When Vault-Tec constructed their vaults, they made sure that their inhabitants were well protected from outside threats. One of the key pieces of engineering that protected the dwellers was the vault door.

Door variantsEdit

Standard doorEdit

FNV Vault Door

A ruined, yet still functional, Vault door

A typical door used in the vaults, composed of two pieces that connect and seal (with the use of special interlocking cones) when the door closes. An emergency override handle is placed above the connection seam. Under normal circumstances, when a hatch is locked, only an experienced locksmith could lockpick the hatch. Each door is operated by hydraulic motors that effect 3300 lbs of pressure when operating the door.

The doors are designed with three safety features. The first is a caution zone marked by yellow lines on the floor. The second is an automated system that reverses the door if it detects an obstruction, and attempts at closing the door a few moments later. If the obstruction remains under the door, it will continue repeating this motion until powered off or the door finally closes. The final feature is a power box next to the door, which can be used to shut off electricity to the bulkhead and seal it. Under normal circumstances, the lamps on the power box are green. If the power to the door is cut using the switch, they glow red.

Interior doorsEdit

3288 Vault Doors

A typical Vault Interior Door

The vault door is a type of electro-mechanical door used in the Vault-Tec vaults for creating physical barriers between corridors, rooms, and stairways. The hatch is a heavy steel door, of either one or two pieces, supported in a heavy steel frame built into a wall and powered by concealed powerful hydraulic motors.

Security doorEdit

This model is identical in function and safety features to the door above, except there is a centrally painted white vertical band with a stop sign and the words "No Access - Authorized Personnel Only". There are downward pointing chevrons above and below the text.

Maintenance hatchEdit

This is a one-piece hatch. Hydraulic motors swing it 90 degrees on a hinge when opening. On one side of the hatch, there are two circular indicators. When the hatch is closed, both indicators display diagonal red lines on a white background. As the hatch is opening, the indicators display OPEN in red text on a white background, while the other shows STAND BACK in red text on a black background.

Vault blast doorEdit

Unlike internal doors, vault blast doors[1] are designed not only to keep contaminants and radiation out but also to protect the occupants from danger. These massive doors are one of the iconic elements of a vault, their gear design instantly recognizable in the wastelands.

These vault doors had a projected 2% failure rate, in case of a direct hit by a nuclear missile.[2] The only known vault to have been hit by a nuclear weapon is Vault 87 and the blast damaged the door beyond repair.[3] There are two known examples of vault blast doors being damaged by smaller-yield explosives: Vault 15, which has a No. 343 model door that was blown off by a shaped charge, and Vault 79, which has a nine cog model door blown off by several bricks of C4.[4]

'Seal-N-Safe' Vault Door Model No. 343Edit

Fo2 Seal-n-safe Vault door 343

The No. 343[5] was the basic vault door model, first used in the demonstration vault. The efficiency of the design led to it being used in numerous vaults, including Vault 8, 12, 13, 15, and other installations. They were usually shipped assembled and installed whole.[6]

The central element of the assembly is, of course, the gear-shaped door. Four yards (3.6m)[7] thick at its thickest point and made out of heavy duty steel, they are designed to withstand a lot of punishment. The twelve cogs of the door lock into recessions cut into the frame, providing stability and support for the massive frame. The door was shaped like a cork, using friction wedge design to plug the door frame and and create an excellent seal.[8]

When the right password was input, the door would be removed from the frame by a hydraulic press, placing it on the external track. A separate mechanical arm would extend from the external assembly, lock into the recessions placed on the back of the door, and smoothly slide it into a reinforced container on the side.[9]

An integral component of the door is the airlock, overpressurized to keep the contaminants out of the vault. This long hallway's floor was covered in a grating, coupled with a series of wall-mounted vents for decontamination.[10] It terminates in a security door leading into the vault. Unlike other models, this one opened sideways, with interlocking steel plates on both sides and a slab of lead sandwiched between them for added protection.[11]

Nine cog modelEdit

East and West CoastEdit

Vault 101 entrance ext

Vaults also used superior models, like the advanced vault doors.[12] Thinner and with nine cogs instead of twelve, it was fitted into the door frame snugly and was opened inwards, rather than outwards, by a large hydraulic arm suspended from the ceiling inside the airlock. The door had a clearance of 4.52 meters (14 feet and 10 inches), allowing easy entrance and exit. The door ensured that the airlock would remain overpressurized and keep contaminants out of the controlled environment of the vault.[13]

When activated, the airlock would initiate a purge cycle, equalizing pressure through the door-mounted valve. The safe distance for anyone in front of the vault door was 10 meters (33 feet). Once the cycle was completed, the door would be engaged by the mechanic arm, pulled back onto the internal track, and rolled sideways. The mechanism relied entirely on the mechanical arm, rather than a hydraulic press as in the No. 343 model.[14]

The airlock was also different. People entering the vault would do so through a trench flanked with railings, observed from the control station by security personnel. The airlock was equipped with ceiling-mounted sprinklers, for easy decontamination.[15] The advanced model could also be further reinforced, with the resulting fortified vault door offering top-notch protection against assailants trying to get into the vault.[16]

Such models were used in the East Coast and the Mojave Wasteland vaults; these particular ones had a larger opening diameter and was much thicker than the Seal-N-Safe 343. Usually mounted near the door is a warning light and siren which are both turned on during the first few seconds of the door's opening or closing cycle. One installation has the ability to mount security cameras beside the door. The East Coast model is opened from the inside using a large mechanical arm mounted to the vault entrance's ceiling. When the door control panel is used to open the door, the arm swings down and pulls the door inward and onto a gear rack built into the entrance floor, allowing the door to roll aside. Inside and outside the vault, there is a control panel that activates the vault door from either side, and the controls can be locked with a password. It is assumed that the password is a voice command, as there appears to be a microphone and speaker on the console.


