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6 Types/Grades of Benjamin Moore Paint Explained (Cheat Sheet)

Benjamin Moore is one of the most popular paint brands in the world.

But with several unique grades of paint, picking the right one can be overwhelming.

In this guide, I break down the most popular types of Benjamin Moore paint. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each and get helpful advice on how to choose.

Use the links below to navigate the guide:

Benjamin Moore Paint Types: Key Takeaways

Aura is Benjamin Moore’s most expensive paint, but it provides fantastic hide, thickness, and washability, and its Color Lock technology prevents fading.

Regal Select is one step down from Aura in terms of price but still provides excellent coverage, and the matte, eggshell, and pearl finishes contain zero VOCs. This is Benjamin Moore’s best-selling paint, and it’s been around for over 50 years.

ben is a budget-friendly option for DIY-ers. This zero-VOC paint is easy to apply but doesn’t offer the same coverage and durability as Aura and Regal Select.

Advance is designed for cabinets, trim, doors, or other small wood projects. Because it’s a waterborne alkyd paint, it offers the best impact-resistance. However, it’s not recommended for walls and takes 16 hours to dry.

Ultra Spec SCUFF-X is a durable scuff-resistant paint for high-traffic areas.

Ultra Spec 500 is an affordable contractor-grade paint for new builds, rentals, flips, and rooms that aren’t used often.

Comparison Chart of Benjamin Moore Paint Lines

For a quick overview of the similarities and differences between the Benjamin Moore paints, check out this handy chart below:

Swipe to view the entire chart on mobile.

 AuraRegal SelectbenAdvanceUltra Spec SCUFF-XUltra Spec 500
UsesInterior and exteriorInterior and exteriorInterior and exteriorInteriorInteriorInterior
TypeAcrylic latexAcrylic latexAcrylic latexWaterborne alkydAcrylic copolymerAcrylic copolymer
Paint and PrimerYesYesYesNoYesNo
VOCs00 (matte, eggshell, pearl), <50 g/l (flat, semi-gloss)0 (interior), <50 g/l (exterior)<50 g/l<50 g/l< 5 g/l
ColorsOver 3,500Over 3,500Over 3,500Over 3,500Over 3,500Over 3,500
Dry Time1 hour to recoat (interior), 4 hours to recoat (exterior)1-2 hours to recoat (interior), 4 hours to recoat (exterior)2 hours to recoat (interior), 4 hours to recoat (exterior)16 hours to recoat2-3 hours to recoat2-3 hours to recoat
Coverage Per Gallon350-400 square feet (interior), 250-350 square feet (exterior)400-450 square feet (interior), 300-300 square feet (exterior)400-450 square feet (interior), 350-475 square feet (exterior)400-500 square feet350-400 square feet350-400 square feet
Interior Volume Solids40-48%36-43%32-39%35-39%38-42%40-42%
Exterior Volume Solids38-46%42-43%33-35%N/AN/AN/A
Interior FinishesMatte, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-GlossFlat, Matte, Eggshell, Pearl, Semi-GlossFlat, Eggshell, Semi-GlossSatin, Semi-Glass, High-GlossMatte, Eggshell, Stain, Semi-GlossFlat, Low-Sheen Eggshell, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss
Exterior FinishesFlat, Low Lustre, Satin, Soft GlossFlat, Low Lustre, Soft GlossFlat, Low Lustre, Soft GlossN/AN/AN/A
VersionsStandard, bath & spaStandardStandardStandardStandardStandard
Key FeatureSuperior hide in the fewest coats with a long-lasting finishZero VOC interior paint with proven performanceLow-cost paint line with easy applicationFormulated for interior doors, trim, and cabinetryEasy application and long-lasting durabilityAffordable
Price Per Gallon*$94 $73$48$70$75$40
*Prices vary by retailer and are subject to change

Benjamin Moore Aura

With a wide range of high-quality finishes, a quick dry time, access to 3,500 color options, and excellent coverage, Aura is Benjamin Moore’s most premium (and expensive) paint line.

Benjamin Moore Aura
Benjamin Moore Aura

Good Housekeeping called it the Best Paint for Accent Walls because of its bright, bold colors, stain resistance, and easy application. And The Spruce praised its thick formula that provides excellent coverage and hides imperfections.

The Aura paint line includes three variations: Interior, Exterior, and Bath and Spa.

  • Aura Interior has a 40-48% volume solids content, higher than any other Benjamin Moore paint lines. That means the paint is thicker and has a better finish in fewer coats. Aura Interior comes in four finishes: Matte, Eggshell, Satin, and Semi-Gloss.
  • Aura Exterior is a breathable paint that won’t chip or blister in harsh weather conditions. Like Aura Interior, Aura Exterior comes in four finishes: Flat, Low Lustre, Satin, and Soft Gloss.
  • Aura Bath and Spa is designed for high-humidity environments. It’s mildew resistant and durable, especially against regular scrubbing with soap and water. It features a matte finish that helps to cover imperfections on the wall.

Why choose Aura paint over the other options? One of the many advantages is the Color Lock® technology exclusive to Aura. This unique formula locks pigments into the paint film to prevent fading, making it perfect for living rooms and dining rooms that get lots of sunlight.

