Best Fallout Shelter Layouts

Best Fallout Shelter Layouts: Unlock your Dwellers Full Potential by Building Unbreakable Vaults

For a mobile game Fallout Shelter sure is fun! A vault in your pocket ready to be managed at the touch of a finger. As fun as the vault simulation game is, Fallout Shelter can be equally infuriating if you’ve failed to build your Vault properly. The layout of your vault is pivotal in progressing to the late game in Survival Mode, and juggling with Power Stations, Water Treatment Stations, Diners, Medbays, and countless other room types can be a real challenge.

Are you tired of your vaults collapsing under the pressure of the post-apocalyptic ground above? Or struggling to keep your dwellers happy as fires spread and ravage your rooms? Weep for your dead vault boys and gals no more. I’ve played a silly amount of hours of Fallout Shelter since its release in 2015.

Recently I’ve pinned my Overseers badge back on, only this time; I’d take on the unremorseful Survival Mode challenge; it occurred to me that if I were going to build the ultimate nuclear winter haven for my little vaulties, I’d have to build the most optimized vault to date.

Best Fallout Shelter Layouts Selection Criteria

Before I dive into the details, we need to understand what makes a good vault before building the ultimate vault dwellers lodge. In the mainline Fallout games, vaults were American citizens’ best bet for surviving the nuclear apocalypse. How could the general public afford such safety and top-notch tech? Well, if you were among the few lucky individuals to be selected to join a vault, it would come with a price.

Vault-Tech turned their vaults into social experiments like Vault 101, the starting vault of Fallout 3, where no one is ever allowed to leave or enter. Or, Vault 75, which can be explored in Fallout 4, was an inhumane experiment where children underwent severe mental and physical testing after their parents were killed. The children who survived were harvested for their DNA.

We are not as insane or evil as Vault-Tech or the Enclave hire-ups. So we won’t be conducting any immoral experiments on our vault dwellers; however, we will have to make some hard decisions to ensure that the vault survives. Speaking of survival, to keep your dwellers alive you will need to collect three essential resources in Fallout Shelter.

  • Water
  • Food 
  • Power

These three necessities are your main resources in Fallout Shelter. However, there are much more rooms that you will need to build in your vault to create an underground paradise.

A good overseer provides the necessary rooms for vault dwellers to flourish and grow, such as training rooms to improve their S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats and Medical Labs to ensure that vault dwellers can be healed after any incidents. It’s not only about ensuring that you have a variety of rooms to improve your vault dwellers’ lives but mainly about where they are built and where your toughest vault dwellers are placed. 

I want to stress that your vault layout is incredibly important during the beginning and middle of the game. But eventually, You will have to fill in any gaps that you’ve strategically placed and rearrange your rooms to maximize the space in your vault to house the max dwellers in your vault.

Therefore these vault layouts are designed to get you through the early hardships of Survival Mode. So with that in mind, let me share with you my vaults of Fallout Shelter.

Basic Exterior Elevators Vault

basic elevators vault layout
Early stages of the basic elevators vault layout – Image by Alex Maksymiw

This is one of the most basic vault layouts in this guide, but it’s a strong and sturdy one. This layout is definitely the most accessible and easiest to build, as you’ll be glad to hear that it requires minimum effort. This Vault layout is designed to maximize the amount of space you have to ensure that your vault will grow to two-hundred vault dwellers, the maximum amount of population a vault can hold.

The layout consists of building your elevators on the furthest right and left walls of the Vault, maximizing the space in between, allowing you to build two fully merged rooms and one half-merged room per vault level.

Like with all of these vault layouts, you will want to build your resource gathering rooms at the top of your vault to house your strongest vault dwellers in case Raiders, Feral Ghouls, or Deathclaws attack your vault.

So what makes this vault layout so good? Well, by removing the second-floor elevator, you increase the defenses of your vault tenfold. Enemies move in a set path moving from room to room. Meaning that they will have to backtrack through your second-floor rooms, where you will have your toughest vault dwellers stationed. This protects your squishier vault dwellers at the bottom of the vault giving them time to improve their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats by using training rooms.

