Reviewers say Benjamin Moore Aura is the best interior paint overall. It's pricey, but experts, professional painters and do-it-yourselfers laud its coverage, drying times, low-VOC solution and beautiful finish. It has a steeper learning curve than many other paints because it dries in about one hour, which can cause finish irregularities -- such as a mottled or roller-marked finish -- if you paint over an already drying area.
Premium performance at a premium price. Experts and owners agree that Benjamin Moore Aura is a top-performing interior paint with excellent coverage. In tests of low- and no-VOC paints at PopularMechanics.com, Erin McCarthy calls Aura the "clear winner," saying one coat supplied a "nearly perfect" layer. Some do-it-yourselfers posting at contractor forums say two coats is a more realistic expectation, however. Experts say this self-priming paint does a great job of hiding dark colors, though this can vary depending on the type of gloss. Reviews indicate that Aura's claimed one-hour drying times isn't just marketing fluff -- you can expect the paint to dry very quickly. Because of this, Aura can be a bit difficult for do-it-yourselfers to use, at least initially, because painting over an area that has already started to dry can cause imperfect finishes like showing roller marks. Though, if you do it right, reviewers say Aura offers a beautiful finish.
Solid durability. Benjamin Moore Aura interior paint scores highly on durability according to independent tests, earning excellent marks on how well it resists scrubbing, even in its matte finish, as well as staining. User reviews and feedback on discussion boards suggest it's less susceptible to fading than other paints and it's highly mildew-resistant. One caveat, according to both expert and user reviews, is that it may be prone to gloss change when scrubbed vigorously, perhaps more so than its closest competitors.
Low-VOC, low odor. Benjamin Moore Aura is a low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paint, meaning it has low levels of the potentially harmful chemicals typically found in interior paint that are linked to respiratory issues and other health problems. While it's not an odorous paint by most accounts -- and especially compared to cheaper paints -- some professional reviewers and users say it can put off a noticeable smell, though most note this is only within a couple feet of the drying area. And it dries very fast, so this shouldn't be too big of an issue.
Editors at ConsumerReports.org test dozens of interior paints, including Benjamin Moore Aura, in three different sheens -- satin, semi-gloss and matte. Analysis here is competent and based on hands-on testing. Paints are graded based on a handful of criteria such as how well they hide dark colors and resist scrubbing.
Review: Paints, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
2. Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping reviews most interior paints on the market, including Benjamin Moore Aura, which earns the highest letter grade rating of A-plus. Editors here test products hands-on, but also consult the opinions of consumer testers, who say Aura looked the best in tests.
Review: Benjamin Moore Aura Paint, Editors of Good Housekeeping, July 2013
3. Popular Mechanics
Erin McCarthy reviews three low- or no-VOC interior paints for a brief roundup at PopularMechanics.com. Benjamin Moore Aura wins on coverage and durability, though it gave off the most stench compared to its competitors. The piece notes that one of the paints reviewed here is discontinued as of 2011, but the formula of the other two paints has not changed.
Review: Low-Odor Indoor Paints That Stop Headaches: Abusive Lab Test, Erin McCarthy, Not Dated
"Benjamin Moore Aura is one of the best interior paints around," writes Lee Wallender, About.com's home renovations guide. Analysis here is brief, however, and it's unclear if products are subjected to hands-on testing.
Review: Best Interior Paint, Lee Wallender, Not Dated
This discussion site has a lot of advice and information regarding paints and painting, including a lot of posts about Benjamin Moore paints. Aura seems well received here, with one professional painter saying "This stuff sticks like glue and covers like a blanket." A few posters caution beginners that it can take some practice to get it right.
Review: Painting. Both Interior and Exterior Services, Contributors to DoItYourself.com, As of May 2014
6. Contractor Talk
You can find many relevant and lively discussions about Benjamin Moore Aura at ContractorTalk.com. Many users posting here are professional contractors and most seem pleased with this interior paint, praising its finish quality and adhesiveness. Some note that there is a steeper learning curve than with other paints.
Review: Sub-Forums: Painting & Finish Work, Contributors to ContractorTalk.com, As of May 2014
This is another site with lots of useful painting-centric discussions. Feedback on Benjamin Moore Aura is generally positive. One caveat that's echoed in user reviews on many other sources is that the interior paint takes a little getting used to, thanks in part to how fast it dries.
Review: General Painting Discussion, Contributors to PaintTalk.com, As of May 2014