How often should my piano be tuned?

All pianos need tuning on a regular basis.  Most piano manufacturers recommend tuning twice a year.  Of course, it depends on the individual piano's situation.  Concert hall pianos are tuned as often as once a week.  Even pianos that "just sit" need regular maintenance.  Pianos left un-tuned for long periods of time can be very expensive to bring back to playing condition.  Factors controlling a tuning schedule include the type of room the piano is in (whether air-conditioned or not), and the age of the piano.

New pianos are a special case.  Their pitch drops quickly for the first few years as the new strings stretch and wood parts settle. It’s very important that a new piano be maintained at proper pitch during this period, so the string tension and piano structure can reach stable equilibrium. Most manufacturers recommend three to four tunings the first year.

Does it hurt when my kids pound on it?

No.  Pianos are designed to withstand heavy use.  A concert pianist can play much harder than your children's pounding.  Of course, their pounding may rattle your nerves but the piano doesn't care whether Chopsticks or Mozart is being played.  The real danger of children playing with, as opposed to playing, a piano is that they often can’t resist dropping small toys inside, slipping coins into the slots between the keys, or running toys across the finish.  Children should be taught (and adults too) never to put toys or anything abrasive on the piano and enjoy the food and drinks away from the piano.  

What is the lifespan of a piano?

People hate to hear the answer "it depends" but it is true.  A piano is made of wood, metal and cloth.  Wood eventually dries out, metal rusts, and cloth compresses.  This happens to all pianos.  How fast this happens, however, depends on the care the piano receives during its lifetime.  On average, a well maintained, quality built piano should last 60 - 80 years.  Poorly maintained pianos can need major repairs in 40 years.  Virtually all pianos over 80 years old will need major repairs or rebuilding.  This should be a consideration when deciding to acquire an older piano.  

Note that the above does not apply to "rebuilt" pianos.  A piano that has been rebuilt with all new components can be considered new at the time of the rebuilding.  For example, a 100 year old Steinway grand piano was rebuilt 10 years ago would have the lifespan of a 10 year old piano.  Do not confuse the term "rebuilt" with "refurbished." Refurbishing has no real definition in the piano world.  Rebuilding usually involves new action parts, strings, hammers, dampers and (often) a new pinblock and soundboard.