Does Keycap Material Affect Typing Experience?

April 26, 2024

When you're typing, gaming, or browsing, the first objects that your fingers will get in physical contact with would be your keyboard's keycaps. It's impossible to type on a keyboard without keycaps.

The material of your keyboard's keycaps affects your typing experience. The texture, sound, feel, and durability of keycaps all depend on the material it is made of.

To what extent does the keycap material truly play a role in your overall typing enjoyment?

What Are Keycaps Made Of?

It's easy to conclude that all keycaps are made of plastic. Well, it's a misnomer. Keycaps can be made of a variety of plastics or other materials. Here are some common materials:

  1. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): ABS keycaps are among the most widely used materials for keycaps due to their affordability and durability. However, ABS keycaps are prone to wear and can develop a greasy, glossy surface.
  2. PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate): PBT keycaps are durable and resistant to developing a shiny surface. Their surface has a more textured feel compared to ABS keycaps. They can retain their original appearance for a longer time.
  3. POM (Polyoxymethylene): POM keycaps have a smooth, slippery surface that is resistant to wear. They can be more expensive than ABS or PBT keycaps.
  4. PC (Polycarbonate): PC keycaps are transparent and are specifically designed to be paired with RGB backlighting. They are generally less common than ABS or PBT keycaps.
  5. Metal: Keycaps made from aluminum or brass provide a premium look and feel. They are often used for custom or high-end mechanical keyboards. They can be quite heavy and expensive.
  6. Wood: Wooden keycaps offer a distinctive, natural look and feel. They are rare but can add a touch of elegance to a custom keyboard setup.
  7. Silicone/Rubber: Silicone or rubber keycaps are flexible and soft to the touch. They provide a different typing experience and are used for specialized keyboards or keypads.

Keycap Material: How Do They Influence Typing Feel?

an image of a mechanical keyboard

Understanding the materials used in keycaps can give us insights into how they alter the feel of typing. These materials not only add a unique visual aspect to the keyboard, but they can also affect a user's typing experience.

  1. ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
    • Feel: ABS keycaps have a smooth texture, which some typists find slick or slippery. They may feel a bit "cheap" to some due to their lightweight and plastic-like texture.
    • Sound: ABS keycaps tend to produce a higher-pitched sound compared to other materials, which can be perceived as "clacky" or "hollow" by some users.
  2. PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate)
    • Feel: PBT keycaps generally have a textured surface that provides a more satisfying touch compared to ABS. Typists describe PBT keycaps as having a more solid feel.
    • Sound: PBT keycaps produce a deeper and more muted sound compared to ABS.
  3. POM (Polyoxymethylene)
    • Feel: Some users prefer the slick feel of POM keycaps for fast typing.
    • Sound: POM keycaps produce a crisp and clean sound, which some typists find satisfying. 
  4. PC (Polycarbonate)
    • Feel: PC keycaps can vary in texture depending on the manufacturing process. They often provide a smooth typing experience.
    • Sound: PC keycaps produce a clear, sharp, and crisp sound.
  5. Metal
    • Feel: Metal keycaps have a solid and premium feel with a weightiness that some typists prefer. They can feel either satisfyingly substantial or overly heavy.
    • Sound: Metal keycaps produce a distinct and resonant sound.
  6. Wood:
    • Feel: Wooden keycaps have a warm and natural feel with a unique texture that can vary depending on the type of wood used. 
    • Sound: Wooden keycaps produce a soft and mellow sound, which can be soothing to some users.
  7. Silicone/Rubber
    • Feel: Silicone or rubber keycaps provide a soft and cushioned typing experience with tactile feedback.
    • Sound: Silicone or rubber keycaps produce a muted and dampened sound, which is perfect in quiet environments.

Choosing the Best Keycaps for Your Mechanical Keyboard

Ready to buy some keycaps for your mechanical keyboard? Let us share some tips.

  1. Material: Consider the material of the keycaps. Each material offers a unique texture, durability, sound, and feel. Experiment with different materials to find the one that suits your typing style and preferences.
  2. Profile: Keycaps come in different profiles such as OEM, Cherry, SA, DSA, XDA, and MT3. Each profile has a distinct shape and height that affects the ergonomics and typing feel. 
  3. Keycap Thickness: Thicker keycaps are durable and feel more substantial to type on. They also generate a deeper and more satisfying sound while typing. Note that thicker keycaps may be incompatible with certain keyboards.
  4. Keycap Design: Consider the design and aesthetics of the keycaps including color, font style, and additional features such as backlight compatibility or artisan designs. Choose keycaps that complement the overall look and theme of your keyboard setup.
  5. Compatibility: Some keycap sets are designed for certain layouts (e.g., ANSI, ISO) or switch configurations (e.g., Cherry MX, Topre). Check compatibility details to avoid compatibility issues.


Indeed, the material of your keycaps can significantly affect your typing experience. There are keycap materials that feel smoother and lighter. Some are more textured and heavier. Some are tougher, some not so. The keycap material will invariably shape the feel, acoustics, and longevity of your keyboard.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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