Best Fallout Shelter Layout Guide Planner

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Samuel Franklin

Best Fallout Shelter Layout Guide Planner

With our guide to the best Fallout Shelter layout you’ll have the planner tools you need for the optimal setup to maximise your shelter efficiency. Serving as your base of operations the layout of your base in Fallout Shelter has a dramatic impact on how quickly you generate resources, the number of survivors you can support and your ability to respond to the threats of the Wasteland.

While it can be a serious time investment to reach your Fallout Shelter endgame layout the design that you use when starting out is equally important as it can significantly reduce the effort required to get there. This guide will serve as your Fallout Shelter layout planner resource giving you the basic knowledge of what your layout impacts, how to build the best layout from starting your vault and ultimately the perfect Fallout Shelter layout. These suggestions are based on my personal recommendations from playing Fallout Shelter since initial release in 2015 (I started playing due to the hype I had around Fallout 4 at the time) and what I recommend to a new player if they were starting today with the current state of the game to help you prevent inefficient building choices.


Fallout Shelter Layout Planner – Basics Guide

Understanding the basic mechanics that impact your choice of layout is an important piece of game knowledge to either design your own best Fallout Shelter layout or utilise those featured below. The following aspects are generally the main considerations of how you design your own vault:


  • Vault Size: The total size of your vault that is buildable is 641 squares, this comprises the main area which is 26 squares wide and 24 rows deep (624 squares) and 17 additional squares along the top line that you can build in. With this space you need to factor in the Fallout Shelter room sizes where an elevator occupies one square while a room occupies 3 squares (up to 9 if 3 rooms of the same type are merged together).
  • Raiding AI: AI such as raiders and deathclaws always follow the same behaviour when entering your base. This path is to enter through the vault door room and move through every room on this level until the end is reached. Where there is no elevator at the end they will go backwards until an elevator is reached and move down. Once down one floor they will go left if possible otherwise go right. Any Fallout Shelter set up will need to carefully consider this AI pathway as attacks are regularly events during the mid game.
  • Incident Spawn, Spread and Scaling: Incidents also have their own rules that are applied to their spawns and spreading to nearby rooms. Molerat incidents are unique in that they will only spawn if the room is touching a dirt area. Incidents spread over time if not being addressed by your dwellers, they will not spread through dirt and if every room that the incident can spread to has had the incident it will end by itself. Scaling of incidents is based on room size and level so beware of upgrading too early in your progression. Because of this a number of Fallout Shelter layout ideas seek to utilise this mechanic to have incidents resolve themselves or avoid Molerat encounters entirely.

fallout-shelter-vault-elevator-helpWith the above core elements of Fallout Shelter base layout planning in mind you’ll be able to manipulate things such as:

  • Raiding AI pathing to maximise their movement to your rooms with your strongest dwellers or the rooms that are least disruptive to your resource generation. Dwellers with high Endurance are generally recommended such as Nuka-Cola bottlers in the late game to be placed in the AI pathway.
  • Placing production rooms away from non-production rooms to prevent incidents spreading to them when they begin in a non-production zone. This allows incidents that occur in these rooms to be completely ignored as with time they will resolve themselves.
  • Your path from the Fallout Shelter beginner layout starting to endgame layout is also an important consideration in the optimal layout. Not only do you have limited space to work with that make reorganising a base layout difficult but if you focus too heavily on a small number of rooms you’ll find that the incident scaling will outpace your progression.

fallout-shelter-room-level-merging-helpWhen planning your best Fallout Shelter layout you also need to consider:

  • 3 wide rooms are more efficient in Fallout Shelter except for the Medbay or Science Labs where 2 wide rooms are preferred.
  • Production rooms have higher tiers for example the power generator room that you have available early on is eventually replaced by the nuclear reactor. This mechanic makes it impossible to build an endgame layout at the start of the game and players should not be afraid to destroy and replace rooms as necessary.
  • All rooms and elevators must have some path back to the vault entrance room so deleting rooms is often an all or nothing situation as you start from the outer edges of your vault and work inwards.
  • The player will lose the ability to destroy living quarters if they are unable to support their population with the remaining living quarters. Players will similarly lose the ability to build new living quarters if they have the dweller cap of 200. Accordingly you should stop recruiting or making new dwellers at around 150 until you setup your endgame Fallout Shelter layout.
  • Storage rooms have a similar mechanic in that you must have enough storage at all times to hold your Fallout Shelter junk or other items.
  • There are a number of rocks that must be removed from the underground before you can build and the cost of removal in caps increases as you go deeper.

