Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa

We always wanted to review Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa. We had the opportunity to spec the paint when painting this home in the east end of Toronto. This job was a recommendation from a good customer so this would be a good place to use it. The walls in the bathroom were close to the shower, so this would be an amazing paint for it .

Glossy paints have had their place.

Most people still like them on trim and woodwork. In the last few years, the glossier finishes have lost their popularity. Even for woodwork we now use the pearl finish from Advance waterborne. Eggshell has now become the new durable go-to finish. The majority of surfaces on a home are now painted with the new and more durable flat paints. Benjamin Moore’s new Aura paint was a game changer in the industry. There was finally a true washable flat paint in the market. After the initial popularity and the success of the Aura paint, the same technology trickled down to all their paint lines.

Flat Sheen in a Bathroom?

There was still a lot of hesitation about using a flat finish in a bathroom. A bathroom has a lot of humidity and the steam from a hot shower would usually mark the fresh paint. This was especially evident with dark colours. When Aura Bath & Spa came out, we very much wanted to make this our bathroom paint of choice. Benjamin Moore says that this paint is made for hot, steamy and humid environments. Like the original Aura matte, this paint has many other great characteristics:

  • Low VOC, which is great for enclosed small spaces like a bathroom.
  • Very good hiding abilities, two coats is fine for any colour.
  • The matte finish hides surface imperfections.
  • Benjamin Moore’s Proprietary Color Lock® Technology.
  • It is formulated to prevent water staining and lock out moisture.

Painting the wall and ceiling

We used the product in a Benjamin Moore colour called Harbor Haze. This is a cool, spa-like blue that works great in a bathroom. The price of the paint was about $65 per gallon. That is actually very expensive but if the paint was as good as expected that would still be great value. A gallon is usually too much paint for a small bathroom, but it was necessary in this case because the ceiling would be painted in the same colour. The surfaces needed a substantial amount of patching and repair. After some really good prep work, two coats were painted. We did not spot-prime the area intentionally to test its ability to hide surface imperfections. As expected, the walls looked really smooth and there was absolutely no visible “flashing” of the patched areas. The paint felt thick and almost substantial to apply. Despite that, it was very easy to make it look smooth, almost silky. The previous paint was an oil-based semi-gloss. We sanded and cleaned the surface well, but no bonding primer was used as a test of the adhesion properties of the paint. Even before curing, the paint passed the vigorous “fingernail scratch” test.

Dark colour in Aura Bath and Spa

Water Resistance.

The following day the shower was used as normally as possible. No attention was given to the fresh paint on the walls and the ceiling. After close inspection, Aura Bath & Spa passed the moisture test with flying colours. Despite the velvety flat look and feel of the paint, it hardly looked porous. That is reason enough to think that it will pass this test every time there is a steamy shower in this busy bathroom. Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa is a good paint. It is easy to work with and it looks great. The performance characteristics seem to be exactly as advertised. Considering the ease of use and the labour savings that it produced, it is also a great value for a painting contractor.

Update of the Aura Bath & Spa Finish – June 2015

We had an opportunity to visit the customer’s home because she wanted some more work done. This always presents an opportunity to check our previous work and in this case, the durabillity of this product. The verdict?

The paint looks as good as the day it was painted. There are no water marks, or any humidity stains from the busy shower. The customer said she had to wipe the wall couple times and we certainly saw no signs of that. It’s safe to say that Benjamin Moore has an undisputed winner with this product and we will keep using it!

Ecopainting are Toronto painters also servicing Pickering and the Durham Region. Contact us for a Consultation at 416 733-7767

44 thoughts on “Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa”

  1. I have this very paint in my bathroom in DownPour Blue. Gorgeous color, went on very nice. But the quality for me after drying is horrible. Surfactant leaching is continual. Being that this is a flat paint you must be careful in washing, which is the only way to get rid of the terrible lines that form from the surfactant leaching. So then I wash my walls and the next time I shower, they’re back. Plus this being a flat paint, just washing one part of it (i.e. Kids splash toothpaste on it) it washes the same as plain old flat paint. So if you just wash one part, you will have a ring around the spot you washed. This has been a terrible expensive paint for me. I was VERY excited when I found this paint. But my bathroom looks terrible and now it’s costing me more money to cover it with another paint.

