Abstract Glass substrates were first coated with SiO 2 and then TiO 2 by dipping into sols which were prepared by two different methods involving complex formation and hydrolysis, using ethanol (EtOH) or butyl glycol (BG). Concentration of TiO 2 in the sols was kept at 0.1 and 0.5 wt%. Prepared coatings were investigated by field-emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM), atomic force microscope (AFM), hazemeter, UV–visible spectrophotometer and goniometer. Rhodamine B (RhB) photodegradation tests were performed in order to evaluate photocatalytic activity. Application of SiO 2 as the bottom layer increased the transmittance by 6% points, thereby compensated for the loss of transmittance caused by the TiO 2 self-cleaning top layer. Pencil-hardness values of the obtained coatings were in 5B–3H range. TiO 2 coatings obtained from sols containing 0.5% TiO 2 and BG solvent represented the highest photocatalytic activity, with a rate constant of 0.44 ppm −1 h −1 and a half period of 5.5 h. Self-cleaning surfaces were obtained while maintaining the anti-reflectance.