All Aura paint variations serve as a paint and primer combination that achieves extreme hide and bold, rich color. You won’t need to prime walls before painting with Aura.

Aura paint has a high volume solids content, which means pigment and binders (what’s left on the wall after the solvents evaporate) make up a greater percentage of the overall formula. The higher the volume solids content, the better the coverage.

Benjamin Moore Volume Solids Ben versus Aura
Benjamin Moore ben (left) versus Aura (right)

So with all the advantages of Aura paint, is there a downside? The biggest drawback is the price. In fact, it’s the most expensive Benjamin Moore paint line. But if you’re willing to pay more upfront for paint that will hold up for years (maybe even decades), Aura is a worthy investment.

Benjamin Moore Regal Select

Regal Select is durable, low-maintenance, and made to last. This paint line has been on the market for 50 years and is the brand’s best-seller.

Although Regal Select is less expensive than Aura, it’s not cheap. Expect to pay around $70-75 per gallon.

Benjamin Moore Regal Select
Benjamin Moore Regal Select

The New York Times named Regal Select the Best Interior Paint out of a selection pool of over 50. They praised its coverage, durability, washability, and ease of use. They also like that it’s thick and goes on smooth with no splatter or show brush strokes.

Regal Select Interior

Regal Select Interior paint is available in five finishes: flat, matte, eggshell, pearl, and semi-gloss.

VOCs, short for volatile organic compounds, are chemicals that help the paint bond to the surface of your walls or trim, but they can also cause dizziness and headaches if you breath them for long periods. Fortunately, Regal Select comes in safe, low-odor, and low or zero-VOC options.

Matte, eggshell, and pearl are zero-VOC paints, while flat and semi-gloss are low-VOC paints with less than 50 grams per liter. 

Regal Select Exterior

If your home’s exterior paint texture is chalky or uneven due to degrading over time, you can still get even, durable coverage with Regal Select Exterior. It comes in flat, low lustre, and soft gloss finishes and sticks to even the most difficult siding and trim textures, like slippery vinyl siding.

If there’s one downside to this paint, it’s the consistency. Some reviewers warn that this paint is thick and challenging to work with.

Benjamin Moore ben

If you’re working with a tighter budget, ben is the most affordable Benjamin Moore paint.

Benjamin Moore ben
Benjamin Moore ben

The New York Times calls ben interior “Regal Select’s little brother” and “a cheaper option that doesn’t skimp too much on quality.”

Good Housekeeping praises the ben paint line for giving you “plenty of options for painting without breaking the bank.”

Better Homes and Gardens features it as Best Overall Exterior Paint. They say, “Whether you need to paint vinyl, wood stucco, brick, concrete, or even metal siding, this exterior paint covers it all with a mildew-resistant finish.”

Overall, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a cheaper paint that still provides dependable quality. It’s also useful for spot retouching when you want to match an existing Benjamin Moore color without splurging on high-end paint.

ben Interior

ben Interior boasts a VOC-free formula, making it safe and dependable. The interior paint comes in matte, eggshell, semi-gloss, and satin/pearl finishes, giving you a range of options.

Since ben is an affordable and forgiving paint, it’s ideal for general use in all kinds of rooms, from your living room and bedroom to your kitchen and bathroom.

That said, it’s less durable than Benjamin Moore’s other paint lines, so I wouldn’t use it for high-traffic areas of your home.

ben Exterior

The ben exterior line is rain-resistant within 90-120 minutes after application and can be applied in temperatures as low as 35℉. It’s a forgiving paint and a good option for DIY home painters and non-professionals with little experience.

However, there are a few downsides. This paint’s volume solids content is the lowest on this list. It won’t provide the best coverage or durability. You need to repaint more often if you choose ben.

Also, the consistency of this paint is loose, which means it can get messy. Thicker paint like Regal Select and Aura stick to the surface better with less dripping.

Benjamin Moore Advance

Advance is a waterborne alkyd paint best used on wood projects and smaller surfaces such as furniture, doors, trim, and cabinetry.

Benjamin Moore Advance
Benjamin Moore Advance

Unlike the other Benjamin Moore paint types, this line is not designed for walls or ceilings.

Where Advance shines is in its durable finish. The paint cures to create a hard finish that won’t peel. It’s excellent for trim and doors in high-traffic areas where damage may be a concern.

It’s also a relatively affordable option compared to other Benjamin Moore paints when used in small quantities, so if you have a smaller project like doors or trim that requires less paint, this is the way to go.

When it comes to finishes, you have a couple of choices. Advance is available in satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. It provides excellent coverage, so you may only need one to two coats.

There are three main downsides to this paint:

  • It’s an interior-only paint.
  • The formula doesn’t contain primer (you’ll need to prime first).
  • The dry time is much longer than Benjamin Moore’s other paints. You have to wait 16 hours between coats (versus 1 to 4 hours).

Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec SCUFF-X

Ultra Spec SCUFF-X is a durable, scuff-resistant, and long-lasting paint. It’s a single-component paint, so it’s easy to apply and won’t separate if you don’t use it immediately.