    • That’s too bad Natalie, it shouldn’t happen. Being painters, we don’t always go back to see every paint colour. I love that colour by the way, too bad it didn’t work, because it would have looked so good in matte. You now have to use a pearl or something with a similar sheen. I would ask Benjamin Moore for a free gallon, they have excellent service. it won’t help with your effort to repaint but it would help. Thank you for sharing your experience.

      • When I contacted BM about it they suggested we wash the walls to remove the leaching and so we did. Multiple times. It just keeps coming back. Here I am a year later and it still comes back every time. We are repainting very soon, and I was just looking into the pearl sheen. This blue is gorgeous and I’m so worried it will look completely different in pearl. I have eggshell on my wainscotting and trim (in the bathroom) and I never had a problem with the leaching. Wonder if I should try that on the top of the walls? To avoid the sheen of pearl? I worry it will be close to semi gloss. I really do need to be able to wipe my walls….and certainly don’t want to keep repainting.

        • I totally agree. That’s why I came here… to see if I could find any tips on cleaning these walls that were just painted a few months ago with Aura Bath and Spa Matte. I had to wallpaper a wall in my powder room already because of the staining, from hand washing around the sink, which I could not remove. . I have painted the room in Metropolis which is dark and I can’t believe what a mess it looks like. Just in my office bathroom today (Aubergine)and wiped a dusty looking spot with my shirt sleeve and its left a big spot on the wall. It looked great when it was brand new.

          • For now, these common experiences are helpful to future users of the product. At some time, I am going to incorporate them into the blog.
            a)dark colours are not washable.
            b)darker colours allow surfactant leaching.
            We have painted a Moksha Hot Yoga facillity twice now. The walls were hot and humid and had to be painted overnight. The following day the place was steamy and the walls were practically sweating every day for a year between paint jobs. The paint is in excellent shape. The difference seems to be the colour. The Yoga studio colour is a white.

          • I painted my entire house in aura paint 6 years ago. I used a darker color in the bathrooms and had to repaint it twice and it still had stains from the shower and from Hairspray. You CANNOT wash this paint. I was then told to use the new Aura specifically for the bathroom and it is just as awful. You can’t clean hairspray off the pain no matter what you use and I have tried everything. I would never recommend Aura after painting my three bathrooms three times. It may go on nicely but only if you never plan on having to clean it. Total waste of money.

          • Thanks for sharing your experience Gail. Aura Bath & Spa is a special formulation for moist environments like bathrooms. I am pretty sure a matte finish in dark colours would not be ideal for scrubbing hairspray from. It is after all almost a flat finish paint. We even have difficulties washing hairspray from bathroom doors painted in shinier acrylic based enamels. A better alternative might be a Kitchen and Bath paint, in Satin finish.

        • Considering all the issues you had, the pearl should be good. They also have a Kitchen & Bath Paint and a Kitchen & Bath paint should not give you such issues. Whatever you use,
          give it sometime to cure before a steamy shower. And keep it ventilated until cured. Good luck!

  2. I am considering using the Aura B&S to redo my bathroom in sterling silver. It was previously done in matte in a cheaper Ben Moore line, and it has bubbled and split on the wall near the shower. The contractor is recommending Regal Select in at least an eggshell finish. I want to use the best product to prevent similar issues in future. Wondering if you’ve had more experience with this paint, and reached a further conclusion in terms of durability and performance feedback? If so, what would your recommendation be?

    • I hope this is not too late to respond. The reason it bubbled may not have to do with the paint used. It may be internal moisture or not enough ventilation. If these problems don’t exist, it is a good idea to remove any non adherent paint, clean the area and spotprime it with a good acrylic primer. After it’s paint ready you can use Aura Bath and Spa. If your contractor thinks you need more sheen, Benjamin Moore makes a Kitchen and Bath paint. The sheen is between eggshell and pearl. I hope this helps.

  3. I absolutely DESPISE this paint. My wife had the bathroom repainted in Old Navy which is obviously a navy blue. It has been nothing but aggravation. Water drip lines so bad I had to skim coat the area to get rid them of them. Ive touched this color up several times allowing for a WEEK’S drying time before we used the shower again. You can not so much as heavy breathe on an area and you have a PERMANENT water spot. This paint has made me so frustrated I’m on the verge of ripping all the sheet rock out and starting again for fear that this rubbish paint will keep on producing theses issues even with another color overlay. PLUS “I” now have to repaint the entire bathroom which I loathe doing and the cost of a painter in the first place was money wasted.

