Beauty is a Three-Coat Finish!


There was a time when our company didn’t offer a staining service for timbers. Timber frames would go to site and be raised without a finish. Once a frame was closed in and the drywall stage was done, painters would be hired by the client to work off ladders and scaffolding to sand and apply a finish to the timbers. It was hard work and painters struggled to do a good job.

In those years, clients would seek our advice about finishing and we’d respond with recommendations on stains, oils, and sealers. Our office manager at the time, Tanya Bachmeier, was the one who found herself providing a lot of the advice. In 2004 she started to stain client frames, after hours in the timber frame shop. Thanks to her uncompromising work, pre-finishing timbers soon became our client’s default choice. Today we have a large, single-purpose finishing shop with skilled workers who apply finishes to over 75 projects each year.

Why pre-finishing your frame makes sense:

Protection: from the time your timbers are loaded for shipping, arriving on-site for raising, and during construction your timbers are protected from moisture and dirt.
Less Work and Less Cost: It’s physically much easier to pre-finish timbers before they’re assembled into a structure. You get a more beautiful and consistent result at a cost that is less than half of what a painter would need to charge for doing the work on-site.


Twenty years on, Tanya Bachmeier is our region’s leading expert on applying finishes to timber, and her advice is available to help you on the way to a beautiful finish. Following is a snapshot of the most common steps in our finishing process.

Colour selection
  • Collect inspiration images of colours on timber frames that you like. The gallery on this website is a great place to begin.
  • Pine and spruce are excellent at taking stain and “play nicely” with the full palette of colours. Fir also takes stain well, but it brings a red undertone that needs to be considered in your choice, and it will limit you to a few less colour options.
  • Your choice of flooring and other big, long-term interior features is important to include before making a choice. For outdoor timber, your entry and garage door colours and siding will be an important part of the timber colour discussion.
  • When you have the big pieces (above items) on the table, it’s time to start selecting your stain colour. Cornerstone has “starting point” sample boards that show our standard stain colours that cover a range of tones for pine and fir:
  • If you don’t find what you’re looking for in these samples, don’t worry, there’s a nearly endless variety of shades and tones that can be explored.
  • Clients typically choose 2-4 colours they would like to seriously consider, and these become the basis for the next step…



Physical Samples
  • Your “serious contenders” are now sent to our Finishing Shop and are freshly applied to the wood of your choice.
  • Samples are couriered out, or you can pick them up when they are ready.
  • We recommend that you take a day or two to consider the samples, viewing them in different light and times of day and next to your door, siding and floor choices.
  • In most cases a clear “winner” will emerge, or you’ll have a strong sense that “a shade lighter or darker” will bring you to the right place.
Applying Stain

Once your timbers have been cut and test-fitted, they head into our Finishing Shop:

  • Timbers are meticulously sanded with orbital sanders that are connected to high volume vacuums with particulate filters that keep the shop as dust-free as possible.
  • A base coat of Sansin SDF stain is applied by hand to all four sides of every timber.
  • A second coat, typically a clear SDF or ENS coat is applied on visible sides.
  • Following the second coat timbers are lightly sanded to ensure a smooth finish.
  • The third coat locks in the natural beauty of your timber frame.
  • With an eye to humidity and temperature, your timbers will rest so the finish can fully cure before wrapping and shipping.
Your Finished Timbers

The beauty of natural wood will enhance your home, cottage, or place of business for generations. The finish on your interior timbers should never require maintenance or additional coats. Exterior timbers will need periodic attention and if provided in a timely way, it’s easy to accomplish. Here are links to additional topics that you can explore:

  • Timber Characteristics: is this a defect or a normal part of good wood?
  • Humidity, drying and why wood checks (plus simple ways to handle it)
  • Maintenance of exterior timbers