As its name suggests, it can withstand wear and tear, making it ideal for high-traffic areas like hallway walls, doors, and baseboards. It’s also an excellent option for commercial spaces like schools and hospitals.

Its antimicrobial additives prevent mold and mildew, making it a good option for high-humidity areas like basements and bathrooms.

You can choose between four finish choices: matte, eggshell, satin, and semi-gloss.

There are a few downsides to consider before choosing Ultra Spec SCUFF-X.

While Ultra Spec SCUFF-X is meant to be durable and easy to apply, it only covers 350-400 square feet per gallon, which is less than other options (like Regal Select and ben).

It also has a longer drying time (2-3 hours versus 1-2 hours with Aura and Regal Select).

With the higher price tag of this paint comes superior durability and scuff protection. But if you’re looking to paint a low-traffic area with little risk of damage, this paint might not be worth it.

Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec 500

If you’re looking for an affordable Benjamin Moore paint that professional painters often use for large new construction projects, Ultra Spec 500 fits the bill.

Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec 500
Benjamin Moore Ultra Spec 500

As a lower-priced contractor-grade option, it lacks some of the premium qualities of Aura and Regal Select, but Ultra Spec 500 still delivers decent durability and uniform coverage.

Made with acrylic copolymer resins, Ultra Spec 500 withstands everyday wear and tear, though not quite as well as Benjamin Moore’s 100% acrylic paints.

Expect around 5-10 years from this paint, depending on the traffic in the room.
Ultra Spec 500 contains fewer titanium dioxide solids than most Benjamin Moore paints, meaning the pigment levels are not as high.

You may need to apply an additional coat to achieve the same level of opacity and richness of color. But for large-scale commercial projects, the lower price per gallon makes up for the extra coat.

This Benjamin Moore line also incorporates new stain-guard technology for easy soap and water cleanup. And with a zero-VOC formula emitting fewer than 5 grams per liter (g/L) of VOCs, Ultra Spec 500 is EPA-compliant and won’t overwhelm you with paint fumes.

Overall, Ultra Spec 500 is ideal for painting a rental unit, new construction, or a space where maximum durability is not the top priority. As a contractor-grade paint made for large professional jobs, it helps you save money without sacrificing too much on quality.

What Paint Experts Say About Benjamin Moore Paint Types

I contacted several independent paint stores selling Benjamin Moore to get their expert opinion on this topic.

When I spoke with each paint specialist, I asked:

What’s the difference between each Benjamin Moore paint type? Which do you recommend?

The paint expert at Aubuchon Hardware in Concord, New Hampshire, told me Regal Select is Benjamin Moore’s best-seller, and it’s the line they recommend most often. It provides excellent coverage and washability, and it goes on smoothly.

He mentioned that Regal Select isn’t as thick and doesn’t cover as well as Aura, but it’s easier to work with and more affordable.

He said Ben is Benjamin Moore’s entry-level paint. It’s not as washable as Regal Select or Aura, and it won’t stand up to much impact.

He joked that they sell ben to renters and house flippers because it’s low-cost but still looks good. He said you could get away with ben if you don’t have kids or pets. Otherwise, Regal Select is a better long-term investment.

When I asked about Aura, he said it’s a high-build formula that delivers excellent coverage and is super washable. The color-lock technology prevents fading even if you wash it over and over.

He mentioned that Aura Bath and Spa is one of the few paints designed for high-moisture areas with a matte finish. Most bath and spa paint has a satin or gloss finish to repel the water.

But those finishes show every imperfection. Aura Bath and Spa has a unique chemical that repels moisture, while the matte finish hides the imperfections.

When I asked about Advance and Ultra Spec SCUFF-X, he said Advance comes in shinier finishes and is ideal for trim because it dries hard and protects the wood.

He said to use Ultra Spec if your kids are constantly slamming furniture and toys into the wall because it resists scuffs better than the other lines.

I also spoke with the paint expert at Green’s Hardware, an authorized Benjamin Moore retailer in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

He said ben is the brand’s lowest-grade paint. It won’t cover or level as well and could take up to three coats if you paint over dark colors.

He mentioned that Regal Select is a mid-range paint that provides great coverage, goes on smoothly, and levels evenly.

He said that Aura is Benjamin Moore’s best formula and highest-grade paint. It levels and covers better than almost every paint on the market, including Regal Select.

He said it’s ideal for high-traffic areas because it’s washable, and the colors won’t fade.

However, he acknowledged that it’s the most expensive line and is only worth it if you plan to stay in your home long-term.

Bottom Line: Which Benjamin Moore Paint Should You Choose?

If you’re willing to pay a premium for the best overall performance, go with Aura or Regal Select. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly low-VOC paint, go with ben. And if you’re painting cabinets, trims, furniture, or any surface that requires a high level of protection, consider Advance or Ultra Spec SCUFF-X.

Avoid Ultra Spec 500 unless you’re a contractor painting a new build, a landlord painting a rental, or an investor painting a flip.

Learn more about all of these opinions on BenjaminMoore.com, AceHardware.com, or by reading the in-depth comparisons below.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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