmith services
locksmith key cutting
car locksmith services
commercial locksmiths
home locksmiths
door lock installation
deadbolt installation
lock picking services
padlock opening
lock and key installation
security locks
master key cutting
replacement car key cutting
home rekeying
business rekeying
auto lock and key installation
car transponder keys
sliding door locks
entry door locks
glass door locks
fingerprint door lock installation
keyless door locks
keypad door lock sets
door lock hardware installation
garage door lock rekeying
biometric door lock set up
brass door locks
mortise door locks
electric door locks

Alamo
Antioch
Bay Point
Bethel Island
Blackhawk
Brentwood
Briones
Byron
Canyon
Clayton
Clyde
Concord
Cowell
Crockett
Danville
Diablo
Discovery Bay
El Cerrito
El Sobrante
Hercules
Hilltop Mall
Kensington
Knightsen
Lafayette
Los Medanos
Maltby
Martinez
Moraga
North Richmond
Oakley
Orinda
Pacheco
Pinole
Pittsburg
Pleasant Hill
Point Richmond
Port Chicago
Port Costa
Rheem Valley
Richmond
Rodeo
San Pablo
San Ramon
Tara Hills
Vine Hill
Walnut Creek
Walnut Heights
West Pittsburg

94506
94507
94509
94511
94513
94514
94516
94517
94518
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94520
94521
94522
94523
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94526
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94528
94530
94531
94547
94548
94549
94553
94556
94561
94563
94564
94565
94569
94570
94572
94575
94582
94583
94595
94596
94597
94598
94801
94802
94803
94804
94805
94806
94807
94808
94820
94850

International (ASIS) (www.asisonline.org/)
Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) (www.aloa.org/)
Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) (www.bsis.ca.gov/)
California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) (www.dca.ca.gov/)
California Locksmiths Association (www.californialocksmith.org/)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (www.ftc.gov/)
The Government Security Conference and Expo (GovSec) (govsecinfo.com/Home.aspx)
International Security Conference and Exposition West (ISC West) (www.iscwest.com/)
Locksmith Ledger International (www.locksmithledger.com/)
The National Locksmith www.thenationallocksmith.com/)
Safe and Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA) (www.savta.org/)
Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) (associationdatabase.com/aws/SHDA/pt/sp/Home_Page)
Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) (www.sopl.us/)
Yankee Security Convention (www.yankeesecurity.org/)

Know What You Want
Define What You Need from a Contra Costa County Locksmith

Sometimes you just need a locksmith to let you into your vehicle or house. Other times, you may want a locksmith to help you work out a security plan for your house or business. In either case, when looking for a locksmith in Contra Costa County, you may find it helpful have some questions ready to ask the locksmith. After all, you are concentrating on your security and your property’s security. You want to be sure you have trustworthy help. If you have a set of questions outlining your concerns, you can compare the responses you get and find the best locksmith for your needs. For bigger projects, you may only have rough ideas of what you want, but identifying the outline will help your locksmith develop a plan. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Guarantee?
  2. Do I want to update access to make it easier for a handicapped person to enter?
  3. When working to install security system on a construction site, how many different kinds of access do I need?
  4. In an emergency, am I dealing with a local locksmith?
  5. If I am dealing with a mobile locksmith, does the company have a brick and mortar presence?
  6. When dealing with an auto locksmith, does my car have any special kinds of keys or special security features in the keys?
  7. Do I want to change all the locks at my house so that I only need one key for all doors?
  8. When planning a security system for my home, what kinds of things do I need to secure? (wood doors, metal doors, sliding doors, windows)
  9. When planning to install a safe or vault, where do I want to place the safe? Do I need additional bracing or support?
  10. When working to secure a large building, how many areas do I want to restrict access to? What kinds of people will have access to those areas?

Questions You Can Ask Your Contra Costa County Locksmith on the Phone
Once you’ve decided you need a locksmith – whether to recover from a lockout or to draw up a security plan – start your locksmith search on the phone. Even in emergency situations, you may not want to go with the first locksmith you speak to. It’s always a good idea to have a list of questions to help you screen locksmiths before you hire one.

