Abstract Two-multilayered functionally graded materials (FGMs), namely aluminium–silicon carbide (Al/SiC) and nickel–alumina (Ni/Al 2O 3) systems are designed, synthesized and characterized considering 10, 20, 30 and 40 vol.% ceramic concentrations. Two, three and five-layered FGMs are fabricated into flat beam samples following powder metallurgy route for Al/SiC and thermal spraying technique for Ni/Al 2O 3 system. Apart from microstructural studies, porosity content and microhardness are also determined. Three bulk properties are evaluated for FGM characterizations, namely effective flexural strength, thermal fatigue behavior and thermal shock resistance. Progressive and appreciable enhancement in FGM performance is observed as the number of layers is increased from two to five keeping the extreme layers same. Microhardness variation across the interfaces is found to be consistent with the analytically obtained jump in the inplane stresses at the interfaces.