Benjamin Moore Aura Waterborne Exterior Paint
The Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior Paint is a fantastic house paint for those finishing touches to any painting job, I only used the flat exterior paint that Benjamin Moore supplied for exterior trim work and a porch door.
Ease of Use/Performance: 25/25
How much I enjoy 23/25
As I sit in my snug warm office and think back to just a month or so ago I wonder why in the world anyone would want to paint their house themselves. The simple answer is to save money, you can save a lot of money by doing the job yourself but you need to know some things about painting before you tackle this type of do it yourself job.
“All paints are not created equal” and “you get what you pay for”, as well as “prep work makes all the difference”, these are the three things that return to me again and again as I do more work on my house. The first thing you have to do when tackling any house painting is deciding on the paint and this is where you get what you pay for.
House paints have come a long way from the days when I first started slapping paint on the sides of buildings while working precamp at a Boy Scout summer camp. I learned a lot about slapping paint on a building but not about the paint itself, they bought the paint, I just brushed it on day after day.
Now I know so much more about exterior paint as well as house paint in general and the bottom line comes down to you get what you pay for, the best paints are also the most expensive. If you’re going to paint your home you might as well do a good job and get the best paint you can afford which is just what I did, I bought an expensive paint for the outside of my house.
I also got some trim paint, latex flat finish exterior paint from Benjamin Moore to help out my house painting experience, and it did help a lot. Benjamin Moore is one of the leading manufacturers of paint and their newer line of Aura paint is one of the very best exterior house paints available.
As to which one is better that will have to remain an unanswered question, it really depends on who you ask, I did not find one more liked than the other. Most sites I looked at had two recommendations, Benjamin Moore Aura and Sherwin Williams Duration for the main exterior paint and the trim work.
I did not get any exterior paint from Benjamin Moore that I can really compare to the Duration I did buy as the paints are for different parts of the home and are very different finishes. The Duration Satin dried much like a layer of plastic while the Aura dried more, well, like a paint but both worked very well.
The flat paints are more for trim work while the satin and gloss paints are better for the main parts of your siding, gloss paints have more resins which are the part of the paint that resists weather and peeling. It is just not fair to compare flat paints to semi-gloss, satin or gloss paints as they are for different parts of the home and will behave differently when applying and over time.
Looking at two review sites, Consumer Reports and Consumer Research they list Benjamin Moore Aura as both expensive and a good paint but there really is very little on the internet from actual users. I am a user and can now recommend this paint for outdoor trim or other uses like doors and the odd jobs you want with a flat exterior paint that has a lot of good features.
The Benjamin Moore Aura Exterior I used is a flat finish paint with low VOC, high hiding and can be used as a primer if you want as well as a fast drying exterior paint. I used a can of and a quarter of the Aura paint and will be finishing up the rest when the weather turns a little bit warmer, next spring sometime.
I painted 29 windows and the front porch door with a few extra areas around my front porch with the Benjamin Moore Aura paint and found a lot of the claims well represented. The paint does have very little smell to it without any problems of a chemical or toxic feel when I did get it on my skin, it really does not smell much at all and cleans up easily with soap and water from your skin.
The Aura does dry fast but not so fast that painting numerous windows was a problem, I painted the front porch windows one after the other without the brush drying up. The high hiding of the paint was really tested with how I painted and the primer ability is right on but with a word of advice.
I had no problems covering the darker main paint I used along the windows where I would get the olive green color on the windows trim and have to paint over it with the Aura. For my general painting all over the house I painted first with some Zinsser 1-2-3 Bulls Eye Primer tinted with 2 ounces of black per gallon for a light medium grey color.
I then went around and painted with my primary house paint, Sherwin Williams Duration tinted a medium olive green then painted the trim with the Seattle Mist Aura exterior paint which is a light cream color. After painting the primer on the house I did go around and caulked windows and doors, as well as any holes or problems I saw so I was also painting directly on caulk, both paintable and non-paintable.
