Abstract Thin films of titanium dioxide and titanium–vanadium oxide were obtained by a sol–gel method. The coatings are uniform, smooth with very good optical properties. The solutions of both kinds are stable for more than a year. Structure and vibrational properties were studied with the help of X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis and infrared spectroscopy (IR). The refractive indices and film thicknesses were measured by an ellipsometer at a wavelength of 638.2 nm, as a function of annealing temperature. The optical properties were investigated by ultraviolet–visible (UV–VIS) spectroscopy.