    • Hi Rick, the theme that is recurring here is that Aura Bath and Spa is not the paint to use with strong colours. We as painters can share our own experiences, but in real life what matters is how the paint works every day in bathrooms. After all these comments, we suggest the traditional Kitchen & Bath acrylic paint, at least for darker colours. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. I have the same issue with the Aura in my bathroom, painted in Charlotte Slate, a strong color and so beautiful, until I attempted to wipe water splatters and/or toothpaste off the walls. Leaves marks and CHANGES THE COLOR. I will have to repaint and will try the Kitchen and Bath, but really liked the Matte Finish. C’mon Benjamin Moore.

    Will share this with my local dealer.

    • Hi Ann, maybe Benjamin Moore should sell the product in light tint bases or inform the buyer of the problems with deep tint bases. Maybe you use a dead flat acrylic urethane over the paint to protect it. An expensive solution for people that want a matte in the bathroom. Otherwise a kitchen and bath product is best. I am leaving these comments here for now, but I will update the blog itself with some user experiences.

  5. Hi, We painted our bathroom in linen white about two months ago, and the color and walls still look good. We don’t have toothpaste splattering due to a large mirror, but even the area around the shower is holding up nicely. Our bathroom doesn’t have great ventilation, so as far as I’m concerned, the paint is doing what it’s supposed to do.

  6. Five days after using BM Aura Bath & Spa paint I already have water streaks. I don’t understand how it works for some and not others. What a waste of time and money. Color was off white so I don’t think it matters what shade you use. Very very frustrating! Should have stuck with a semi gloss.

    • Hi John, I don’t know how user experiences can be so different for everyone either. We didn’t have any issues as a contractor and we have used a lot of Aura Bath & Spa. It’s even been our paint of choice for Hot Yoga studios where walls are “sweating” within hours of dry time. Yet, there are some users that did not have the same experience, you included. Different and updated formulas maybe? Who knows… The main problem seems to be with stronger colours but yours was an off white. Thank uou for sharing your experience.

      • Talked to the dealer and this is what they told me:
        “After the paint cures in 2 weeks you should be able to wipe it down. Sometimes it can take up to a month to cure depending on the environment. What’s happening is the extra moisture is mixing a bit with one of the compounds in the paint. It will eventually go away, no longer being visible when dry.”
        We will see!

  7. hello,
    I used the BM eggshell (Manor Blue – nice color, but dark) in a well ventilated bathroom, waited two days, and it streaked after the first hot shower. Wiping it down doesn’t make much of a difference, not sure if due to paint or darker color. For my next bathroom, I went with the Aura Bath & Spa (Seaside Blue – lighter). Waited almost a MONTH before I let anybody shower in there, and first hot shower, streaks again. Wiping works better, but you can still see some streaks. And honestly, why the heck should anyone have to do this.. I spend enough time painting it to begin with, and the paint is expensive. So, what I would like to know, has anybody found another brand of paint (not BM) that can be used that won’t streak ?
    Note that I had BM eggshell on walls in bathroom for over ten years, never a streak. They messed with their formula…

    • Hi Mike, you shouldn’t have problems like this but they seem to be common with lower sheen finishes and dark colours (and a lighter colour in your case).
      We are painters, we don’t always have the opportunity to go back months later and see everything we painted, so we assume a customer would complain with such issues. It seems that whatever manufacturer you use, when you use colour in a bathroom, maybe increase the sheen. A Kitchen & Bath paint that comes in Satin or Pearl. If your surface is in good condition, even semigloss? Still let it cure first. Too bad you would have to go to back to shiny walls but that’s what we used years ago. Maybe someone else has a better suggestion.

  8. I have been painting full time for the past 13 years and spent 6 months working at SW. I can say that surfactant leaching has been a constant frustration for me too. Have used Kitchen and Bath specific paint in light colours, eggshell, semi-gloss, BEN eggshell in dark colours, Regal Eggshell in medium dark colours, epoxy, and have had leaching issues. Where as cheap flat contractor paint has shown water absorption, but without the leaching. Was tempted to try Aura Bath and Spa but after this thread, I’m not sold. Doesn’t seem to be a guaranteed solution regardless of cure time or tint base.

