Materials with customized spatial gradients in mechanical properties are increasingly used in high performance applications requiring enhanced resistance to contact loads, wear, and fatigue. In many engineering materials, multiple property and microstructural gradients may occur simultaneously with depth. In this manuscript, two case carburized steels are analyzed for their gradient in hardness with depth, emphasizing the resulting variation in surface hardness under increasing indentation loads. A parametric study using finite element analysis is then conducted in order to characterize the influence of individual property gradients on the surface indentation response of graded materials. It is shown that the measured surface hardness value decreases rapidly under increasing surface indentation loads in materials with sharp negative hardness gradients. It is also shown that this trend is independent of the magnitude of the strain hardening exponent of the material, as well as the gradient in strain hardening exponent. Gradients in elastic properties were also shown to have negligible influence on surface hardness trends for a fixed gradient in hardness. Finally, it is revealed that the depth of subsurface plastic deformation increases with sharper gradients in hardness, while being insensitive to changes in strain hardening exponent. For elastically graded materials, a decreasing gradient in elastic modulus limits the depth of plastic deformation.