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I am not a builder. I used to work for companies that did trade show work and we had to produce "perfect" surfaces for company logos etc. It was very similar to what you are talking about. I also thought the well done joint compound did not appear to need sanding, but once painted you could see surfaces that had not been sanded looked different, usually shinier. It is my opinion that sanding roughs up the trowelled surface enough to make it look and act (absorb paint) similarly to the paper surface of drywall. I wished there had been a way to not sand, because the dust was a pain to remove and the tiniest bit of it in the air could ruin a high gloss lacquered project nearby...and there was never enough safe space to stash a logo while it dried, LOL! Hope that is correct...all I know is if there's a way to avoid sanding, I'm all ears.
thanks c.s. as i remembered it had to do with the painting. i am in a very small town trying to get a house built for my mother and these guys are driving me nuts.my dry waller is a pro but likes to play hide and seek.if i beat him on the bid i would understand but i told him i am not even going to get a second bid i just want a good job.i dont tell them what to do unless it is wrong. they all know i was in the housing industry as a carpenter and drywaller but like i laugh and say "i just dont know enough to do this stuff and even if i did i am so far out of shape their work would kill me now". never met such bunch of bone heads.
thanks for your input,,sam