    I would personally warn against thinking that higher sheen equals less surfactant leaching, in my experience seems to be the opposite.

    The only sure fire solution for me was semi-gloss oil. But of course thats no longer a practical solution for a variety of reasons.

    – Simon

  9. Just bought this paint for bathroom in silver satin is it just me or maybe because it’s matte it takes a lot of paint for small area and is very hard to work with? I’ve painted a lot and never had to work so much with paint. Anyone else?

    • It does have a bit of a learning curve as most Aura paints do. After using it a lot we are used to it and it’s quite forgiving with streaks, flashing or brush marks. Another thing, it dries fast, don’t go back to fix brush marks.

  10. I am contemplating what paint to use in a large skylight vault over our main staircase. It was last painted in 2003 using BM Regal AquaPearl or Aquavelvet (eggshell) in Cloud White (can’t remember which). The adjacent ceiling is in a flat finish, same colour. The higher sheen product was used because skylights can have moisture issues, We did subsequently have some condensation problems so there are some water marks and damage, but I think the consequences were less given the paint used. The skylight has since been replaced but I still would like to use a paint that can deal with moisture. In 2016 we repainted two bathroom ceilings with skylights and used Aura Bath and Spa, matte. So far so good. What paint do you use in skylights?

    • Hi Stephanie, we use similar products that you used, depending on some factors. For example how good the drywall work is and not wanting to highlight imperfections with shiny paint. Thank you for the suggestion of using Aura Bath & Spa there for the possible moisture. It’s agreat idea and being matte it will blend in better with the ceiling paint flat!

  11. Hey, everyone. I am an employee at a Benjamin Moore paint store and I couldn’t help but wonder about some of these comments. I personally have the Aura B&S in my bathroom in Kendall Charcoal, a very dark grey, and I have absolutely no issues at all. In fact, it seems to perform better than what I previously had on there, which was Regal Select Semi-Gloss. I have a feeling that the preparation/application, rather than the product, is the issue here. Here are some tips to get the best results:

    Keep the room well ventilated. Make sure you have a functional fan and if not, leave the window open.

    Clean the walls with TSP prior to application. This well help dissolve any chemicals (glues, hairspray, etc) that could affect the performance of the paint.

    Sand everything with 120 grit sandpaper. Similar to the previous tip, this helps to remove unseen particles from the wall that can affect paint performance.

    Prime with an oil-based primer. Many people don’t want to put in the extra time and effort to prime, and just as many don’t like the smell of oil-based products, but this can seriously help. Priming in oil seals in chemicals and water spots, thus keeping them from affecting the topcoat and therefore creating an ideal paintable surface. I recommend using the Odorless primer by Zinsser. It doesn’t smell nearly as bad as traditional oil primers and has lower VOCs. If you absolutely refuse to use oil-based products, at least use Benjamin Moore Advance primer, which has a very small amount of oil in it and is low VOC.

    Apply TWO coats of paint. This is so important. Much of the first coat gets partially absorbed into the wall. Putting on a second coat not only makes it look better, it creates a solid surface that greatly improves steam resistance and washability. Even in Matte finish, Aura is fairly washable. If you’re having issues in that regard, you did something wrong.

    Give AT LEAST three full days (72 hours) for the paint to cure before showering or washing the paint. This helps the paint settle into a more solid state and increases steam resistance and washability. If the humidity in your area is high, you may need to wait as much as 5 or 6 days for the paint to cure.

    Finally, in EXTREME cases, it may benefit you to cover the paint with a clear polyurethane for added protection. I would recommend using a matte or flat finish to avoid messing with the beautiful finish of Aura B&S, and I would recommend it be a water-based to avoid messing with the color. My personal recommendations would be Ceramithane Matte by Fixall or Stays Clear Flat by Benjamin Moore.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks Joshua, most are great recommendations. There are two points I disagree with:
      Do NOT use an oil primer in a bathroom unless absolutely necessary.
      1st reason: oil paint is food for mildew in humid environments.
      2nd reason: most homeowners do not have respirators handy and using oil base in an enclosed space without much ventilation is not a good idea. The Zinsser odorless is slightly better for that but the name is misleading. Less odor or odorless?
      Using a clearcoat over Aura Bath & Spa: it’s a complete waste. One primer and two finish coats plus two coats of arylic urethane? 5 coats of paint plus prep for a bathroom? What is the point of using a great paint if you do that? You can use any good paint and coat it with urethane.
      Having said all that, good basic prep work is always recommended.

