The synthesis of mica-titania special effect pigment and the effect of rutile promoting additive, tin dioxide (SnO2), on the phase transformation of titanium dioxide (TiO2) were investigated. SnO2 coating with variable thicknesses on sieved and pre-treated muscovite mica prior to TiO2 coating yields a pearlescent pigment with higher rutile-to-anatase ratio. Different than what is reported in a few cases, not the co-deposition of SnO2 and TiO2, but the coating of SnO2 before TiO2 was found critical in obtaining TiO2 coatings consisting of 95% rutile phase at 1073 K. A calcination temperature as low as 1073 K resulted in the preservation of substrate's structural integrity. Scanning electron microscopy analyses showed that SnO2 promotes TiO2 growth at certain nucleation points rather than random nucleation points. Mica-titania pigments were incorporated in the acrylic based paints and gloss and hardness characteristics of the paint specimens were measured. Specimens with increased rutile content showed improved gloss. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.