The 4 Types of Master Key Systems

There are many benefits to using a Master Key system, especially if you own premises or a business.

However, with there being a wide variety of master key systems to choose from, knowing which one would benefit you and your business more can be tricky.

In this blog, we will talk about the 4 different types of Master Key Systems, along with the purpose of each system and the different benefits that each system has.

Master Key Locking Systems
Different Types of Master Key Systems Many Keys

1. Basic Master Key System

Before we can go and unlock the benefits of a basic master key system, we need to make sure that we actually know what a basic master key system is.
A basic master key system is a mechanical access system whereby a single key (the master key) can open all the doors, that have cylinder locks, within a complex or business; while the other individual locks can have their own keys opening just that door and no other.

The benefit of using this system is that for one, you don’t have to mess about trying to remember which key opens which door and, you can restrict access to certain areas within a complex or business that only you have access to.

2. Key Control Master Key System

Key control systems are ideal for projects such as schools where there are multiple users who need access to selected areas.

Using a school as an example, the head teacher/principle will hold the master key, giving him/her access to all rooms that have cylinder locks within the school premises while an English or maths teachers for example would only have accesses to the rooms, cupboards etc in their respective blocks unless stated otherwise.

The benefit of having a key control master key system is that you can choose who has access to certain areas within a complex or business.

3. Master Key with Sub Keys

This type of master key system is ideal for projects such as care homes where there aremultiple users who need access to selected areas.

Continuing with the example of care homes, just like our previous example of a school, you have someone at the top who has access to all areas with the premises. In this case, the care home manager holds the master key, meaning that he/she can enter all the areas that have cylinder locks within the care home. Most care homes have at least two floors so you will normally find that there are a separate set of keys that open areas on the two floors. For example, a carer who takes care of patients on the first floor will hold a key that can open all of the doors on the first floor but not the second and visa versa for a career working on the second floor.

Following on, cleaners will have a key that allows them to access the communal areas of the care home where they need to clean, but nowhere else. The kitchen staff working in the care home have a key that allows them to access the kitchen, but nowhere else in the care home. Finally, the residents of the care home each have a key that they can use to open their rooms but nowhere else.

The benefit to using a system like this is that you are able to restrict people from going into places where they either don’t need to be or shouldn’t be. Using the care home example again, another benefit is in the case of an emergency where the complex or business needs to be evacuated then you have multiple people who have access to areas within the care home that can help evacuate those residents who may be unable to escape in their own.

4. Common Cylinder types of Master Key Systems

Master key systems that include common cylinders are ideal for projects such as HMO’s and landlords. Using the example of landlords, there are many benefits as to why a landlord would choose to use this type of master key system.

Firstly, a landlord can hold the master key which they can use to gain access to all of the cylinder locks within their complex or property. Normally, the front door will be fitted with a common cylinder that allows the residents to access the main front door and their bedroom; additionally they can access any communal areas that are fitted with the a common cylinder, but they do not have the ability to access any other room within the complex or property.

Following on, the reason most complexes and properties have common cylinder locks installed is for convenience. We would advise against using common cylinders and instead use a two-key system. The reason for this is that your tenants will have a key to open the front doors and a separate key to open their bedroom door. The benefit of doing this is that you will reduce the number of moving components inside the main entrance cylinder lock, increasing the cylinders life expectancy, saving you a lot of money in the long run.

Locking up

Now that you have a base understanding of the 4 types of Master Key Systems, this should help you decide on the best Master Key System that's suited to your application.

If you would like to learn more about master key systems or would like to find out which one would work best for you, then feel free to get in touch with our team today on 01902 737 672. Or send us an email on

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