We report on the fabrication and characterization of iron oxide nanoparticle thin film superlattices. The formation into different film morphologies is controlled by tuning the particle plus solvent-to-substrate interaction. It turns out that the wetting vs dewetting properties of the solvent before the self-assembly process during solvent evaporation plays a major role in determining the resulting film morphology. In addition to layerwise growth three-dimensional mesocrystalline growth is also evidenced. The understanding of the mechanisms ruling nanoparticle self-assembly represents an important step towards the fabrication of novel materials with tailored optical, magnetic or electrical transport properties. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.