I have no idea what one would call what these cabinets are made from! I only know they are ugly and I want to paint them!
if you are talking about kitchen cabinets, it is likely they are thermofoil. can you share a photo? age of cabinets? cannot say that Ive ever seen kitchen cabinets with a contact grade kind of covering - by comparison its easy to find with furniture. can you paint? yes.. its all about the primer. depending on the grade/texture of the covering is key.. need to see a close photo of a door to further help you
if the surface is slick make sure you use a oil base primer (it sticks like glue!) it smells and all, but it will last longer. you can use regular latex paint over oil base primer. there is such paint as cabinets' paint, I would suggest you go with that...a little more expensive, but then again, you want it to last
The type of cabinet Toni is speaking about is a particle board with a wood grain imprint on a paper laminate that is often heat applied to the surface. Over time this paper begins to peel which exposes the particle board underneath. This can be refinished, but with care. You need to carefully sand the edges of the damaged area, then fill using a auto body type filler to bring the surfaces level again. Once that has been done a very good cleaning but no sanding should be done. Using a deglossing chemical such as TSP should do the trick. Once clean and dry, prime using a oil based primer. Not water based. The water based primer will cause the paper covering to possibly swell and cause issues. Once dry again using a oil based paint put your final finish coat on.