Design Considerations For A Lead Vault

In many applications, lead is not just used to protect individuals and other living things from exposure to low levels of radiation. While this is common in medical offices, dental offices and in healthcare settings for x-ray and other types of imaging and treatment options, there may be the need to contain much higher levels of radiation as well.

In these types of applications, which may include the transport of radioactive materials or their safe storage in facilities, the use of a lead vault or a lead cave may be a critical factor.

General Overview

Since the levels of radiation are much higher and more concentrated with these types of applications, it is crucial to use the right materials. Specially designed interlocking cast lead bricks are typically used in the construction of any lead vault.

These bricks have a tongue and groove configuration to securely lock into each other and to create a structure that is designed to be very solid and prevent leaks. With standard types of flat bricks, there would always be the potential for leaks along the join areas, which is not the case when the bricks interlock.

With this tongue and groove design on all sides of the lead brick, there is no limitation, other than structural stability, that needs to be considered for any lead vault.


With the weight and the structural stability, a key consideration for any lead cave, working with engineers that are experts in shielding is highly recommended. These bricks can range in thickness from a quarter of an inch to up to three inches in thickness, with some companies offering custom sizing as well.

Design consideration should be given to creating a vault that can not only contain the radiation but also offer the internal size and overall shape for maximum structural stability.

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