  1. Has your company earned and maintained a Diamond Certified rating?
  2. I need a duplicate vehicle key, but my key has special security features. Can you duplicate this kind of key? (transponder, sidewinder, laser cut)
  3. What is the legal name of your business?
  4. What is your shop address? If you don’t have a shop, why not?
  5. What do you estimate it will cost to open my door? Is that the complete cost? Do you charge for travel time or extra for additional parts? For time of day?
  6. Do you always replace a lock on a lockout, or can you retool the existing lock?
  7. My key is broken off in the ignition; can you replace the ignition switch as well?
  8. How will you verify I am who I say so that I know my property is safe?
  9. Do you carry insurance? How do I file a claim if my property is damaged?
  10. Do you have a California locksmith license?
  11. My key has a transponder, can you make a duplicate of my specific brand?
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What To Ask In Person
Questions to Ask Contra Costa County Locksmiths in Person

After you’ve identified some good prospects, you can visit locksmiths in Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Walnut Creek, Pittsburg, or other Contra Costa County cities in person. The following are some questions:

  1. How will do your goods and services work with the alarm company I am considering using? Do you have to coordinate with them at all?
  2. I am considering installing a safe for my papers/jewelry/cash. Can you recommend a model and placement options?
  3. I noticed that you arrived in a vehicle with no company markings and no equipment. Can you tell me why?
  4. Can you tell me more about how you trained to be a locksmith? Were you an apprentice? (Apprenticeships are standard.)
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  • What To Ask References
    Find Out More from Residents Who’ve Previously Used a Locksmith

    It’s best to choose a Diamond Certified locksmith because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a locksmith in Contra Costa County and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified locksmith within reach, you’ll have to do some research on your own. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your locksmith. Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by the locksmith are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers. So the contractors will likely give you a few customers to call that they know are satisfied.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the company’s 10 most recent customers. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied. Some questions to ask include:

    1. If you worked with a locksmith on a store security project, do you think the recommended approach covered the security concerns in your space?
    2. Did they offer to open a locked house door or say that they automatically had to replace the lock?
    3. If you got a duplicate key, did it work as expected?
    4. If you got a duplicate vehicle key, did it include any electronics?
    5. Did you think the price charged for the products or services was fair?
    6. If you worked with the locksmith on construction site access, do you think you received sound advice about the lock system to use?
    7. If you worked with a locksmith on a large building project, do you think the project was well coordinated? Were the right keys with the right level of access provided?
    8. If you worked with a locksmith on a security plan for your house, were all your concerns listened to and addressed?
    9. If it was an emergency situation, did you get timely service or were you kept waiting?
    10. Was the final price for your emergency service similar to the estimate? Or did they tack on extra charges on site to inflate the price?
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  • Review Your Options
    While Your Contra Costa County Locksmith Works

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    Once your locksmith starts a project with you, it’s important to stay on top of the job. For emergency services, most of the work will probably be performed with you present – as you wait to get back in your home or vehicle. You can observe the work that goes on. If additional costs come up, be sure to ask for any details before agreeing. Take note of any damage that occurs. Take pictures, if possible. Immediately bring the damage to the attention of the locksmith and ask about the company’s insurance. Report the damage and supporting documentation to the company as soon as you can. Ask about how to go about filing a claim with the locksmith’s insurance company and, if the firm is bonded, about compensation from the bonding company.

    For commercial projects or large home security installations that take more time, it’s important to keep in contact with your locksmith. Once a timetable is established, check that it is being adhered to. Note what products or services are to be installed or completed at which points in the timeline. Notify the locksmith as soon as you see any slipping. If you have problems on large projects, note the problem in as much specific detail as possible. Communicate with your locksmith about the issue. Keeping open lines of communication at all times with clear, detailed, and concise information will help keep larger projects on time.

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  • How To Work With
    Get Accurate Estimates Before Your Contra Costa County Locksmith Begins Work

    Whether you are locked out, or whether you are undertaking a big project with a locksmith, it’s important to get an estimate of the work involved. Always ask about additional costs. For example, are there mileage costs to come to the scene of a lockout? Are there extra charges for the time of day? What are the costs of the hardware or devices being installed; what are the labor costs? Are there costs for removing existing hardware? Be sure to insist that the estimate is as detailed as possible. Once the estimate is written, you can sign it. Ask for any additional charges to be checked with you before the costs are incurred. Never sign a blank work invoice.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Locksmith Customer in Contra Costa County?

    It’s your locksmith’s responsibility to put in quality security products using the best possible installation techniques. But you play a big part in the success of your locksmith, too. Here are a few steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Contra Costa County locksmith.

