Fallout Shelter Best Layout Planner – Optimal Vault Guide

Last Updated on February 3, 2024 by Samuel Franklin

Explore our guide to the Fallout Shelter best layout with planner tools for an optimal vault setup that maximises shelter efficiency. Serving as your base of operations the layout of your vault 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.

Although reaching the Fallout Shelter endgame layout requires a time investment, the design used at the start of your vault creation is equally crucial for steady progression. Serving as your Fallout Shelter layout planner resource this guide equips players with basic knowledge of layout impacts, room sizes and how to build the best vault layout. These suggestions are based on my personal recommendations from playing Fallout Shelter since initial release and what I recommend to a new player if they were starting today with the current state of the game to help you avoid inefficient building choices and conquer the Wasteland.

Table of Contents:
Fallout Shelter Layout Planner Guide
Fallout Shelter Room Sizes Guide
Fallout Shelter Beginner layout (Starter)
Fallout Shelter Best Layout (End Game)


Fallout Shelter Layout Planner – Basics Guide

Understanding how your choices impacts the game mechanics will allow players to create an optimal layout or fully utilise those recommended here. The following are the main design considerations for your own Fallout Shelter vault:


  • Vault Size: The total potential vault size 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 row near the entrance. 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 during an attack. This AI path starts from the vault door room and moves through every room on that level (left to right) until the end is reached. Where there is no elevator at the end of that level the AI will back track until an elevator is reached and move down one floor. Once down a floor they will go left if possible and otherwise go right.
  • 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 capitalise on this mechanic to have incidents resolve themselves or avoid Molerat encounters entirely.

fallout-shelter-vault-elevator-helpWith the core elements of Fallout Shelter base layout planning players can optimise by:

  • Raiding AI 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.

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

  • Your path from the Fallout Shelter beginner layout starting to endgame layout is important as not only do you have limited space to work with that can make reorganising a base layout difficult but if you focus too heavily on a small number of upgraded rooms you’ll find that the incident scaling will outpace your progression.
  • 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.
  • Players 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.

Fallout Shelter Room Sizes Guide

The below are the minimum and maximum Fallout Shelter room sizes to help players plan their room layout:

Room Name Minimum Room Size Maximum Room Size
fallout-shelter-vault-doorVault Door 6 N/A
fallout-shelter-elevatorElevator 1 N/A
fallout-shelter-living-quartersLiving Quarters 3 9
fallout-shelter-power-generatorPower Generator 3 9
fallout-shelter-dinerDiner 3 9
fallout-shelter-water-treatmentWater Treatment 3 9
fallout-shelter-storage-roomStorage Room 3 9
fallout-shelter-medbayMedbay 3 9
fallout-shelter-science-labScience Lab 3 9
fallout-shelter-overseer-officeOverseer’s Office 6 N/A
fallout-shelter-radio-studioRadio Studio 3 9
fallout-shelter-weapon-workshopWeapon Workshop 9 N/A
fallout-shelter-weight-roomWeight Room 3 9
fallout-shelter-athletics-roomAthletics Room 3 9
fallout-shelter-armouryArmoury 3 9
fallout-shelter-classroomClassroom 3 9
fallout-shelter-outfit-workshopOutfit Workshop 9 N/A
fallout-shelter-fitness-roomFitness Room 3 9
fallout-shelter-loungeLounge 3 9
fallout-shelter-theme-workshopTheme Workshop 9 N/A
fallout-shelter-game-roomGame Room 3 9
fallout-shelter-barbershopBarbershop 6 N/A
fallout-shelter-nuclear-reactorNuclear Reactor 3 9
fallout-shelter-gardenGarden 3 9
fallout-shelter-water-purificationWater Purification 3 9
fallout-shelter-nuka-cola-bottlerNuka-Cola Bottler 3 9

Fallout Shelter Beginner layout (Starter)

Factoring in the above the Fallout Shelter best starting layout is different from the best endgame layout. Starting layout is still critical though as this optimal start will improve your speed of progression and I recommend deleting the tutorial structures 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 equipment items in these rooms. The Power Station is an important option for your defensive room as the Strength SPECIAL stat also increases 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 as the Residence 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 the perfect layout for 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.

Fallout Shelter Best Layout (End Game)

Fallout Shelter has several considerations for an endgame best Fallout Shelter and I recommend players start to implement this when you feel comfortable with 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 (top/middle/bottom) and utilises elevators along the left and right hand sides to protect 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 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 place additional utility rooms that include all training rooms, 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 them 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 remaining space 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.

Fallout Shelter is more than just a mobile game for Sam, it was a wasteland oasis that he built during the agonising wait for Fallout 4. He meticulously cultivated his personal Vault 111 to be a sanctuary for vault dwellers from the post-apocalyptic chaos with no resource or room placement wasted. Eventually Sam transitioned his vault management skills to the Steam version of Fallout Shelter where the optimisation challenge and light RPG mechanics of wasteland exploration continued to keep him entertained.

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