Anyone who has laid brush to wall knows that a roomful of fresh paint can smell to headache-inducing heights. Vapors aren’t just annoyinga paint-caused dizzy spell can cut your work short. To solve this problem, a slew of new low-odor and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints purports to take the stench out of redecorating, and the chemicals out of the environment. We put three such paints to the test, measuring their odor, how well they covered drywall and how many swipes of sandpaper it took to grind through a layer. In the end, a clear winner emergedbut only by a nose.
Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Matte Paint
$55/gal. | myaurapaint.com
Odor: The smell was only noticeable from 2 ft. away, but still, this was the stinkiest sample in our test. And unlike the other paints, which claimed to have no VOCs, this was low-VOC.
Coverage and Spreadability: When it came to coverage, Aura was the clear winner 1 roller pass laid a nearly perfect layer. Our testers also raved about its “outstanding spreadability” and “creamlike texture.”
Durability: This paint was made of tough stuffit took 20 strokes with coarse-grained sandpaper to wipe through just one dried coat of Aura.
Freashaire Choice Interior Flat Paint
$35/gal. | thefreshairechoice.com
Odor: To pick up the scent of our smell test’s nearly odorless contestant, we had to crawl to within 1.75 in. of the walljust a nose away. The lack of VOCs kept our heads clear.
Coverage and Spreadability: Not only did Freshaire require 4 roller passes for a complete coat, but it made the roller stick and slide, resulting in an unseemly finish and more work.”
Durability: Freshaire didn’t stand a chance against our sandpaper: It took just 6 strokes to turn a layer to dust.
Mythic Non-Toxic Flat Paint
$43/gal. | mythicpaint.com
Odor: We needed to stand within 6 in. to smell the freshly painted (and VOC-free) Mythicabout the length of our tester’s hand.
Coverage and Spreadability: A complete coat of.