Aura Waterborne Interior Paint by Benjamin Moore
Pros: Extensive color choice. Superior finish potential.
Cons: Price. Warm weather application. “Self–Priming” claim. Unique formulation not compatible with conventional latex paints.
Everyone who learns a craft has a preference when it comes to the tools they use. In my years as an interior painter, the coatings produced by certain companies displayed a quality and ease-of-use that would result in maximum flash with minimal effort. When my favorite local brand disappeared from the market, Benjamin Moore, always the best of the national brands, became top dog.
When I purchased my current home, the first item on the list was to paint the laundry room. The industry buzz on Aura, Moore‘s creative new coating, had me on-board – even at its 2009 price of $56.00 per gallon. If their claims of “Self-Priming” and “One Coat Coverage” were accurate, the higher price might well be justified.
Color Me Skeptical
With a wide variety of off-whites from which to choose, the one with a slight hint of cream (titled Vapor) was most compatible with the candy-apple blast of my Tango Red washer and dryer. Once the walls were washed, sanded and primed, I cut-in the edges and began to roll. Even in a cool room on a Maine spring day, the Aura dried quickly – though I was able to compensate by working fast to keep a wet edge. Despite my best effort and experience, an additional coat would be necessary for the depth-of-coverage befitting a professional finish. In this case, the second coat was the charm.
Horror of Auras
Come September, I could no longer tolerate the stark-white walls in the master suite. A light white on the gray scale (Steam) played well with the vaulted, natural-wood ceiling and cranberry carpet. The late-summer sun set the walls on the warm side, sufficient to cause the Aura to dry soon after contact. Most conventional latex paints afford a 20 minute window in which they can be worked, but any attempt to smooth a ripple, or dabble a drip pulled the already dried paint away in sheets resembling cellophane.
I spoke with the Benny Moore rep on my next trip to town. When I told him of my plight, he grabbed a quart bottle from under the counter and set it in front of me with a practiced motion. In his Down East accent he declared: “Aura dries real fast… they made them switch-out the proven parts that worked so well before, in order to lower the VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Eight ounces of this stuff will fix it right up!” I bought a fifty-six dollar gallon of paint that dries too fast – and now have to spend another five to slow it down.
Putting Moore on
Once I added the recommended dose of Aura Extender, it was easier to maintain a wet edge. Any small holiday could be corrected without damage. The treated paint rolled on smoothly and leveled beautifully – no drips, no sags, no orange peel. When dry, the satin finish had a consistent sheen as if it were sprayed. The subtle color was rich and even.
With the help of a significant discount, I bought two more gallons for the guest room and bath. Once I mastered the details, I forgave Aura its freshman flaws. With some patience and the proper knowledge (and surface prep), the DIY gal or guy of average experience could work wonders with an otherwise drab space in need of a lift. Just remember that the Aura technology is unique to the line – neither its tint nor base is compatible with conventional latex paint.
For the novice, Moore‘s trusted Regal series is a less-costly and more user-friendly option. No matter which paint you choose, that million-dollar look is in the details. Proper surface preparation accounts for 90% of a job’s success.
Benjamin Moore Aura is available in Matte, Satin, Eggshell and Semi-Gloss.
Benjamin Moore and Co.
Montvale, NJ 07645