    • Be clear and upfront with the locksmith. Let them know what you want from your locksmith, the long-term outcome you’re expecting and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.
    • Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way!
    • Before you hire a locksmith in Contra Costa County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate to the locksmith representative your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with local locksmith occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.
    • Ask your locksmith if you should call to check on the progress or if he will call you with updates.
    • Be sure your service representative has a phone number where they can reach you at all times while they’re working. The work will move along more smoothly if your locksmith can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or work authorizations.
    • When your contractor contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the locksmith on schedule.
    • Pay for the locksmith’s work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Locksmiths in Contra Costa County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Verify Completed Work Against Your Contra Costa County Locksmith’s Invoice

Once your locksmith completes work, check your invoice against what was in your estimate. Question any charges that were not mentioned to you.

For larger projects, check all installed devices against the invoice to be sure they are the designated brand and model.

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Written Warranties
Collect Any Warranties

Depending on the hardware installed and services provided, there may or may not be warranties available. It’s a good idea to ask about available warranties as you choose which devices to install. For devices such as access card readers or biometric devices there will probably be warranties. Be sure to get all applicable warranties at the end of the installation, at the latest.  

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Top 10 Requests
Top Service Requests for Locksmiths

Locksmiths provide a surprisingly large array of services and consider themselves security professionals. Below are some of the most common service requests locksmiths receive.

Handicapped Access
Round door knobs are not easily used by many handicapped persons. Locksmiths can replace round door knobs or other less user-friendly door openers in commercial or residential buildings with lever systems that are more readily accessible.

Duplicate Vehicle Keys
Locksmiths can provide duplicate keys for vehicles, even vehicles with sophisticated electronics or other high-security keys. By supplying your locksmith with your vehicle manufacturer – BMW, GM, etc – and your car model, you can give your locksmith the information he or she needs to know if he or she can duplicate your key. Locksmiths have specialized, highly sophisticated machines to duplicate such keys. These machines include specifications directly from the car manufacturers for duplicating the keys.

Lockouts
Lockouts occur when someone locks themselves out of their home or vehicle. When no duplicate key is on hand or no roadside assistance program is available, you often must fall back on a locksmith to let you back in. Emergency locksmiths and 24/7 locksmiths are available but be sure that they are licensed. A reputable locksmith will quote an estimate over the phone before coming out.

Duplicate House Keys
Locksmiths can duplicate house/apartment keys for you. It’s often better to work with a locksmith to make duplicate keys. Locksmiths bring consistent training to key duplication, which is often better than service you get in other stores, where clerks generally have little experience with key cutting and may rotate often. Locksmiths also have better machines that make cleaner cuts over the long term. Locksmiths invest in key cutting machinery of all kinds and find it easier to duplicate unusual key types.

Safe or Vault Installation
Locksmiths install safes or vaults in the home or in commercial buildings. Be sure your locksmith advises on the best type of safe for your valuables. Other installation considerations include where the safe will be installed, any additional support required for the safe,  and considerations of electronic vs. dial locks.

Master Key Systems
For commercial or construction projects, locksmiths provide master key systems, in which different keys provide varying levels of access across the site or building. As the name implies, one key or group of keys will give access to everything, while other keys or groups of keys can be limited in the access they provide.

Construction Site Security
Locksmiths can offer specific lock systems for construction sites. One common system uses a group of keys that give access across the site during construction. Once construction ends, a new key is used that triggers a change in the locks. After this new key is used, the keys used during the construction no longer work.

Home Security Systems
Locksmiths can provide complete home security designs, recommending appropriate locks for different kinds of access points, such as wooden doors, metal doors, windows, and sliding doors.

Store Security
Stores often use locksmiths to provide security devices including annunciation devices that signal customers crossing thresholds, strategically placed mirrors, and security domes in the ceiling.

Building Security
Locksmiths provide building security from access control to exits. Access control can include devices such as access card readers or biometric devices used to monitor and control ingress. Locksmiths can also provide automatic door closers, to ensure that commercial-grade exit doors close.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Locksmithing Terms for Local Locksmith Customers

The world of locks and keys can be full of unfamiliar terms. The best idea is to ask your locksmith to explain thoroughly, but you may find the words below useful.

Americans with Disabilities Act
Legislation requiring access for persons with disabilities. Relevant to locksmiths because traditional door knobs may not be considered compliant and would then need to be replaced.

Also known as: ADA

American National Standards Institute
Agency that sets the standards for lock design. Also provides a ratings systems for locks.

