A method for preparing precursors for producing high density monolithic aerogels. The method enables fabrication of transparent porous glass monoliths, with the porosity or density controlled by adjusting the ratio of water to monomer. By this adjustment, syneresis is increased or minimized. The method involves either a single step precursor or a two step precursor where a base is added to the single step precursor after hydrolysis has occurred. Monolithic metal oxide aerogels with densities between 0.3 g/cc to 1.5 g/cc have been produced using this method.
 The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.