What is the best method and what is the best paint to use to paint wood (i.e., a table)and get a "furniture-grade" finish?
Place the furniture on a layer of newspaper or a disposable drop cloth. Remove any residual sawdust with a hand vacuum, brush or a tack cloth. I use a paste wax instead of a clear coat. Apply a coat of either white brush-on. Then allow the primer to become dry to the touch; this usually takes 1 to 2 hours. After drying white paint then paint your furniture with your choosing color.
Here is a link that might be useful: Toronto Home Renovations, Toronto House Renovations
What??? Paste wax??? Hopefully that was just a mis-statement.
Don't use any type of wax before you paint or paint will not adhere. (or tack cloths that contain wax for that matter.)
Most of the effort is in your prep work and getting as smooth and flawless a surface as possible. What are you painting, bare wood or already painted wood? If painted, are there multiple layers - if so, it may be worth using a heat gun or something to remove paint and get back to a flat smooth surface.
I HOPE the "Wax first" was a mis-type!!!
Steps in order:
1) Lay flat and sand to even dullness.
2) 2 coats of primer sometimes! This gives a teeny bit of "sanding cushion" for even more smoothness if you're FUSSY.
3) Topcoats- Use top-notch paint & tools. Don't overbrush paint. Consider "Cabinet & trim" type paints that level better.
4) Or...use paint-extenders like XIM's Latex X-tender or Floetrol. These slow the setup and help leveling of paint.
5) Use AT LEAST A SATIN sheen.
>>> If doing a clearcoat...and I wouldn't...WAIT A MONTH!!!
Don't trap curing paint under a clear topcoat. Paints CAN take a MONTH for full cure-out. Possibly longer for deep colors...
The best possible finish?!
Have someone SPRAY IT.
This takes good equipment and technique.
Neither of these is available for UNDER $100!!!
When I did my cabinets several months ago I got a nice finish, but it had brush strokes.
I sanded down almost to bare wood, then hit everything with 2 layers of primer, sanded, wiped with tack cloth, brushed on a coat of Ben Moore Satin Impervo Oil, let it cure for 24 hours, sanded again, and did that for 3 coats of paint, not sanding after the last coat. I waited 2 days after the last coat felt hard to attach any hardware, etc. I got a nice hard coat that was not sticky at all. I intend to do the same thing with some furniture and a bathroom vanity this weekend/upcoming week.