Also known as: ANSI

access control
Regulating who can or cannot gain entrance to a specific area. Locksmiths provide devices that determine access control.

Also known as: card access, key card access, badge readers

barrel key
A kind of key often used for furniture that is antique or antique in style. The barrel refers to the hole drilled in the key’s bottom. It’s a myth that all barrel keys are interchangeable.

biometric device
A system that uses recognition of some part of the anatomy or being to control access. For example, a biometric device may scan a fingerprint or your retina to determine if you are allowed access.

bit key
A kind of key used for door locks that are antique or antique style. May be found on interior doors of older homes. It differs from the barrel key because the bit key has a little post on the end of the key that protrudes. It’s a myth that all bit keys are interchangeable.

Also known as: skeleton key

blade
Portion of the key inserted into the lock.

blank
Key that has not yet been cut. You need to have duplicate or replacement keys cut on the correct blanks, or they will not work. Hardware or other non-specialist stores stock some key blanks, while locksmiths stock thousands of different kinds.

bow
Handle portion of the key.

case ward
When you insert a key into a lock, case wards are guards that protrude on each side of the keyway that prevent the key from entering if the wrong key blank is used to create the key.

cam lock
A kind of small lock used for tool boxes, cabinets, and similar things. The cam is the arm on the rear of the lock that moves along with the key to lock or unlock the cabinet.

change key
A change key is part of a master lock system. The change key is the most specific key in the system and would typically open a single door. When dealing with safes or with a push-button lock, a change key could also mean a device used to change the combination.

composite safe
A safe designed to resist both fire and burglars. Look for labels that indicate both a burglary and fire rating to ensure your safe is a composite.

Also known as: fire resistive, burglar resistive

control key
A specific type of key that works to install or remove an interchangeable core.

Also known as: core key

cylinder
The part of the lock where the key is actually put in. When a door knob has one keyhole, there is one cylinder. Most locksmiths charge per cylinder to re-key locks. You can get the most accurate estimate of costs and time by knowing how many cylinders you have.

A deadbolt can be a single or double cylinder type. For a single cylinder deadbolt, you’ll see a keyhole on the outside and a thumb-turn knob inside. A double-cylinder deadbolt has keyholes on both sides. A door that has both a door knob with a lock and a double-cylinder deadbolt would count as having three cylinders.

cylindrical lock
The lockset most typically seen today. To install a cylindrical lock, the locksmith creates a large hole that goes all the way through the door. The deadbolt, key-in-knob, or key-in-lever lock can then be installed.

deadbolt
A device that is part or all of a lock. Once the device is extended, it cannot be retracted except using the key or other method to operate the lock.

door prep
Many new doors have the hole pattern pre-cut. Many of these are standard configurations and have an ANSI number. If you provide your locksmith with the ANSI number, he or she will be able to determine much of the information needed to provide the correct hardware.

exit alarm
A device that makes a noise when a specifically-equipped door is opened. Typically, an exit alarm is used when the business must leave the door unlocked to comply with the fire code but also does not want unlimited access to the area.

Also known as: emergency exit

fire-resistive
Refers to how long a safe or other device protects against fire. It’s important to know what you are going to store. For example, papers require at least a minimum of 1 hour, 350 degree protection. Computer storage devices or photographs will be destroyed by the time the temperature is 350 degrees. Ask for advice about the best containers for what you want to store. Labels should show ratings from Underwriter’s Laboratories or the manufacturer.

fit
A general term used to refer to making a key for a lock by any method other than duplicating the key. Required when all keys for a specific lock are lost.

function
Locks may be designed in different ways to provide specific attributes, or functions. For example, A privacy lock typically appears on bathroom or bedroom doors. A storeroom lock always locks from the outside but is free from the inside. Knowing what you need to secure will help your locksmith make the best recommendations.

grade
A ranking set by ANSI for defining the security and durability of a device. Grade1 are the most secure and durable. Grade 2 could be considered commercial strength and used for moderately trafficked areas. Grade 3 locks are typically installed for residential use. Locksmiths can help you decide which grade to use.

Also known as: grade 1, grade 2, grade 3

high-security
A high-security lock is one that uses atypical, unconventional, or patented attributes to try to deter the most common kinds of lock attacks – which are drilling and picking. High-security locks are also used by some car manufacturers.

impression
A way to create a key for a lock without taking the lock apart. A blank key is put into the lock over and over again, with the locksmith filing the key to over many tries to fit the lock. Not all types of locks can have keys created by impression.

interchangeable core
An interchangeable core refers to a part of a lock that can be removed or replaced without taking the lock apart. The interchangeable core is also called a cylinder. A control key allows the locksmith to take out one core and put another one in. A typical use of this lock system would be in college dorm rooms where residents change often.

