Took way too long, but we finally have tiles that pretty much match, and grout and caulking to seal the deal. We spent about six weeks looking for tiles that were indistinguishable from the existing tiles—finally found them at Lowe’s after one of the local tile stores guessed that our chunk of sample tile might be a Dal-Tile color. As it turns out, it’s American Olean, which seems to be pretty exclusively available at the big box stores, but that’s made by Dal-Tile, so not a bad guess. Unfortunately the nearest Lowe’s is in Union City, so it took a while to finally make it out there….luckily they had eight tiles left of this color and size buried on the back of a shelf. We bought all the ones that weren’t chipped, just in case we have to do anything else on this in the future. (The new tiles are the four touching the valve; everything else is old.)
When I finished grouting, I also used a whitener that our hardware store recommended on the old grout to try to get a close match. It still needs to be sealed, but it’s looking pretty good overall. The only big issue has been that our original tiling was done pretty terribly, so lots of tiles aren’t lined up or flush. The funny part is that I never noticed this before, but once we started working with the tile, it became pretty evident, and now I see it every time I look at it. Argh. (D.’s decided that he wants to rip this all out—that would be at some future date after we win the lottery—and retile it with a clawfoot bathtub to fix the look. We’ll see. On the upside? or downside? that means I’m not doing the floor anytime soon, since it’s silly to do it for aesthetic reasons if we might realistically replace the tub at some point.)
….and speaking of doing something else on this in the future, it turns out that the nice round plastic piece is supposed to be behind the tile, not in front of it. I’m not sure if this is a problem with our plumber or the depth of our wall and valve, but the end result is that the valve trim that finally came in the mail last week doesn’t fit on the valve. Augh. There’s about a half-inch gap between the escutcheon and the wall. So now we have to figure out a solution to this that hopefully doesn’t involve knocking out the tile and reinstalling the valve.