I am 26 and a first time homebuyer, love old houses and architecture. I found a nice house built in 1935 that is sort of a hodgepodge of styles. Has mainly Tudor influences, but a little art deco (such as the streamlined plates underneath the glass doorknobs) and some I'm not sure what style (my dining room has plaster grape and vine motifs). I've been undoing things that the previous owner thought she was doing to "update" the place. One of which was removing some ugly pink and gray marble tiles that were hiddeously oversized for the room and laid on top of the original fireplace hearth. I've included a picture to help with my several questions.
It's a ventless gas fireplace (wanted $4,000 to fix it to burn wood again - needed a new liner) and is a very small firebox.
As I carefully and patiently chiseled up the marble, I uncovered another foot worth of wood floor, and the original tile hearth. Expecting brick, I was ecstatic to find tile. Unfortunately, as you can see, some are actually missing. There was a wood rot issue next to the chimney because the previous owner never had a cap on it. This caused half of the hearth to sink and a crack formed. I'm in the process of shoring it back up from the basement. When she slapped marble on it, they threw away the tiles that had popped loose.
Many people have suggested filling them in with cement and painting them to match by getting color chips from a hardware store. Others have suggested using model airplane paint. The tile is not glossy, it's matte. I would like to put a sealer on it to make it a semi-gloss. It looks great when a damp sponge is dragged across it. Otherwise it's too dull from the thinset that was used to set the marble.
1)So what is the best way to replace the missing tiles without searching through architectural salvage places or paying a historic tile matching service. Can this be DIY with cement/paint?
2)Reasonable color matching?
3)A semigloss to coat them and bring back some shine that won't pose a fire hazzard?
You can see in the picture that to the left of the crack the tile looks pretty good. I've been using dental picks, water, and at some points a dead blow mallet and moulding pry bar to chisel up thinset. Starting to look good!