Also known as: interchangeable cylinder

key code
The numbers and letters that appear on some locks and sometimes on some vehicles. The code allows a locksmith to use special knowledge or tools to create a key.

keyed alike
Used to describe locks that work with the same key.

keyed different
Refers to locks that need different keys to work.

key retaining
A lock that does not release a  key until the lock is locked.

keyway
The grooves or channels on a key. Different manufacturers use different keyways so that users are forced to use their own products. For example, Schlage doorknobs have a different keyway than Kwikset door knobs.

locksmith
Maker or repairer of locks and keys. Also offers safe and vaults. Residential locksmiths and commercial locksmiths are often available out of the same shop. Security personnel who can help you design secure access and egress from your home or business.

Also known as:24/7 locksmith, 24 hour locksmith, 24 hours locksmith, 24 hr locksmith, auto locksmith, automotive locksmith, car locksmith, car key locksmith, emergency locksmith, master locksmith, mobile locksmith, professional locksmith

master key system
In a master key system, one special key (or set of keys) can open every door in the system. However, each door also has its own specific key that can only open that door. This is the simplest kind of master key system. A more complicated system might include different levels of access. A typical installation might be in an apartment building, where the owner or supervisor has a master key to enter any apartment, but each apartment dweller can only open their own door with their key.

mortise lock
A mortise lock is often considered an older kind of lock. It is characterized by having the lock installed in a cutout on the edge of the door. The cylindrical lock is now much more popular. When the keyhole is not part of the door knob or door lever itself but appears above or below the knob or lever, you are probably looking at a mortise lock.

pick
A pick is either a tool used to open a lock without the correct key, or the act of opening the lock. You should note that most states consider possessing burglary tools illegal.

rekey
When a lock is rekeyed, the lock’s internal workings are adjusted so that a new key is required to operate the lock. Sometimes when a single lock is replaced, that new lock can be rekeyed to use the same key as the other locks that are already installed.

rim lock
A type of lock in which the installation does not require that a hole be created in the door – other than the holes used for the nails or screws. Instead, the lock is a box that is attached to the door’s surface. This is in contrast to other types of locks where a hole must be bored through the door or the door’s edge, and the lock set into that hole.

safe penetration
When you have lost the keys to your safe, or forgotten the combination, or the lock fails, or the lock has been vandalized and you cannot open the safe by normal methods, you can call a locksmith to open, or penetrate the safe. The degree of complexity involved depends on the quality of the safe – the higher the quality, the more difficult the penetration. Check with your locksmith because not every locksmith can provide this specialized service.

single-motion egress
Some fire codes require certain doors to allow single-motion egress. Single-motion egress refers to the user being able to open a door with one action – for example, slamming a hand against a crash bar. A door where single-motion egress is mandatory could not have both a door knob and a deadbolt, since the user would have to perform two motions to open both of them.

skeleton key
The phrase “skeleton key” is used to refer to keys of the barrel or bit type – that is keys that open antique or antique-style furniture or door locks. It’s a myth that all skeleton keys are interchangeable.

strike
The strike is a metal plate that sits on the door frame across from the lock. When the door or lock is closed or locked, the bolt or the latch part of the lock fits into the strike. The fit must be proper for the lock to operate correctly and securely. Fixing or adjusting the strike is one of jobs that locksmiths are most frequently called on to perform.

transponder
Technology used to help prevent car theft. It consists of communication between the key and the vehicle’s computer. If the key and the computer exchange the correct information, the car can start.

tubular
Refers to keys and locks that are circular in shape. A common example is a bicycle lock.

UL
Abbreviation for Underwriter’s Laboratory. UL provides product testing and rating. UL rates some locks – for example, for fire doors, and also provides the ratings for fire-resistive and burglar-resistive safes.

valet key
A key that allows the car to operate and opens the car’s doors but does not open the trunk, or the glove box, or the console.

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Good Locksmiths

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified locksmith?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a local locksmith with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only locksmiths rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified locksmith.

Q: I’ve heard locksmiths don’t have to be licensed. Is that true?
A: In California, all locksmiths must be licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Never work with a locksmith that is not licensed.

