Item: Low VOC Aura Paint from Benjamin Moore
Price: $55 per gallon
Rating: Strong Recommend*
How did you spend the last weekend of the summer? Ours was demo, prep and paint, paint, paint with the new low-VOC Benjamin Moore Aura. Does the performance live up to the virtue and the price? Read on....Interestingly, in a world of eco-chic Benjamin Moore buries the VOC story, selling Aura on color first. Their lead is the Affinity Color palette, i.e., easy-to-like, easy-match colors in an edited selection for fewer choices, with "color-lock" technology.
Salespeople at both stores we visited were genuinely concerned that we fully understood the price difference—about $11 more per gallon— from other Benjamin Moore paint. They were nearly anti-upsell, but said past customers had been surprised.
We say: Great. The coverage and finish lived up to the typical Benjamin Moore standard, which hasn't always been our low-VOC experience. Aura's VOC rating is less than 50 grams per liter (conventional paint might be up to 250 grams and VOC-"free" paints often still have trace amounts) Despite marketing obfuscation, you can still get it in all standard Ben colors, this wall was whipped up in Dove White. The company sells fast dry time, which is true. But then, our conventional Benjamin Moore paints dried fast enough for us. The Aura color shift from wet to dry was more dramatic, however, so if you're a tester, wait. Another sell was 2 coats only. Again, that has been most of our brand experience, but we did touchup one small area with a third coat. It dried seamlessly. The smell was definitely less intense and chemicalish, but was odd in its own way. Every Affinity shade has a sample size, which is great for the indecisive. While it comes in all finishes, the smaller shop only carried satin and eggshell.
Verdict: Worth it in performance and principle.