Hi...newbie here. I want to put a handrail on the stairs to the basement. I have the brackets & thought I would just have to find the studs so it would be sturdy enough. Lo and behold...no studs so have to attach the bracket to drywall. Do I use those big spiral plastic plugs & how do I put the plugs in? Do I drill a small hole or one hole that is just a bit smaller than the plug and then tap the plug into the hole? I'm a female and not young so go easy on me will ya? Thanks a bunch.
There has to be a stud somewhere in the wall. Are you putting up a long handrail (full length of stairs) or just a partial (half the stairs are open/etc)?
Attaching the handrail to drywall using plastic anchors is only going to get someone hurt. They will eventually fail, probably when someone leans on the rail when they really need to use it. If you really cannot find the studs and MUST fasten to the drywall, toggle bolts are the better option, though I still wouldn't want to do that way.
Borrow a studfinder from a neighbor, or buy one - they aren't that expensive: $10 to $20 for a homeowner grade unit. That will help you to locate the studs.
I'm installing a 12 ft. railing. There is open faced drywall going down the stairs with open storage shelves on the other side. I get what you mean by it being unstable though. Heck, the house is up for sale & the inspector will pick up on this in second. I have a stud finder, never used - maybe there is a stud at the top of the stair as there is one at the bottom. Myself I've fallen three times down those stairs !!