It’s a good idea to work with good locksmiths who are insured, in case any damage occurs during the locksmith’s work. For added security, look for bonded locksmiths. These are locksmiths who, often in addition to insurance, are work with a bonding company. The bonding company will also provide money to cover damage or accident situations.

Q: What’s the difference between a hardware-store key and one created by a locksmith?
A: If the key that comes from the hardware store works, then you are set. However, locksmiths invest a great deal of time in training. The key machine at a hardware store is often run by a clerk with little training and frequent rotations. Locksmiths use better machines than the hardware store machines, which means the locksmith’s machines cut clearer and better keys over the long term. Locksmiths also tend to stock many different kinds of key blanks, while hardware stores stock a limited number.

Q: I have a very sophisticated vehicle key. Can a locksmith make me a second key?
A: This depends on the type of key or fob used to lock or unlock the vehicle. A small number of manufacturers are making devices that only a dealer can provide. However, you should be aware that locksmiths have very sophisticated machines to create sophisticated keys, including those with transponders and other electronics. It’s best to name your specific vehicle type and model and see if the locksmith can help you. Locksmiths often charge less than dealerships for this service.

Q: I’m in the middle of a lockout. What do I absolutely have to know about a locksmith?
A: Make sure that the locksmith is licensed and insured. Look for the license number on the locksmith’s vehicle or business car. Ask on the phone for an estimate including all parts and services; a reputable locksmith will not have a problem providing an estimate.

Provide as much information as possible for the locksmith about the kind lock – is it a car or house lock? Are there deadbolts? Is the key broken in the lock or ignition?

Once the locksmith arrives, look for a vehicle with lots of equipment and clear company markings – if the locksmith arrives in a private vehicle, ask why. Do not sign a blank work form – examine the estimate closely and ask about any possible additional fees.

Q: What is a sidewinder, or laser cut key?
A: On a laser cut key, the key’s cuts appear in the middle of the key blade, not on the top and bottom of the key blade. Initially, laser cut keys came with high-end cares like Mercedes and BMW. Now many manufacturers, including Audi, Saab, Honda, GM, VW, Lexus, Volvo, and Infinity use laser cut keys.

Professional locksmiths can create laser cut keys for you.

Q: How can I get a copy of a key marked “Do Not Duplicate”?
A: Ideally, when a key is marked “Do Not Copy” or “Unlawful to Copy” or “Do Not Duplicate,” a request for duplication should be accompanied by a letter from the supervisor or owner. On company letterhead, the letter should indicate which key is being copied, how many copies should be made, who will pick up the keys, and contact information for the letter writer.

Of course, you need to be aware that not all venues will honor the “Do Not Duplicate” instruction. A professional locksmith is most likely to do so.

Q: Can I give you my Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to get a key?
A: Sometimes you can give your VIN number to a car dealer and get a new key for your car. This does not work with locksmiths. The VIN number does not actually include the key code, or the information needed to create a key for the car. The dealer uses the VIN number to look up the key code in their database, typically for cars less than 10 years old. The databases are often not maintained to store more than 10 years of information.

Locksmiths can create or duplicate even sophisticated vehicle keys and often charge less than a dealership.

Q: How much does hiring a locksmith cost?
A: Of course, the answer to this question depends on what you need done and the local locksmith service that you hire, but you should always ask for estimates before any work is done, especially in lock-outs. A reputable locksmith will be upfront about costs. Be sure to ask about special charges, such as mileage or time-of-day costs. Labor and parts may be charged separately, so be sure to ask about both.

When working with a locksmith around your house or business, get a good idea of what you want to secure, any special security needs such as storerooms or fire doors, before you start the project. The more information you can provide upfront, the more accurate the estimate.

A trained locksmith can guide you in the selection of the right devices and products to work in your project.

Q: My key is sticking in my lock. What can I do?
A: As a first step, get some graphite. Spray the graphite in the keyhole and on the lock’s bolt (the part that inserts in the opening to form the lock.) Move the bolt several times to work the oil through the lock. Don’t worry about getting too much oil in the lock, but you will want to be prepared to wipe up any excess.

If the problem still persists, try working the lock with the door open. If the lock works well when open, then look to see whether the door and frame are aligned correctly. Check to see if there are obstructions or warping of the door or frame. Check to see if weather stripping is blocking the alignment.

Do not use petroleum-based oils or graphite on vehicle locks. For vehicle locks, try a Teflon or silicon-based product.

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