An effort was made not only to demonstrate the performance of the self-cleaning coatings on building materials such as ceramic glazed tiles and glass windows, but also to understand the fundamental issues that are still alive in the field of self-cleaning surfaces based on photocatalysis. Nano TiO2 transparent thin films were generated by dip, spray and flow coating method. The present results indicate that the inconsistent results in the self-cleaning studies may be due to the effect of aggregation of model pollutant (methylene blue) dye on TiO2 surface. The effect of aliovalent metal ion (Ni2+, Fe3+, Nb5+) doping on phase formation, polymorphic transition, visible light absorbance and optical transparency of TiO2 film were investigated using X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and UV visible absorption spectroscopy. The improved visible light activity of doped TiO2 thin film was correlated to the Ti(Ni/Fe)O3 phase formation, UV and visible light absorbance, variation in the optical energy band gap and the probable light scattering associated with grain size. .© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.