Foam Brushes- These will give you a streak free and brush stroke mark free application of paint, glaze, and top-coat. Higher quality ones can be washed several times and reused.
Paper Bags- Use of paper bags to buff your paint, glazes, and topcoats in-between coats will assure you get the smoothes finish. Do not use sides of paper bag that contain print because the ink may transfer onto your piece.
Furniture Prep: Before painting make sure that your furniture piece is free of any grease, dust, paint, glaze, or top-coat. The best way to get your furniture down to bare wood if it is not already is to use a paint stripper. I highly recommend using Citristrip Stripping gel to do this. It smells great, works great, and can be used indoors. They also sell an after wash to make cleanup easier. Their products can be found at Lowe's and the Home Depot.
Any good quality paint can be used to finish furniture (Acrylic works best). I recommend either a Milk paint by General Finishes or Paint mixed in Behr paint at the Home Depot if you are looking for a larger variety of paint colors. Apply with a foam brush (avoid over brushing). Allow to dry thoroughly. Lightly buff surface with a “crumpled brown paper bag”, wipe off any dust. Two to three coats of paint are recommended, drying thoroughly between coats.
Begin glazing/antiquing before the topcoat and after the paint or stain is completely dry. Using a coarse #100-#120 grit sandpaper, sand edges of raised panels, doors, drawers and corners of cabinet all the way through to bare wood. The more you sand, the more rustic your results. The glaze will color your sanded areas and give the painted sections an aged look. I recommend using a General Finishes Glaze. Apply Glaze with a foam brush over the entire area. The Glaze can be easier to work with if a slight amount of water is added to it. With Glaze a little goes a long way. Wipe off excess with a lint free cloth to achieve desired look. Let dry 2-4 hours. If the glaze you have selected does not darken the sanded areas enough for you, pickup a small can of Minwax Dark Walnut stain and apply it to sanded areas with a Q-tip and wipe off excess with a lint free cloth to achieve desired look. Apply Top Coat for added durability and sheen.
Applying the Top Coat-
Stir top coat well (shaking will create air bubbles). Make sure your piece is free from grease or dust. Apply top coat with a foam brush using long straight strokes. Do not over brush! General Finishes topcoats are self-leveling which makes application easier. I recommend at least 2-3 coats. Buff surface between coats with “crumpled brown paper bag,” Do not buff after the final coat. Additional coats may be applied for increased durability and depth. Dry thoroughly between coats. (Oil stains and topcoats take longer to dry than water-based products, see recommendations on can.)
I cannot stress enough, the importance of drying between coats. If the first coat of paint is not thoroughly dry it can affect the entire finish.
These steps will give you professional looking quality results! Patience is a Virtue.