I have an old pine dining room table which is stained very dark that I'd like to paint white. The top has nicks and marks on it too... it's been well-used! How do I prep it and paint it?
I'll let others with more experience answer the painting question in more detail (generally, I think you will want to lightly sand, prime, and paint--maybe spray paint to reduce the possibility of brush marks).
Are you trying to preserve the nicks to give it a distressed look or to eliminate them?
First, I'd try to determine what finish is on there now. That will determine what you should go over top of it with.
The next step is a thorough cleaning. A good cleaning is worth a coat of finish and will help avoid adhesion issues.
When I'm going over top of lacquer, I like to spray pigmented lacquer, as it chemically bonds (burns in) to the lower coats.
If you are not using lacquer, after the cleaning, do a scuff sanding. If you don't know the existing finish, a shellac-based primer (e.g., Zinsser's BIN) is a good transition coat. If I'm going to use "paint," I prefer oil-based paint as I think it flows out better, dries harder, doesn't block and is more durable.
If you have the ability to spray, see here
Here is a link that might be useful: How to determine the exiting finish
Oh, Pine. I always tell people if they have pine furniture, they are going to get nicks and dents. Live with it, because you can't avoid it.
Sand lightly, fill any holes with wood filler, resand, prime with Zinsser Bullseye 123 primer and paint with and how ever you want.
Thank you for the info! I know with pine there will always be nicks and such; I just want to cover up the worst of them and get a nicer, brighter finish on the table.