Tin dioxide (SnO2) thin films have several sorts of applications, including as gas sensors and in photocatalysis, where the surface area plays a relevant role. The use of the Triton X-100 non-ionic surfactant in the precursor solution processing has revealed as a fundamental aid to increase adhesion of the SnO2 film on the substrate. Moreover, the surfactant presence leads to a significant increase in the surface area of deposited thin films, and the roughness (rms) increases from 57.6 nm to 275 nm. The influence can also be observed in the XRD profiles, with a higher degree of crystallinity for Triton deposited films. It also increases the defect density and the electron scattering, leading to rather resistive films which are thermally excited only above room temperature. The activation energy for the defect ionization is rather high, 800 meV, but the thermal excitation takes place at a lower temperature range, compared to films prepared without Triton in the solution processing. The performance on photocatalysis is improved for films prepared with Triton X-100, since most of the methylene blue dye is degraded in the first 90 minutes when interacting with the sample.