A good technique for whitewashing wood starts with cleaning the wood using water, mild dish detergent and a sponge to remove any greasiness, stickiness or debris. Once cleaned, sand the wood and prime it with a latex primer. Paint the wood with a white latex paint. Apply several thin layers with a paint brush, allowing each layer to dry completely before adding the next.
Sand the wood using a fine grit sandpaper, and use an electric hand sander to make sanding easier. Sand the wood lightly to give the surface extra texture, allowing the paint to bond. After sanding, vacuum the wood and wipe it down with a tack cloth to clean away the sawdust.
Apply a thin layer of latex primer to the wood using a paintbrush to create an opaque whitewash finish. Skip the primer for a whitewash affect where the wood grain shows through. If applied, allow the primer to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
When applying the latex paint, add one thin layer at a time until the wood looks as desired. No finish is needed, as it may cause the paint to yellow over time. Let the wood dry for 24 hours.