I'm getting ready to install pre-finished hardwood on the treads of a staircase that was previously carpeted. Rather than installing the hardwood on the risers as well, I'm planning to install white, painted boards. I intend to paint the boards before I install them, and I'm just looking for some advice on the type of paint to use and how I should apply it, as I've struggled to get good results painting trim and doors in the past. I've always used water-based semi-gloss paint, and recently I've started adding floetrol, which has helped some with brush marks, but I still haven't been able to get the kind of results I would like.
I would really like to avoid brush marks on these treads if I can help it, and I'd also like to go with a really tough paint that won't scuff easily and that will clean up well. So should I go with an oil-based paint? I gather that spraying is probably the best way to paint these, but I don't have a paint sprayer. Any suggestions to work around that? Or should I just suck it up and buy a sprayer? Any tips, tricks, or suggestions are appreciated.