Vault Layout
Vault 15 Floor Plan

The vaults are all very similar in their basic functions, but sometimes were constructed according to different designs. The vaults of the West Coast differ from those constructed in the vicinity of Washington, DC and the Mojave area.

It should be noted that due to scaling, the size of vaults in games shouldn't be taken at face value. None of the explorable vaults in the games have enough space or facilities to actually house 1000 people (or rather 500, as hot-bunking is used at maximum capacity). However, many doors within in-game vaults are inaccessible, which allows for the possibility that the vault is far larger than the areas the player can access.


The entrance houses the Vault's only connection to the outside world - the airlock (with the exception of Vault 19 and Vault 87).

It is closed from the inside by a reinforced high-security door and from the outside by a massive, gear-shaped, four-foot thick vault door, which Three Dog claims "weighs, like, thirteen tons". For most vaults this is the only means of entering or leaving. (Only Vault 87 and Vault 19 had any other entrances.) Most vaults have consoles located on both the inside and outside, either of which requires a security code to open the outer door. These codes are usually only known to a handful of people within the facility so as to prevent unauthorized exits.

The automated narrator in Washington DC's Museum of Technology states that the vault doors had a projected 2% failure rate in case of a direct hit by a nuclear missile. The only known vault to have been hit by a nuclear weapon is Vault 87, and according to the logs of its overseer, that blast damaged the door beyond repair. This could have been merely a "lucky shot" falling within the 2% failure, but it seems more likely that Vault-Tec's strength projections were incorrect or defined failure as allowing the inside of the vault to be damaged or irradiated.

Most vaults use a Seal-N-Safe Vault Door Model No. 343[4] to secure the airlock. Some older vaults (such as Vault 101) use a different, cruder blast door model. Vault 8, the control vault, had also a second, much larger, blast door built, securing the entry hallway leading to the entrance to the vault.

The entrance level also houses the Emergency Medical Lab complete with an Auto-Doc. A vault medic was required to be present at the EML 24 hours a day. The lab had the equipment to treat nearly all injuries and illnesses, ranging from simple bruises to radiation.

Living Quarters

Standard pre-War design of the living quarters was that of a single room with a sanitary annex. Vault 13 had one hundred living quarters, and at maximum capacity, ten people would be assigned to a single living quarter, in a hot- bunking system. A standard level had 20,000 square feet of usable area.

The lights in the vaults used Simu-Sun technology, making it feel just like the outdoors, with only a fraction of a sunburn risk. The lights in Vault 101 were kept on all the time to prevent a radroach infestation.

New Entertainertrons were used to play holotapes, and used as a slide projector in the classroom of Vault 101.

Command Center

At the heart of the vault, the command center was where the overseer's seat was located. The operations center, apart from the seat of power, included the computer lab, where the water purification system was located, and an armory, where the vault's weapons, ammunition and armor was stockpiled. A security guard was posted in the command center at all times, to ensure that the armaments were properly secured and handed out only to people possessing the proper clearance from the overseer. The overseer is also able to see anyone inside the vault with the Eye-on-You cameras.

Apart from that, the level also contained the computer core (with the vault's AI monitoring the shelter 24/7), housing data processing units, a library playing an important role in educating vault dwellers, a common meeting room, and the primary store room, where the most important supplies would be stored.

Equipped with dual 5mm mini-guns in some vaults, the overseer's command post can be considered the last line of defense in case vault security is breached.

In the Secret Vault, there are several command posts for the various sections. The command posts mainly contain buttons to control things like locking of doors and laser protection.


  • Vault 29 (Van Buren) was outfitted with a ZAX AI, which replaced the Overseer.
  • Vault 12 had its Overseer's room sealed due to the fact that the main door of the vault was doomed never to close.
  • East Coast vaults and Mojave vaults (3, 11, 19, 21, 22, 34, 87, 92, 101, 106, 108, 112) use a different door mechanism. These vaults employ an opening mechanism that is contained entirely within the vault itself, pulling the door inwards and simply rolling it to one side. The doors seen on West Coast vaults, however, pull the seal outwards and use an external clamp to slide it aside.
  • East Coast and Mojave vaults lack storage rooms in the overseer's office; they are instead located near the Atrium.
  • Vault 0 and the Secret Vault had an entirely different layout than other vaults.
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