Benjamin Moore Aura is a pricey interior paint, but it is also the top choice of professional painters and expert testers. Benjamin Moore markets Aura as a one-coat paint -- which should theoretically save money by cutting the amount of paint you need in half -- but pros say they often wind up painting two coats. They say Aura does live up to its other major marketing claims: It dries in an hour with little odor (so you'll be able to quickly move back into your freshly painted room) and Aura is a low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paint, meaning it has low levels of the chemicals in paint that are linked to respiratory and other health problems. Tests find Aura scrubbable -- even the matte version -- and highly mildew-resistant. Above all, professional painters and do-it-yourselfers love Aura's beautiful finished look. However, they say painting with quick-drying Aura takes some getting used to. If you paint over an area that has already started to dry, you could wind up with a mottled or roller-marked finish. Some pros say they can get very nice two-coat coverage with a less expensive paint, such as Benjamin Moore Regal (*Est. $40 per gallon), and they see no point in spending more for Aura. Benjamin Moore Aura is available at independent retailers and some Ace Hardware stores in matte, eggshell, satin and semigloss finishes.
ConsumerReports.org conducts the most complete tests of Benjamin Moore Aura, rating it in eight categories, including ease of scrubbing and fade resistance. Popular Mechanics tests low-VOC Aura's durability, coverage and odor against two no-VOC paints. Popular Science and About.com also recommend Aura, but their reports do not include any testing. Lots of feedback from professional painters, home improvement contractors and homeowners can be found on forums such as DoItYourself.com, ContractorTalk.com and PaintTalk.com.
ConsumerReports.org tests 51 interior paints in three finishes -- low-luster, flat and semigloss -- in its most recent update. Benjamin Moore Aura satin and matte are included in this evaluation.
Review: Interior Paint, Editors of Consumer Reports, March 2010
Benjamin Moore Aura -- a low-VOC paint -- beats two no-VOC paints in this test. It has a stronger odor than the other paints but also better coverage and durability.
Review: Low-Odor Indoor Paints That Stop Headaches: Abusive Lab Test, Erin McCarthy, Oct. 1, 2009
This discussion site has lots of advice and information regarding paints and painting. There's enough discussion about most major paint brands to see which ones seem to leave users most satisfied. Benjamin Moore Aura seems well-received here, with one professional painter saying "This stuff sticks like glue and covers like a blanket."
Review: Painting, Contributors to DoItYourself.com
4. Contractor Talk
You can find many recent and lively discussions here about Benjamin Moore Aura. Most contractors posting here seemed pleased, but they say that there is a small learning curve because the product is different from others.
Review: Painting & Finish Work, Contributors to ContractorTalk.com
This is another site with lots of useful painting-centric discussions. Feedback on Benjamin Moore Aura is mostly positive, but some contractors have problems with it the first time out. Others provide helpful hints to get colleagues over the hump and add that once you learn how, it's very easy to use.
Review: General Painting Discussion, Contributors to PaintTalk.com
Lee Wallender, About.com's guide to home renovation, picks Benjamin Moore Aura as one of the top three interior paints you can buy, citing a ConsumerSearch report. However, this article gives only a two-sentence explanation as to why Aura is so good. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Best Interior Paint, Lee Wallender
7. Popular Science
Popular Science magazine editors pick Benjamin Moore Aura as one of the best new innovations for 2007. Nicole Dyer likes that the paint releases "fewer volatile organic compounds, a.k.a. noxious fumes, so you can paint in the afternoon and entertain that evening," and explains that Aura's chemistry is unusual among latex paints, but no formal testing is reported.
Review: The Fast No-Stink Super Paint, Nicole Dyer, May 2007