This paper considers tactile augmentation, the addition of a physical object within a virtual environment (VE) to provide haptic feedback. The resulting mixed reality environment is limited in terms of the ease with which changes can be made to the haptic properties of objects within it. Therefore sensory enhancements or illusions that make use of visual cues to alter the perceived hardness of a physical object allowing variation in haptic properties are considered. Experimental work demonstrates that a single physical surface can be made to ‘feel’ both softer and harder than it is in reality by the accompanying visual information presented. The strong impact visual cues have on the overall perception of object hardness, indicates haptic accuracy may not be essential for a realistic virtual experience. The experimental results are related specifically to the development of a VE for surgical training; however, the conclusions drawn are broadly applicable to the simulation of touch and the understanding of haptic perception within VEs.