Best Starting Fallout Shelter Layout

Factoring in all of the above what is the Fallout Shelter best starting layout? While you will eventually replace this with an endgame layout it is still worth designing in an optimal manner as it will improve the speed of your progression through the game. For your immediate start I recommend deleting what the tutorial has you build and using the following build guide:


  1. Build a Power Station directly right of the starting elevator and your following Water Treatment and Diner directly underneath. This means your production rooms are centrally located to deal with incidents and form a reasonable defence against early raider attacks as you can focus your strong dwellers and items in these rooms. Power Station is an important option for your defensive room as the Strength SPECIAL stat that it uses also increased attack and defence of dwellers slightly.
  2. Build your initial Residence separate from the rest of your base to manage any incident spread and keep it safe from any potential raids on your vault during the early game. While this benefit will eventually be lost as you expand further it makes the start of your vault layout significantly easier to manage.
  3. Build your initial Storage Room beneath the residence for the same reason noted above.
  4. When you unlock the Medbay and Science Lab you can build these above your Residence and alongside your Diner once the Diner is at the maximum size of 3 rooms.
  5. Overseer’s Office and Radio Studio can be built under your Storage Room which concludes the early game buildings. Both of these are important to unlocking quests like the Game Show Gauntlet and attracting dwellers.
  6. Don’t forget to expand rooms to their maximum size as you progress.
  7. When you need more resource generating buildings continue to build through the middle of your base layout.
  8. Keeping the utility unoccupied rooms (Residence, Storage and training rooms) on the left hand side for easier management. The right side of the map can be used for additional Medbay or Science Labs as these are perfectly suited to the smaller space. Avoid building these on the top two rows as this will impact the effectiveness of your defensive Power Station and Water Treatment rooms.
  9. Eventually you will have the caps and resources to transition towards the endgame layout below which you can start by building elevators down the right side of the map (excluding the top few floors to start) and destroying rooms on the left hand side of your vault while moving them to the bottom.

Best Fallout Shelter Layout (End Game)

Fallout Shelter has several considerations for an endgame best Fallout Shelter and I recommend you strive for the following layout. Moving towards this layout should be undertaken when you feel comfortable in the mid game in your resource generation as it will take a serious cap investment to setup the ideal configuration and relies on you building to the bottom of the map although you can limit rock clearing to only those in your immediate path initially.

This layout is primarily split into three separate sections as follows and utilises elevators along the left and right hand sides to provide protection against Molerat events:

  • Top: The top section of your vault is dedicated to resource generation as these will be occupied by your dwellers and can be used to defend against any attacks. The first few rooms that these attackers encounter is particularly important so your top 2 rows should always consist of 3 Nuka-Cola Bottlers with the gaps filled in by Medbays. Nuka-Cola Bottlers are powerful resource generating buildings for both water and food while using the Endurance SPECIAL stat which makes for durable dwellers.
  • Middle: In the middle of your vault you’ll be placing the additional utility rooms that include training rooms of all types, the Overseer’s Office, Barber Shop, Radio Room and respective crafting stations. As these rooms are likely to be occupied there is no need to keep this separated from your resource section above but ensure that you leave yourself space above for resource generation.
  • Bottom: This section is where all your unoccupied rooms will be and should always be separated from everything else above it so that any incidents here can be ignored as they will spread throughout all the rooms then resolve themselves once all rooms have been impacted. Starting from the bottom you should build your Residences, you will need 5 fully upgraded Barracks to reach the maximum 200 dweller cap. The remainder should be Storage Rooms as necessary along with more Medbays and Science Labs in the middle which help incidents spread quickly throughout this section. Note that a row of elevators is placed on the bottom of the map which prevents Molerat events along the bottom row entirely.

With the core framework above to the best Fallout Shelter layout you can mix and match your room requirements and preferences within the gaps until your entire vault is full.

If you’re looking for another settlement management title we have a list of games like Fallout Shelter available to find your next challenge.

Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms.

Sam has played Fallout Shelter on his mobile device since it was first available while he was waiting for the release of Fallout 4 and eventually transitioned to the Steam version. The management optimisation elements of Vault living and light RPG mechanics through wasteland exploration continue to keep him coming back to check on his personal Vault 111.


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