There are current preferences today towards retaining the natural wood tones in your furniture, rather than having your furniture painted. But something important to know is there are some types of furniture, along with some types of wood that actually will look better painted versus the natural wood look. The key to a great looking piece of furniture is to choose a good finishing product and then apply them correctly and carefully.
The least toxic paint such as latex-based paints are easier to clean up than the oil-based paints, most furniture makers still would prefer the oil-based paints. With enamel oil-based paints, it tends to dry and create a very hard protective surface. Enamel oil-based paint is also easier to create a smooth finish. But if you still prefer to work with latex paints, you can still get reasonably good results, but keep in mind as long as you use an enamel primer.
Woods like birch and poplar, which has a narrow, tight grain, will work best for painting. A frequent choice of wood used for painted furniture is pine, it takes to the wood very well, and you don't want to buy wood for its good quality to just turn around and cover it with paint.
The supplies you will need for painting furniture will include wood putty for filling voids, sandpaper, oil-based enamel paint, sealer/primer, a nail and screw holes, a paint roller to use for the broad surfaces, and then a sponge brush for the smooth paint application.
Painting the Furniture
First you will want to fill the nail holes or screw holes, knots and any other surface defect that are visible with paintable wood filler putty. Then apply the putty so that its surface is slightly higher than the rest of the surrounding wood surface when it is dry. Then sand the filled areas till smooth and level like the rest of the surrounding wood. After sanding, you can wipe the surface thoroughly with a damp cloth or you can us a tack cloth.
You will next apply a thin coat of sealer or primer; this helps the paint bond more evenly and provides a protective layer. Then scuff the primed surface of the wood lightly with sandpaper after the primer dries. Before you apply the first coat of paint, make sure to wipe the primed surface with a damp cloth or tack cloth.
Now you can apply an even, thin coat of enamel oil-based paint to all of the surfaces. Make sure not to apply too many layers that are thick, this is a common mistake that many make while painting. Make sure that you can still see the primer paint with the first coat. If you can't, then you have probably applied to much paint. Before you apply the next coat of paint, allow the first coat of paint to dry overnight, a major reason why paint fails is the moisture trapped between the coats so you might want to protect it while painting sometimes. You then can apply additional coats, but be sure to scuff sanding lightly between the coats.