Double Tripple Room Layers

Earlier, I stated that this was the most accessible vault layout to build, but why? So when you start a new vault, you won’t have many resources or bottlecaps, making it very hard to build the next vault layouts on this list. Even this basic layout will require you to do some switcha-rooing with your rooms.

By default, you start Fallout Shelter with an elevator adjacent to your vault entrance. For now, you should keep this structure; and build right. However, when your vault grows in population, you can start to build down.

For this build to work, you must demolish the middle elevator to fit a triple room in its place and then place an elevator on the left-hand side of the vault. Alternatively, you could build down straight away but remember you will need to build the top layer out to connect the room below to the vault.

I recommend placing a double Medbay to reach the right-hand side of the wall with an elevator, especially if you are playing in Survival Mode. In Survival Mode, raiders frequently raided my vault, and Radroaches plagued me.

To combat this, I built my unused rooms, such as Living Quarters and Storage, with layers of rock between as this stops any room incidents from spreading to others parts of the vault. It’s this strategy that will be used for the layouts to come.

You must return to the top of your vault to replace your Power Stations, Water Treatment Plants, and Diners with upgraded versions, like the Nuclear Power Plant, Garden, and Water Purification rooms.

Once you’ve reached a hundred population, you will want to add Nuka-Cola Bottler rooms at the top of your vault. These rooms require Endurance to operate and produce both water and food.

This layout may seem straightforward. However, if you expand too soon, you will encounter some serious issues with Mole Rats, room incidents, and Deathclaws. So make sure you collect weapons and outfits to improve your dweller’s stats and attack damage.

Utility and Training

You will want to build your utility and training rooms in the middle section. You will inevitably need to build more Power Stations and resource rooms. These are best built as high as possible.

Don’t worry if you can’t stick to the vault layout, as you can always shuffle your rooms around later in the game when you’re earning lots of bottle caps. As I said earlier, separating your Living Quarters by one layer is essential as it will stop any incidents in the room from spreading. Therefore I am constantly demolishing and rebuilding the Living Quarters as my vault expands.

The Overseer’s Office should be built as soon as it’s possible so that you can get questing early in the game. So don’t worry if you have to build the Overseer’s Office high up in the vault. I’d refrain from using the Radio Station until later on in the game, as the Radio Station won’t only attract vault dwellers but Raiders too. Moreover, each time the vault door opens, you’re sending an invitation to Feral Ghouls and Deathclaws, so keep that in mind.

The Depths of the Vault

Crafting Weapons in Fallout Shelter
Crafting Weapons in Fallout Shelter – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Once you’ve reached the deepest you can dig, you’ll want to shuffle all your Living Quarters, Storage, and training rooms here. This is where all your weak vault dwellers will live until they are strong enough to take on the post-apocalyptic hardships of the wasteland and frequent vault attacks of the top layers.

I can imagine it now in some dystopian sci-fi film where the rich live in the depths of the vault, safe from the horrors of the surface while the poor live at the top of the vault, working night and day to produce power and resources for the vault overlords below a bit like Snow-Piercer but underground.

In my vault, we will have no such corrupt power system! The weak are nurtured to grow into the ultimate survivors. I’m talking max stats Spartan II’s kind of training.

Equally, I can imagine a dystopian reality where low-stat vault dwellers are kicked out of the vault… Thats coming up, so prepare your hearts, people. It’s going to be brutal.

The upper part of the bottom of the vault is a great place to build your workshops to craft equipment, as dwellers will need high Perception to build weapons in the Armory, keeping to the trend of stronger dwellers at the top and weaker dwellers at the bottom.

Staggered Defensive Vault

fallout shelter staggered vault

This fantastic layout will allow your dwellers to flourish with minimal threat of room incidents spreading. This build sacrifices space for safety and defense against attacks. In Survival Mode, Dealthclaws will begin to raid your vault once you’ve reached 35+ vault dwellers, so if you’re struggling to keep these oversized lizards at bay, this will be the vault layout for you.

On a separate note, slow and Steady wins the race in Fallout Shelter since you unlock most of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Training Rooms by the time Deathclaws begin attacking you. I suggest you train your best vault dwellers before accepting new dwellers into the vault. It can be catastrophic if you run out of Stimpacks or lack weapons and dwellers that can kill Deathclaws.