Vault 111

A different model was used in the Massachusetts region, and also in Vault 118 in Maine. This model is very similar to the doors seen in the Capital Wasteland and Mojave Wasteland regions. When properly maintained and serviced, the door has a dark grey base and has a bright yellow center and outer rim. The vault number is neatly drawn in black. On the rear-side of the door are black-and-yellow warning symbols, and a light-bearing the text "clear" mounted beside the door. Within the base is a yellow purge valve with a hydraulic tank. It is one of the only doors so far known to have text on the door. Vault 111 in particular has an elevator, an additional protective measure as a nuclear blast wave would pass over it.[17] leading to the surface entrance to the vault. The dome was an additional protective measure designed for the vault. Placed on the top of the hill overlooking the neighborhood, the dome would protect the interior of the vault by causing the blast wave to pass over it, without concentrating at any one point. In the center of the dome was a secondary blast door that protected the lift leading inside the vault. Notably, it appears that the dome has an emergency interface panel, which allows the blast door to be open manually using a crank and a wheel. It is a large convex structure and has a vault-shaped elevator and blue and grey paint throughout the structure. It also bears yellow pipes, gas tanks, warning lights, black plates dotted throughout, and a red in-take valve. From the inside and outside, the vault door is controlled by a control panel, but unlike its East and West Coast counterparts, the Commonwealth control panel requires to be connected to the adapter plug of a Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV to unlock the controls. Also, unlike the Capital and Mojave Wasteland vault doors, a large mechanical arm rolls the door to one side instead of the door simply rolling to the side by itself.

Blast doorEdit

Vault 8 was one of the few vaults equipped with an additional door built into the side of a mountain. Embedded into a concrete wall reinforcing the slopes, the massive door was designed to seal the access corridor to the internal vault door. The circular reinforced concrete frame provided additional protection and ensured an equal distribution of weight in case of a natural catastrophe. Vault 76 had a similar design.

Fallout ShelterEdit

Every vault in Fallout Shelter, has the same standard model of door. When the vault door is upgraded to Level 2, the nine cog model is used.


  • Despite not having a visible keyboard, the door access panels on the east coast use a password (though it may be that the password is input through speech, as shown by there being a large speaker mounted on the panel's face).
  • Access panels are usually free-standing, supported by small metal columns set into the ground. The likeliness of them surviving intact after a nuclear blast, being almost directly impacted by it, is very low; most are still in working condition despite this.
  • The door in Vault 108 cannot close by activation of the access panel. Instead, the Lone Wanderer can activate the door itself.
  • Many vaults in the Mojave wasteland do not have actual functioning vault doors, as Vault 3 and Vault 22's doors function as a loading screen, while Vault 34's door has no control panels and as such cannot function.
  • In Fallout 4, the Vault 88 door is the only one that can be opened and closed any time; the other vault doors cannot be closed after they are opened.

Behind the scenesEdit

The No. 343 model would protect better against a nuclear blast. The nine cog model rests in its recessions without mechanical stops to prevent it from collapsing inward under the shockwave. By comparison, the No. 343 has a friction wedge and stops for the cogs. As a result, the shockwave would press it harder against the frame and complete the seal, unless the entire door frame fails. The newer model would allow the door to be opened even if rubble had fallen near the door on the outside.



  1. Vault Dweller's Survival Guide: "The simulation will now start. After a briefing by the Vault Overseer as to your immediate task, you will appear outside the Vault Blast Door."
  2. Museum of Technology vault system tour: "Sleep in quiet comfort knowing that our impenetrable vault doors can withstand a direct hit by an atomic bomb with only a projected 2% failure rate."
  3. Vault 87 Overseer's terminal: "...The main door to Vault 87 is damaged beyond repair and we are detecting extremely high levels of lethal radiation outside and in the entry tunnel.."
  4. Wastelanders Official Trailer 2
  5. Named in the image.
  6. Fallout Bible 6: "1e. Vault doors were in the tanker in San Fran, from which vault are they, and who brought them onto the ship?
    They are unmarked models, planned for shipment somewhere up or down the West Coast. The "Vault Doors" were used for more than just Vaults, however, so the door may have been intended for some other facility. It's most likely just there because of designer caveat/designer privilege/game logic - the designer probably just needed something to fill up space in the tanker, and the door looked like good "junk.""
  7. Vault Dweller's Survival Guide p.1-1—1-2: Important Vault Statistics
    Vault Number ............................13
    Starting construction date .........August 2063
    Ending construction date ..........March 2069
    Starting Budget .........................$400,000,000,000
    Final Budget, with interest ........$645,000,000,000
    Total number of occupants .......1,000 (at capacity)
    Total duration ...........................10 years (at capacity)
    Number of living quarters .........100 (hot bunking required if at maximum capacity)
    Door thickness ..........................4 yards, steel
    Earth coverage .........................3,200,000 tons of soil, at 200 feet
    Computer control system .........Think machine
    Primary power supply ...............Geo-thermal
    Secondary power supply ..........General Atomics Nuclear Power backup systems
    Power requirements .................3.98mkw/day
    Stores .......................................Complete construction equipment, hydro-agricultural farms, water purification from underground river, defensive weaponry to equip 10 men, communication, social and entertainment files (for total duration)
  8. Fallout intro
  9. Prop behavior.
  10. Fallout intro
  11. Fallout intro
  12. Fallout Shelter
  13. Fallout 4 trailer
  14. Behavior of the prop.
  15. Airlock appearance.
  16. Fallout Shelter fortified Vault door
  17. Pre-War appearance shows the top-side of the Vault door bears text on the black inner-most panel reading "stand within circle"
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