      • For oil based paints, that’s true, but primers are different and offer great moisture resistance when covered with a mold & mildew inhibiting paint, such as Aura B&S. As far as the polyurethane goes, as I said, that is only for extreme cases. A lot of the advice I gave was for those who are still having issues even after doing things the right way. Most of this stuff is overkill, but if you’re having a bunch of issues, doing some of these things could definitely be helpful.

      • Oh, and as far as your second point against the oil-based primer goes, I understand that. If you want a safer alternative, Zinsser 1-2-3 and Benjamin Moore Fresh Start are good alternatives.

  12. Hello, I found this blog post after using Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa paint in my bathroom (colour: Hale Navy – one of the darkest blues in the range). I was very unhappy with the result so I started googling. First, some good things about this paint: very high hide (navy blue over white was thoroughly covered with two coats); the matte finish is gorgeous to look at and is VERY forgiving of surface imperfections (due to no gloss to catch the light).

    Unfortunately, these plusses were far outweighed by the negatives, which are echoed here in other comments. After painting the bathroom I went on to paint other rooms so a full 8 days passed before I reinstalled the sink, toilet, etc. On the first day of use, the inevitable happened: water droplets from the sink splashed onto the walls. As soon as the water drops dried, they were as apparent as black polka dots on a white wall. I used a slightly damp cloth to wipe them away, and as soon as the wall dried again… streaks instead of drops. No paint came off, but the matte finish was forever marred. After a few more days of use, more of the same. That’s when I started googling and found this review and comments.

    I knew I had to repaint (ugh!) so I called Benjamin Moore customer service and asked about a guarantee. Happily, I was told Aura paints have a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. The customer service rep was very frank with me: he said they get a lot of complaints about this paint, and while it is good for high humidity areas, it should never be used where water can get on it directly. Well, that eliminates 95% of bathrooms!

    So I returned the paint to Pro Glo (Queen and Carlaw in Toronto) and they happily exchanged it for Aura eggshell. I can now report the bathroom is repainted and looks great, with easy wipe-down off the slightly glossy surface, with no residue or marred surface.

    • Hi Catherine, you are right it is a lovely colour. I wish I could remember what the name of the colour was but I can’t, sorry. I can’t even look it up for you because it was provided for us by the general contractor that was renovating the home.

  13. I painted my bathroom in Matte Finish Ben Moore Sylvan Mist several years ago and it looks beautiful. We steam up the walls until you can see water on it, but as soon as it drys, less than 30 minutes, it is back to normal and looks wonderful. I used it in my rental, right over fresh drywall with white ceiling and light color walls several years ago and that also is holding up beautifully and it is the only bath in that home with 3-5 people showering there everyday. Never had any problem with mildew as with other bath paints I used.

    • Hi Candace, this has been our experience with this paint as well. It’s a great product for humid and wet environments. Most of the complaints people have are about performance with the deep base colours. Thank you for your comment!

  14. So what paint do you use for dark color paint…like pine cone brown in the bathroom…. that i do not have to wipe down….

  15. I don’t believe in all of the post did I see anyone address exhaust fans this would cure a lot of the problems with staining with proper ventilation. !!!
    Just saying get proper ventilation for your bathrooms with high humidity

      • This pain was recommended by a BM dealer. I am about to use it to paint 2 bathrooms with showers -and good ventilation. The colors I am using are Seapearl and Chantilly Lace-very light colors. The comments on this blog now have me concerned. Thoughts?

        • Hello Tia, thank you for you question. Most people that had problems either had to deal with a very dark colour and/or a lack of sufficient ventilation. The reality is that this is one of the best paints for a bathroom and responds to humid environments very well. I think you should go ahead with it, let the paint dry for a day or two and enjoy your new colours. Your ventilation should be enough.


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