You can use latex paints, which are water-based, or alkyd paints, which are oil-based. Just remember that latex paints tend to dry faster and don't emit as many vapors of volatile organic compounds. To cover the stain, you'll need a specialized stain blocker (such as Zinsser Cover Stain (opens in a new tab)) or an oil-based paint. This creates an impermeable barrier that the water stain will not be able to penetrate.
To cover water stains, apply an anti-stain primer to affected areas. Both Kilz and Zinsser offer ceiling paints for this purpose. Kilz has a product called Upshot, which is a spray ceiling paint designed to match an aged white ceiling. Be sure to use adhesive tape and tarps to cover anything you don't want to paint, and spray, brush, or roll the primer.
Read the label to see if you need to ventilate the room during use. The Zinsser 123 Plus is a water-based acrylic, making it easy to clean brushes. Kilz Restoration (formerly Kilz MAX) is a water-based latex primer with a low content of volatile organic compounds, making it easy to clean brushes again. This primer is said to block stains and odors as much as possible.
If water damage is extensive and requires heavy lifting, you can use the KILZ Restoration primer. It is oil-based and can remove the toughest stains. In addition, even a small leak or condensation that drips onto the drywall will cause one of those unsightly brown water rings on the drywall. If you want to remove water stains from your ceiling paint, here's an article about the best water stain product for painting damaged ceilings.
While these brown stains can make your house look worse than you want, you have no shortage of options to remove and cover the stains. Water stains indicate a potentially serious problem and require more than just repainting the ceiling. Since you used an oil-based primer to provide the base coat, you can now use a latex paint of your choice for the main coat (s). Painting over water stains is definitely a task worth undertaking, as the stains themselves can make walls and ceilings appear to be in disrepair, something that no homeowner wants.
As mentioned above, the root cause of water stains must be corrected before attempting to remove them, and afterwards, it would be easy to remove water stains from damaged paint on the ceiling. This is most effective on white or light-colored walls and ceilings, and it's a good idea if water stains start to appear on the coating or wallpaper. It's important to know what caused the water stain so you can correct it before painting on the water stains. If you only have a little flaking paint on the surface of the water stain, gently brush off the paint flakes.
Inside the room with the stain on the ceiling, you can use heaters, fans, or dehumidifiers close to water damage to make them dry faster. Clogged gutters can cause water to go where it shouldn't, which can stain basement ceilings or other unfortunate effects. Knowing what is the best product to dye a damaged roof can be useful when you have another mishap. In addition to identifying and repairing the source of the water damage, you'll have to wait for the drywall to dry completely before attempting to repair it.
Blocking and sealing the water stain only means that the stain cannot be stained with the primer or top coat.