I have a large room that has a wood beam ceiling that I hate. I would like to know what would be the easiest way to whitewash the ceiling. Could I just use a latex paint and paint it on and then rub it off? I can not tell if the stain is oil based or water based. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!
Too bad you don't like that ceiling!
Latex paint is likely to come off. Your wood is probably waxed or stained (oil based).
Do you want to have it a hiding white? If you whitewash them like you suggest in your question, it won't hide (at all). If that's okay, use a white oil-based primer for it (it will be a nasty job, rubbing that off…).
But you don't have to rub the primer off. With a good primer you'll need probably two coats to get a hide. Or you do one coat, and see what that'll do first.
If you want to do latex, it might be an idea to put wallpaper on the beams, after that you can latex them. That's not an easy job either. And a real cover-up. It's probably the brown you don't like, not the wood.
I can't make it any easier, I'm sorry!
But I've seen houses with off-white painted wooden beams that I found to be looking really nice. Good luck with your job, Greetings, Evelien