This layout completely removes the threat of incidents spreading to other rooms. Of course, you could have a vault built like Fort Knox, but if you don’t have strong dwellers equipped with decent weaponry at the top, then the layout will only get you so far.

“Patrolling the Vault Makes You Wish for a Nuclear Winter.”

The concept of this vault is simple: space your vault out by leaving spaces between your rooms. You can do this by building elevators to stagger your rooms. You’ll notice that this kind of vault takes up a lot of space. But ultimately, you will reduce the risk of fires and infestations.

This also increases the time your dwellers take to get around the vault, but it’s negligible compared to the calamity that will occur if a pack of Deathclaw breaches the vault.

Vault Dwellers should only be assigned to Living Quarters if you plan on expanding your vault’s population, and Storage Rooms will never have assigned workers, so these rooms are more likely to have incidents occur. So stagger these rooms and demolish and rebuild them as you descend to lower levels of the vault.

At the very beginning of your vault, you could keep your resource rooms close together since this is where most of your population will be assigned. However, you should stagger your next set of rooms as your population expands.

I suggest building your Medbay and Science Lab on separate floors in this vault layout. This will allow you to Rush it to build up your Stimpacks and Radaways without the risk of incidents spreading to other rooms.

fallout shelter two rooms with contained incidents
Two rooms with contained incidents – Image by Alex Maksymiw

Filling in the Gaps

Sooner or later (preferably later), you will have to expand your vault sideways to reach both walls if you want to build your vault down this is because you need much more room than regular vault layouts. As a result, you will inevitably have to build rooms next to each other this is fine. I recommend leaving the top floor without an elevator so that enemies will have to backtrack through your top floor.

I’ve made it clear that you should expand your vault slowly. This is because this layout requires a fortune of Caps to afford all the Elevators as the cost of rooms increases each time you build the room type. Therefore I refrain from fully merging rooms early in the game and spend more time collecting Caps and gear.

It may seem counter-intuitive; however, upgrading your rooms will increase the chances of incidents and increase their difficulty. You want a solid start where you’ve collected weapons, outfits, and caps from the Wasteland before expanding your vault.

Initially, you will be given 12 vault dwellers to start your vault, you will have a few more to find your vault, but this will slow down quickly, and you’ll need to breed your dwellers. I recommend breeding three or vault dwellers, as you don’t want to expand too quickly but enough to unlock the Overseers Office, allowing you to conduct quests in the wasteland.

Now you can focus on acquiring schematics and gear for your vault dwellers. Once the next batch of dwellers has been born, hold off on the Radio Room and breeding any more dwellers until you’ve trained up your vault dwellers using the Training Rooms leading us to the bottom layers of the staggered vault.

Only Strong as Your Weakest Dweller…

Training Vault Dwellers in Fallout Shelter
Training Vault Dwellers in Fallout Shelter

So I’ve established that Storage and Living Quarters should always be built at the bottom of your vault, along with S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Training Rooms and Outfit and Armory production rooms. However, I’ve not talked about the next step for improving your vault and getting ready yourself. It’s going to be a hard one to take in.

Your vault dwellers have worked hard to get your vault to this point; however, now you need to analyze each of your dwellers carefully. Your dweller’s health points are determined by their level and Endurance S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stat, meaning that dwellers with low Endurance and high level will have less max health than those with a higher Endurance stat but lower level.

Yep, thats right, you’ll have to kick out all your dwellers that have leveled with low Endurance!

It may seem harsh, but at this point, the vault layout has nothing more to offer, and now your priorities should switch to filling in the gaps and maximizing your dweller’s stats to create the strongest vaulties in the wasteland. You can take solace that the dwellers your kicking out of the vault will survive in the wasteland (thats what I tell myself anyway!)

Elevator Hallways

A room reinforced with elevators fallout shelter
A room reinforced with elevators and a contained incident – Image by Alex Maksymiw

If you want even more defense in the structure of your vault, elevator hallways, as I call them, are a great way to separate rooms to avoid incidents and increase the time taken for enemies to reach deeper rooms in your vault.

