A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Natura vs. Aura

I recently noticed that Benjamin Moore is introducing a new line of Zero VOC paint called Natura, and I couldn’t be more excited to try it! It’s already out in a few areas, including California and Washington, and will be released nationwide this spring.

If you don’t know what VOCs are, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states:

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

Yikes! As a graphic designer and illustrator who used many of these products before the computer became my main tool, it’s a miracle that I (seem to) have half a brain left!

In any case, I have been really pleased with Aura, their line of low VOC paint. According to Benjamin Moore, their proprietary Color Lock™ technology is “the key to what makes Aura paint different from any other coating on the market. Color pigments are microscopically bonded to the dry paint film permanently locking in color, for richer, more enticing hues that won’t fade.”

They also claim that the paint has incredible hide (which means you can cover the surface with fewer coats of paint) and color rub-off resistance.

Flat finishes are notorious for color rub-off if you have to scrub a spot, but I have had no problem with rub-off on the deep hues of our living room and dining room, both of which I painted using Aura.

With darker paint colors it’s usually recommended to tint the primer a little bit lighter than the paint in order to reduce the number of coats required to sufficiently cover the walls. But I had no problem evenly covering the walls with just two coats of Aura over off-the-shelf white primer.

Natura apparently cannot use the Color Lock technology because it does not contain the resins that are needed to bond with the colorant. However, Benjamin Moore promises a “durable, washable, and fade-resistant finish” nonetheless.

According to their website, Benjamin Moore uses zero VOCs in both the base and colorants, and “third-party testing shows that Natura interior waterborne paint emits lower total volatile compounds than any other national zero-VOC product.”

Some paints on the market start out with zero VOCs, but because colorants can contain volatile organic compounds, it’s important to know what is going into the paint as well, so be sure to ask.

I’ll definitely try Natura and let you know how it is. Hopefully it will be released by the time I’m ready to paint the TV/family room.

Update: You can find additional information about my experience with the performance differences between Aura and Natura here.


  1. Michael on February 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I too was concerned with VOCs and so I went with FreshAire from Home Depot. The color selection is muted and generally earth tone, but I’m really happy with it. It covered pretty darn well. We only had to do two coats in one room. It was the one room that used the darker base. So, there’s no need to wait. It is truly Zero VOC. They use a little packet of colorant which also contains zero VOCs.

  2. denise on March 2, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Hi Michael—that’s good to know about FreshAire. I know there are others that are no-VOC too, like Yolo Paints. I should really try both of those, however I’m kind of partial to Benjamin Moore paints. I don’t know if their Natura line will have a limited palette like FreshAire and Yolo do, so if not, that will be a definite plus for Natura.

  3. Yypo on March 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I have used Aura in a new house and can tell you that many of BM’s claims are overblown.
    Aura does require two coats in most instances.
    Also it is extremely difficult to touch up because of its special chemical composition.

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