By accident I first purchased non-paintable caulk and caulked up four windows before I realized the paint was not adhering to the caulk and read the labels, yep, non-paintable. I then went out and bought a box of paintable caulk but the Benjamin Moore paint did pretty well covering over the caulk even though I had to go over it a few times.
The paint beaded up and I did have to cover the caulk a few times to get all the white caulk painted the color I wanted instead of bright white. Before painting I did find out that caulking should be done after you prime all the surfaces with a primer so the caulk adheres to surfaces just like the paint will.
The Benjamin Moore Aura goes on well and is a thicker paint but not so thick that it does not coat smoothly, I painted the whole house with brushes so I can’t speak to the roll on method. The Aura paint applies easily with a brush and covers well over both the primer and the Sherwin Williams Duration paint and hides the darker green very well.
As you can see from the pictures the green is darker and would need the high hiding that Benjamin Moore claims, I painted all the windows and trim with one coat. I did not have to paint the window trim or front porch door with a full second coat but I did have to hit a few spots again, mostly where the paint thinned out from brushing the paint on.
As far as a primer is concerned I do not believe in the claims of any company saying the more expensive paint should be used as a primer, it is too expensive for that. You can use it as a primer and I had no problems using it on three window frames I made after the house painting to use as winter storm windows on one side of the house.
The primer I used cost about $15 per gallon and worked very well as a primer over my whole house and the trim work as well as the doors and some new siding I had to install. The Aura paint costs about $55 to $70 depending on sales and where you purchase it from which is a big difference in price.
I just could not recommend using any expensive paint like Duration or Aura as a primer on anything other than small jobs like my storm window frames. A can of good primer is much less expensive and actually designed for the specific purpose of coating the surface before using those expensive paints.
On bare wood without any primer the Aura does a great job gliding on the smooth wood and covering even the black ink of the board manufacturers stamp and bar code. I had no problem using one coat as a primer and a second coat as the top coat of the frames to cover both the wood and trim pieces for making the storm windows.
The Aura paint also did well for fast drying and I really liked this feature when I was having to paint one window and then move my extension ladder to the next. This meant I could paint one window and be done with it without having to wait till it dried and climb back up to get the rest of any parts I missed or what did not get covered as well.
I would paint one full window and check to make sure I got all parts and be able to move the ladder without having to worry about the trim needing a full second coat. I saw by the time I was done with the full window that the first parts were already dry and could touch up any small spots that needed it.
Only a few small patches needed any touching up and these were easy to hit but for almost all the trim I did not need to paint on a full second coat. On the front porch I had large sections, one is pictured, with a wood panel and these covered with very little need for any touch ups after the first coat went on.
The paint went on very well even on these larger sections, smooth and easily hiding the grey primer and the occasional spots of darker green I got on the trim areas. This was and still is a big project but I have to say that I was very impressed with the Aura exterior paint from Benjamin Moore and how well it went on as well as how well it hid a darker color.
I had no problems using the paint down to about 40 degrees, some days I was painting and had to wait for it to warm up but tried it out down to this temperature just to see. I did make sure there was no moisture on the trim as I painted but the paint did dry just as well when it was cold and handled just fine at these lower temperatures.
Cleanup was also easy and even though I did wear gloves I did get some paint on my skin without any kinds of reaction or problems with the paints odor. The paint easily cleaned up with soapy water and even the bits and parts that had partially dried did come off easily without having to soak the brush.
Durability will have to be something I get back to you with but the paint does dry well and with a good tough coating when I pick at it with my nails or a tool. I do not think the paint will have much of a problem lasting as long as Benjamin Moore claims but time will only be able to tell.
The paint dried well and even on the caulk spots it does move well with the more pliable rubberlike caulk, this is a great spot to check for stretch and resistance to cracking. I have no fear that the Benjamin Moore Aura will last at least as long as the main paint I used and will look as good as it does now.
Benjamin Moore does have a great product and in the future I will be sure to look out for this paint in sales for other jobs around my house and inside as well. I highly recommend Benjamin Moore Aura as a great exterior paint, I did only use it on the trim but it performed well for the areas I used it on and the paint really does look great.