One Room Challenge Fall 2021: Week 2

It’s week 2 already, and our ORC project is underway!

As a reminder, here’s where it started, after an electrician came by to do the electrical:

Stubby little wall? Check.

Return vents placed jutting out where you walk across the floor? Check.

Time to say good riddance to those? Check!

And that starts with everyone’s favorite: demo day.

Demo Day

I kind of stressed out about this beforehand because it meant cutting up our vinyl plank flooring, but it turned out to be easier than I imagined.

First I pried off the trim in the area where I’d be working. I was able to salvage most of it to reuse later.

Then I tackled the floor.

I tested to make sure the floor vents really were just air returns. Basically that just involved turning on our furnace and holding a piece of paper over them. The paper got sucked right to the return, which verified that the air was going in and not out. Since the vents weren’t screwed down, I picked them up and set them aside.

Next I marked out where I wanted to cut, with tape and later a sharpie:

Marking where to cut for one of the wall extensions Marking the fireplace area

Then I got the right tools

I bought a Dremel Ultra Saw US 40 (affiliate link) to cut the floor with. That turned out to be a GREAT idea, because you can set it to the cutting depth you want.

Since the previous owners of our house left some extra vinyl planks in the basement, I grabbed one and measured how deep it was.

Then I set the cutting blade to that depth, figured out where I wanted to cut, slapped on some hearing protection, and got started.

Making the cuts

You basically just hold the handle and guide the saw across the floor where you want to cut. It’s easy to see exactly where you’re cutting too as you do it, so there was no guessing involved.

Using a Dremel Ultra Saw to demo existing vinyl plank flooring

It was nice not to have to worry about cutting into the sub floor! All that was left after that was to pry up the vinyl planks & pop them out.

Prying up the vinyl planks

Taking those out was so satisfying. And our pup approves:

Our pup inspecting the floor


We made a couple of discoveries along the way in the HVAC returns. We found a marble, plus a penny that’s a couple years older than our house:

Penny & a marble found in the floor

And we figured out why the floor between the kitchen and living room was so uneven:

Floor height variation

Basically the kitchen floor is about 3/4″ higher than the living room floor. So rather than add a layer of plywood or something to the living room, or tear up multiple floors in the kitchen, they opted to bridge the difference.

How, you ask?

With extra planks stuck in to form an uneven, flexible little ramp between the two heights:

Extra vinyl planks forming a little ramp under the floor

While it’s not the way I would have chosen to do it, finding that was a relief. Because it meant that our floor wasn’t sinking or settling all wonky!

(We were worried about that because although our house was built in 1958, it wasn’t built at this location. It was moved here a few years ago from nearby and placed over a brand-new basement.)

So for now, we’re leaving the makeshift ramp.

We can deal with the wonkiness since it doesn’t mean anything bad. And I’ll fix it in the future if we either get really bored and decide to tear up and re-lay the living room floor, or decide to replace all of the flooring on the main level. Either way, for now it’s enough to just know what’s going on.

Next up will be framing out the walls and fireplace surround. (Which means learning to frame using metal studs.)

Don’t forget to check out the other One Room Challenge participants here!

Categorized as DIY


  1. It is so scary to cut up your floors – I had to do the same thing with my hardwood! I’m excited to see the direction this takes as you start the framing. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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