So how does it work?

Well, for this layout, you will need to build rows of elevators and remember the longer the row, the safer the room will be from attacks; however, this will come at a cost in both space and caps. The more elevators you purchase, the more expensive they become.

I wouldn’t recommend building like this for all your vault, but two of these structures will increase the defensive capabilities of your vault. I suggest building one near the surface of your vault and another in the middle of your vault.

Since your storage rooms and living quarters will be inactive, most of the time, build them in blocks. Now, this can cause a chain reaction of incidents at the bottom of your vault. However, we can fix this issue by leaving a gap in the layer only connecting the bottom of the vault using elevators on either side of the walls.


Question: How Can I Reduce the Risk of an Incident Occurring while Rushing a Room in Fallout Shelter?

Answer: Rushing rooms is a key mechanic in Fallout Shelter that allows you to instantly produce resources, bottle caps, and experience points for the dwellers stationed there. However, rushing a room will not always have a positive outcome.

Each time you rush a room, the chance of an incident such as a Radroach Infestation or Fire breaking out is increased by 10%. This can be disastrous later in the game when Molerat Infestations and Radscorpion Infestations can occur.

However, you can lower the chance of an incident by merging a room, allowing you to Rush a room with minimal danger. You can do this twice to a room until it’s merged into a triple room. If you use this method, make sure to swap out any spare vault dwellers for unhappy vault dwellers, as unhappy dwellers will reduce the amount of production and increase the chance of an incident occurring.

Improving your dweller’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L Stats is another way to reduce the risk of an incident in a room. For example, level your dweller’s Perception and Luck stats if you want to rush to a Water Treatment room. Luck will increase your chances of a successful rush. Therefore, I suggest equipping your dwellers with any spare clothing that increases Luck, like the common Formal Wear apparel.

Question: Should I Assign Pregnant Vault Dwellers to Rooms in Fallout Shelter?

Answer: Yes, Pregnant vault dwellers can work in rooms. However, they will not help alleviate room incidents and vault attacks such as fires and Radroach Infestations and instead will run out of each affected room. As a result, you need to be careful how many pregnant vault dwellers you station in a room because your other vault dwellers will not be able to stop the incident alone, especially in three-stage rooms.

If you assign a pregnant vault dweller to a single resource room, you can get the benefits of rushing a room without having to deal with infestations or fires as long as the room has no connecting rooms. This is a great way to farm XP and stock up on Stimpacks or Radaways. Bear in mind that each time you fail at rushing a room, the dweller will lose happiness; however, a pregnant dweller will start off at 100% Happiness giving you a better chance of rushing the room.

Question: What are the Best Vault Dwellers to Send into the Wasteland in Fallout Shelter?

Answer: You should send vault dwellers with the highest S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Stats into the wasteland. However, if you have just started a new vault in Fallout Shelter, I recommend sending dwellers with high perception and Agility into the Wasteland.

This is because the Perception stat affects how many key points of interest the dweller will discover while in the wasteland. Moreover, Agility affects the dweller’s rate of fire, with firearms increasing their survivability.

Dwellers with high Endurance are also a good option as they have high health. However, sending your strongest vault dwellers on quests and into the wasteland will decrease the strength of your vault’s defenses.

You’ll likely equip these dwellers with the best gear. However, if you are playing in Survival Mode and your vault is still in the early stages, I suggest that you ensure that you have spare gear in your vault to be prepared in case of a vault attack.

A Vault to Last

So there we have it, the best vault layouts and designs an overseer could wish for. Theres a lot that you must manage and plan if you’re going to follow these layouts. The most important factor to remember in Fallout Shelter is that slow and steady wins the race players are punished for expanding their vaults too quickly.

If you have too many kids running around the vault or upgraded and merged your rooms too early, it’s a shortcut to an early grave, and your vault will end up as another barren building in the wasteland.

You cannot create any vault layout without having to rearrange it later, whether thats from building Nuka Cola Bottler Rooms in the top layer of your vault or filling in spaces to sustain and grow your vault’s population. This is because as you enter the late game of Fallout Shelter, the game becomes less about your vault’s layout and planning and instead focuses on the dwellers living there.

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