Pavlo "Pasha" Starykov instructs students at a tile panel installation training.

Pavlo "Pasha" Starykov

Many installers became familiar with Pavlo “Pasha” Starykov, Owner of Star Tile & Stone in Portland, Oregon, when he volunteered his own time to spearhead an effort among industry experts to identify the cause of moisture discoloration on marble and other natural stone shower floors, especially white Carrara marble. His experiments and findings have proven to be very useful for installers looking for sound technical information about how to avoid this very serious problem. Pasha is passionate and enthusiastic about following industry standards and methods for proper tile installation.

As with the shower floors, Pasha spent many hours trying out different tools and methods to learn how to avoid potential pitfalls in the specialized field of panel installation. He recently invited installers to attend a free, two-day training for Dekton and GPTP installation in Easley, South Carolina. You’ll hear more about that in the next blog, but first, here is a little bit of background info on Pasha.

Water Horse

Pasha was born in Kiev, Ukraine and moved to the U.S. in 2008. He became a tile setter’s helper, a role that came with additional challenges because of his very poor English at the time.

In an interview with Tile Magazine, he relayed this comical story:

When one of my coworkers asked me to bring him a water hose, I went outside of the school building where we were working and started asking the concrete guys where I could find a “water horse.” They looked at me so strangely. Having not found anything, I came back and said that there was no “water horse” outside. The eyes of my incredibly tolerant colleague started reflecting something greater than just a good mood, and the first thing I did after coming home was check the vocabulary. I still laugh aloud about that incident with my ex-coworkers.

A horse drinking water from a pond at Las Vegas Rock, near Rainbow Quarry.
Pasha, I found your water horse drinking from a pond at Las Vegas Rock, Rainbow Quarry. Photo credit Rob McNealy.

Business Owner, NTCA Member, and Certified Tile Installer

Over the next six years Pasha had gained the knowledge and skills to impress his mentors. He founded Star Tile & Stone and began providing high-quality tile installation services to residential customers. He quickly realized the value of continuing education and training, especially with so many changes in the industry from when he first started, such as the widespread use of uncoupling membranes and new materials like heavy tile mortars and large format tiles. So, he joined the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and became a Certified Tile Installer, CTI #1480. He also volunteered his time to translate NTCA’s Trowel and Error video from English to Russian. 

An Industry Mentor

Installers regularly credit Pasha for his advice on best practices for a variety of installations on Global Tile Posse, Tile Geeks, and other tile industry communities. He is always careful to emphasize to installers the need to be properly trained and equipped, to love what they do, and to do it with care. His contagious positivity, generous spirit, and dedication to improving the trade encourage meaningful discussion among industry professionals.

Despite the praise and accolades, his attitude continues to remain refreshingly humble and grateful, and he consistently promotes and gives credit to others. He encourages his peers and those who look to him for advice, saying things like, “Every professional tile installer can perform the same and better.” And “No super skills, no superiority above others. Just following the manufacturer’s instructions, TCNA and NTCA guidelines, and loving my profession.”


He is always happy to answer questions and even pokes fun at himself from time to time. For example, he talks about wondering what his neighbors must think about him going outside to water his shower tray modules instead of the grass. When manufacturers took note of his influence in the industry and offered their support for his research, Pasha welcomed their help but warned that he would not allow it to influence the outcomes or his interpretation of findings, citing, “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas” – “Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend.”

As someone who shares Pasha’s love of truth and passion for clearing away misconceptions or confusion, I have become inspired as a writer to follow Pasha’s lead and become more actively engaged and use my own time and talents to improve the stone and tile industry.

By Alice Dean, Writer, Video Editor, and Content Manager

I help tile installers and other trades contractors to be seen, heard, and understood by creating marketing content that attracts and educates your target audience and sells your services.